I’d rather a robot than a dumb model: Android vs iPad 2

I bought my wife a Android tablet for her birthday. Then I had to take it back and replace it with an Apple iPad 2. It should have been the other way around.

I have to admit that, when I visited JB HiFi (I had a voucher), the iPad 2 felt so much sexier in my hands than the Acer Iconia A500 Android tablet. It was light, sleek and responsive. If I had a choice of which one to take on the train every day the iPad would win hands down. But I was purchasing a wifi only tablet to replace a heavy notebook PC that sits beside the bed and occasionally makes it to the kitchen to display recipes.

B wants to

  1. View websites
  2. Check her Gmail account
  3. See photos
  4. Play basic games
How do the two tablets stack up? Well, I never got to use the Iconia, but I did check the specs and I own an Android phone (HTC Desire).
1. View websites
I’ve read that some websites automatically serve mobile pages to all Android devices, regardless of whether they are tablets or phones, while iPads are often treated separately to iPhones. However, I’ve had few problems with websites on my HTC Desire. I really like the common url/search functionality of the address bar, a feature it shares with Google’s Chrome browser, and I believe that in the tablet version it has tabbed browsing, a must-have for me. The phone and the iPad share a “new window” system.
Where the iPad really falls over is in the lack of Adobe Flash support. B can’t view things like Masterchef videos, Sydney Morning Herald videos, the ABC for Kids website, all things that would be really useful from a tablet.
I have no such issues from my Desire and often content displays better than on my Intel Atom based netbook. I can amuse Alex with a Playschool episode in the car thanks to the Flash support on Android.
2. Check Gmail

Considering that both Android and Gmail are Google products you’d expect that they would be better on the Android tablet. I have no real quibble yet with the iPad mail client, but I do like the Android notifications system and the ability to put widgets on your home screen so you could easily check email without needing to open a dedicated client. Plus Android supports Google Talk – good for when we are apart.
3. See photos

The Iconia offers Acer’s Clear-fi DLNA client out of the box, and all our photos are available from a DLNA enabled networked hard disk. My Windows computers can view them, my phone (with Twonky Media installed) can view them, my Playstation 3 can view them, one of my televisions can view them, my digital photo frame can view them. Like my phone, the iPad requires the downloading of a third-party DLNA client (though I believe that newer versions of various Android phones have this feature included).
Where the Iconia comes into its own is the ability to mount an external USB drive through the USB host socket. It also has a mini-SD socket and presumably you could mount full SD cards it you attached a card reader to the USB socket. Photos, music and files can then be transferred using a simple file explorer rather than going through iTunes. More on that later.
4. Play games

The iPad probably has the edge here thanks to the number of applications available through the Apps Store. There are still plenty of games for Android, enough to keep her happy I’m sure.
Other comments

The need to use iTunes with the iPad really irritates me. I have other Apple software installed and their constant updates are a real pain. I just want to drag and drop files from any computer or device I care to hook the iPad into, not go through an overblown program. The iTunes account sign up process also feels like an invasion of privacy.
The Iconia offered flexibility and I could see it largely replacing a laptop, especially if using an external keyboard for faster typing. The ability to plug in external devices would be great for travel, where you may not have access to a PC running iTunes.

I love the ability to use widgets on the home screen of Android devices. They are great for checking Twitter posts, RSS feeds and email. The iPad screen is really just icons.

Using the iPad 2 feels like you are constrained to do everything the Apple way and it’s irritating how many want to slavishly follow them. I’d rather freedom.


Irreverently irrelevant. Sysadmin, developer, web dude in a science research agency. WordPress, Japan, planes, trains, Arduino, Raspberry Pi/Pico, puns, dad jokes, etc


  • Hey. First time posting here. I came across your wonderful trip reports on airliners.net! :)Regarding your iPad 2, I have one too, for Masterchef videos, you surprisingly can view them on my iPad 2. You can view any videos on the TEN website. Try it.Did you download the SMH app? Some articles have videos on them so you should be able to watch it. The last thing about ABC kids. You should also download ABC iView from the app store. It's brillant with programs such as QandA, 4corners and mediawatch. Under the program tab on the app, there is a tab called ABC for Kids. There are episodes of play school on there.Hope this helps. In my opinion, I think the iPad 2 is great.


  • Thanks for your very useful advice thefactis! Seems like the Masterchef videos are working now (the wife is watching it at the moment, but it's a little bit buggy). Downloaded the iView and SMH apps. Haven't tried the videos in the latter, but iView seems to work very well. I can only find one episode of Play School there and the options are more limited than the full Flash ABC for Kids site. My 2.5 year old son loves the iPad 2 though. He just walks up and operates the thing by himself. He was trained up on the Android phone. 🙂


  • No problem! Glad that I helped you. Must be quite annoying moving from Android to iOS with the lack of flash. Enjoy the iPad 🙂


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