IPad user discovering the Hipstreet Aurora Tablet
Last Friday, I bought an Android tablet for development purpose. It's the Hipstreet Aurora model, on sale at 79$. It's a cheap tablet with low specs, but it is running ICS and it seemed like a good deal to investigate the "dark side" :)
Seriously, even if this is a slow tablet, I like it. It's not the iPad, but it does a good job for the price. Mostly, I wanted to be able to explore an Android device without investing too much in it. I do own already an iPad, an iPhone and an apple tv and I am quite happy with Apple's product for my daily usage.
This is my first Android device, so there is a bit of a learning curve to appreciate the new beast... Even if I am an Ubuntu user on a desktop.
I won't go into the hardware performances as you get what you pay for (79$). It's a tad slow, screen resolution is far from retina display and viewing angle must be at 90 degrees to have a clear picture. It does the job, but don't push it too much.
Overall, it's good enough to explore Android, Android apps and experiment app development on a tablet. Even if I'm quite a fan of iOS, I must admit that I was pleased by the features of Android ICS.
- Widgets: Really cool, to keep an eye on stuff without launching the app. The down side is that you need a good hardware specs to keep you home screen fluid. It's not that bad, but on the Hipstreet Aurora, it can be slow from time to time when accessing your home screen
- Parameters: lots of options like deactivating wifi when tablet is put to sleep, having a central point for all your accounts based on installed apps.
- Files: that's one big feature for an Android device, being able to drag'n drop your files directly on it
- External storage: That one, I was really impressed as I can connect my external USB drive directly into the device and browse it's content. Basically, when it is connected, I have a tablet with 364gigs of space ;)
- Compatibility: that's the major downside, at least for this tablet. Installing apps does not mean that they will run. For example, Netflix do not start and Facebook could not detect both cameras when trying to post a new pictures. Probably a high end tablet would not have this problem
- Quality apps: there is a lot of apps, some as good as the iOS version, and others as bad as... You know what I mean. The problem is that there are way more cheap apps than good ones. At some point, I felt like trying to find a shareware on Windows, never totally sure about what I was installing.
- App management: it's different and similar. You go the the store (1mobile.com for this tablet), click and download. Several apps can be downloaded at once, but the annoying part is that when an app is being installed, you have to wait for the process to complete. But it's probably the Hipstreet implementation that is deficient and not Android's fault. One major difference I found is that apps keep running in the background when you exit them. After a few apps, you have to open the process monitor to shut them off as you rapidly fill the RAM of the device. If you do not manage that, you end up with a device freezing each time you touch the screen. Maybe there is a better way, I'm still learning...
- Battery: ok, this little critter can stay alive for around 4 hours. Not as god as the iPad. But there is a neat little panel showing you battery usage for each app, helping you figure out which one is draining the power.
In the end, it's a good tablet for the price. ICS does have some nice features that I would like on IOS, but also some stuff that I find a bit annoying compared with my iPad. Having to manage memory and battery usage is a turn down, but widgets and external storage support does have weight in the balance. Being able to switch from one store to another is nice (Hipstreet cannot access the Google Play store) but you have to do it because the store does not have the app you are looking for.
You can download an app, and install it later, which is nice.
If you want to play around with Android, this is a good deal, but do not have high expectations. For the real stuff, you should go with a high end tablet to be on par with your iPad experience. Now back on my iPad 1, I find it blazing fast again... ;)