Android on more devices sounds pretty awesome to me, but is that always the case? I love that Android is touching more lives, but I am a little concerned when the devices that it’s landing on are not always the best face forward of the mobile OS. The most recent example of this is the Maylong M-150 Android tablet being offered at Walgreens. Everyone says, “Well, you get what you pay for,” but I think there was a missed opportunity to get more for that dollar amount.
The fact that Android is evolving fast is a great thing for consumers, but not so great for manufacturers and developers. With change happening so frequently, a lot are struggling to keep up. Companies with lots of resources (i.e. cellphone manufacturers) have the ability to keep up, though it’s not worth the money they’d have to spend to keep their older devices updated. With Verizon’s multi-million dollar ad campaign consumers can see what “[An]DROID does,” but how does that knowledge transfer when they see other hardware sporting the “same” mobile OS? (Note: I am a big fan of their ad campaign, I definitely love how much it has done for spreading knowledge of Android.) The hardware requirements for Android’s newer versions have not really jumped that much over the last year. It’s not a pretty experience, but even the flagship G1 can run many features of Android 2.2 with the help of Cyanogen Mod. So why are these other devices hitting the market with less than Android 2.0?
Some will say this is because these products have been in development and are just now being released. And yes, I realize Android is still a “new thing” for many companies, but you won’t see a new computer hitting the shelves with Windows XP (mostly because Microsoft just wouldn’t entertain that, but still). Perhaps I hold these companies to a standard that is too high, but as technology progresses, I think that is really the only road to take. Why invest your money in a device that is already way behind in terms of function? A phone for about the same cost (albeit with a contract…) can do more and is likely to run a newer version of Android. Sure it might be an okay toy for a kid that doesn’t know the difference (admittedly, it does LOOK like an iPad), it might do some average web browsing and offer some of the Android experience, but even with a bigger screen it’s lacking so much more than that. And to make matters worse… it’s a large RESISTIVE screen… ugh, that has disaster written all over it for me in terms of durability.
The one redeeming factor of this tablet is that you don’t need to purchase a 3G/4G service contract with it. And this is what bothers me the most: I wish Google would just sell their own tablet like they did with the Nexus One (speaking of which, it’s a shame they stopped selling it!). Give consumers the choice to buy the product outright if they want to, or discounted on a contract. There’s always so much talk about customization and catering to the user, yet we can’t really make many choices when it comes to contracts and data plans on tablets (for now, at least). However, I know I won’t be picking up one of these tablets because I also know I’d be returning it. Though that won’t stop me from tinkering with one that someone else bought, just to confirm my suspicions.