Ten Cool Things to Do With Your Android Tab
I understand that iPads are awesome. I get it. But there is a lot of awesomeness packed into an Android tab as well, and in some cases, the 'droid does stuff better than the iPad. So then, here are ten cool things you can do with your Android tablet. (I am using an Acer A500 running 3.2 Honeycomb. I also know that the iPad can do a lot of this stuff.)
So if you are on the fence about stepping up to a tablet, here are some reasons why.
1. Google Earth - Google Earth is way, way cooler on a multi-touch than it is on a desktop. Using your fingers, you can soar over landscapes, rotate orientation, and change altitude and angle. It really feels like on of those CSI-like displays you see on TV.
2. Use it as a music stand - If you are a musician, there is a great app called MobileSheets which is like an electronic songbook. Using the companion desktop application, or natively from the app itself, you can load pdf or image files of chord charts, lyric sheets, sheet music, lead sheets... whatever. They can be organized many ways, and sorted into setlists. You can use your finger or a bluetooth page turner to flip through the charts, and there is a built in media player and metronome.
3. Watch HD TV - The A500 has an HDMI port built into it. When connected to an HDTV, it streams video at 1080p effortlessly. No Netflix device, no problem. Just hook this puppy up and watch away. I was watching for a few hours the other day on battery with no issues. The tab detects the TV as soon as you plug it in, changes the orientation and begins streaming audio and video. Now if I could just figure out how Netflix makes its "suggestions." ( Buy the cable on Amazon - I only paid 3 bucks!)
4. Read a good book - All tablets, including the iPad, have built in e book apps, and there are dozens more available on the various markets. My favorite is the Nook app, but there are many others. While it is not, obviously, like turning pages in a real book, there is a convenience to it. Plus, I can read in the dark. The Nook app can go from black on white to white on black, as can most of them. Using a tablet is not as comfortable as using an e-ink reader if you read a lot, but it is great for the occasional to moderate reader. The Nook app works well, and you can easily side-load your own books, including Adobe Digital Editions DRM-protected books (using the desktop app to authorize your tab.)
5. Draw a picture - I just found the Autodesk Sketchbook Express app, and I love it. It's great for doodling or serious sketching, depending on your level of talent. The controls seem quite intuitive and easy to use, and the free version is quite powerful. I can't imagine what the paid version does.
6. Read a Feed - There are several RSS readers available, but my current favorite is Google Currents. The app organized your selected feeds into virtual magazines, complete with tables of contents and shortcuts. To be honest, my blog looks better on currents than it does on the desktop.
7. Write this Blog! - Tablets - whether an iPad, an Android, a Playbook, whatever - are really much better tools for consumption than creation. That doesn't mean you can't create on them, though. A tab can be a handy way to blog on the go, and I use both the Blogger and Wordpress apps all the time. The A500 has a full-sized USB 2.0 port, so plugging in a cheapo keyboard is a snap, if you don't feel like using the onscreen keyboard or springing for a bluetooth one. There is even a nifty case that has a small keyboard built into it.
8. Listen to tunes - While the built in media player is fine, there are a lot of better ones on the market. I use Google Music for most of my listening, so I use that for my regular player as well, although I really like 3 as well. The A500 has Dolby sound, and it sounds great through decent earbuds or headphones. Organizing music is a lot easier on the 10in screen then on my 'droid phone!
9. Edit some video - Ever take some video on your smartphone, and think that it's too long or that it needs some music, but your desktop is nowhere near? No problem. Just load up Movie Editor and get editing. You're not going to render The Empire Strikes Back into 3D or anything, but you can do quite a bit of "quick and dirty" editing without needing a desktop. And then off it goes to Youtube.
10. Play a game - Duh! Gaming is the high point of owning a tab. Full motion racing, high-def aerial dogfighting, physics-based puzzles, Angry Birds... whatever it is, tabs do it better than phones! So go have fun! Try the ridiculously addictive Apparatus.