Some design considerations for tablet devices

I’ve got a chance to play with the old iPad and the newer Motorola Xoom. Here’s a list of some of my observations comparing the two in terms of hardware/form factor. It’s just a personal list and by no means comprehensive.

  1. iPad battery lasts longer when in sleep mode. Shorter battery life makes using the tablet tiring because I have to keep thinking about conserving the battery, e.g. by shutting it down but that means if I need to quickly google something, I’ll have to wait for it to power up first.
  2. iPad power button is on the top edge, while Xoom is at the back of the tablet, making it unreachable when it’s lying flat on the table. You are forced to leave it up when you want to access the button just to wake it from sleep mode, which is a very frequent action. This one gets on my nerves very quickly.
  3. iPad’s volume buttons are at the right edge and protruding high enough for ease of pressing. The Xoom’s are also by the side by it’s difficult to press because it’s too thin and flat.
  4. iPad’s speaker sounds a lot better than Xoom’s, at least to my untrained ears. Furthermore, iPad’s speaker is at the lower-right edge, i.e. it’s able to project the sound out to the front, especially if you hold it such that the body channels the sound upwards to your ears. The Xoom’s speakers are at the back! Why will anyone want to project the sound away from the user’s ears? It sounds a lot softer, feels further away and hollow!

So, in terms of design, iPad beats Xoom on many points. However, I’ll definitely prefer the open Android over Apple’s closed iOS. If any manufacturer can combine Apple’s design/hardware with Android without being hit by patent trolls, consumers will be very happy.

Do you know of any Android tablets with superb design?

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