Every time there’s some new hot, heavily hyped gadget from Apple, it takes only a few months for the copycats to crop up. IPod? Zune! IPhone? Android!
The iPad? Well, it came out in March, and the iPad alternatives are just landing in stores now.
Many of them run Google’s Android phone operating system. That’s a shrewd move. Android is mature, polished and free (to the pad makers), and it comes with an existing library of 100,000 apps. Furthermore, any gadget fan who’s used an Android phone will feel instantly at home on the tablet.
In other words, if you make an Android tablet, you can hit the ground running.
The most hotly awaited Android tablet is the Samsung Galaxy Tab, a sleek, sturdy slab, 7.5 by 4.7 by 0.5 inches. The glass front is a 7-inch multitouch screen; the back is off-white plastic.
Samsung sweated the details on this thing. The screen is gorgeous. The touch response is immediate and reliable. The whole thing is superfast and a pleasure to use.
When asked about the onslaught of Android tablets last month, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, scoffed at their size (most are 7 inches diagonal instead of 10 inches, like the iPad). “This size is useless unless you include sandpaper so users can sand their fingers down to a quarter of their size,” he said.