By Nimish Dubey
Some of us might think that notebooks are better travelling companions than tablets but the fact cannot be denied that it is tablets that are the rage in the market these days. And well, tablets do have their benefits for the traveller – they are lighter than notebooks, often support SIM cards, and if one does not have to do too much typing, are terrific for accessing the Web on the move. At the moment, the tablet battle in India is between the OlivePad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab (yes, there is the Dell Streak too but we are not including it because it has a smaller screen and anyway has a much smaller screen), so which of these are better for the traveller? Well, here is our take on it.
- Size and portability: In terms of size and design, the Samsung Galaxy Tab has the advantage of being sleeker and easier to hold. The OlivePad is relatively bulky in comparison, thanks to its consistent thickness, while the Tab only has a curve at the back and is relatively slimmer. If you intend to carry a tablet in your coat, the Tab is a better option, if you intend carrying it in a bag, the OlivePad is not too bad.
- Build quality: Honestly, we did not find too much to separate the two here. We found the OlivePad feeling just a little more solid and frankly, we think it will survive a fall much better than the Tab, but then that is something we have not actually tried out yet.
- Multimedia and apps: Both tablets have 7 inch displays and in terms of sheer quality, the Galaxy Tab has the edge as it is a higher resolution display and is even capable of playing HD video. The problem, however, is that most Android applications are not designed for that resolution and as a result, seem a bit stretched on it. In contrast, the lower resolution of the OlivePad handles the apps perfectly. So the choice is clear – if you are going to see a lot of video, the Galaxy Tab, if it is travel apps you are after, the OlivePad. Incidentally, both tablets come with MapMyIndia maps, which are excellent for travellers. You can, of course, also try out Google Maps, which are not too bad themselves!
- Features: Both tablets pretty much cancel each other out in this department. Both can be used as phones, both have connectivity options like Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth and both run the latest version of Android, 2.2. However, the Tab has 16GB and 32 GB onboard storage, while the OlivePad has a more modest 512 MB – but both support expansion cards. The Tab also has a much faster processor (1 GHz) than the OlivePad.
- Performance: For all its tech superiority, we did not find that much of a discernible difference in the performance of the Galaxy Tab and the OlivePad. Yes, the Tab is easier to hold and performs much better when you have multiple applications open, but that apart, the OlivePad pretty much holds its own. Travellers expecting a zippy tablet will be hard pressed to choose from these two.
- Camera: Yes, we know we would feel silly holding a seven inch display device as a camera but both tablets do have cameras for photography. In still photographs, we found the OlivePad holding the edge (even though it has no flash, unlike the Galaxy Tab), with the Galaxy Tab winning in video. While on the subject of photography, photo clickers might like the high-res screen of the Tab better for editing, and of course for watching any high-definition video they have shot, but for most tasks, the OlivePad is more than adequate.
- Battery life: Battery life is a crucial factor for most travellers and once again, we found the two tablets going neck and neck on this parameter – both gave us about 7 hours on Wi-Fi and lasted a day with normal usage.
- Value for money: This is the place where the OlivePad fairly makes mincemeat of the Galaxy Tab. The traveller on a budget would find its Rs 22,900 price tag much more appealing than the Rs 38,000 on the Tab. Frankly, if you have Rs 38,000 to spare, we would recommend spending a little more and asking someone to get you the iPad from the US or even buying a proper notebook.
So there you have it – the two major tablets in the Indian market compared in travel terms. Each has its strong points and its weaknesses. If asked to choose between the two, we would align with the OlivePad because it is a solid performer, handles apps better than the Tab and best of all, still costs a lot lesser than a decent notebook. The Tab, alas, loses out BIG time on the price tag – we would buy a Vaio for that kind of money and carry it around!