I recently got a Mac to escape the viruses, registry problems and other BS Redmond was throwing at me, but I'm in no way an Apple fanboy. You've read my on review the iPad, and I still think iOS's multitasking is inefficient and puerile, the lack of widgets make the homescreens less useful and the restrictions Apple imposes don't allow for great apps like home screen replacements or multiple keyboards (say Swype). But with today's release of the iPad 2, they have hit Honeycomb tablets and they have hit them hard.
Before you start with the angry messages let me underline what I've written about Honeycomb before here and here: Honeycomb is by and far the best OS Google has pushed out and it's miles ahead of iOS with it's scrollable widgets, one-touch multi-tasking and openness. The issue at hand are Google's hardware partners that foolishly tried to match and surpass the first-gen iPad knowing full well what the iPad 2 would most likely bring to the table. On that note, the iPad 2 has a dual-core processor, front and back facing cameras, tablet optimized iPhoto, iMovie and Garaga Band, is 33% thinner and 15% lighter while maintaining 10 hours of battery life and the same 178 degree viewing angle 9.7" display and adding a magnetic cover that turns the display on and off when turned. Also, it maintains the lack of USB port capability and file management, it's unhealthy hate for Flash and it's clumsy app switching method.
As you've heard, the pricing for the Xoom is at $600 with two-year contract and $800 without. Sure, it's got a higher res display, more RAM and storage and awesome Honeycomb goodness, but to be honest, most users won't give a damn - the cheapest iPad is still $500 and half of buyers don't care for specs. The best thing that Samsung, Asus and Toshiba can do now is to match or undercut the price of the 16 GB 3G iPad at $629, but on a contract-free basis. Users for the most part don't yet see tablets as more than couch surfing devices that they might take on a trip or do some reading on the commute to work on. 3G is important so you don't have to rely on WiFi for connection, but while extra storage is welcome, it's not all that relevant. After all, how many of you will stuff their iPad into their backpack and use it as a music player ?
I'm not saying that Honeycomb tablet makers should give up or gimp their products to the extreme to shave off pricing, but they need to be smart about selling their first-gen devices so they can learn through user input so they can make demands with their second gen devices. Though there are some big players involved in the tablet race in the Android camp, they don't have the production capacity and the supply lines that Apple has developped yet, so they can't make demands just yet. The parts breakdown of the Xoom, for example, shows that it's only $40 or so more expensive (in terms of the individual cost of parts) to produce the Xoom over the 32 GB 3G iPad that it's competing against. Sure, the R&D was expensive, and the friggin $6 million it spent on that pointless Apple-hating commercial (that didn't stress enough why the Xoom is better) at the super-bowl weighed in on it, but they don't bring enough to the table to justify the higher price. Also that BS about not being able to use WiFi on the Xoom unless you buy data for a month is plain horse dung.
Still, I love Android and will keep my solidarity with Honeycomb because it runs on my Nook Color, but I won't be investing in a new shiny Honeycomb tablet any time soon. I think it can only get better in future releases and if anything will replace laptops, it will be Android, not iOS. But unlike the uprising of the Android phones taking the number one spot last year, the Honeycomb revolution was botched, for now at least. Honeycomb's future is a bright one and over the next months a fleet of competent tablets will even the playing field, but it'll take some time.