Deciding that I might buy an Android tablet so I need some help

Continuing my approach of asking you what you think, I’ve decided that I might get an Android tablet. Not a top end thing but also not something that’s going to fail to run music apps.

So, anyone have any suggestions? Clip to Evernote

33 thoughts on “Deciding that I might buy an Android tablet so I need some help”

  1. I'd like to know about this too. Would be curious about the level of android compatability of the playbook… also would be interested to know what latency looks like with honeycomb or gingerbread.

    ASUS models look interesting, though I've had bad luck with their laptops, so…


  2. Android doesnt really seem to be made to excel at Music creation apps compared to iOS, so I'm not sure what would drive someone to pick up a Xoom (or otherwise) when they already have an iPad.

    I think the question would be, what is the Android tab able to do with mobile music that the iPad cannot?

    To my knowledge, the answer would be “nothing, it does a small percentage of the same things but with significantly less quality and choice of software”…

    Now if you're a gadget geek and want it all, then the above question would be rendered moot. 🙂



    In this video they play with an Android piano on the Playbook and its pretty snappy… but I'm not saying the Playbook is the best buy, personnally I would wait next year when the 500$ Android tablets will be sold for 250$ or less, just like I got a 32G ipad1 for 225$ (with a minor scratch on the screen). If you really have to get one this year I'd go with the Asus Transformer or the Xoom, mostly because of their screen size.

    Also, just wondering, have you tryed RDP or VNC apps on the ipad? I find it very fun to use them with Cubase, Fruityloops or other audio software. I haven't tryed them all (a lot of them have a high price and don't have demos), but Splashtop seems to be the fastest. I can even watch Flash videos and play Flash games (and save files!! :).


  4. I also see no reason to buy an android tab unless you just have money to throw away. Especially considering you have two iPads and an android device already. I've played with the xoom, galaxy tab and nook color. My store actually sells the xoom and samsung….. Sell is the wrong word, they just sit on the shelf while everybody asks why we don't have iPads.

    I don't see iOS slowing down while android can hardly catch up to what's available. Also good luck finding any accessories for that android tab. No alesis dock, no midi controllers etc etc.


  5. It seems that you have decided on one of these simply because Milky Tracker isn't available on the iPad? I agree with everyone else, and personally if I had money to throw around (which I don't), I'd just spend it on the smallest Macbook Air you can buy (which is pretty much a 'mobile' device anyway?), because the Milky tracker already runs on OSX, and your then also getting a 'real' computer. 🙂


  6. @Robert
    “what is the Android tab able to do with mobile music that the iPad cannot?”

    Android tablets can run Java and Flash. You can play with audio and music apps made with Java and Flash, most of the time it works quite nicely.

    Before you say that no such things exists according to your knowledge, look at those :
    Monotribe simulator (this guy made other cool Java softsynths)
    And these guys.. aren't they superstars by now? How many people copied Andre Michelle's Tonematrix and sold it in the App Store? 😀

    BTW, those links works well on the ipad with Splashtop.


  7. I have an ipad and an Acer honeycomb iconia tab. Android is nice because development is easier, and if milktracker is available then that is gravy. Also Adobe air is running snappier these days, and if drum machine style programming is your thing then the 45 ms latency is not a deal breaker. App inventor is great, why not use the honeycomb tab with Osc to control the ipad? No computer (traditionally) 😉


  8. Are you suggesting java and webapps are superior to dedicated software installed on one's device?

    The Android music apps I've seen here on palmsounds look like iPhone apps circa 2008. Hardly a compelling reason to buy extra hardware in my opinion.

    Personally, I want my tablet to be more than a dumb terminal with which to tap into my desktop, non-touchscreen, mouse based applications at home.

    The bottom line for me is, there is currently no compelling software development happening for Android operating system.


  9. i work at an electronic store so i've had the opportunity to play with quite a few of the new android tablets. the xoom is definitely the one that impressed me the most but you said your not going for high end. i'd avoid the lower end tabs, like pandigital or cruz i don't think they have enough processing power to be useful. some of the cheapy $200 coby's actually seem to be half decent, but it's not a brand i trust and i haven't played around enough with those to develop any kind of opinion, also i haven't played with any music apps on them so i can't give you a heads up on any of that either 😛


  10. @Robert
    “Are you suggesting java and webapps are superior to dedicated software installed on one's device?”

    No, I'm not suggesting that. I was simply answering your question about what Android can do that the ipad can't, and Android can run Java, Flash and Air apps. Sure its not like native apps, but it can run them and it works well for most of them (from my personal experiences).

    “Hardly a compelling reason to buy extra hardware in my opinion.”

    If you had read my comment, you would have noticed that I said exactly that : “I would wait next year”

    “Personally, I want my tablet to be more than a dumb terminal”

    Me too! And its going to happen someday, but currently I find the ipad to be an excellent dumb terminal. It could be better integrated with DAWs.

    “The bottom line for me is”

    You know its not just about you eh? 😉


  11. Man, load up iDOS, install Scream Tracker and stop Gear Whoring. lol

    It ain't tricking if you got it though. I would get the XOOM.


  12. @Beat
    “load up iDOS, install Scream Tracker and stop Gear Whoring.”

    Don't listen to him! Install Fast Tracker 2 instead hehe 😀

    And there are apps on Android that can open .jar files.


  13. @Tom
    “I don't miss flash at all. In fact I spend a lot of time trying to block it from my Mac and my PC.”

    I block ads, but I still play games on Flash and like to see the odd websites that uses it like : (fortunately someone made an HTML5 version of

    I'd really miss being able to look at websites like those.. oh and audiotools too 😀


  14. Just my $0.02 here. I own three tablets, a Barnes & Noble Nook Color, a Coby MID 7015A, and a Viewsonic gTablet. All have had their firmware replaced with far superior versions readily available from various Android hacking groups. The Viewsonic and the Nook Color are both running Gingerbread (Android 2.3) while the Coby is stuck at Android 2.1. The Coby is a blast to hack, but has very limited usability (thanks in no small part to the resistive screen). The Viewsonic is pretty impressive (once hacked), but the screen suffers from very poor viewing angles (looking straight at it is fine, though). The winner, IMO, is the Nook Color, though: once hacked (an ultrasimple process, easily located via a quick Google search) you have a small (albeit heavy) Android tablet that's almost as peppy as my gTablet for considerably less money. So far the Nook has been able to handle every music app I've thrown at it with nary a hiccup. Just be warned these are all pretty useless out of the box.

    All that said, unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket, I would strongly suggest you wait a month or two. More Android 3.0 tablets will be released and prices should start a welcome downward spiral. I noticed mention of the Xoom in the comments and can only say its out of box experience is very poor (for the power under the hood, it is a very sluggish device), but it might be a nice tablet once the firmware has been modded.

    Therein lies the rub: given the current state of tablets, it looks like the best experience is made possible only after some diligent after-market (and warranty-voiding) modifications.

    Sorry for the novel, guys; just wanted to post my decidedly limited experiences.


  15. I have nothing helpful to add, but please write about your experience once you've played around with such a tablet in a music making context. I'd appreciate your view.


  16. @-42-
    “Just be warned these are all pretty useless out of the box.”

    That is my feeling with all these recent low costing tablets running Android, IOS, QNX (playbook). Unless you root them, or jailbreak them, or hack them, you are limited to do only what their makers permits you to do.

    True computer tablets exists but are not affordable. Tablets from Motion Computing or Tabletkiosk that run Windows or Modbook which runs OSX costs 2000$ or more. I'm hoping it will change with the ExoPC and the HP Slate, which are both under-1000$.

    But then some people will say Windows and OSX are not made for touch, but you can bet Apple and Microsoft are working on integrating touch in their OSes (and to be able to run them on ARM processors). I wouldn't be suprised in a few years to be able to open IOS apps in OSX, or Android apps in Windows.

    But they have to come up with low cost tablet first, and sadly the ones selling today are not computers.. but still they're pretty fun 🙂


  17. Sadly this thread has deteriorated into yet another “my iPad is better than your pad” thread. Yawn! If you want an iPad just get an iPad. Problem solved.

    There are lots of reasons to run an Android tablet. I'm a firm believer that the opportunity for Android tablets lies in being the “anti-iPad”. The iPad is Disneyland. Android tablets can be just about anything else. Consequently many of the interesting things you can do with an Android tablet are things of the generative and DIY sort. For example, SL4A running Python, Processing for Android combined with Puredata.

    But the state of the market for Honeycomb tablets is still decidedly beta quality. The Galaxy Tab running 2.2 is a much more solid experience right now.

    I've been running a Motorola Xoom for a few months. It is a well built device. There are some really stupid things about it like the power button on the back. Then there are some really nice things like the decent camera and the HDMI port. I've found the Wifi on the Xoom to be somewhat wonky. (To be fair the iPad's Wifi was wonky at first too.)

    Honeycomb shows a lot of promise, but it desperately screams for a major update, if only to address the obvious bugs. Hopefully Google will roll out a major update for the Xoom next week at their I/O conference.

    The business about the lack of Honeycomb apps is way overstated. Android tablets are far more compatible with standard Android apps. And I've had no problem at all finding lots of software that works perfectly well to do just about anything you can imagine.

    My understanding is that Xoom will get updates first, and most of the other Honeycomb tablets are essentially Xoom clones.

    As for lack of accessories, that seems to be a minor issue. At first it was hard to find a Xoom case I liked, but eventually I found a folio from CrazyOnDigital which I combined with the Motorola Silicone case for full protection and convenience. The ports are standard micro USB and micro HDMI and analog mini headset jack. The power charger is a proprietary 12V @ 1.5A jack, but it's a simple +/- pin connector, and it charges very fast.

    I've found the HDMI and Bluetooth A2DP work well for audio out. There is also a Bluetooth MIDI spec we are supporting with Libpd. (Definitely DIY territory. If you want handholding look elsewhere.)

    That said, for productivity today between the iPad, Xoom and Galaxy Tab, I would pick the Galaxy Tab. The 7″ form factor and light weight opens the device up for mobile use that the iPad and Xoom just can't match. The iPad and Xoom get left at home. The Galaxy Tab comes along for the ride. Android 2.2, Wifi, 3G, Flash, Bluetooth are all very solid on this device.

    One area of criticism I have of the Galaxy Tab is the poor linearity of the touch tablet surface. The Xoom does not seem to suffer from this issue.

    Unless you are desperate the jump in, or you are developing Honeycomb-optimized software or you find a really great deal, I would advise most people to hold off from Honeycomb Android tablets for now. But advancements will probably come quickly. Plus Amazon may field something interesting in the second half of the year with a color tablet.

    For now, I would consider only the Galaxy Tab and the B&N Nook Color as ready for people who don't love living on the bleeding edge.


  18. @johnny

    Points taken, but regarding this:

    “”The bottom line for me is”

    You know its not just about you eh? ;)”

    Of course I know it's not just about me! 🙂 Ashley is seeking feedback and opinions, and I'm just making it clear that I don't speak for everybody. Not everybody does that around here, you know… 🙂


  19. I have the Viewsonic G-Tablet and the Xoom. For the money I would do the Viewsonic. Their current firmware allows you to pick between the relatively awful TnTLite and native Android. The XDA Developers forum has 2-3 awesome custom ROMs for them. I am running Roebeets and love it. The Bristol Sound apps that were ported from Linux are awesome on the Android as well as uLoop, RD3, Tapemachine, and a half dozen others. I still love my iPad as a main device, but am also very much in love with the idea of an Android tablet (which by the way I use as my business tablet due to the Google integration).


  20. I've become pretty much smitten with my Android devices. This is due, in no small part, to my intense dislike of iTunes as the gateway between my PC and my iDevice.

    I have an iPod Touch and it still outperforms any Android music app out there, bar none. That's why my iPod Touch 2G has found a permanent home in my Synthstation 25 and pretty much runs nothing but music apps.

    What I love about Android is the utter simplicity of being able to plug it into my USB port and have it show up as a drive that I can move things onto and off of with ease.

    I DREAD having to start iTunes on my EeePc 904HD netbook because it just takes so long and hogs so many resources.

    So, I purchased a second-hand Archos 32 as my portable media player and a second-hand Archos 70 as an e-book reader and digital sketchpad.

    The A32 is really a very nice device, though the display is disappointing and the build quality could be improved (there's a speck of dust under my screen for instance). I really like the Archos 70's 7″ form factor. It's very easy to hold and throw into a bag to transport wherever I go.

    Unfortunately, the quality of Android apps really isn't up those available on Apple's devices, yet. I think the next year will really see the Android app market explode with high quality music apps that will run well on the OS.

    Latency is definitely an issue on my Archos devices, and quite possibly on all current Android devices. Also, the capacitive screen on the Archos 70 only allows for two finger points at a time.

    I agree that the hardware side of the equation should really improve over the next year so my recommendation would be to hold off for a bit until something really outstanding comes out that offers a better value against Apple's devices. I'm convinced this will happen but I think we're not quite there yet.


  21. “What I love about Android is the utter simplicity of being able to plug it into my USB port and have it show up as a drive that I can move things onto and off of with ease.”

    Yeah and I bet the trojans and viruses love that 'ease of use' too! 😉

    “I DREAD having to start iTunes on my EeePc 904HD netbook because it just takes so long and hogs so many resources.”

    Mate, what do you honestly expect?? Running iTunes off an EeePc, with an underpowered Atom chip in there too I expect? I would imagine running ANY application on an EeePc would be a hog to resources in someway or another?

    I really don't get this obsession on Palm Sounds with using underpowered pocket PC's simply because they 'may' be able to run a tracker perhaps. It's like a fear of the future or something! Yes, I agree Bhajis Loops was an incredible feat of programming- it really made that Palm Garnet shine- I've still got a Zire 72 and purchased a T3 for £15 not long ago either, but this obsession with crapware really is as bizarre as that post recently in TUAW that talks about 10 ancient Apple IIe's all stacked on top of one another, that can just about squeeze 10-part polyphony out, of Beatles numbers- if you're lucky! 😉 lol!

    Don't get me wrong, I too love Star Trek (Kirk, not the other baldy one), and I especially love musical things that come in little boxes (it must be a victorian thing?), but I also love cpu power and OS elegance (as well as design) also in tiny boxes, and you get that with Apple products because Apple simply refuse to bang out PC's based on underpowered technology, and for good reason too! 😉

    It's a shame that iOS handles external interface data as a low priority, but as technology improves and gets better, this will improve quickly. Remember with the Palm, you couldn't get ANYTHING in or out (apart from sound), and as for that 'one-note-at-a-time' stylus? What a joke?! 😀

    Perhaps the biggest problem we have here is that none of these devices really were intended to do music anyway? I still think that the future of electronic music lies in a dedicated product (like the OP-1 for eg), and not something that is really intended to gas on Facebook with!

    None of this was supposed to be taken as offence, it's just that time of the morning where the kids are at ballet classes, and I have an hour window to drink coffee and rant! 8)

    The Spirit 3G galaxy at £175 looks like a good deal, if all you want to do is to try the Android experience out. 🙂


  22. @Tom
    “Yeah and I bet the trojans and viruses love that 'ease of use' too! ;)”

    C'mon man, don't spread those lies around, I know you are more intelligent than that! 🙂 Otherwise, the rest of your post was great.


  23. @Richard
    “Sadly this thread has deteriorated into yet another “my iPad is better than your pad” thread. Yawn!”

    Yeah.. sadly this has been happening a lot in the last year on articles that covers Android, WP7 or anything “not IOS”.. Fortunately we are not all IOS crack addict 🙂


  24. @Robert
    “I'm just making it clear that I don't speak for everybody. Not everybody does that around here, you know.”

    Damn right! We can totally agree on that 🙂 Unfortunately too many people thinks their opinion represents everyone's opinion and won't even consider what other people thinks. I'm glad you are not one of those people 🙂


  25. @tom PC's and laptops were 'not intended for music' either and I'd say they changed the way music is done… just slightly perhaps?

    I like my kaossilator and some other pieces of gear and I appreciate some boutique houses like dave smith/roger linn, but if you're talking about what will make/dominate the future, commodit-ization will tend to win out over dedicated boutique pieces just because they're orders of magnitude more cost effective (and sometimes more powerful). Look at what happened with the lemur. I wouldn't be surprised if the same rich kids who bought the lemur are the ones buying the op-1 now.


  26. With regards to my using underpowered hardware, it's what I can afford. I just can not justify spending tons of money on anything on my salary and with a wife and daughtet at home. I work as a graphic designer and use high powered Macs but I gone through two Mac systems in the same amount of time I've had my Asus. I just don't see the advantage of spending thousands on something that can be just as susceptable to breaking down as my $300 netbook. As a hobbyist, I've gotten a lot of bang for the buck running Photoshop, a 3D program and Cakewalk software on my meager investment. I'm not running a studio, I'm just having fun with something I can afford at the moment. Sure I could have saved my money and bought something better but I chose this route instead.

    One more thing, any iDevice needs a computer to interface with and iTunes is just terribly bloated. All I am saying is that if I want to move photos onto and off of a device, I shouldn't have to run this massive database program to do it.

    By the way, I've never had any problems with viruses, at least not yet. I recognize that iTunes allows Apple control over the content that goes on there devices but again, I think there has to be an easier way to move things on and off a device.


  27. Rock on my Asus eeePC brother! I have one and it serves it's purpose. And… it runs some of my vst music apps very nicely as well. I have an iPad but again as someone else said – it isn't for everyone and I don't like if for anything other than music and entertainment. As for iTunes – it sucks. If they has a straight interface like Android Market, it would be very nice.


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