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Android or iPad: Which for Home A/V and Control?
It’s no secret that the iPad has been a tremendous success for Apple. However, just as Android-based phones have taken a serious bite out of Apple’s smart phone market share, Android-based tablets are lining up to take a swing at Apple’s formidable iPad. If you’ve been on the fence as to which team is right for you, and home control is important to you, you’ve come to the right place. After discussing some of the differences between Apple’s iPad and its Android-based opposition, we’ll highlight some of the key players in the home automation arena and look at what each one is doing to take advantage of these exciting new platforms.
This isn’t the time or place to cover every hardware-related detail pertaining to the iPad and its Android-powered competition but there are a few things worth noting. The big thing is screen size. If you plan on doing a lot of web surfing with your tablet, you’ll want to look for something with a 10-inch screen. Apple’s iPad features a 10-inch display and there are a number of Android options, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Motorola Xoom, and Toshiba’s Thrive. If the web isn’t as important, and portability is key (or you actually enjoy searching for your remote under sofa cushions) you may want to consider a 7-inch Android tablet such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.
One of the biggest drawbacks of most tablets is their mini-sized (or missing altogether) connection ports. For example, Apple’s iPad lacks both SD Card and USB ports and if you want to connect it to an HDTV, you’ll need to buy Apple’s Digital AV Adapter ($39). On the Android side, some tablets such as Toshiba’s 10-inch Thrive are packing full (not mini) USB and full (not mini) HDMI ports in additon to an SD Card slot for greater storage capacity and media share flexibility.
To connect your Apple or Android tablet to the internet, you have two options: local Wi-Fi or 3G/4G via cellular carrier. When shopping for a tablet, the “starting at” prices you always see advertised are typically Wi-Fi only models. For example, Apple’s entry level iPad 2 “starts at” $499 and that gives you Wi-Fi but no 3G antenna. Stepping up to 3G brings the iPad price up to $629 and then you’ll need a data plan from AT&T or Verizon, currently starting at $15/month. 3G obviously has its uses for frequent travelers and commuters, but if you’re primarily looking at a tablet for home control purposes, odds are you already have a Wi-Fi network and a Wi-Fi only tablet is going to offer the best value.
Before we get to the various apps that are available for Andoid and Apple’s iOS, let’s take a minute to consider the availability of tablet accessories. For some, this isn’t a big deal. However, for others, the relative dearth of Android tablet accessories is a significant stumbling block. Thanks to the iPad’s tremendous popularity, you’ll marvel at the number of unique and innovative iPad cases, sleeves, portfolios, stands, and charging stations on the market or coming soon. Android tablet accessories are certainly out there, but because each model from each manufacturer is different in size, shape, and port layout, you’re not going to see the plethora of choices that exist for the one-size-fits-all iPad.
There Might Be An App for That
If you’re wondering if there’s an app for gear you currently own, your best bet is to visit Apple’s App Store or the Android Market or Amazon’s Android AppStore, and search for key phrases or the manufacturer name in question. Try searching for things like “home control” and “home automation” and “blu-ray” and “lighting control” and “Pioneer receiver.” To get you started, here’s a few iPad and Andrpoid tablets available right now:
Note: Although the latest version of Android (3.2, a.k.a. “Honeycomb”) is now available, not all Android-based tablets can take advantage of it. Some Android-based tablets are still running older versions of the OS, such as the Dell Streak, which is running Android 2.2 (a.k.a. “Froyo”). If you are interested in a particular app, make sure your current (or intended) tablet can support it. And while most apps will ultimately adapt to the latest version of Android, it doesn’t happen overnight. Owners of Honeycomb-based tablets such as Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 are still waiting for Netflix.
Home Automation Apps
AMX TPControl (iPad and Android, $FREE)
Control4 MyHome (iPad and Windows OS tablets, $FREE)
Crestron Mobile Pro G/Mobile G (iPad, $99.99/$FREE)
Lutron Home Control (Android, iPad $FREE)
Lutron Home Control+ (iPad, $19.99)
Savant TrueControl (iPad, $9.99)
Elan g!Mobile (iPad, $FREE)
HAI Haiku (iPad, $49.99)
Logitech Alert (iPad and Android, $FREE)
Nuvo/Nuvo Lite (iPad, $99.99/$FREE)
Vantage Home Control Plus+ (iPad, $FREE)
XFINITY Home Security (iPad, $FREE)
Home Theater Control Apps
Autonomic Mirage Media Controller (iPad, $49.99)
Denon Remote App (iPad, $FREE)
Kaleidescape (iPad, $FREE)
LG TV Remote (iPad and Android, $FREE)
Logitech Squeezebox Controller (iPad and Android, $FREE)
Marantz Wizz App (iPad, $FREE)
Onkyo Remote (iPad and Android, $FREE)
Panasonic Blu-ray Remote 2011 (iPad, $FREE)
Pioneer iControl AV2 (iPad and Android, $FREE)
pocket BLU (iPad and Android, $FREE)
Pioneer AVNavigator (iPad, $FREE)
SONOS Controller (iPad and Android, $FREE)
Yamaha AVENTAGE Network A/V Receiver Control App (iPad, $FREE)
With every CE manufacturer scrambling to develop a mobile device app for integration with its product line, and new apps appearing every day, it would be naive to call the above a comprehensive list. Surely there are many others not listed here. However, this should give you an indication of just how many tablet apps are out there right now – and how many of them are free!
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