This little Android tablet is fun to use, does a good job doing email and browsing the web, has a gorgeous color display, starts up instantly, works nicely for video chats and is easy to carry in my coat pocket.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Tablet prices plunging: How about $69.99?


Trio 7C tablet, running a photo editor, shown on top of an iPad 2. The Trio (also called "Trio Droid") is an Android tablet, with some features the iPad lacks.

August 19, 2012

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, The Post-Standard

I'm an iPad kind of guy. But when I saw an Android tablet go on sale for $69.99, I grabbed my iPad and ordered the Android tablet immediately. It's a Mach Speed Trio, model 7C. I bought it from New Egg, which has some of the best prices and delivery times of any Internet retailer. The store is at www.newegg.com.

I hate to leave you hanging, so I'll tell you right up front: It's a fun tablet, 7 inches instead of the iPad's 10.6, and is worth every little spot of ink on my credit-card statement. But is it an iPad beater? Probably not.

That's not necessarily a criticism. New iPads cost a lot more. I could have bought five Trios for less than the cost of an iPad 2. A whole family of Trios.

But this cheapness comes at a price. You don't get the big screen of the iPad. You don't get Apple's polished interface. You don't get easy upgrades. You don't get fast Wi-Fi or two cameras or the assurance of the world's most successful company standing behind the product.

What you do get, however, is supremely cool. The little Trio is fun to use, does a good job doing email and browsing the web, has a gorgeous color display, starts up instantly, works nicely for video chats, is easy to carry in my coat pocket and has a memory-card slot that lets me boost the tablet's storage for only a few bucks.

If you're an iPadder like me, you should have heard a knock when you read the previous sentence. iPads don't have memory-card slots. There's no way to add storage space. If you buy a 16GB iPad, the one with the smallest amount of storage, you're stuck with it forever -- or until you unload it on eBay because you need more file space for videos and photos. Apple keeps the iPad's storage space locked up, soldered into the iPad's internal parts, to encourage you to buy another iPad if you need more space.

Yes, that's perfectly legal. Yes, that's totally insulting.

In the Android world, this is dumb. Android is the biggest rival to Apple's iPhone and iPad family, and it differs in many ways. Here are some of them:

-- The tablet's main software (operating system) is much less restrictive. You can customize Android tablets in hundreds of ways, with new fonts, different colors, animated backgrounds (wallpaper) and much more. This "look and feel" customization is impossible on a stock iPad.

-- Memory cards can be plugged into most Android tablets to add storage space. Most of them use Micro SDHC cards so small you could mistake one for a sesame seed if you swallowed it in your sandwich. They are available in fairy high capacities.

-- Any company can make an Android tablet. This encourages variety in designs. Only Apple can legally make an iPad.

-- Google, nursemaid of the Android system, leads the way in Android design, and even has an Android tablet of its own -- the Nexus 7. It's had rave reviews and sells for $199.

But what about specific features of Android? Are some of them better than the way the iPad does things? We'll talk about that next week.