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The Google Android operating system may have started as a smartphone OS, but that did not stop manufacturers from porting it to tablets and eReaders. Google has since taken note, and with Honeycomb (version 3.0) and each subsequent update, Android is found on more devices than any other OS, and features an ever-expanding app market that rivals Apple’s in size and scope. Android is an open operating system, meaning any developer or manufacturer can install it on a product, which explains its pervasiveness that extends even to eReaders.
Windows is the operating system for those who want to create, rather than consume, content, which is why enterprise tablet users often prefer Windows slates. Typically coupled with an active pen and handwriting recognition, and also found in convertible and slider tablets, what Windows slates lack in flash, they more than make up for in functionality. The Windows operating system offers essentially the same experience as the OS found on a laptop or desktop, complete with similar icons, files and menu structure.
With the iPad, Apple redefined the tablet concept, from clunky and expensive devices to slick and mobile tools closer in function to smartphones than laptops. As such, each iPad and iOS update is global news. Boasting the massive and growing App Store, with hundreds of thousands of applications, the iPad will continue to lead the tablet market for the foreseeable future. While features and specific iOS versions can vary by device, the fragmentation concerns that dog Android are a non-issue with the iPad.
RIM built a completely new operating system for its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, basing it on the QNX Nuetrino microkernel architecture. This means RIM intends the BlackBerry Tablet OS to be secure and stable, as evident by the fact that QNX OS technology is also found in space stations and in-car systems. RIM has positioned the OS and its tablet as both functional and fun, stressing gaming and video performance in addition to enterprise-level security and encryption.
To many, there is no better display technology for readers than eInk, which is why single-function eReaders have survived in the age of portable, multifunction tablets. Unlike the LCD displays found on most tablets, eInk strongly resembles physical ink on a page and it shrugs off glare, particularly from the sun. eReaders also last for weeks between charges, are less expensive than many tablets, and are typically tied to eBook sellers that sell digital editions for significantly less than physical books.
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