An early technology adopter, I purchased the iPad on the first day it came out.  I also got the original iPhone on the day it came out, and the first Google Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, within a month of its release.  Google even sent me their first unlocked Android phone, the Nexus One, to review when it came out. I like new toys and am not tied to any specific company; the one with the coolest or best features is the one that wins me over.

Unfortunately, my iPad was stolen less than a month after I bought it.  Insurance covered the loss, but I did not rush out to buy a new one right away.  I got my chance to play with the iPad and while it was pretty cool, I found it to be more of an entertainment device than anything and it was lacking some key features – for example, a camera.  Apple will probably add some of those features with the upcoming release of the iPad 2, which some say is to be announced this week, but I’m sick of their game of intentionally leaving out features that consumers want and introducing it on a subsequent version so you’ll buy their product again. I want all the features I want right now.  Sure, I’ll probably buy another similar device in a year or two, but by that point I expected the features to once again be something new and cutting edge, not a feature that you opted not to include but most others did.

I am still in the market for a new tablet, and it’s a great time to be ready to acquire one.  The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show last month was dominated by a slew of tablets, the new must-have device.  Tablet computers have been around for some time, but they were never as sleek, pretty, functional, and in-demand as they are now.  The launch of the iPad last year can be credited with bringing the tablet mainstream, but one year later you’ve got a whole lot more choice.

The top competitor for the Apple iPad right now is any one of a number of Google Android-powered devices manufactured by the likes, of Motorola, Samsung, Dell and others.  HP Palm announced a new webOS powered tablet yesterday, but I think they still be a minor player in the -tablet arena.  I’ve done my research and played with a few of the new Android tablets and at this point have decided that an Android tablet is a better choice than the iPad.  Here are my top five reasons to choose an Android tablet over an iPad:

Dell Streak 7. Photo courtesy of Dell.

1. Choice of Size

The Apple iPad is closest in size to a 10×8 picture frame with its dimensions at 9.56 x 7.47 x .5 in.  There are no other size options for the iPad, unless you’re of the opinion that the iPad is merely a giant iPhone, and in that case the iPhone could count as a smaller version.

Unlike the iPad, the various Android tablets come in a range of sizes.  The sizes include 5-in. (Dell, Acer), 7-in. (Dell, Samsung, Acer), 9-in. (LG, Panidigital), and 10-in. (Motorola Xoom, Acer) tablets.  The 5-inch tablets are admittedly just slightly larger than popular touchscreen smartphones, which tend to top out in the 4-inch range. But if they make them, there’s obviously some kind of market for them. You can go bigger or smaller than the iPad with an Android. Personally, I’d like to go bigger and would love to see an 11-inch tablet come out in the near future.  It’d be the exact size of a piece of paper.

2. True Multitasking

Apple has avoided true multitasking on the iPad primarily due to battery life and performance concerns, the reason they always leave off features on their new iPhones as well.

There are already some Android tablets running off dual-core processors, which have more than enough power to handle true multitasking.  Android 3.0′s new multitasking panel is also easy to bring up with a single tap on the screen, and provides full previews of running applications.  The multitasking panel is also extremely easy to navigate.

Apple should have figured out how to deliver true multitasking.  Perhaps this will be a feature included in the second-generation iPad.

3. Cameras

Apple made a huge mistake in not including a camera on the iPad.  At the very least it should have included and outward facing camera, but if it really wanted to be a winner, it would have also had a second, front-facing camera that users could use for video chatting.

Most Android tablets have 2 cameras, an outward facing one and a inward one for video chatting.  Google’s native camera app also has some nice features that will let you alter your image, without having to download and edit it on your computer.

Apple iPad. Photo courtesy of Apple Inc.

4. No Syncing Required

Whether you own an iPod, iPhone, or an iPad, you must sync the device with iTunes using a computer to transfer downloads purchased on your computer to the device.  It’s a royal pain, but it’s Apple’s way of keeping their users coming back to iTunes.  It’s also a very slow process.

With the Android Market Web Store, you can buy apps on your computer and send them to your device without syncing. Brilliant!

5. Replaceable Batteries

One of the things that irked me most about the iPhone and the iPad was the battery.  It’s not removable, and if it goes, you have to get a whole new device.  If yours breaks and still happens to be under warranty, Apple will send you a new one — for a fee.  For the iPad, if the battery goes, you can send in your old one and they’ll send you a new one for $99.   Oh, and make sure you synced it before it died because when they send you out the new one it won’t have any of your apps or personal information on it.  If you forgot to sync, you’re S.O.L.

Android devices have their own batteries which are replaceable.  If the battery goes, you just buy a new one.  Or if you’re under warranty, the manufacturer can send you a new one without having to bother with taking your entire tablet.

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