Dick Eastman wrote an article on his blog that was just begging for a response. Someone was asking him about the Nook and the Kindle Fire for genealogy uses. He actually owns both of those devices, but went on to tell his readers that neither is good and they should buy iPad. He clearly hasn’t been paying attention to other genealogy bloggers who use Android devices, because we have just been raving about them and about the apps that can be used for genealogy. And because he uses devices that have crippled versions of the OS, he doesn’t understand what Android is capable of. In the end, he tells his readers that Android is no good and they absolutely have to buy iPad if they want to use them for genealogy. This blog post is the long version of my response: he is completely wrong.
Not So Expensive
The only tablet that is useful for genealogy programs without modification is the Apple iPad or possibly one of the more full-featured and expensive tablet computers that run the Android operating system.
Those “full-featured and expensive” Android tablets cost less than his iPad. And not only are they full-featured, they probably have more features than his iPad does. Just because the only Androids he’s ever used are crippled and require jailbreaking does not mean that he has any experience with Android.
He is correct that the Nook and Kindle (Fire) are aimed at the ebook reader market and are not as full-featured as the iPad. He is correct to tell the questioner that the iPad is better for genealogy uses. He is wrong to suggest that every other Android is just as useless as these crippled Android ebook readers.
Not So Incompatible
Neither Legacy nor Family Tree Maker have versions that will run on the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire nor on any other Android or iOS tablet computers.
Via Twitter, Caroline Gurney quickly pointed out that “Ancestry App allows you to do 2 way sync between Family Tree Maker 2012 database and Android device.” Also, there is an app called Families for both OSes that will read and sync with Legacy Family Tree.
Those apps may not run on his Nook or Kindle, but they certainly run on other Android and iOS tablets.
Not So Bad At Web Browsing
However, most tablet computers do have web browsers. If you are within range of a wireless network connection, you can access a web-based genealogy application. However, my guess is that most tablet computer owners will not be happy with that solution. None of the web-based genealogy programs look very good on a 7-inch screen.
Has he ever used a “real” 7″ Android tablet? Not only is he comparing two 7″ tablets to a 10″ tablet, it’s clear he’s never used any other Android 7″ tablets. I agree that web sites do look best on 10″ tablets, but they are just fine in 7″ and some don’t even need to be zoomed to be read if you have young enough eyes. (Dick may be too old to see any kind of small print.)
Not Needing Modification
Both the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire run modified versions of the Android Operation System.
This is true, but he still uses this against all Androids by saying that none of them are as good as his iPad.
Dick then goes on to discuss hacking the devices. He ran his “hacked” Nook off of a microSD card, so clearly he either doesn’t know how or didn’t try to hack it properly. My first tablet, a ViewSonic gTablet, required hacking to access the Android Market. I did not use a microSD card, but installed the mod right onto the tablet’s memory. There was no lagging like he experienced with his not-really-hacked Nook.
He then talks about sideloading. Again, having never used a non-crippled Android, he doesn’t realize that the Android OS allows you to sideload apps. Maybe the Nook and Kindle don’t, but every Android I’ve ever used has had the option to allow apps from somewhere other than Google’s market. It is not hidden and it is not difficult. The iPad does require jailbreaking to install anything not from the Apple store.
Not So Many Drawbacks
In my mind, modifying or hacking a device of any sort always includes some drawbacks. I’d suggest the better, simpler, and more effective method is to purchase a tablet computer or cell phone that is designed to have all sorts of third-party programs installed, including genealogy apps. Admittedly, this is usually a more expensive solution.
But he hasn’t actually done that. He’s comparing his iPad to these two other tablets, not to the “more expensive” Androids that cost less than his iPad and do more.
Not The Leading Candidates
At this time, the leading handheld candidates for using genealogy apps are the Dell Streak tablet, Samsung Galaxy Tab, the T-Mobile SpringBoard with Google tablet, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, the T-Mobile SpringBoard, the Apple iPad for Apple’s iOS operating system, and a wide variety of “smartphones” (cell phones that include complete computers).
Um, what? What’s a T-Mobile SpringBoard? How does he figure that’s a “leading” tablet and why did he list it twice? Not only do I know a lot about a lot of Androids, but I use T-Mobile and I’ve never heard of this one specifically. The Dell Streak is also not a “leading” tablet. He failed to mention the Acer Iconia, Toshiba Thrive, and Motorola Xoom; those along with the Asus Transformer (and the brand new Transformer Prime) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab are more like the “leading” Android tablets. The Acer and Toshiba both have full size USB ports for flash drive, external hard drive, keyboard, or mouse. Does his iPad do that? These Androids are more “full-featured” than his iPad.
Not So Lesser Known, And Some That Are
If you search online, you can find many more Android tablets although most of them are lesser-known devices.
Sure, to an iPad fanboy. Actually, there are a lot of Android devices, many of which are “lesser-known”. But that just means there are that many more options, so instead of being forced to buy the one and only model available, you can buy an Android that does what you want it to do and not what Apple thinks you should do with it. Given his “leading candidate” list, he doesn’t even know which Android tablets are lesser-known and which aren’t. Some have full size USB ports, some have full size SD card slots, the Transformer has an attachable keyboard making it like a netbook, the Thrive is built like a netbook will full size ports, etc.
Not So Outsold
The Apple iPad is by far the most popular tablet computer. In fact, Apple sells more iPads than all the other tablet manufacturers combined.
Is he using old information? The only reason no one model of Android has outsold iPhone/iPad is because there are so many to choose from that people can buy what they want and what they need, and not be forced to by the only model available. (Yes, I’m repeating myself now.)
While I can find multiple web sites that state Android is currently the dominant OS in smartphones (with varying numbers depending on the time frame), it’s harder to determine the tablet market. Most iPads have 3G and thus show activations just like smartphones, but the vast majority of Android tablets have only wi-fi. So counting activations is not a fair assessment. Also, Apple only reveals their shipment numbers, not their purchase numbers. Several sites said that Android has a greater market share in the US and worldwide, but many were before the iPhone 4S was finally released. Of course, many people buy the iPhone for the “prestige” and not because they’ve compared it to an Android. My favorite find, while looking for a statistics link, was this article from, well, tomorrow (according to when I first wrote this), stating that Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, prefers his Android to his iPhone for the features it offers, including Android’s voice features over the much-hyped Siri app.
Not So Few Genealogy Apps
Dick Eastman (the cause of this
rant blog post) goes on to link to an earlier article of his about genealogy apps for iPhone/iPad. Tamura Jones has recently compiled lists of Free Android Genealogy Apps and Paid Android Genealogy Apps. There are a lot more apps for Android users. Maybe not for Dick with his crippled Nook and Kindle, but for the rest of us.
Not So Unrepetitious
In short, anyone who wants to use a full-featured genealogy program on a tablet computer needs to purchase an Apple iPad (which has many genealogy programs available) or one of the “leading handheld candidates” listed earlier that run Android (and will then be limited to only two or three genealogy programs). However, none of these choices can match the low prices of the Nook Tablet or of a Kindle Fire.
Again, he mentions those leading candidates that I’ve already pointed out are incorrect, and thinks they are limited to two or three programs, which Tamura proves is incorrect.
While the original question was about two tablets that Dick actually owns, the Nook and the Kindle Fire, he did not even offer a comparison of the two. Instead, he compared them both to his iPad. The two tablets are not even in the same league or remotely within the same price point as the iPad. If he wants to compare an iPad to something, he should try a 10″ Android that hasn’t been crippled by its manufacturer to be just an ereader.
He is also wrong about the prices of Android tablets. I purchased my 7″ Galaxy Tab for the same price as the Kindle Nook. Because Apple controls the iPads, they have set the prices. But Androids can be purchased from a variety of sellers, sometimes refurbished, but working like they are new.
To have a really fair comparison for Nook and Kindle, he should have compared them to other 7″ tablets. But wait, Apple doesn’t make one. There are no options in iOS for something the size of an ereader, and sometimes the size and weight of it is the big draw. No, he’d have to compare to the 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab, the HTC Flyer, or the Dell Streak. The HTC seemed a little overpriced to me. The cell providers don’t sell the old Galaxy Tab, but there is a newer version now, that with a two year activation, would probably cost about the same as the Nook and Kindle. Does the iPad cost less with the activation like the Androids do? This I don’t know.
Just because Dick Eastman has been blogging about technology for so many years doesn’t mean he’s always right. And even if he owns the devices in question, it doesn’t means he answers his readers’ questions about them, other than to steer the reader towards a device that was not even a possibility in their mind.
Also, as of the posting of this blog, he has not approved of any of the comments that have been left, as I know for a fact that there have been at least three. Does he not like to be told he’s wrong on his own blog? Possibly. I don’t know. Maybe he’s been busy since sending it out into the social networking world.
If the reader of EOGN wants to buy a more inexpensive and smaller Android tablet for genealogy uses, I recommend the 7″ Galaxy Tab, which can be purchased refurbished for about the same price as a Kindle Fire. If willing to spend a bit more, and wanting a 10″ tablet, the Asus Transformer refurbished is available as of this moment for only $300. Take a little time to research the tablets and find the options that you want. I have purchased all of my Androids on woot.com and deals.woot.com; I purchased each from a different seller whose deal was listed on that site.
Sorry Dick, but in this case, you should have asked your readers to answer for you. You just don’t appear to have enough experience with real Androids to answer.