This post isn't looking to compare these two devices' hardware specifications or the differences between Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) and Jelly Bean (4.1), but instead evaluate how useful these devices would be if every student possessed one. You should be aware that this post itself is part of the experiment as it is being written on the Nexus 7 using the Blogger app.
Learning Untethered conducted an in depth investigation into using Android devices in a 5th grade classroom and while they enjoyed great successes, they still could not recommend Android devices for education. Their tablets were using Android Froyo (2.2) which even at the start of their investigation had been surpassed by the release of Honeycomb (3.0) about six months prior. As an owner of a Galaxy Tab 7" with Froyo I can confirm that the early Android tablets were not ready for the classroom.
Which takes us to the two devices in question today: Google's Nexus 7 and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 7". Both of these devices are significantly more fluid in operation than the original Galaxy Tab. But why would we choose these over Apple's offerings? We have two main reasons for selecting Android tablets:
1. The future. We feel that the open ecosystem of the Android OS is the future of mobile computing.
2. Cost. Android tablets can be purchased at a ratio to 2:1 when compared to an iPad.
I am not going to debate our choices here, but instead publish these points to provide a basis for our thinking.
After spending about two weeks with both devices simultaneously, I have come to the conclusion that the Galaxy Tab 2 is a better option for our students. This conclusion was reached due to several considerations:
1. Google could not sell us more than 5 devices and the manufacturer (Asus) refused to sell directly to us. This left us using third party distributors which raised the price from $199 to slightly less than $245. This effectively put both devices at the same price.
2. The Galaxy Tab 2 has a forward facing camera. This is a must have based upon the discussion of our selection committee. Additionally, I experienced some weirdness when using the Nexus 7 camera (i.e. the image would be flipped upside down). We feel that a camera is a critical part of the creation process.
3. The faster processor and newer OS of the Nexus 7 was not enough to make drastic performance differences.
4. The expandability of the Galaxy Tab 2 (via microSD) gives it some flexibility not found in the Nexus 7.
5. While it lacks NCS, it does possess an IR sensor which we intend to explore (other than controlling our home televisions).
We have one major complaint of the Galaxy Tab and that is the proprietary power plug.
Next week we are exploring the Android app offerings, so I'll post on that discussion as well.
Thanks for reading!