Gadgets and killer apps (Acer Iconia A500)

A couple of weeks ago I bought my first Android tablet, the Acer Iconia A500. This in spite of owning an iPad, which I love. So why a second tablet? Mostly curiosity, backed by the fact that I write a lot about Android tablets on my ITworld blog and I always feel more secure writing about a topic if I have real-world, hands-on experience. Yeah, I could’ve gone into a store and played around with an Android tablet, but that doesn’t compare to living with a device.

So far, I’m really enjoying the Iconia. Is it a “better” tablet than the iPad? No, I don’t think so. iOS is more refined than Honeycomb (the version of Android made for tablets), more stable (the Iconia locks up probably once a day) and there’re a lot more apps available for iOS. Also keep in mind my experience is with an iPad 1.

And yet these days when I reach for a tablet, I generally grab the Iconia. Weird, no? Part of it is the ‘new’ factor, but after naval gazing for a while I’ve come to realize it’s mostly about a “killer app.” In this context, a killer app is that one program that just sings to you, personally. It might not be the best or the most popular, but it just fits for you.

In my case, the killer app is Feedly for Honeycomb. Feedly pulls in my Google Reader feeds and presents them in a nice browsable format. There are a ton of apps that do this, and in fact Feedly is available for the iPad too. But I like Feedly on the Iconia. It just feels right.

Feedly only runs in portrait mode, and the Iconia is narrower and longer than the iPad when held in a portrait orientation. That makes Feedly feel like I’m reading a magazine. Each page has a list of new stories. I can tap one to drill down into full content, and from there (if needed) I can choose to open the story in a web browser (I use Dolphin HD on Android). Generally I only need to do this if there’s embedded video. Feedly’s built-in browser doesn’t handle video.

If there’s nothing on a page that I want to read, I just swipe to go to the next page, and Feedly marks all the stories read (you can disable this if you like). If I want to save something for later, Feedly supports Instapaper, which is a tool I lean on heavily.

Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a Feedly review. But it’s just odd to me that this one free app is what makes the Iconia my preferred tablet these days (unless I want to play games…the iPad is still better for that just due to the number of titles available). Well, the Feedly app and the different proportions of the Iconia tablet.

I never would have discovered this combination by playing around with a tablet in the store, and now I just love it. I also prefer the Dolphin browser to iOS Safari (or Android’s built-in browser) for general surfing, too. I find myself laying in bed at night, reading my feeds just like they’re a magazine, now. It’s killing my book reading, though! (Although that reminds me, I like reading Kindle books on the Iconia more than on the iPad, too…again because its narrower and longer. Shorter lines but, I’m guessing, the same number of page turns.) I’ve moved from Evernote to Springpad because of their Honeycomb client, too.

Huh, so Feedly got my foot in the door but I guess I’m really gravitating to more and more Android apps. I didn’t realize that, really, until I started writing this.

Anyway I was wondering if I’m just weird, or if other people have gadgets that they love just due to a specific feature?

I still might trade in the Iconia for the Galaxy Tab when it comes out next month, but I want to see what the proportions are. I’m a little leery of switching at this point, to be honest.