Google's Honeycomb, also known as Android 3.0, is poised to become the standard tablet operating system for much of the world. That's not a statement about how good it is; it's the only OS being offered to a wide range of tablet manufacturers, so we're going to see dozens of Honeycomb tablets come to market in the coming months.
As it is now, Honeycomb is an emptier vessel than its major competitors, Apple's iOS 4.3 (4 stars), RIM's BlackBerry Tablet OS (3 stars) and HP's upcoming version of WebOS for tablets. Honeycomb's extreme configurability demands more of users, but it can pay off with a tablet that's designed for your needs in a way no other OS can match. The OS is severely weak on third-party apps, though, which may be a brake on Honeycomb tablet sales, at least for a while.
Honeycomb is poised to appear on more tablets than any other OS because of Google's strategy of offering its OS to many different manufacturers. We've seen Honeycomb tablets from big mobile phone makers like LG, Motorola, and Samsung, but also from smaller firms like Anydata and from PC giants like Acer and Asus. This is a very different approach from competing tablet OS vendors Apple, RIM, and HP, who make their own hardware and keep the numbers down to one or two per year.
This version of Android isn't open source, at least not yet; Google seems to be doling it out only to partners it trusts, with a promise to open it up in the future. Once it becomes open source, expect dozens of cheap Honeycomb tablets to appear quickly.
Google swears there's no hardware requirement for Honeycomb, but the first round of devices have all been 8.9-inch or larger tablets with 1280-by-1024 screens and Nvidia Tegra 2 processors. Manufacturers tell us Honeycomb will also be available on 7- and 10-inch devices, on tablets with 1024-by-600 screens, and on HTC's upcoming EVO View 4G for Sprint, which has a 1.5GHz, single-core processor. So just as with Android phones, we're likely to see a wide variation in Honeycomb tablet capabilities.
Honeycomb is considered Android 3.0, with most features in common with Android phones. Honeycomb won't run on small-screen devices, Google has said, but the tablet and phone experiences may be brought together in the next version of Android, which is code named "Ice Cream" and expected later this year.
The upgrade path for Honeycomb tablets is unclear. While all the Honeycomb tablets so far have had the same Google user experience, which would in theory make software upgrades easy, Google and its manufacturers don't have a strong history of providing timely upgrades on Android phones, so we're wary of what will happen with these tablets.
Just like other versions of Android, Honeycomb is a modern Linux-based OS which uses the Dalvik virtual machine to run code similar to Java apps. It supports multitasking and just-in-time compilation, and generally has good memory management; I didn't run out of memory when trying to run multiple apps during my tests. Stability, on the other hand, was a concern. While my test Honeycomb devices, a T-Mobile G-Slate (3.5 stars) and a Motorola Xoom (3.5 stars), didn't crash while I was testing them, they frequently threw up errors asking me to close misbehaving background apps.
Source : pcmag.com