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I was away on vacation last week with Ms. SmallNetBuilder and a longtime friend and brought along our iPad (first Gen) and ASUS Transformer Android tablets.

I also took my Lenovo x220i notebook in case I needed to do any serious site maintenance or article writing. Tablets are nice for consuming web content. But if I have to do anything longer than a few forum replies, I reach for a real computer and keyboard.

The iPad always wins

Ms. SNB has made it clear that her tablet of choice is the iPad. It has become part of her morning ritual of checking in on the couple of blogs she follows, doing some window shopping and product research and playing a few relaxing games of spider solitaire.

She is even firmer in her preference after a recent iPad-less weekend. I took the iPad with me on a short trip to see if I could entice my 85 year old father onto it so that we could email and IM. I left the Transformer at home and gave my spouse only a quick demo of turning it on and unlocking it.

Ms. SNB managed to survive the weekend, but was glad to get her little buddy back. The most positive thing she could say was she liked the tabbed browser.

During last week's vacation, I was the only one who used the Transformer, even though I offered it to my friend when it wasn't his turn for iPad time. But after a short session with the Android tablet, he preferred to wait for the iPad!

Both my wife and friend are experienced, although not expert, computer users, she on Windows, he on Mac OS. So they both know how to navigate a modern OS GUI. Ms. SNB basically uses the iPad browser, solitaire and Angry Birds (but not any more since she finished) and all my friend used was the browser and a solitaire game. So it's not about the apps at all.

I think people prefer the iPad because it's very difficult to screw up or get lost on it. With Android, one wrong move and you can be stuck wondering how you got where you are and how to get back to where you were. Geekier types grok Android's multiple controls and navigation methods quickly. More casual users quickly realize that they are now confronted with one more frickin' thing to learn when all they want to do is read email or browse a favorite website.

Familiarity with Android doesn't seem to win the day either. One of Ms. SNB's friends, who is an Android phone user, also visited recently and also logged a lot of iPad time. As did another of my wife's friends who visited last year. She loved the iPad so much that we had to make sure the iPad was in its normal spot on the kitchen desk before she left!

What I find most interesting is that people don't seem to miss Flash on the iPad, which is one of, if not the biggest Android tablet selling point. Actually, Ms. SNB does occasionally complain that some shopping sites she encounters are difficult-to-impossible to use without Flash. But even that doesn't cause her to waver in her preference for her favorite tablet!

So given the choice, visitors to Chez SNB always make the iPad their tablet of choice. What's your experience?

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