I'm going to be heading to Belgium soon on exchange, and so I've been looking into buying an auxiliary device that I can take with me traveling so that I don't have to bring my 7.5 lbs. beast of a laptop. The things that were most important to me were to have decent hardware and overall user experience (touchscreen responsiveness, etc.), the ability to make VoIP calls using Skype or SIP, and to have a decent terminal emulator and Unix-like subsystem (bash, ssh, vi, and GNU screen are most important for me). Ideally, it would also cost around $200 (I'm a student, after all).
What I found was that in order to install a Unix subsystem on an iOS or Android device, you need root access. And, rather than just giving you root access, for some reason all devices, including the Android ones, require you to jailbreak the device via some exploit in the OS. I was expecting this of Apple devices (and I'm still waiting for the jailbreak for iOS 4.1, which should be any day now), but somehow I thought that Android devices would be more "open" or something because they are running Linux. But in fact, they are often, in effect, even more locked down than the Apple devices, as there is not a dedicated team of hackers searching for exploits, and so jailbreak techniques may not exist. For example, this is the case for the new Archos internet tablets, which at this moment may not be jailbroken.
It dawned on me that this was the difference between old-school PDAs (remember those?), and these new handheld iOS and Android devices. With PDAs, I think it was unquestionable that you would have administrator rights on your device. Why? Because they were seen as personal computers that incidentally could also fit in your pocket. Somehow, the expectation of these new devices is not the same - they are seen as phones or media players instead - and for that reason, it is seen as acceptable to lock them down, restricting what the user can do with them. This shift in the expectation of the manufacturer regarding what the user may do with their device seems to have happened very quickly and quietly, perhaps commencing with the release of the iPhone, and it's something that I'm only beginning to grasp now. This is not something that anyone seems to be talking about, however.
Unfortunately, this is a complete deal-breaker for me. I won't be able to buy an Android device until it comes with root access out of the box.