Having checked out both, straps seem to be best to me, but everyone has an opinon on whats right for them. Ive found that most teachers that I've met agree with me. I play mainly sitar, but sometimes I work out some beats to play to. as I said its just my Experience to what I perfer..............Peace
Bolt tuning appears to be a great idea, but unfortunately most bolt drums are of low quality; it doesn't necessarily relate to the bolts themselves, but the overall construction of the drum, the wood used, and the head are usually not up to par. It IS possible to find a good quality bolt drum, but you'll have to look for a while...
The main problem with bolts, it that they tend to stick up a little from the gajara (braided rim) and hurt your hands.
I personally use strap tuning, and most other tabla players that I'm aware of do the same.
When it take 3+ hours to restrap a drum, and days to let the straps dry - or pay $60-a-pop to get it done at a shop- bolt tuning looks really appealing! I have also learned that some bolt-tuned tablas have torn the heads because of poor design. I think this is because tabla heads are not made for bolt-tuning. You need a tabla head that looks like a regular drum-set head (with a head rim) to have success. Of course, these types of heads do not exists right now, but they may when the tabla becomes popular and more people work on the problems associated with the tabla (example, find a synthetic solution to that black dot paste!).
Even thought the bolt idea is good, one of the main flaws is that you can't tune the drum precisely. Personally i dont like the way the bolts look like, and prefer the strap, i'm also a traditionalist about music... But thats only my oppinion.
Bolt tablas look plain weird. They make the dayan look more like a contraption then a musical instrument. Looks weird taking out a ratchet to tune on stage (versus the traditional hatordi).
Even just for practise use, there's one BIG problem. No anchoring. Your legs and/or dagga can press against the dayan's gats and straps to hold it in place while executing complicated patterns. Without those gats (and straps) there's a lot less to hold onto.
Try hammering some heavy rela bols on a bolt tabla, it goes all over the place. LOL
I know it really does suck but I think you just have to put up with the straps.