I remember sitting in a briefing with Samsung last year when the company first started talking about translating its success in the Android smartphone space into the tablet market. Samsung has done well in the Android tablet space but it’s safe to say that the company is better known for its phones. This year Samsung hopes to change all of that and is putting its most valued mobile sub-brand (or letter) to work in tablets. Later this month (globally) and starting next month in the US, Samsung will begin selling its Galaxy Tab S line of premium tablets. Read on for our take and hands on experience.
The tablet and hybrid side of Toshiba was similarly diversified, with and ultra-budget device sitting right next to a very high-end tablet. Toshiba reps said they’re going after the price point with an updated Excite 7 tablet, which seems to be the same core hardware as before but with a lower price. I wouldn’t be too sure about that price, however, as the reps also told me it was a Tegra 4 SoC and that’s clearly not the case – we’re looking at a dual-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A9 SoC with PowerVR SGX 540. Judging by some of the information I could get off the tablet, it may come with 6GB (8GB) of storage and 1GB RAM, with a 1024×552 display. While performance and overall quality may not match that of the latest and greatest tablets, if Toshiba really hits a MSRP for the Excite 7 they could still move a lot of units.
Jumping way over to the high-end – and with nothing in between – is the Excite Write, a 10” tablet with a Tegra 4 SoC (probably the SoC the reps were talking about earlier), with a Wacom digitizer and stylus. The Write also has a 2560×1600 display, 2GB RAM, and a variable amount of storage depending on the model. Starting price? 0. So yeah, you could buy six Excite 7 tablets or one Excite Write, though obviously there’s more to it than that. Rounding things out on their tablets is the Encore 8.1, a Windows 8.1 tablet with an 8” display and Atom Z3740 SoC with a new target price of 9 (down from the original launch price of 9). If you’re after a Windows 8.1 tablet, the Encore 8.1 might fit your needs, and it includes Microsoft Office Home and Student to sweeten the deal.
None of the above devices are new, but it was our first chance to go hands-on so I thought I’d at least mention them. There were a couple more tablet-like device at Toshiba that have come out during the past few months, the Satellite Click and the Portege Z10t. Portege tends to be the business variant of Toshiba’s ultraportable line, but in this case there appears to be little overlap between the Satellite Click and Portege Z10t – I’m simply mentioning them together as they’re both hybrid detachable tablet-laptop devices.
The Click is a 13.3” hybrid that uses an AMD A4-1200 (Kabini) SoC/APU with a target price of 0. That will get you 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD (yeah, no SSD here), the keyboard dock, and a 2-cell battery in the tablet with another battery (2-cell?) in the keyboard dock. Battery charging and drain are prioritized do the dock is used first and the tablet is charged first, but holding a 13.3” 1366×768 tablet is still probably more conspicuous than most of us would like, and sadly the AMD Kabini APU doesn’t do a lot to make up for other deficiencies in the design.
As for the Portege Z10t, it’s a slightly smaller detachable with an 11.6” 1920×1080 display and with Intel’s Y-series CPU powering the device. Think of this as basically an Ultrabook with a detachable keyboard and you’re not too far off, though it can still be a bit bulky for a tablet. The Z10t originally launched with Ivy Bridge, but it is now being updated with a Haswell i5-4200Y processor and appears to come with 8GB RAM. That should help improve battery life over the earlier model, but the pricing for the currently shipping IVB models starts at 49, so that’s still pretty steep. The Haswell update will likely come in around 00 MSRP starting prices, but I didn’t get any specific information on pricing or availability.
We've covered quite a few laptop options last week for those looking for something mobile for the holiday season, but one area we haven't touched on yet is tablet options. There are several ways to break things down, so let's quickly cover the bases first. You need to answer a few questions in determining the best tablet for your needs. First up: what operating system do you want to run? You have four main choices: Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and Microsoft's Windows RT and Windows 8.1. Next up, you need to decide what size tablet you want: 7”, 8”, 9”, 10”, 11”, and 13” are all possibilities, but for the purposes of this guide I'm going to just drop the largest two options, and there aren't too many 9” tablets either so really in my book it's a question of 7-8” vs. 10” (give or take). These two area will help cut down the number of choices quite a bit, but there are still additional items to consider.
Price is obviously something we need to account for, as not everyone can simply run out and buy the most expensive tablets. Intended use is another important factor – if you just need something to do some web surfing and pull up other reference material over WiFi, your needs will be far different than someone that wants a tablet with mobile broadband; similarly, people that want to play games (or have kids that will want to play games) have different needs than those that don't care much about graphics.
Finally, depending on which platform and size you've selected, you also need to decide if you want a pure tablet, something with a keyboard dock, or a hybrid device. The first two options have some overlap, as the vast majority of tablets support Bluetooth keyboards so you can add one of those to pretty much any tablet, but if you actually want a dock – and in particular a dock that adds additional battery capacity – your choices are pretty limited. Rather than trying to come up with a recommendation for every potential area, I'm going to focus on the major options that are worthy of a recommendation.
My personal feeling is that most users are going to either buy into the Apple iOS line or they're going to go with Android – and that usually means both a smartphone and a tablet for the respective OS. There are currently four major tablet options available in the iOS ecosystem (five if we add in the iPod Touch, but I'm skipping that as most people have a smartphone these days so if they want an additional mobile device it's more likely to be a larger tablet): there's the new iPad Air, the new iPad Mini Retina, and Apple continues to sell the iPad 2,4 as their faux-budget 10” offering along with the previous generation iPad Mini. (You can still find the previous generation iPad (4) and even the iPad 3 floating around online, but we'll skip those.)
For the budget conscious, let's be frank: Apple isn't for you. “Budget” and “Apple” are like oil and water – they don't mix. The least expensive Apple tablet currently for sale is the previous generation iPad Mini, priced at 9 for a 16GB model with an A5 chip. 0 more gets you the iPad Mini Retina, and even if you don't care much about the display the A7 SoC is a pretty substantial upgrade in performance. Similarly, if you still haven't purchased an iPad 2,4 I think we can simply skip that now. That means we're effectively left with two choices, and they're both pretty expensive.
The 16GB iPad Mini Retinal has a 9 price from Apple, and that's pretty much what you're going to have to pay. Meanwhile the 32GB model will set you back 9 and the 64GB costs 9. Personally, I can get by with the 16GB model with iOS, and that's what I'd go for if you're not planning on carrying around a lot of movies or music; the 32GB model ends up being more than enough for all but the biggest digital packrats, while the 64GB model ends up costing enough that I can't really recommend it, but if you want to dance you have to pay the piper.
If you're looking for the fastest iPad, not surprisingly the iPad Air is where it's at. While the iPad Mini Retina and iPhone 5S use the same A7 SoC as the iPad Air, there's no stacked RAM on the die and there's a heat spreader, which combined allow the larger iPad Air to run anywhere from 10% to 50% faster than the iPad Mini Retina. The cost starts out at 9 for the 16GB WiFi model, and as usual Apple tacks on 0 for each storage update (9 for 32GB, 9 for 64GB, and 9 for 128GB). I'd say the 32GB model is probably a reasonable pick, but if you want to store a lot of music on your iPad you can certainly make a case for the 64GB model.
The price ends up being right up there with many budget laptops, but the A7 SoC actually manages to compete with basic Windows laptops. Add in a keyboard – I've seen quite a few options, but I'd be inclined to go with the Official Keyboard and Incase Origami or one of the many third-party Bluetooth keyboard and case options. With a keyboard, the iPad Air becomes a viable laptop replacement. I'm still going to turn to Windows laptops for my serious work like writing articles and editing images, but with a keyboard I can do about 95% of my work on a tablet and not feel like I'm missing much. Another generation or two (and perhaps some additional price cuts) and the budget laptop segment is going to be in serious jeopardy.
I'll be honest here: I'm not devoted to the Apple ecosystem by any stretch of the imagination, but mostly that's because I tend to gravitate more towards the affordable end of the spectrum. That said, if money were no object, I'd go out and buy the iPad Air 32GB or maybe even 64GB. In my opinion, the combination of SoC, industrial design, display, performance, and other features makes it the best current tablet on the market. That's not to say that I don't like Android options, but as someone that has never actually owned an Apple product other than a 4th Generation iPod Touch, I still envy those that apparently can afford the latest and greatest Apple smartphones and tablets.
When we shift over the the Android market, things get far more diverse in terms of hardware, performance, pricing, quality, etc. Many if not most Android tablets feel very much like budget offerings, though not all of them are priced accordingly. There's also an issue with getting updated versions of Android for these tablets; I have an old Tegra 2 Acer A500 that never got updated beyond Android 4.0.3 (which took six months, never mind the display failing when the tablet was less than two years old), while a newer Tegra 3 Acer A700 stopped at Android 4.0.4. And such behavior is not at all limited to Acer – another “no-name” tablet that I have is also stuck on Android 4.0.4, and even the Google Nexus devices stop getting updated beyond a certain point. Part of this comes from trying to support a wider array of hardware, but regardless it still happens. Contrast that with iOS where devices tend to receive the latest OS updates until they reach the point where they're too slow (e.g. my iPod Touch 4th Gen is still on iOS 6.x); if you like getting more than six months of OS updates, Android isn't necessarily the best option.
With that said, there are a ton of Android tablets out there, with options that cater to your preference for saving money or getting a fast and recent tablet, along with size considerations as well. If all you want is a budget tablet that can browse the web and run some other apps, I'd look at the less expensive devices and be done with it. Dell sent over their Venue 8 tablet for review, and with a base price of 0 for 16GB storage and 2GB RAM with a Clover Trail Z2580 Atom SoC, it's not a bad tablet. The Venue 7 is similar but slightly smaller, with an Atom Z2560 but still with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, starting at just 0.
Neither Dell Venue will set the world on fire in terms of performance or features, but the Atom SoC is generally much better than what you'll find in other 0-0 tablets (i.e. the MediaTek SoCs in the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7). On the Venue 8, Octane V1 performance for example is 3536 (in Chrome), Kraken 1.1 is 10,503, and 3DMark gives the following scores: Ice Storm 8310, Graphics 7915, and Physics 10066. You'll see that based off those results, the Venue 8 is right near the top of our Android CPU charts while the GPU is more in line with last year's hardware. Again, for the price the Venue 7 and 8 are reasonable options – and you still get a microSD slot capable of taking up to 32GB cards.
Step up the pricing scale a bit and we come to the one Android tablet that we can recommend without any reservations: the Nexus 7 (2013). Priced at 9 for 16GB and 9 for 32GB, it's a decent bump in price over the Venue 7 and 8, but it has a faster GPU (by about 30%) and a much nicer 1920×1200 LCD. You can read more about the Nexus 7 in our full review, but really the only complaint I can raise is the lack of a microSD slot. (Google can say it's difficult and confusing or whatever, but I use a 32GB microSD card and have no issues with it on another tablet.)
Having covered the smaller Android devices, all that's left is to pick a good 9-10” Android tablet. We actually talked about this the other day, and to be honest there's no single Android tablet where we can universally recommend it. The Nexus 10 is probably the closest we can come, but even that has some issues and it's certainly due for an update. (Performance is basically similar to the Venue 8 it seems, which costs half as much as the Nexus 10). Pricing is also a tough spot, with the 16GB model going for 9 and the 32GB model going for 9 – not quite as bad as Apple's iPad Air, but then it's also not as good as the iPad Air (IMO). The good news with Nexus devices is that at least you'll get a reasonable number of OS updates – both the Nexus 7 and 10 now have Android 4.4 (KitKat) factory images available.
If you're just after a 10” Android tablet that won't break the bank, there are plenty to choose from, but nothing else really stands out enough to warrant an explicit recommendation. Figure out your price range and then look at the options and see what you can come up with. Then go search for some reviews and try to decide if there are any deal breakers – and getting some hands-on time with your potential purchase is always nice.
And as a final comment on the Android side of things, while I understand the idea behind the Kindle Fire HDX, the lack of Google Services (Google Play) basically kills that for me. It's not a bad tablet, but it would be much better in my book if it had the full set of Android software.
If coming up with some solid recommendations for Android tablets was tricky, doing so for Windows is even more so. Again, we discussed this among the AnandTech editors and not a single one of us was really gung ho on Windows RT tablets. Windows RT is basically a cut down version of Windows 8.1 that's not worth the time or money unless all you want is something to run Internet Explorer and Office (this was Brian's take on what he does with his Surface 2). Note also that you need bare minimum 32GB on a Windows tablet (half of which gets eaten by the OS), so while the Windows devices start with twice the storage, you're really getting about the same usable amount of storage.
Considering the prices on good Android tablets, it's really a tough sell right now convincing anyone to spend 0 on a Surface 2. If you want MS Office on a tablet, great, but there are less expensive options. Perhaps you're one of those that likes WinRT, though, and you're welcome to it. Even the original Microsoft Surface is still going for close to 0, though, so unless you can find a much lower price I'm inclined to look for other options. Specifically, let's look at a full Windows 8.1 tablet….
Dell shows up again, this time with the Venue Pro 8 – available with 32GB for 0 or 64GB for 2. Considering you get a full copy of Windows 8.1, the price is pretty amazing; you also get Intel's new Bay Trail platform with Atom Z3740D, which should actually run quite well – I'd love to get the chip in an Android tablet, incidentally (for closer to 0). The 2GB RAM may present some problems if you try and do anything too crazy, but desktop mode on an 8” 1280×800 display isn't the primary draw I suspect, and the Modern apps should work okay with the limited amount of RAM.
The other Windows tablet we could really agree was worth getting is the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, but that's almost more of a laptop that's missing a keyboard than it is a tablet – and it's priced accordingly. (Add the keyboard and it really is a laptop replacement.) Don't get me wrong: the Surface Pro 2 has a lot going for it, but when I think of tablets I'm rarely even considering a 0 device. There are people that really love the Surface Pro, and the Surface Pro 2 ups the ante with improved battery life courtesy of the Haswell CPU. It's a tablet that can actually be used for productivity, thanks to the ability to run all the standard Windows applications. If you want a good Windows 8.1 tablet, this is currently the best option, but while it has some clear advantages over an iPad Air, pricing isn't really one of them.
Last week you guys did an awesome job with the discussion around the role of tablets in the workplace. There are a good number of you who have already embraced tablets for work, or who at least see the potential for the form factor at work if other hardware requirements are met. Now comes the next level, and honestly a question that I'm asked quite often when meeting with manufacturers. As far as work tablets are concerned, how important is backwards compatibility with existing x86/Windows applications?
The question obviously lends itself to a Windows 8 vs. Windows RT debate, but it's actually even bigger than that. We're really talking about Windows 8 vs. Windows RT or Android or iOS in the workplace.
While the previous question could definitely influence future design decisions, your answers here help answer more fundamental questions of what OSes to support for OEMs looking to play in the enterprise/business tablet space.
Respond in the comments below!
The tablet market has grown tremendously over the past few years. What started as a content consumption device for consumers has transformed into a device that has started to pull sales away from traditional notebooks. The obvious next step for tablets is towards the enterprise and business users.
As my usage models tend to be a bit unusual, when tasked with finding out how people use tablets for work my initial thought was to go to you all directly. So, how do you or could you use use tablets for work? What possibilities do you see for tablet use in work going forward? Respond with your thoughts in the comments, a lot of eyes will be watching this discussion and you could definitely help shape design decisions going forward.
UPSTART TABLET MAKER Microsoft has announced that its Surface Pro tablet will retail for a starting price of 9.
That price gets consumers a tablet with a 64GB hard drive. A 128GB version of the tablet will sell for 9. Both models of the tablet won’t include a Surface tablet keyboard.
Surface tablet keyboards will be available as add-on accessories. Microsoft offers its floppy plastic Touch Keyboard for 9.99 and its stiff plastic Type Keyboard for 9.99.
Microsoft is promoting the Surface Pro tablet’s ability to support pen inputs. Both versions of the Surface Pro come with a touchscreen capable pen. According to general manager of Microsoft Surface Panos Panay, the stylus-like pen is ideal for note takers.
“Surface with Windows 8 Pro will support Pen input,” Panay in a blog post.
“This is an amazing feature for all you note-takers or document editors out there, especially since it has expanded capacitive and digitizing technology we’re calling Palm Block that will prevent your handwriting from getting interrupted if you accidentally place your palm on the screen as you write. This feature is pretty cool, and allows for a great inking experience alongside a great touch experience when needed.”
Microsoft calls the Surface Pro an advanced model of its Surface RT. Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet offers an USB 3.0 port, an upgrade compared to the RT model’s USB 2.0 offering.
Surface Pro tablets also offer higher screen resolution with a 10.6in 1920×1080 display, which is larger than the Surface RT tablet’s 1366×768 resolution display.
Inside the Surface Pro consumers will find an Intel Core I5 processor and 4GB of memory. For comparison, the Surface RT runs a Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and comes with 2GB of memory.
The Surface Pro tablet should be able to put the Intel processor to good use as the device has the ability to run Windows PC legacy applications, unlike the Surface RT tablet.
Another key difference between the two Surface tablet models is the price. The Surface Pro tablet costs 0 more than its Surface RT tablet counterpart. Surface Pro tablet prices also take it out of competition with Ipads, which cost significantly less than the 9 price tag.
According to president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy Patrick Moorhead, the Surface Pro price tag makes sense for Microsoft. Moorhead told The INQUIRER that Microsoft is positioning the Surface Pro to compete in the Ultrabook market and not the tablet field.
“The Surface Pro pricing is very high in relation to an Ipad or a Nexus 10, but that’s missing the point. The Surface Pro is an alternative to buying a notebook or Ultrabook, where it can command those prices,” Moorhead said.
“Microsoft isn’t disclosing details on which they are targeting, consumers or business people. If Microsoft sells through their major account teams to businesses, or sells through commercial channels, this would be big competition to Lenovo, HP and Dell.”
Microsoft Surface Pro tablet pricing and availability are so far unavailable for the UK market. When The INQUIRER got in contact with Microsoft for UK availability the firm declined to comment. µ
One side effect of the current march towards ultramobility is the nearly complete abandonment of expandable/upgradeable local storage. No modern smartphone or tablet allows for upgradeable internal storage, and it's not exactly common to find microSD slots or USB ports on them either. This is particularly a problem if you're shopping with Apple, where expandable storage has never been a part of the iPhone or iPad. As a result, you're encouraged to buy enough storage to last you until the next upgrade – as well as rely heavily on cloud based storage and streaming services.
Huge amounts of high performance NAND can be pricey. Modern SSDs are finally below the /GB price point, which when applied to a tablet should mean that the difference between 16GB and 32GB of storage is no more than . The reality however is far worse. NAND costs even less than the ~/GB that we pay when buying an SSD, and manufacturers tend to charge anywhere from for 16GB to 0 in the case of Apple. For lower cost devices there may not even be higher capacity versions. All of the sudden that simple solution of just buying as much storage as you need up front becomes a lot more complicated. If you take into consideration the fact that smartphones and tablets are quickly replaced with much better versions, there's a good chance that you'll want a new device before you run out of storage if you buy the largest capacity offered.
A number of players in the storage industry have recognized this problem and are attempting to find the perfect solution. Just like there's still movement in determining the best mobile form factor, there have been a lot of early attempts to get wireless external storage for mobile devices right. We covered some of these in the past (e.g. Kingston's WiDrive and Seagate's GoFlex Satellite) but more recently Patriot Memory threw its hat into the ring with the Gauntlet Node and the Gauntlet Node 320.
CRIMINALS apparently have nicked most of a shipment of Apple Ipad Mini tablets worth a cool .5m.
The crew turned over the same place as the mob characters in the film Goodfellas, who in turn were representing real life events.
Thieves made off with m in cash and nearly 0,000 worth of jewellery back in 1978. That would be worth over m in today’s money.
This time the mugs managed to pinch about 3,600 Ipad Mini tablets by throwing them into a white van.
The New York Post reports that the tablets had just arrived at the JFK airport, having been shipped in by a company called Cargo Airport Services.
Sources told the New York Post that the thieves might have been let into the building. This suggests an inside job, or at least inside involvement.
The story is that someone let them in and someone let them out again. However all might not have gone to plan as some Ipad Mini tablets were left behind.
The report says that a worker returned, disturbing the thieves and causing them to flee, leaving three pallets of Apple gadgets behind. “So, as a caper goes, it was probably unsuccessful,” opined one source. However, we disagree, as .5m in Ipad Mini devices sounds like quite a decent haul.
Airport workers are being questioned by the New York gumshoes and given polygraph tests. µ
GLOBAL SHIPMENTS of Android tablets reached a record 41 percent market share in the third quarter, according to a report by Strategy Analytics.
The firm, which cannot reveal the methods it uses to collect market data for propriety reasons, claims that while Android tablet sales accounted for 41 percent of the market, shipping 10.2 million units in the third quarter, up from 29 percent a year earlier, Apple’s IOS tablet sales declined to 57 percent from 64 percent in the same quarter last year, and shifted just 14 million Ipads worldwide.
Despite the increase in Android device market share, the report said global tablet shipments grew just 43 percent, from 17.2 million units in the third quarter of 2011 to 24.7 million in the third quarter of 2012. Compared with 289 percent growth in the second quarter of 2011, Strategy Analytics said this growth “was the weakest growth rate since the modern tablet industry began in quarter two 2010″.
Strategy Analytics said that this general slowdown and Android share increase were due to three main reasons: the global economy slowed down so people were buying fewer gadgets, Apple was quiet on the tablet front ahead of its Ipad Mini and forth generation Ipad launch, and Android competition got tougher, with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean becoming more intuitive, user friendly and thus increasing in popularity.
The analyst firm also said that the gap between Apple and individual hardware vendors making Android tablets is still “quite large” but collectively they are slowly muscling in on Apple’s market dominance.
However, speaking with the firm’s executive director, Neil Mawston, we found that the report’s data refers to “sell-in” devices, that is, the number of tablets sold from hardware vendors to retailers and not “sell-through” volume sold from vendors through retailers to customers. For all we know, there could be a stacks and stacks of Android tablets holding up stock room ceilings in high street stores like Currys and PC World that they cannot shift, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that many Android tablets were “sold”.
Regardless, if Strategy Analytics’ report is accurate and Android tablets are in fact shipping to retailers in larger volumes, then this alone tends to show that they are increasingly in demand and are becoming more popular with consumers.
Mawston added that the introduction of Windows 8 tablets and laptop hybrids, which launched globally today, should help spike the growth in tablet sales in the fourth quarter as hardware vendors push devices in the runup to the holiday season. µ