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Posts Tagged ‘Tablets’

Samsung Introduces New 8″ and 9.7″ Galaxy Tab A Tablets

April 21st, 2015 No comments

Today Samsung Electronics America announced two new tablets that are coming to market in the United States. Samsung's new Galaxy Tab A tablets come in 8.0" and 9.7" sizes, and Samsung is marketing them as tablets that are well suited for keeping in touch with friends and family. The specs of both tablets are laid out in the chart below.

 
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0"
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7"

SoC
Snapdragon 410 (APQ8016) 4x 1.2GHz Cortex A53,

400MHz Adreno 306 GPU

RAM/NAND
16/32GB NAND + MicroSDXC, 1.5GB RAM

Display
8.0" 1024×768 PLS LCD
9.7" 1024×768 PLS LCD

Dimensions
208.4 x 137.9 x 7.5mm, 313g
242.5 x 166.8 x 7.5mm, 449g

Camera
5MP Rear Facing, 2MP Front Facing

Battery
4200 mAh (15.96 Whr)
6000 mAh (22.8 Whr)

OS
Android 5.0 Lollipop

Connectivity
802.11 a/b/g/n + BT 4.0, microUSB2.0

Both tablets have very similar specifications. They are both distinctly mid-range tablets, with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 410 at their heart, 1.5GB of RAM, and a 1024×768 PLS display. They're really only differentiated by the size of their displays, and subsequently their dimensions and battery capacity. I think it may be difficult for Samsung to charge a price premium for the 9.7" model when it doesn't have any improvements to display resolution or internal hardware over the 8.0" model.

What makes these new tablets stand out from Samsung's previous tablet offerings are their sizes and their design. Both tablets have a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is a significant departure from the 16:10 tablets that Samsung has produced in the past. Both tablets also have a full metal chassis, which will be an enormous improvement over the plastic construction of Samsung's other tablets. I am very interested to see what Samsung can do with this type of design on a high end tablet with flagship specifications.

Both Galaxy Tab A models are available for preorder now, and they'll begin to ship on May 1st in the United States. Both models are available in white, titanium, and blue finishes. The 8.0" model costs at 9, while the 9.7" model costs 9. There will also be a version of the 9.7" model with Samsung's S-pen included for 9. Through Samsung's new app partnership with Microsoft, the new tablets will come with Microsoft's Office for Android applications preinstalled, and buyers will receive 100GB of OneDrive storage for two years.

Best Tablets: Holiday 2014

November 28th, 2014 No comments

With the holidays approaching, it's time for our annual recommendations for devices in various product categories. Today we're taking a look at what tablets provide the best value and experience for different users. There's obviously a lot of decisions to be made when buying a tablet, so read on for our recommendations for tablets of different sizes, at various prices, and running different operating systems.

Categories: New Hardware Tags: , , ,

HP Announces Low Cost Stream Laptops And Tablets

September 30th, 2014 No comments

Several weeks ago, Hewlet-Packard announced the HP Stream 14” Notebook. The Stream series is HP’s version of the low cost Windows laptop, meant to compete head to head with Chromebooks on price, but still offer the power of a fully fleshed out operating system. The Stream 14 (pictured above) is available to purchase now for only 9, and comes with an AMD A4 APU, 2 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of eMMC storage.

Today, HP revealed the rest of the Stream lineup, with two additional laptops, and two tablets. In a world where the Chromebook has put some serious price pressure on the Average Selling Price of low cost computing, OEMs are trying to win over consumers with nice designs and additional perks in an effort to differentiate from the competition.

HP Stream 11

First up is the laptops. There are two screen sizes with the smaller being 11.6” and the mid-size being 13.3”, to compliment the already released 14” model. Exact specifications have not been disclosed yet, but both units will be powered by an Intel dual-core Celeron processor based on the Bay Trail architecture. This will make it a fanless device, and both come with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of eMMC storage. The 13.3” device has an optional touchscreen to go with the 1366×768 resolution that both laptops share. The 13.3” model also is available with optional 4G connectivity, and as a value add, HP is including 200 MB of free data every month for the life of the device. As another value add, HP is offering one year of Office 365 personal, which includes 1 TB of online storage and 60 Skype minutes per month. Battery life is listed from HP at 8:15 for the 11.6” model, and 7:45 for the 13.3” model. The HP Stream laptops are available in several colors, and will be priced at 9.99 for the 11.6” model and 9.99 as the starting price for the 13.3” model.

HP Stream 13

With the race to the bottom on pricing, one has to wonder where it will end, but all we know is it has not ended yet. Today HP also announced the HP Stream 7 Tablet, which is a 7” Windows 8.1 with Bing device that comes in at only .99. If you are in need of a slightly larger device, with optional 4G, then HP also has you covered with the HP Stream 8 which has a starting price of 9.99. Both tablets are powered by Intel Atom quad-core processors, and 1366×768 screens. Like the larger of the two laptops, the 8” tablet, if equipped with the optional 4G, comes with 200 MB of data per month for the life of the device, and both also come with Office 365 personal for one year. Office 365 personal is to purchase on its own, so for only more you can get it with a 7” tablet.

HP Stream 7 (left) HP Stream 8 (right)

It has been a bit painful to see the thin and light Chromebooks popping up over the last couple of years, and it was always especially frustrating that low cost Windows laptops were large, thick, noisy, and had very slow spinning hard disks. It is great to see the Chromebook styling now coming to Windows PCs, and with the Chromebook pricing as well. Microsoft is making a big push to recapture some of this end of the market by offering Windows 8.1 with Bing, and they are now starting to see some examples of great looking Chromebook competitors.

The tablet side is not as rosy, with Windows 8.1 not having the same mobile ecosystem as Android, but at least the pricing is now in line for the bottom end of the market. The add-ons offered by HP are pretty strong, with the Office 365 Personal costing almost as much as the tablet itself, and 4G for life is a nice bonus to those who just need a bit of data when they are not on Wi-Fi. Of course what the Windows Tablets need as the killer app is the touch version of Office, but that is not available as of yet, so anyone who wants to take advantage of Office 365 will have to do it from a 7-8” desktop, but as with most Windows tablets these can be connected to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor if you were so inclined. This is a strong push by HP to get a foothold in the low end of the market, with sharp looking products and useful value adds as well. Hopefully we can get some of these as review units to give you the full break down on just what you get for so little money.

Intel’s Core M Strategy: CPU Specifications for 9mm Fanless Tablets and 2-in-1 Devices

September 7th, 2014 No comments

Continuing our coverage of Intel’s 14nm Technology, another series of press events held by Intel filled out some of the missing details behind the strategy of their Core M platform. Core M is the moniker for what will be the Broadwell-Y series of processors, following on from Haswell-Y, and it will be the first release of Intel’s 14nm technology. The drive to smaller, low powered fanless devices that still deliver a full x86 platform as well as the performance beyond that of a smartphone or tablet is starting to become a reality. Even reducing the size of the CPU package in all dimensions to allow for smaller devices, including reducing the z-height from 1.5mm to 1.05 mm is part of Intel’s solution, giving a total die area 37% smaller than Haswell-Y.

The first wave of three Core M parts will all be dual core flavors, with HD 5300 graphics and all within a 4.5W TDP. For Core M Intel is no longer quoting the SDP terminology due to the new design.

Intel Core M Specifications

 

Core M-5Y70

Core M-5Y10a

Core M-5Y10

Cores / Threads

2 / 4

2 / 4

2 / 4

Base Frequency / MHz

1100

800

800

Turbo Frequency / MHz

2600

2000

2000

Processor Graphics

HD 5300

HD 5300

HD 5300

IGP Base Frequency / MHz

100

100

100

IGP Turbo Frequency / MHz

850

800

800

L3 Cache

4 MB

4 MB

4 MB

TDP

4.5 W

4.5 W

4.5 W

LPDDR3/DDR3L Support

1600 MHz

1600 MHz

1600 MHz

Intel vPro

Yes

No

No

Intel TXT

Yes

No

No

Intel VT-d/VT-x

Yes

Yes

Yes

Intel AES-NI

Yes

Yes

Yes

The top of the line processor will be called the Core M-5Y70, which is a bit of a mouthful but the name breaks down similarly to Intel’s main Core series. ‘5’ is similar to i5, giving us a dual-core processor with Hyper-Threading; ‘Y’ is for Broadwell-Y; and ‘70’ gives its position in the hardware stack.

The CPU will leverage both processor graphics and CPU Turbo Boost, allowing each of them to turbo at different times and different rates depending on the workload and overall power usage. Of particulary interest is that the 5Y70 features a base clock of 1.1 GHz, with turbo for both single-core and dual-core use listed as up to 2.6 GHz. The new HD 5300 GPU similarly has a 100 MHz base frequency with an 850 MHz turbo. The 5Y70 is different from the other two models in both clock speeds and features, as it will be part of Intel’s vPro program and also supports Intel TXT.

The other two processors in the stack are the 5Y10a and 5Y10, with dual-core + HT configurations and 800 MHz base frequency with turbo up to 2.0 GHz. There doesn't appear to be any major difference between the two parts, though Intel's presentation notes that the 5Y10 supports "4W Config Down TDP" (cTDP Down). The graphics is clocked slightly lower on the turbo, giving 800 MHz.

It's interesting to note that Intel informed us that the 1k unit pricing will be the same for all three processors: 1. Obviously these chips are going to end up in hybrids, tablets, and laptops that come pre-built, so the actual pricing will vary by OEM and whatever deals they have with Intel. But in general, Intel seems to be saying that OEMs can choose any of the three chips based on their power/thermal targets.

The HD Graphics 5300 is the new processor graphics and as part of the brief behind Core-M, a die shot was supplied with the important areas marked:

In the processor graphics section in the shot above, there clearly looks like 12 repeated units, with each representing two EUs (Execution Units). In our dive into the architecture in early August, it was stated that the minimum configuration here would be as a result of Broadwell taking 8 EUs per sub-slice, with the minimum configuration being three sub-slices, making 24 in total. This comes in combination with an increase in the L1 cache and samplers relative to the number of EUs, allowing for 25% more sampling throughput per EU.

Intel's Tick-Tock Cadence

Microarchitecture

Process Node

Tick or Tock

Release Year

Conroe/Merom

65nm

Tock

2006

Penryn

45nm

Tick

2007

Nehalem

45nm

Tock

2008

Westmere

32nm

Tick

2010

Sandy Bridge

32nm

Tock

2011

Ivy Bridge

22nm

Tick

2012

Haswell

22nm

Tock

2013

Broadwell

14nm

Tick

2014

Skylake

14nm

Tock

2015

The fundamental architecture of the GPU does not change from Haswell, albeit on a smaller process node. The GPU is confirmed as supporting DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.2 and OpenCL 2.0, with UltraHD (3840×2160) supported at 24 Hz through HDMI. This opens up possibilities of fanless tablets with UHD panels.

One of the main graphs Intel was pushing in their briefing was this one, indicating what power is required for a fanless tablet:

For a chassis of 7, 8 or 10mm, to have a maximum skin temperature of 41C at load, the above TDPs are required depending on the chassis size in order to go fanless. The first batch of 4.5W Core M processors aim at either the 11.6-inch, 8mm thick fanless tablet design as indicated in the graph above, or similarly a 10.1-inch 10mm thick tablet will also be suitable. Intel wants Core M to have a range of possible TDPs based on increasing or decreasing the frequency as required for a thin fanless tablet.

Intel is going to support extended docking functionality, especially with its business partners to allow features such as WiGig and additional I/O. Intel is also bringing a new 802.11ac design in the form of AC 7265, a lower powered version of the 2T2R 7260 for tablets. This will also support WiDi 5.0, and overall the platform aims to offer 1.7 hours longer battery life. Intel got to this ‘+1.7’ hour number with a reference design compared to a clocked-down Haswell-Y. I would like to point out that despite these numbers, a clocked-down part usually represents moving outside the optimal efficiency window, especially when dealing with low powered tablets.

Intel used the above slide in their presentations and drew particular attention to the power consumption of the audio during HD video playback (the orange bar on the top comparison). As part of Core M, Intel is reducing power consumption of the audio segment of the system from 100s of milliwatts down to single-digit milliwatts by integrating an audio digital signaling processor (DSP) onto the die. This is what Intel refers to as its Smart Sound Technology, and is designed to shift the majority of the audio processing onto a configured part of the die which can process at lower power.

If you think you’ve heard of something like this before, you have: AMD’s TrueAudio sounds remarkably similar in its implementation and its promotion. We asked Intel if this new DSP for Broadwell would have a configurable API similar to TrueAudio, however we are still waiting on an official response to this.

The platform controller hub layout was also provided, showing USB 3.0 support along with SATA 6 Gbps and four lanes of PCIe:

The PCH is also designed to be dynamic with power, meaning that disabling features on a design could yield a better-than-expected increase in battery life. The design will support NFC, and it is worth noting that the two USB 3.0 ports are in a mux configuration which may limit bandwidth. With a number of PCIe lanes in tow however, there are a number of controllers that could be used to expand functionality in a design.

Intel will be showing off the Core M at IFA in Berlin this week, with over 20 designs based on Core M from OEMs in the known pipeline – including designs like ASUS’ Transformer Book T300 Chi announced back at Computex. The T300 Chi was specified as a 12.5-inch fanless tablet in a 7.3mm thickness design, with LTE support and a 2560×1600 display. With the 12.5-inch size and 7.3mm width, it sounds like the T300 Chi will be modifying the Core M CPU to be around 4W in order to keep the 41C skin temperature as a maximum. Intel also listed the following Core M devices at IFA:

The CPUs will be in volume production before the end of the year (we seem to have differing reports whether volume production has started already or is just about to), with systems from ~5 OEMs available in Q4, starting in late October. Intel lists both consumer and business designs for this timeframe, however volume production is expected in Q1 2015.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5 & 8.4: Hands On with Samsung’s 6.6mm Thin Tablets

June 12th, 2014 No comments

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.

Toshiba Excite and Encore Tablets, Click and Z10t Hybrids – CES 2014

January 18th, 2014 No comments

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.

Gallery: Toshiba Excite and Encore Tablets, Click and Z10t Hybrids – CES 2014


    





Best Tablets – Holiday 2013

December 26th, 2013 No comments

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.

Apple Tablets

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.

Android 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.

Windows Tablets?

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.


    





Categories: New Hardware Tags: , , ,

Ask AnandTech: Tablets at Work, How Important is Backwards Compatibility?

June 18th, 2013 No comments

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!

Ask AnandTech: Tablets at Work, What are Your Experiences?

June 12th, 2013 No comments

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.

Archos unveils three more Android tablets under the Platinum moniker

February 17th, 2013 No comments