2014 Tablet Comparison Guide ( Part 1 of 2 )

Discussion in 'Android Tablet Reviews' started by Spider, Jul 16, 2014.

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  1. Spider

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    By Will Shanklin
    July 15, 2014


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    Gizmag compares the best high-end tablets that you can buy today

    Not much has changed since the last time we compared the top tablets, but with Samsung's second wave of 2014 high-end Galaxy Tabs hitting store shelves, why not see how the landscape has shifted? Read on, for Gizmag's comparison of the best high-end tablets you can buy today.

    Before we get started, note that we're only looking at slates with high-end – or at least close to high-end – specs. There are also some solid budget and mid-range tablets out there from the likes of Apple (older iPads that are still on sale), Samsung, LG, Lenovo, and many more manufacturers, but we aren't including those this time.

    We also aren't including any Windows 2-in-1s: those full-blown PCs that transform from tablets into laptops. We see them as a completely different class of device from these iOS and Android tablets. Stay tuned to Gizmag for a separate comparison guide for Windows hybrids.

    With that said, here are the elite eight that we picked for this round:

    • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
    • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
    • Apple iPad Air
    • Apple iPad mini with Retina Display
    • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9
    • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7
    • LG G Pad 8.3
    • Asus/Google Nexus 7 (2013)
    For each category in this comparison, you'll see two rows of tablets. They're ordered exactly as they are in the list above, so you can scroll back up here if you forget which tablet is which.

    Why these eight? Well, though most of these have been around for a while, we still think they represent the cream of the high-end crop. If we had to pick eight tablets to bury in a time capsule, with the label "best tablets (July 2014)" slapped onto it, it would be these. They're also some of most popular tablets right now, and most of them are likely to be sitting in your local electronics store.

    Got it? Great. Here you have it: Gizmag's 2014 Tablet Comparison Guide.

    Size

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    We have quite the size range here, starting with 7-inchers like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 7, and sprouting all the way up to the Galaxy Tab S 10.5.

    You'll have to find your own sweet spot for size range, but I personally find that tablets in the 8-in range – like the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, iPad mini and LG G Pad – provide a great balance of screen size and portability. 7-in slates have more compromised screen sizes, while larger 10-inchers can be a bit less convenient to hold and lug around (they're also typically more expensive).

    If you're looking for a thin tablet, then nothing here is going to beat the two Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablets. These ridiculously thin slates are each 12 percent thinner than their closest rivals in this bunch.

    Weight

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    Tablets have gotten much lighter in the last year, and every one of these is doing pretty darn well in that department. If you want the very lightest relative to size, though, then the two Samsung tablets, along with the larger Kindle Fire, are going to be your best bets.

    Build

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    Like just about every other modern Apple product, the two iPads have premium aluminum unibody builds. The LG G Pad 8.3 has an aluminum backing as well, but it's sandwiched in between plastic edges. All of our other slates are plastic affairs.

    Colors

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    No huge variety of color options here. Apart from the bronze options for the Galaxy Tab S slates, your choices don't go beyond black and white.

    Display (size)

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    The percentages above show each tablet's relative screen area, compared to the largest in the group (the Tab S 10.5). As you can see, it's a huge difference. The two 7-inchers only provide 45 percent as much screen real estate as Samsung's 10.5-in Tab S.

    Onscreen buttons

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    Some of these tablets use onscreen buttons, while others have physical buttons sitting below their screens. Why is that important? Well, the ones with virtual buttons give you a bit less display real estate (in most apps) than you'd otherwise get.

    Display (resolution)

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    All of these tablets have fairly sharp screens, but some are sharper than others. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and, to a lesser degree, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, pack those pixels in the tightest. The G Pad 8.3 still looks pretty crisp, but its resolution isn't quite in the same class as the other smaller slates.

    Also keep in mind that you're typically going to hold the larger slates a bit farther from your eyes, so they need fewer pixels per inch to look razor-sharp. For a 10-in slate, anything around 260+ pixels per inch (PPI) will look very sharp, while you'll want to shoot for the 300+ PPI range for 7- or 8-in tablets.

    While we're talking about screens, it's also worth mentioning the Super AMOLED technology used in the two Galaxy Tab S models. They deliver deeper blacks, higher contrast and richer colors than the other slates. If you want the very best tablet display, then Samsung's pair takes the cake.

    Software

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    Apple's App Store still has the best selection of dedicated tablet apps – and that alone is reason enough to consider the two iPads. Four of the other tablets run Android 4.4 KitKat, with apps from the also impressive Google Play Store. Those tablets either run Android in its purest form (Nexus 7) or skinned with an LG or Samsung UI.

    The two Kindle Fires rely on Amazon's Appstore for apps, and it has the weakest tablet app selection in this group.

    Google services

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    Amazon's tablets technically run Android, but it's a forked version of Android's open source core, without any Google services. That means it won't give you any native apps for Gmail, Chrome, Google Maps or anything else that comes from Google. If you're comfortable with some hacking, you can sideload some of those services onto a Fire, but that will likely void your warranty and, for many customers, be more trouble than it's worth.

    On the iPads, Google services aren't integrated into the software and don't come preinstalled. But they're all available as downloads from the App Store.

    Battery

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    You can't really jump to conclusions about battery life from the capacities listed above, but here they are nonetheless. For more on battery life, you can visit our individual reviews of these tablets (see the bottom of this post).

    Amazon never listed the capacity of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, and the company hasn't followed up on our request for specific info.

    Cameras

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    Similar to the battery situation, you can only glean so much about camera quality from megapixel counts. The general rule of thumb is that these tablets' cameras will take solid photos, but they're going to be closer to what you'd find in a 2011-12 era smartphone than one you'd buy today. As tablets typically make for unwieldy cameras anyway, that might be all you need.

    Fingerprint sensor

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    If you fancy using your unique fingerprint to sign in to your device (skipping the passcode that anyone else would need) then only the two Samsung tablets deliver.

    Continue reading here: http://www.androidtablets.net/forum...n-guide-part-2-2-a-post313509.html#post313509
     
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