2014 Tablet Comparison Guide ( Part 2 of 2 )

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

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  1. Spider

    Spider Administrator Staff Member

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    NOOK Tablet Stock NOOKcolor Rooted/Flashed Nexus 7 (2013) 32GB Stock
    By Will Shanklin
    July 15, 2014

    4G LTE option


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    Every one of our tablets is sold in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with mobile data models. Those typically carry an extra US$100-150 premium over their Wi-Fi equivalents.

    Storage

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    All but the G Pad are sold in at least two storage tiers. The iPads ship in four different storage options.

    MicroSD card support

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    For the Galaxy Tabs and the G Pad, though, you can augment that internal storage by popping in a microSD card.

    Side-by-side multitasking

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    Desktop PCs have let you put two apps next to each other for years, but only recently have tablets started joining that party. The Samsung tablets have a feature called Multi Window, that lets you split the screen between two apps. LG's QSlide works a little differently, instead popping up two apps in smaller windows on top of your default screen.

    Speaking of multitasking, the G Pad has another unique feature called Slide Aside that lets you set recent apps aside (with a three-finger gesture), which you can then call up quickly with another three-finger gesture. I think Android's built-in multitasking will suffice for most people, but this could be a nice bonus if you're often bouncing between apps.

    Infrared

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    The three tablets with built-in infrared let you turn your device into a universal remote control for things like your TV, Blu-ray player or cable/satellite set-top box.

    Tap-on display

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    LG's tablet has a cool feature that lets you turn its screen on by knocking on it twice. You can then put it to sleep by tapping twice again on its home screen.

    On-device video support

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    The two Kindle Fires include Amazon's Mayday, which connects you to an Amazon support rep within seconds. It will look like a video chat, and you'll see and hear the rep, but he or she will only hear you. The rep can also see (and, with permission, draw on) your screen.

    Processor

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    There aren't any big performance problems with any of these tablets, but the G Pad is the most questionable in that regard. When I reviewed it earlier this year, it performed well enough, but there was some occasional and minor lag.

    The iPads' dual core processors don't look like much on paper, but don't be deceived. The 64-bit A7 chip is a beast, and both of these latest iPads are speed demons.

    RAM

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    RAM, on the other hand, is an area where the iPads could use an upgrade. The iPads' mere 1 GB of memory means that, when you're switching between apps, things like browser tabs or recent apps will more often need to refresh.

    Release date

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    So much for 2014, as all but two of these tablets launched in mid to late 2013. But with quite a few mid-range and high-end slates already hitting store shelves this year, I see this as a testament to how well these old-timers (relatively speaking) are holding up.

    With that said, you can expect to see some new iPads, Kindle Fires and, quite possibly, a Nexus 8 later this year. If you can hold out that long, you might get an even better tablet for the same price.

    Starting price

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    Speaking of price, the Galaxy Tabs and iPads are the most expensive in this bunch, starting in the $400-500 range. The 8.9-in Kindle Fire is a bit of a 'tweener, with the rest ringing up for less than $300.

    If you're buying a tablet right now, this (Northern) summer season before the holidays is a good time to keep an eye out for discounted or clearance slates. For example, Samsung's high-end Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and 10.1 are still excellent tablets in their own right. In fact, they would have been in this group had they not just been supplanted by the newer (and better) Galaxy Tab S series. Those Pro tablets are currently discounted at around $70 cheaper than their Tab S equivalents, and, though I think the Tab S is worth the extra loot, you could save a few bucks and still get an excellent tablet in the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 or 10.1.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that these prices for the Kindle Fires include lock screen ads. If you want to remove those, you'll need to pay an extra $15 (either while ordering or anytime afterwards). On the other hand, Amazon has its Kindle Fires on sale at the time of this writing, shaving $30 off of the prices listed above.

    The best tablet?

    Which of these is the best? What tablet is going to earn your dollars? Well, as always, that's going to depend on what you're looking for. We do, however, have a few more thoughts.

    Samsung's two Galaxy Tab S tablets are the only new arrivals in this bunch, and I think their hardware is in a league of its own. We've never before seen tablets that offer such an outstanding blend of lightness, thinness and mesmerizing screen quality. You could argue that their software isn't quite on the same level, but at the same price points as the iPads, they're going to give Apple's tablets a serious run for their money.

    On the other hand, the iPads still have that unparalleled tablet app selection, along with premium aluminum builds and some thoughtful little details – like being able to grip the side of the screen (while holding the tablet) without registering as a touch. And if you're already deeply entrenched in Apple's ecosystem, plunking down for one of the newest iPads might be the most logical next step.

    The Kindle Fires offer good hardware value for their price points, but their Amazon-centric software is the most limited and, again, completely devoid of all Google services. The G Pad 8.3, meanwhile, definitely isn't the best in this bunch, but it does offer some nice value at its current price point. Ditto for the Nexus 7, though with it you'll need to be prepared for some pretty tight screen real estate.
     
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