Monday, 15 December 2014

SYNAPSE CIRCUIT A TABLET OR TWO FOR CHRISTMAS



SYNAPSE CIRCUIT
A TABLET OR TWO FOR CHRISTMAS...

Good evening, Synapse Circuit Readers. How’s it going? Are you all set for Christmas? Are you still in a fluster as to what to get for tech-presents? OK! Calm down... Synapse Circuit is here!

Are you confused about which tablet to get? I don’t blame you! There are so many on the market at the moment and they are mainly Android! Let me take you through the paces!

#Tablet #Android #iPad #Samsung #Google #Nexus #ASUS #Archos #Acer #Lenovo #Tesco

JARGON
By knowing the jargon you will get to know what to look for in a tablet! Okay, let’s get started!

As you know, tablets come in different sizes – especially these days! Once upon a time the Android tablet championed the 7” screen and has now entered 8” and beyond territory! So, one of the first things to look for is resolution!

RESOLUTION & PPI
These days a good 7 to 8 inch tablet features a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 which is not quite HD (high definition); a true HD screen is 1920 x 1080 and a tablet featuring a true HD screen is going to be more expensive than the average Android tablet (we will get to the iPad in a bit). The 8” Hudl 2 tablet from Tesco features a HD screen of 1920 x 1200 (which is slightly higher than the standard 1920 x 1080)! Still sticking with the screen the next aspect to look out for is pixels per inch = ppi! Basically, the higher the number the better the screen - the harder it is to see the dots (pixels) that make up the images. To keep costs down manufacturers tend to deliver just enough to get by i.e. 1024 x 600, 131.96 ppi to deliver a tablet under £100!

So, expect to get what you pay for – depending on what the tablet is intended for i.e. games, Internet / media, productivity and social networking and so on.

CPU

The central processing unit is a very important aspect – especially if the tablet is intended to consume multimedia (video) and games! Today’s CPU is either dual or quad-core; you will find that there are a lot of cheap Android tablets on the market feature a dual-core CPU. Naturally, it is desirable to have a fast quad-core CPU – especially if the intention is to play intensive games! Android tablets have just gone into 64-bit and it is not yet clear as to what 64-bit CPUs bring to the table. That said, the ideal is a 64-bit quad-core CPU with a decent speed i.e. 1.33 GHz and above! Again, the better the CPU the higher the cost will be. And you will find that there are key CPU manufacturers that determine the power and cost. The most serious tablets feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU! Then Intel has become a staple on inexpensive tablets such as the aforementioned Hudl 2 (Tesco).

Ideally you want a tablet with a quad-core CPU.

RAM
Having a good amount of RAM ensures a good all-round performance from the operating system running smoothly to applications and demanding games! The more RAM the better!

STORAGE
The more storage you have on the tablet the more apps and media you can store on them. Some tablets are so cheap that when you look at the storage option you can see why! There are some tablets out there offering a pitiful 4GB of storage! I’d recommend a minimum of 16GB! And many tablets allows for a microSD slot to expand the storage! Note that some tablets allows for up to 32GB of microSD card storage.

WI-FI
All tablets allow you to connect to the Internet by the way of Wi-Fi; if you have broadband at home you can use the tablet to surf the web, make video calls and interact with social media.

3G / 4G
Many tablets offer a built in 3G or 4G connectivity so that it is possible to make and receive calls or connect to the Internet. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can use your mobile SIM to make calls and be connected to the Internet simultaneously; no! You either have a mobile or data SIM. It’s a bit of a pain but never mind!

Now you know – if you didn’t before – all the essential components that make up a good tablet!

Right! Let’s launch into what’s on the marketplace!

iPAD
The iPad tablets are some of the best tablets on the market but they are expensive and locked into the Apple ecosystem; it may be overkill if you own a MAC computer! Certainly with the advent of the iPhone 6 Plus the iPad is pretty much dead. A MAC computer owner would have worked out that he or she is better off with a Macbook Air for portability and powerful performance to compliment the iPhone.

The iPad may come into its own if you do not have a computer at home or you want to replace an old PC / MAC that has seen better days! What is happening in many of today’s homes is that they are replacing the desktop computer of yesteryear with a tablet of some sort be it an iPad or an Android. The iPad mini can represent good value and may even be a prospect for the Apple fanatic that wants to buy into iOS and OS X ecosystems.

Let’s look at the Android platform...

ANDROID
You will find that the Android tablet is cost effective enough to serve both PC and MAC platforms in that many of the productivity applications can output to the respective computing formats i.e. Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) is compatible with the MAC and PC so one is able to use many of the outstanding music composition apps. Yes, the Android tablet can act as a sort of notepad / sketchpad for the main computer as there are many folks out there that still use a desktop for serious productivity.

Fortunately, the Android tablet comes in at a lower price point than the iPad is able to. It is possible to get a decent enough tablet for under £100 these days. However, if you didn’t know about the key components as mentioned above (screen resolution, CPU and RAM) you could have purchased a cheap tablet for let’s say, £40, thinking that you have got a decent all-purpose tablet. You should know better now!

With Android tablets it is about the intended use... What do you or the intended want to do with the tablet? If gaming is the desire then there is no way that you can expect to pick up an Android tablet for under £100! Check out the Archos GamePad 2 for £140 if you are looking for a cost effective gaming tablet for little gamer in the family! He or she’ll be happy with quite a powerful yet portable games platform. Here’s the review: Archos GamePad 2

It could be that you want a tablet as some sort of accessory without breaking the bank then it could be that the use is to consume media, make use of productivity apps that are only available on the tablet and to keep up with the social networking. There are so many choices here! The Tesco Hudl 2 is a very good choice for £129! You can read the review here: Tesco Hudl 2

But if the Hudl 2 doesn’t excite you for some reason I would say take a look at the ASUS tablets:-

MeMO Pad 8" (£130)
Android 4.4 (KitKat)
189 pixels per inch
Intel® Atom™ Processor Z3745
microSD card slot

MeMO Pad 7" (£99.99)
Android 4.4 (KitKat)
215 pixels per inch
Intel® Atom™ Processor Z3745
microSD card slot

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ME176CX (£120)
Android 4.4
Display 7" 1280x800
Intel®  64-bit Atom™ Z3745 Quad-Core, 1.86 GHz
Memory 1GB
Storage 16GB

That’s pretty good spec!

Now if you want a decent combination of tablet and phone there is the Fonepad 7 4G LTE

Fonepad 7 ME372CL (£199)
4G LTE
Display 7" 1280x800
2X2:Intel® Atom™ Multi-Core Z2560 Processor 1.6 GHz with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology
Dual front speakers
16 GB of internal storage
1.2 MP front-facing camera and 5MP rear camera

Check the review here: Fonepad 7 4G LTE

If you want something on par with the iPad then I won’t hesitate to recommend the Samsung products:

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5" (£379.00)
Android 4.4 (KitKat)
Super-AMOLED 10" 2500 x 1600 282.7 pixels per inch
Samsung Exynos 5 Processor (1.9 GHz + 1.3 GHz, octa-core)
RAM 3GB
Storage 16GB

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4" (£319.99)
Super AMOLED 1600 x 2560 pixels, 8.4 inches (359 ppi pixel density)
3 GB RAM
Internal storage 16 / 32 GB
Card slot microSD, up to 128 GB

Then there is the Google Nexus 9
Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
CPU NVIDIA Tegra K1 (2.3 GHz, dual-core)
RAM 2GB
Storage 32GB
Screen size 8.9" 2048 x 1536, 288 ppi
Front-facing BoomSound speakers
Main camera 8 MP camera
Front-facing camera 1.6 MP

The Google Nexus 9 is manufactured by HTC and it is a pretty good tablet. I would have preferred that either ASUS or Samsung have done the Nexus 9 because of their respective proven track record in creating some of the best tablets on the market today! If you want to experience the latest Android 5, Lollipop operating system then this is the tablet for you!

ANDROID: IN-BETWEEN
There are loads more tablets that I didn’t get to review this year simply because there wasn’t enough time plus there are many of these tablets that were released a couple of years ago at least! There are tablets from:-

Acer
Archos
LG
Lenovo

I would give these manufacturers some serious consideration as you now know – if you didn’t before – what to look for! The manufacturers above are more than capable of delivering decent Android tablets. I hope that in 2015 I will get to bring you more reviews of a wider range of products. Going back the present... You will find that there are great tablets on the market from Samsung in particular as they do not seem to stop producing! The Galaxy Tab series is definitely worth a look!

AVOID
I would advise you to leave those unknown cheap brands alone! A lot of these tablets cut corners in build and components. When you take a closer look at such tablets you will see that they aren’t worth the bother!

If you are going to buy online then I would advise you to stick with well known brands as they will have a repairs department should anything go wrong. Even if you spent as little as £30 on a tablet and it stopped working after a couple of months that is still £30 wasted! So, don’t do it!

EXCLUSIONS
I have purposely left out Amazon Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface and other Windows based tablets. Why? I am glad you asked!

The Amazon Kindle Fire tablets, to me, are really a means to buy into the Amazon shop; it uses Android in the background and such an experience does not appeal to me. The Microsoft Surface is so cost prohibitive that you are better off with a laptop! And the Windows based tablets aren’t rich with apps. I feel the Windows tablet platform isn’t quite ready yet. But if you just happen to own a Windows handset you might want to compliment that handset with a Windows tablet.

HAPPY TABLET SHOPPING THIS CHRISTMAS!

THANKS FOR READING...
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