Who Makes the Best 10” Tablet on Earth?

Last update: February 3, 2013

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Tablet Shopping Guide – No Opinions, Just the Facts

There have been lots of new tablets released since my last article, so I’ve decided to do an update. I started by evaluating all of the popular tablets, and then narrowed the list down to only eight finalists. Although there are some truly amazing 7” to 8.9” tablets out there, this article is only evaluating tablets that are 9.7” and larger. You can learn more about the new iPad mini and other smaller tablets here.

This time I’m trying a new approach. Instead of giving my opinion, I’m going to provide the facts, and let you decide for yourself. If you think I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments section. This is a “living” article that will be updated as I come across new information. Make sure to check back to see what has changed.

Apple just recently released the iPad 4 with a Lightning connector

Let’s start with the king of the tablets: The iPad. Apple has sold more tablets than any other manufacturer – by a long shoot. Just last week, Apple refreshed the “new iPad” by adding a Lightning connector, bumping up the speed on the processor and upgraded the front-facing camera. Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of the newest iPad:

Apple iPad 4


  • Very good build-quality – All metal and glass construction
  • Fast performance – Beats the Nexus 10 on most benchmarks
  • Twice as fast as the iPad 3 in some benchmarks
  • More tablet-optimized apps than any other platform (275,000)
  • Very powerful battery (11,560 mAh) – Up to 10 hours battery life
  • Gets iOS updates on the first day they are available
  • Retina display (2nd highest resolution here 2048×1536)
  • One of the brightest displays
  • Boots in only 16 seconds
  • Excellent color accuracy
  • iOS apps are less likely to contain malware than Android apps
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Optional 3G/4G support
  • Great selection of third-party accessories
  • 12W AC adapter for slightly faster charging
  • Lightning connector is reversible so it can’t be inserted wrong
  • Has AirPlay support for wireless media beaming
  • Touchscreen can register 11 points at a time
  • Powerful headphone amp
  • 1080p video with digital image-stabilization
  • Very good HTML5 performance
  • Best for portrait use
  • Smart cover automatically powers on the tablet when opened
  • Physical home button
  • Weaknesses

  • Heavier than all of the other tablets here except one (652g)
  • Thicker than all of the other tablets here except one (9.4mm)
  • Identical to the iPad 3 in most ways except processor, front cam and connector (case, display, etc.)
  • No memory expansion slot
  • Wi-Fi-only model doesn’t have an internal GPS
  • Use a proprietary connector so you can’t connect USB or HDMI cables directly
  • Lightning connector has no backward compatibility, so older accessories won’t work unless you buy an adapter
  • Much more difficult to repair than other tablets. Gets 2 out of 10 rating, which is horrible
  • Retina display has a big impact on battery life. One reviewer reports only 5.5 hrs video playback at full brightness
  • Gets badly beaten by the Nexus 10 on benchmarks like Geekbench (2480 vs. 1768)
  • Loads web pages slower than an iPad mini
  • 3G/4G support costs $130 more (plus data charges and other monthly fees)
  • Single mono speaker (no front-facing stereo speakers)
  • Has half the memory of other tablets (1GB vs. 2GB)
  • Some visible light leakage the LCD display
  • No quad-core CPU like other tablets have
  • Doesn’t have NFC support
  • Gets very warm on the left-hand side after you’ve been using it for a while
  • Very reflective display
  • The iSight camera is only 5MP. Other tablets have 8MP and 13MP cameras
  • The iPad 4’s iSight camera lacks panorama, Photo Sphere and camera features found in other Android tablets
  • No infrared transmitter
  • Parental controls only work with iOS and even then have serious limitations
  • No camera flash – Low light photos are very noisy
  • The front camera records noisy 720p videos at a only 24fps in low light
  • No mouse support
  • Only has a 1.2MP front camera
  • Screen has a 4:3 aspect ratio, so 16:9 movies cannot be displayed full screen a must be letter-boxed
  • Has a 4-core GPU while other tablets have 8 or 12-cores
  • Worse battery life than all previous iPads
  • Screen is smaller than other tablets
  • No back button or menu button
  • Acer makes several affordable 10.1″ quad-core tablets

    Acer has three different 10.1” quad-core powered Android tablets with very similar specs: The Acer Iconia Tab A700 (which came out back in June) and the newer A700-10s32u and A700-10k32u tablets. The A700-10k32u tablets seems like a good value at only $399.99

    Acer Iconia A Series


  • Full HD 1920×1200 display (224 ppi)
  • Quad-core processor
  • A good value – starting at $399 with 32GB
  • Good build-quality
  • 32GB storage (twice other tablets)
  • Includes a GPS
  • Stereo speakers
  • Has a microSD slot for memory expansion
  • Runs Android 4.1
  • HDMI connector for TV-out
  • Weaknesses

  • 1GB of memory (Some others have 2GB)
  • Camera lacks an LED flash
  • No 3G/4G cellular option
  • Acer doesn’t specify a resolution for the front cam (normally that means it’s 0.3MP)
  • No NFC support
  • No 5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi support
  • Not as thin or light as some other tablets
  • No internal microphone
  • The ASUS PadFone 2 and dock are extremely innovative

    The ASUS PadFone2 is one of the most innovative mobile devices available today. Its Android-powered smartphone has amazing specs and a 13MP camera. The phones slides into a dock to become a tablet.

    Asus PadFone 2 with Dock


  • Fast quad-core processor (1.5GHz)
  • Detachable phone works on its own, or docks in tablet
  • 13-megapixel Sony BSI sensor plus f/2.4 five-element optics
  • Almost zero shutter lag, can also shoot up to 100 continuous shots at 6 fps
  • 1080p at up to 30 fps
  • 720p at up to 60 fps
  • Twice as much memory as most other tablets (2GB)
  • 3G/4G support
  • NFC support
  • 9.5 hour battery life
  • Capable of beaming to media AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Phone and dock weight less than the iPad 3 or iPad 4 (649g)
  • 50GB of free ASUS web storage
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weaknesses

  • No Android 4.1 support yet
  • No MicroSD slot
  • Not the highest resolution display (1280×800)
  • Single mono speaker
  • No physical home button
  • No infrared transmitter
  • No U.S. carriers are offering this phone yet
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • The Asus Transformer has one of the best keyboard docks available

    The original ASUS Transformer Prime was the world’s first quad-core tablet. This Android-powered tablet been upgraded to a 1920p HD display and has an excellent optional keyboard dock. Some reviewers believe this is the best tablet available today.

    Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700


  • Fastest quad-core processor available today (1.6GHz)
  • Thinner than any of the other tablets here (8.5mm)
  • Twice the storage of most other tablets for $499 (32GB vs. 16GB)
  • True 1920p HD display (224ppi)
  • Fast graphics (12-core GPU)
  • Beats the Nexus 10 on most benchmarks
  • Android 4.1.1 update available (ships with 4.0.4)
  • Excellent keyboard dock with full-sized USB connector which offers 13-14 hours of battery life
  • 8MP camera with f2.2 aperture
  • Can operate as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Very good build-quality
  • Full size SD card slot
  • Light skin that doesn’t get in the way as much as TouchWiz
  • Bright display
  • Better black levels than the iPad 4 or Nexus 10
  • Higher contrast ratio than the iPad 4 or Nexus 10
  • Capable of beaming to media AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • LED flash for camera
  • You can connect a standard mouse or external HD drive directly to the keyboard
  • microHDMI connector
  • Two microphones for stereo sound recording
  • Good selection of pre-loaded apps
  • 1080p video capture
  • Gorilla glass 2 screen
  • Nexus devices do not come with locked or encrypted bootloaders. That means you are free to install customs ROMs and tailor your device however you like
  • Has an ASUS customized settings app
  • When docked, the battery life on the Transformer Prime is second to none


  • Price starts at $599 but includes 32GB
  • Half the memory of other tablets (1GB vs. 2GB)
  • Images taken with camera are not the best
  • No NFC support
  • Slower Wi-Fi download speeds than the Nexus 10 and some other tablets
  • Not great low-light performance on camera
  • Single rear-facing speaker
  • Keyboard dock is $150 when purchased separately, but includes powerful battery
  • No dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • No optional 3G/4G support
  • Other tablets have better I/O performance
  • No infrared transmitter
  • No physical home button
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • Barnes’s and Noble’s Nook HD+ is the first 9.0″ tablet

    Barnes’s and Noble’s Nook HD+ is the the world’s first 9.0″ tablet. It’s very light and costs less than any other tablet here (pricing starts at $269). This is a pure e-reader without extras like cameras, GPS and cellular capabilities.

    Barnes and Noble’s Nook HD+


  • The most affordable tablet here ($269 and up)
  • High-resolution HD display (1920×1280)
  • The lightest tablet here (only 515g)
  • Includes stereo speakers
  • High pixel densitiy screen (256ppi)
  • Expandable memory via Micro SD slot
  • Parental controls for a kid-safe experience
  • HDMI out via cable
  • A micro USB port rather than a proprietary connector
  • Weaknesses

  • Not yet shipping (pre-order available 11/8)
  • The thickest tablet here (11.4mm)
  • No front or rear cameras
  • Least powerful battery here (4000 mAh)
  • No 3G/4G data option
  • No NFC support
  • No Dual-band 5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • No GPS support
  • Lacks an ambient light sensor for automatic screen brightness adjustment
  • The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 is a durable business-ready tablet

    The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 is a business-ready Android tablet. It has a fast quad-core processor and is thin, light and durable.

    Fujitsu Stylistic M532


  • Fast quad-core processor
  • The 2nd thinnest tablet tablet here (8.6mm)
  • Above-average durability
  • Designed for Business – Includes Absolute Computrace security
  • Has 32GB storage
  • Highest megapixel front camera available today in a tablet (2MP)
  • Has stereo speakers
  • 8MP rear camera
  • Has 2.4GHz/5.0GHz dual-band Wi-Fi
  • micro USB port
  • GPS support
  • Stock Android – No bloatware
  • microSD card slot
  • Weaknesses

  • Display is good, but it’s 1280×800. The best tablets are 1920×1080 or higher
  • Only 149 pixels per inch on display (the best have 200-300ppi)
  • Inaccurate touch screen
  • No 3G/4G cellular data option
  • Expensive $549
  • 30-pin proprietary connector
  • Runs Android 4.0.3
  • Only 1GB RAM (some others have 2GB)
  • No NFC support
  • No HDMI port (docking cradle ($69 direct) which allows HDMI out and USB inputs)
  • 5 hour battery life – Lowest power battery here (3170 mAh)
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • The Huawei MediaPad 10 is a 10 inch Android tablet with a quad-core CPU

    The Huawei MediaPad 10 is a 10 inch Android tablet with a quad-core CPU and optional LTE support. Currently it’s only available in Europe.

    Huawei MediaPad 10


  • Quad-core CPU
  • 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display
  • Optional LTE support
  • Very thin (8.8mm)
  • Attractive design
  • 2GB memory
  • Good benchmark scores
  • Relatively light (580g)
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dolby 5.1 audio support
  • Strong audio output
  • microSD slot
  • Powerful amp for speakers
  • 8-megapixel rear camera
  • Gorilla Glass screen
  • HDMI connector for TV-out
  • 1080p video
  • Weaknesses

  • Pricing starts at 424 euros ($540 for 8GB Wi-Fi only)
  • Currently not available in the U.S.
  • Not great battery life (7+ hours)
  • Lacks microSD slot for storage expansion
  • Proprietary USB connector (no standard microUSB)
  • Heavy OS skin
  • No app drawer
  • No NFC support
  • Occasional delay when switching between open apps or launching apps
  • Sharp edges
  • Some issues with cameras
  • Rear-facing speakers
  • Highly-reflective screen
  • The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110 has a built-in FM radio

    The IdeaTab S2110 is a 10/1″ Android-powered tablet from Lenovo with 3G connectivity and a built-in FM radio.

    Lenovo IdeaTab S2110


  • Very nice keyboard dock
  • Only tablet with a built-in FM radio
  • A good value. Pricing starts at $429
  • Bright display with 178° wide viewing angle
  • Very thin (8.69mm)
  • Fast dual-core processor (1.5GHz)
  • Dual speakers and SRS TruMedia audio enhancement
  • Optional 3G connectivity
  • 10 hours battery life
  • Optional dock increases battery life to 16+ hours
  • Sturdy construction
  • Capable of beaming to media AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Micro-HDMI output
  • A micro USB port rather than a proprietary connector
  • 5.0MP rear camera with autofocus and LED flash
  • 1080p video recording
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weaknesses

  • Lacks microSD slot for storage expansion
  • No optional 4G cellular
  • No NFC support
  • GPS is only available on 3G-enabled model
  • No 5GHz dual-band Wi-fi support
  • Matte finish attracts fingerprints
  • No infrared transmitter
  • No physical home button
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • The Microsoft Surface RT is the only tablet which runs Office today

    The Microsoft Surface RT is the most affordable Windows 8 tablet available today ($499). It runs Microsoft’s new Windows 8 Operating system and comes preloaded with a full-version of Microsoft Office.

    Microsoft Surface RT


  • Preloaded with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013
  • Most affordable Windows 8 tablet ($499)
  • Best laptop replacement
  • Quad-core processor (1.3GHz)
  • Twice as much memory as iPad 4 and most other tablets (2GB)
  • Twice the storage as most other tablets (32GB vs. 16GB)
  • Split-screen multi-tasking feature
  • Multi-user support
  • Full-sized USB jack (instead of a proprietary connector)
  • More than twice as good as the iPad 3 in a JavaScript benchmark
  • Large screen 10.6”
  • Dual speakers
  • microSD memory slot
  • Has a sturdy built-in stand
  • 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Better keyboard support than some other tablets
  • The membrane keyboard doubles as a cover
  • Good HTML5 performance
  • 16:9 screen
  • microHDMI jack
  • Gets OS updates on the first day they are available
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weaknesses

  • Limited number of great third-party Windows 8 apps
  • Preloaded OS and apps consume 12 GB of space
  • Heaviest tablet here (676g)
  • Windows 8 requires some learning curve
  • Some reviewers say battery life is only 7-8 hours
  • No GPS support
  • Can’t run legacy Windows apps
  • Slower web page loading than other tablets
  • Outlook is not included with Office, so you have to use Mail and Calendar to sync up with Exchange
  • No NFC support
  • Only 1MP front and rear cameras with no auto-focus
  • No Dropbox (or other third-party Cloud-based storage apps) are available today
  • No optional 3G/4G support
  • Screen resolution is good, but not great (1,366×768)
  • Lower pixel density than other tablets here (148ppi)
  • Touchscreen can only register five points at a time
  • Magnetic cord is sometimes hard to attach
  • No camera flash
  • No infrared transmitter
  • Only 720p video support
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • Looking for a good collection of Microsoft Surface RT hardware reviews?.

    The Nexus 10 tablet is the first 10″ tablet which runs Android 4.2

    The Google Nexus 10 is an Android tablet which has a Samsung Exynos 5250 processor clocked at 1.7 GHz. It’s a dual-core Cortex-A15 chip that performs well in benchmark tests. Central to the speed of the Exynos 5 Dual is the ARM Mali-T604 graphics processor, which more than doubles the 3D performance of the already fast Samsung Galaxy S III’s chip. But the biggest standout in the Nexus 10 is its beautiful 2560×1600-pixel display.

    Nexus 10


  • World’s first tablet with a WQXGA 2560×1600-pixel display
  • Starts at only $399
  • First tablet with an Exynos 5 ARM Cortex-A15 processor that beats the Tegra 3 in benchmarks.
  • First and only tablet which runs Android 4.2. Will be the first to get Android 4.3
  • First tablet with multi-user support which allows you to set up a guest profile so someone can check their email but can’t update your Facebook status. Also allows different family members to have there own spaces and apps.
  • World’s highest resolution tablet display (300ppi) – Over 4 million pixels. Games like “Nova” look much sharper on the Nexus 10 than on the iPad 4
  • Pure Android OS (no skinning or bloatware)
  • Fastest processor speed available in a tablet today (1.7GHz). The Verge says: “apps launch a lot faster and multitasking is an absolute breeze — even with 20 apps open, nothing seemed to slow down.”
  • Fast quad-core Mali-T604 graphics processor – Engadget says it has the “smoothest graphics we’ve seen.”
  • Twice as much memory as most other tablets (2GB)
  • Comes with 5 books, 3 magazines, 10 songs, an HD movie and a TV show
  • Beats the iPad 4 on benchmarks like Geekbench (2480 vs. 1768)
  • Android 4.2’s voice input and speech-to-text entry are second to none
  • NFC support (Only mobile device with dual NFC sensors)
  • Gets all Android updates the first day they are available
  • The new Android 4.2 Gallery app has been improved so you can now tweak your photos like pro software.
  • Has Google Wallet preloaded. Allows you to purchase things with your tablet.
  • Boots in 19-24 seconds
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Well-built and durable
  • Has MIMO WiFi and accelerated page-loading
  • Very good sounding stereo front-facing speakers
  • Rated “extremely repairable”
  • Capable of beaming media to AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Pleasant to hold. Doesn’t dig into your hand like the iPad 4
  • Has an RGB notification LED
  • Fast and smooth scrolling. The entire user interface runs at 60fps.
  • Android 4.2 has a new Swype-style keyboard that allows you to slide your finger around the keyboard to spell out words more quickly and accurately
  • Built-in barometer sensor improves GPS accuracy
  • Smart cover automatically powers on the tablet when opened
  • LED flash
  • No bloatware (pre-loaded apps which cannot be removed)
  • Quick settings can be accessed by pulling down on the top right portion of the screen
  • 16:9 display
  • Good parental controls (when multiple profiles used)
  • Photos taken with its rear camera have better color accuracy, definition and less noise than the iPad 4’s camera
  • 1080 video recording
  • A micro USB port rather than a proprietary connector
  • Gorilla Glass 2 screen
  • Built-in micro-HDMI port
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weaknesses

  • 16GB model is only available from the online Google Play store. 32GB model is available from Walmart, Staples, and Google Play
  • Many reviewers feel the Android ecosystem is lacking when it comes to good tablet apps
  • No microSD memory slot
  • Android 4.2 contains more bugs than earlier versions. Some were addressed in a 3.2.1 update, but others remain
  • No docks and limited other accessories are available yet
  • The included charger charges slowly, Consider buying Google’s magnetic pogo charger instead
  • No quad-core processor – Gets beat by the iPad 4, Transformer Prime and Galaxy Note 10.1 on most benchmarks
  • Battery life is acceptable, not great. One reviewer reports only 5 hours of video playback at full brightness
  • No 3G/4G support option today (some say it’s planned for the future)
  • Not as thin as the Asus Transformer Infinity (8.9mm)
  • Camera is only 5MP. Other tablets have 8MP and 13MP cameras.
  • Has a slightly larger bezel than other tablets (0.9″ Nexus 10 vs. 0.8″ iPad 4)
  • Like the iPad, it has some light leakage around the lower corners and sides of the LCD display
  • Wi-Fi signal strength issues
  • Lacks support of 802.11a
  • No infrared transmitter
  • Miracast not currently enabled
  • Its “smart cover” doesn’t stay closed very well
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • No physical home button
  • More Nexus issues listed under my first impressions article and a second article.
  • Update: The Nexus 10 went on sale on November 13th and the 32GB model sold out within two hours. Since then, Google has gotten more in.

    What about the build-quality of the Nexus 10? Click here, and scroll down to the bottom of the article.

    You can see the Split Screen feature here on the Galaxy Note 10.1

    The Galaxy Note 10.1 is the only tablet here with full stylus support including pressure sensitivity. This Android-powered tablet also has the ability to split the screen in two and run two apps at once.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1


  • Full stylus support (1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • Fast quad-core processor (1.4GHz)
  • Excellent performance – Fast GPU – Beats the Nexus 10 on several benchmarks
  • Multi-view split-screen multi-tasking feature
  • Twice as much memory as most other tablets (2GB)
  • Very thin (8.9 mm)
  • microSD memory slot
  • Built-in infrared transmitter
  • 9+ hours battery life (7000mAh)
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Optional 3G/4G support
  • Good sounding stereo speakers
  • Capable of beaming media to AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Includes quality stylus and storage space for it in the case
  • microHDMI jack
  • Weaknesses

  • Average-quality case
  • Average-quality 5MP camera
  • Not the highest resolution display (1280×800)
  • Uses TouchWiz skin
  • No NFC support
  • Preloaded with some Samsung apps which cannot be removed
  • No Android 4.1 support yet
  • Camera is only 5MP. Other tablets have 8MP and 13MP cameras.
  • No physical home button
  • Not scratch-resistant glass
  • Some have reported the default Clock, Media Hub, Game Hub and Music Hub widgets affect performance
  • The Sony Xperia Tablet S is one of the thinnest tablets available

    The Sony Experia is the lightest tablet here. This Android-powered tablet has a fast quad-core processor and built-in infrared transmitter.

    Sony Xperia Tablet S


  • Starts at only $399
  • Lightest tablet here (570g)
  • Quad-core processor (1.3GHz)
  • Built-in infrared transmitter with programmable macros
  • Very thin (8.6 mm)
  • NFC support
  • 8MP camera
  • Scratch-resistant screen
  • Splash-proof (water resistant)
  • Dual-band 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi support
  • Stereo speakers
  • Capable of beaming media to AirPlay or DLNA devices when free 3rd-party apps are installed
  • Full-sized SD card
  • Full-sized USB port (instead of a proprietary connector)
  • Full-sized HDMI jack (instead of a proprietary connector)
  • Aluminum body
  • Weaknesses

  • Only 1GB RAM
  • Not the highest resolution screen (1280×800)
  • No optional 3G/4G support
  • No Android 4.1 support yet
  • Back is not flat. Has a bump near the top
  • Limited stylus support (no pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, special features)
  • No physical home button
  • No camera flash
  • Areas of strength are shown in blue; Weakness is shown in red

    That’s it! Now it’s up to you to select the best tablet based on your needs. Let me know which one you decide to buy and why.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    – Rick

    P.S. Because I’m starting to get some stupid comments from Apple fan-boys, I’m going to give you a little background: Before anyone accuses me of being an Android fan-boy, you should know that almost all of this article was written on an iPad 3, which I like very much. I write very opinionated articles about all platforms. My previous post was about Windows 8 tablets. One of my most popular posts slams Samsung and Google about beaming. I was also an iPhone user for three years and think Apple TV is a great product. Some of the new Apple products look very appealing to me, but sadly the iPad 4 is not one of them. I’ve listed everything good and bad I can find about every tablet here and I’m continually updating this post as I find more stuff. Make sure to check back later to see how this article evolves. There are a few new tablets that have come out since I wrote this. Although I haven’t had time to add them yet, you can read about them in the Comments section of this article.

    Thanks for making this my most popular post ever!

    This post received more views on 10/30 than any other post I’ve even made. I never thought it was possible to get this many views in a single day. Thanks everyone!

    Copyright 2013 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

    Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

    Is Windows 8 Really As Bad As Everyone Says?

    Last update: December 16, 2012

    Most of the Windows 8 reviews I’ve seen so far has been negative. Is Windows 8 really as bad as they say? To find out, I stopped by Best Buy and was surprised to find there were about 14 different Windows 8 portables on display. That’s surprising considering the fact Windows 8 doesn’t go on sale for a few more days. Here are my first impressions after using Windows 8 for about an hour.

    The Good

    Microsoft Office is coming to other tablet platforms next year, but Window 8 has it now.

    1. Preloaded with Office – Apple loves to talk about the Post-PC era, but Android and iOS tablets aren’t there yet. Tablets are great for email, note taking and web surfing, but they don’t have anything that comes close to Microsoft Office. I played with the preview version of Office on a Windows 8 tablet and it’s pretty good. Microsoft preloads Windows RT with the new Microsoft Office for FREE. The Office version for Windows RT includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. It’s supposed to provide “a complete Office experience,” but expect some differences, because it’s been optimized for touch screens and low battery consumption.
    2. Dell’s Convertible Hybrid

    3. Wide range of hardware choices – When it comes to portables, Apple gives you only a few choices. Do you want an 7.9″ tablet or a 9.7″ tablet? When it comes to laptops, they offer thin and light or a powerful and heavy. Sure there are slightly different configurations, but it’s the same basic product with different options. There are hundreds of different hardware options you can get Windows 8 on. Every thing from traditional tablets, to All-in-One touchscreens, thin and light laptops, to gaming laptops and a wide range of hybrids. The choices seem almost endless.
    4. You can see a few of the Live Tiles on the Windows 8 Start Screen

    5. Live tiles – Windows 8 borrows from the Windows Phone OS in some areas. One example of this is Live Tiles. Instead of having a finger-sized app icon, Windows 8 has different-sized tiles which are dynamic and large enough to display information, like the number of unread e-mails you have waiting. But that not all, the Mail Tile cycles through up to five recent emails and the Calendar Tile automatically displays upcoming appointments. Live Tiles sometimes eliminate the need to launch an app to see what you’re looking for.
    6. Mostly compatible with Windows 7 hardware and software – One of the biggest advantages of Windows 8 is the fact that it is supposed be compatible with all of your existing Windows 7 software and hardware. This is not always the case with Windows 8 RT tablets however.
    7. Apps crash less – There is evidence that apps like Google Drive crash much less when on Window 8, than they do on Windows 7.
    8. New split-screen feature – You can split the screen into two sections so you can watch movies while you work, or do two other things at once. It’s a little bit like Samsung’s “Pop up Play,” but goes even further. You can see this feature and the rest of Windows 8 in action here.
    9. Mostly intuitive – I was able to figure out most of what I needed to run Windows 8 apps without referring to the help cards on the tables in the store. I’d heard that Windows 8 was difficult for current Windows customers to learn. I didn’t have many problems in this area. Mastering all of the different Windows 8 gestures and context-sensitive actions is a whole different matter however (see below).
    10. A more consistent user interface – All of the apps on the Start screen have a very similar look and feel. They are all very clean, colorful and modern. It’s nice that the Windows 8 experience on an ARM-powered tablet is almost identical to the Windows 8 experience you have on an Intel-powered laptop or desktop. Apple and others are moving in this direction, but are not there yet.
    11. Faster boot times – The first time I used Windows 8 I thought it took longer to boot than an iPad 3 or Windows 7 desktop, but when I actually timed it, I found that Microsoft’s claim of faster boot times is true. An Asus Windows 8 tablet takes about 20 seconds to boot, while my Windows 7 desktop (with a SSD boot drive) took 24 seconds. The iPad 3 was the slowest of the three — taking 27 seconds to boot to the password screen.
    12. OEM customization – There is a section of the Windows 8 Start screen where OEMs are allowed to preload their own apps. I was surprised how this section differed between Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba hardware. You can see the differences at the bottom of this article.
    13. Location-aware laptops – Most laptops and desktops do not have a GPS like tablets do. All Windows 8 laptops appear to include a GPS and are location-aware. When you click on the Map tile, it loads a map of your area. This opens up lots of interesting possibilities. For some strange reason, the Surface RT tablet does not have GPS-support.
    14. Easy customization – You can easily customize the tiles on your Start screen. Move a tile to a new positions by dragging it. It’s also easy to remove tiles, make them larger or smaller, create groups of tiles and enable or disable live updates.

    The Bad

    1. Few great third-party apps – There are not many great third-party Windows 8 apps at the moment. That will change, but it hard to say when.
    2. Fairly steep learning curve – There are a lot of different types of swiping gestures, which are going to confuse some users. This video shows them to you. This video show you the Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts.
    3. Incest is bad – Windows 8 appears to use Microsoft web sites and services for most default tiles. When you search you get Bing. Bing also powers the Sports, Travel, Weather and Finance tiles. Want to buy an album, movie or TV show? All of those tiles are powered by the Xbox store. Although there could be a way to change this, most consumers won’t, and will end up with a worse off than if they were using the best-in-class apps and websites. Although it’s obvious why Microsoft is doing this, it weakens the entire Windows 8 platform.
    4. Some Windows 8 hardware is too expensive – Although Best Buy did have some Windows 8 laptops around $600 and a single Asus Windows 8 tablet for $600, most of the hardware was in the $1000 to $1300 range. This makes me feel that Microsoft and some OEMs are still in denial. When you can purchase the newest iPad for $500, why would anyone pay up to $700 more for Windows 8 hardware? Sure Apple can get by with charging really high prices for their laptops, but Apple is Apple. The one exception to this is the new Microsoft Surface RT tablet which is only $499 with 32GB of storage. That product seems like a very good value to me. Reviews about it are mixed however. Here is a summary of seven different reviews.

      Update: Since the official launch of Windows 8, I’m seeing better pricing. For example, today’s Frys e-mail blast has a Gateway Windows 8 laptop on sale for only $288. That’s a great deal.

    5. Not all devices support touch – Since Windows 8 was designed for touch screens, I was surprised that all of the Window 8 laptops in the Best Buy store I visited except one, did not have touch screens. Why use a tile-based interface designed for touch with a mouse? I know that touch adds cost, and Windows 8 hardware is already too expensive, but I think this is an important omission.
    6. One size doesn’t fit all – A unified interface for both tablets and PCs sounds good on paper, but causes some problems. Running the Office Apps or going to the Desktop on a smaller laptop or 10″ tablet will be a problem for some people because the text is so small. Again, there is probably a setting for this, but the Microsoft text default is too small. Menus in Office are not that easy to access — especially for those with big fingers.
    7. Throwing out the baby with the bath water – I thought it was great that Microsoft included a Desktop tile, but doesn’t make any sense that they removed the Start button. I also thought it wasn’t intuitive how to exit an app and return to the Start screen. I tried the backspace, ESC, End key and Ctrl W — but none of those methods worked. I ended up pressing the Start button. It turns out there are three different ways to do this.

      How to Bring the Classic Start Menu Back to Windows 8

    8. There are still a lot of things that Windows RT can’t do – There are two versions of Windows 8. The RT version cannot do all of the things that the full-version can. For example, it cannot run legacy Windows apps like Photoshop. You also don’t get Outlook with your RT Office 2013, so you have to use Mail and Calendar to sync up with Exchange. More info.
    9. It’s slower than expected – Windows 8 performance is good, but at first I thought it seemed slower than my iOS and Android-powered devices. However, when I actually started timing all three, I found my other mobile devices were faster on some things and slower on others. Launching most Windows 8 apps takes 4-5 seconds. Some take longer however, loading the entire Sports page took almost 8 seconds. Launching the Windows 8 store took almost 30 seconds, but this could have been due to Internet traffic in the store. In general, web browsing seemed slower on the Windows 8 laptops and tablets that I tried compared to other platforms (e.g. Windows 7, Android, iOS). However it’s worth pointing out that once an tile has launched, opening it again is instant (this is also the case with Android and iOS devices). It’s also worth mentioning that not all Flash-enabled sites appear in the browser.
    10. Crapware is still alive and well – You’d think Microsoft would have learned that consumers hate it when you preload a bunch of apps that try to get you to buy or subscribe to something. I understand why companies do it, but it’s another advantage that Apple has over everyone else.
    11. A lower resolution screen than the best tablets have – The screens on most of the Windows 8 laptops in Best Buy appeared to me to be lower quality than the screen on the new iPad, or the new Nexus 10 Android tablet. The Nexus 10 boasts a 2560×1600 pixel screen with a PPI of 300. I didn’t see a screen on a Windows 8 device that came close to that. Part of the reason the Windows 8 screens looked less crisp has to do with font smoothing which softens the edges on text, the rest has to do with quality of the panels used.
    12. There are a few other issues which I’m not covering here like the issues with the cover splitting and issues with random muting and audio stuttering while the Surface is in use or on standby. Things like the audio issues should be addressed in a software update. If the case is truly flawed, I would expect Microsoft to find a new supplier.

    The Verdict

    My first impression with Windows 8 was not bad. Certainly not as bad as I expected. Although I’m not yet ready to spend $1000+ on a Windows 8 laptop, I would consider getting a Windows 8 tablet, so I could run Office. I’ll also probably upgrade my exisitng office computer to Windows 8 (after I image its hard disk, so I can easily go back if I don’t like it). It’s too early to say whether Windows 8 will be a big success or not. I predict initial sales will be lower than expected.

    I don’t believe Windows 8 is as bad as some the reviewers say it is. There is no doubt that mobile and desktop operating systems are converging and Microsoft deserves credit for leading the way in this area. I also like the disruptive pricing on the Surface RT, but don’t understand why Microsoft picked the year old Tegra 3, over the much more advanced Qualcomm S4 Pro. Microsoft has a strong history of addressing issues in their first Service Pack and I think we’ll see a lot of Windows 8 issues addressed when the first big update is released. I’m watching this platform closely and will probably purchased their second generation device, which could be released faster than you think.

    Please share any thoughts you have about Windows 8 in the Comments section below.

    Looking for a good collection of Microsoft Surface RT hardware reviews? Here are some.

    – Rick

    Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

    Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

    Appendix – OEM-loaded Apps

    Acer’s apps

    Asus’ Apps

    HP’s apps

    Lenovo’s apps

    Samsung’s apps

    Toshiba’s apps

    Why You Shouldn’t Buy an iPad Mini

    Last updated: March 6, 2014

    This article has had over 110,000 views! Thanks for reading it.

    Why You Shouldn’t Buy an iPad Mini

    There are certainly some good qualities about the new iPad mini with Retina display. It’s thin, light and runs iOS 7. Unfortunately, it’s missing more than forty important things you’ll find in other tablets and costs much more.

    A 32GB Nexus 7 costs $230 less than a 32GB iPad mini with Retina display

    A 32GB Nexus 7 costs $230 less than a 32GB iPad mini with the same quality display

    1. It’s much more expensive than other tablets – You can now buy a 32GB Nexus 7 for only $269. To get the same amount of storage in a iPad mini, you’d have to spend $499. That over 46% more, for a product with worse performance. The 16GB Nexus 7 is only $229. Apple charges $399 for exactly the same amount of storage. That a 43% price premium. Apple charges $529 to $829 for a mini for cellular support. Amazon charges only $329 for a 16GB Kindle Fire HDX with LTE support. Google charges only $349 for a 32GB Nexus 7 with LTE support. That’s a savings of a $280. You can literally buy a second Nexus 7 with the money you save.

      Apple charges much more for a mini with LTE support

      Apple charges much more than other companies for tablets with LTE support

    2. Apple products almost never go on sale – Apple rarely allows discounts on their products. When products like the iPad do go on sale, the discounts are very small. I just purchased tablets for my family members for Christmas and was surprised to find most of the tablets in Best Buy were on sale at discounts between $50 and $100 off their already low prices. I picked up a great 8″ tablet for my dad for only $249. Even better discounts are available online from Amazon and other online merchants and you’ll almost always get free shipping as well. Even the brand-new Kindle Fire HDX was on sale for $50 off it’s already low price.
    3. The Kindle Fire HDX has a much higher-resolution display than the iPad mini

      The 8.9″ Kindle Fire HDX has a much higher-resolution display than the iPad mini with Retina display

    4. Other tablets have higher-resolution displays – Don’t be mislead by the Retina label. Tablets like the Nexus 7 have a display that’s every bit as good as the iPad mini. Tablets like the Kindle Fire HDX have a display that is even better than the new iPad mini. How much better? The 8.9″ Kindle Fire HDX has almost a million more pixels than the iPad mini (4,096,000 pixels vs. 3,145,728 pixels). It’s worth mentioning the iPad mini doesn’t even fit the definition of a true retina display.

      Screen resolution isn’t the only problem with the new iPad mini. It comes in last place in this small screen review where they said “the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is the best performing tablet display that we have ever tested.” Here’s why the Nexus 7 and Kindle HDX beat the iPad mini.

    5. It’s easily breakable – The Apple iPad mini has been declared to be the single most breakable mobile device in the world by SquareTrade, who performed a battery of tests on it and other devices. To make matters worse, it’s very difficult to repair when it’s broken.
    6. It’s not expandable – Tablets from Asus, Barnes & Noble, Samsung and others come with a microSD slot, so you can easily expand your storage. You can double your memory for only $12, to $19. To double the memory of an iPad mini, you have to spend at least $100 more.
    7. Because it doesn’t have a microSD slot, you can’t quickly copy media to an iPad mini without using a computer. Tablet owners with removable media slots can take the memory card out of their Go Pro or D-SLR camera and pop it directly into their tablet. No computer is required to copy video, or other media. This is a real time saver.

      The iPad mini runs out if power two hours faster than the Nexus 7

      The iPad mini runs out if power two hours faster than the Nexus 7

    8. Inferior battery life – Even though the iPad mini has a much more powerful battery than other tablets, this doesn’t translate into better battery life. The Nexus 7 has much better battery life when browsing the web. That means you’ll be surfing the Internet two hours longer on a Nexus 7 than an iPad mini.
    9. It doesn’t have a quad-core processor – Even though the Nexus 7 is only $229, it has a powerful quad-core processor. Having two extra cores allows the Nexus 7 to do more things at once without slowing down. The iPad mini only has a dual-core processor that runs at a much slower clock speed than the Kindle Fire HDX (1.29 GHz vs. 2.2 GHz). Before you make a comment about Apple’s benchmark performance, you need to read this article.
    10. When it comes to specs, the iPad mini lags in many areas

      When it comes to specs, the iPad mini lags in many areas

    11. It’s thicker and heavier than other tablets – Apple brags about the thinness of the iPad mini, but tablets from Samsung and Sony are thinner. Much much thinner? The Sony Xperia Z is only 6.9mm. That’s 9% thinner than the iPad mini. The Nexus 7 is 14% lighter than the new iPad mini (290g vs. 331g). The Kindle Fire HDX is lighter than the iPad mini as well.
    12. The Nexus 7 does much better than the new iPad mini on display tests like contrast and brightness

      The Nexus 7 does much better than the new iPad mini on display tests like contrast and brightness

    13. Much worse brightness and contrast ratings than other tablets – The iPad mini has a much lower maximum brightness than the Google Nexus 7 (370 vs. 583 higher is better). The iPad mini also gets a contrast rating of only 804, while Nexus 7 gets a contrast rating of 1273 (higher is better).

    14. It has less memory than other tablets and this causes problems – The best Android tablets have either 2GB of RAM or 3GB of RAM. The iPad mini only has 1GB of RAM. This translates to worse multitasking and slower app load times. How much slower? The game “Asphalt 7″ loads in only 18.5 seconds on a tablet with 3GB of memory. The same game loads in 45.0 seconds on the same tablet with 2GB of memory. iOS 7 has made matters even worse. Many iPad owners have reported memory-related problems like only having enough memory to open 6 tabs in Safari, or have 4 apps open at once without reloading tabs or restarting apps. By contrast, Android 4.4 has been optimized so it runs well on devices with as little as 512MB.
    15. Poorer color accuracy than other tablets – Color accuracy on the iPad mini is only 63%, while the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is 100%. That means what you see on the Kindle is what the content creators intended you to see. This is also important if you use your tablet to edit photos. The Nexus 7 beats or ties the iPad mini in 7 out of 8 display tests. The Nexus 7 has more accurate color reproduction, better color saturation and as mentioned above, a much better contrast ratio and much better brightness than the iPad mini. The iPad mini also does not have sRGB coverage, while though the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 do. This means they display a wider range of colors
    16. You can use Google Wallet anywhere you see these images

    17. No NFC digital wallet support – NFC and Google Wallet lets Nexus 7 tablet users buy things at over 300,00 PayPass-enabled cash registers in places like Best Buy, CVS Pharmacy, Einstein Bros Bagels, Home Depot, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, Peet’s Coffee, Pinkberry, Rite Aid, Sports Authority, Whole Foods and many more places. You can learn more about NFC here. The iPad mini has something called Passbook, but it only works at Starbucks (and the Apple Store).
    18. GPS support is only available cellular models – The iPad mini is small enough to take with you anywhere, so it certainly makes sense that you’d want it to have a GPS so you could use it for directions. Unfortunately, you have to spend $130 more for a cellular model to get GPS support. Tablets like the Nexus 7 have full GPS support on their Wi-Fi only models.
    19. It doesn’t appear on your desktop as a drive – It’s a major hassle to get anything (but photos) on or off of an iPad mini. Android devices don’t need iTunes or iCloud to copy media. Just connect a USB cable, and your device will appear on your desktop like a hard disk. You can then drag and drop any file (or folder) to it. This is really useful.
    20. It doesn’t work with standard cables – Many Android tablets use exactly the same micro-USB jack, so you can easily connect them to any charger or peripheral without purchasing an expensive cable. The iPad mini uses all proprietary connectors so Apple can sell you cables for $20 to $50. If you want an extra charging cable for an iPad mini, it will cost $19 and is hard to find. You can buy an Android power cord almost anywhere for as little as $2.
    21. Its AV adapter doesn’t support 1080p video – Another big downside to Apple’s use of a proprietary Lightning cable is that its Digital AV adapter (which connects to the HDMI jack on your TV) doesn’t support 1080p video today. It’s capable of supporting 1080p, but Apple has chosen to hold back 1080p support for now.
    22. The size of the letterbox displayed when movies are played on the iPad mini is much larger than other tablets [Photo: Gizmodo]

    23. No 16:9 screen, Reduced-quality movies – Tablets are great way to watch movies, but all movies are formatted to fit on a 16:9 display. Because the iPad Mini has a 4:3 aspect ratio, all 16:9 movies need to be letter-boxed with only 1024×576 resolution, which is getting pretty close to standard definition video rather than true high-definition 1280×720 video found on tablets like the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7. As Gizmodo points out, “when you watch a movie in landscape there’s almost more letterboxing than actual video. Seriously. It. Looks. Ridiculous.”
    24. It has ineffective parental controls – Apple finally added Parental Controls to iOS 6, but they are buried is Settings and disabled by default. Even if mom is smart enough to find and enable them, her kids will still be able to read the copy of “50 Shades of Grey” she bought earlier, because Apple’s Parental Controls do not hide explicit books that are already in a library. The iPad mini is a single-user device and this prevents a good solution to this problem. By contrast, Nook tablets allow multiple users to share a single tablet using separate accounts. Each users content is hidden from other family members automatically, and profiles can be password protected. Parents with a Kindle Fire HDX can also give access to appropriate content for each child. The Nexus 7 also supports user-profiles.
    25. You can share media by simply touching two NFC-enabled Android devices together

    26. No touch-to-share – Newer Android tablets like the Nexus 7 can easily share media by touching another device with NFC support. This allows you to share photos, videos, contacts, Web pages — as well as information between apps. You can see it in action here.
    27. No wireless charging – Tablets like the Nexus 7 include support for wireless charging, so you can just sit them on a charging pad and charge them without connecting a cable.
    28. Nano-SIM makes it harder to use with other carriers – When you buy an iPad from Apple’s site with the cellular option, you’ll find Apple forces you to pick a carrier. Other unlocked tablets from Google and others don’t force you to do that. To use your iPad mini with most international carriers you will also need a SIM cutter because the iPad mini uses a nano-SIM. Most Android tablets use standard or micro-SIMs.
    29. The Kindle Fire HDX is easier to use and has a media-centric interface

      The Kindle Fire HDX is easier to use and has a media-centric interface

    30. It’s harder to use and doesn’t have a media-centric user interface – If you compare the Kindle Fire HDX and an iPad mini side by side you’ll see the Kindle Fire is much easier to us. It only has 7 app icons on it’s home screen because that’s all that most people need. The remaining space is devoted to things that matter including your favorite books, magazines, music and movies. This makes sense and is also done on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. The menu on the Kindle Fire also only has a few easy to understand options. The iPads settings are a mess. The Kindle Fire even has a “Mayday” button that allows an on-screen customer support person to temporarily take control of your tablet to assist you with problems.
    31. It doesn’t support Flash natively – Flash may be a dying format, but there are still millions of Flash videos around, and the stock browser in the iPad mini can’t play any of them. There are several free Android browsers including Firefox that play Flash videos. See my Nexus 10 tips and tricks article for more info on this topic. Update: There is now a $10 Flash Player that runs on the iPad.
    32. Android now beats iOS in many areas – This may come as a surprise to some of you, but Android 4.3 and 4.4 has many advantages over iOS 7. You can see them here.
    33. Readability issues with magazines – The screen on the iPad mini is just too small to read magazines or comics because of the tiny, non-adjustable typefaces used. Text looks pinched, because it’s optimized for the iPad’s larger display. The Kindle Fire HD gets around this issue with its text view mode.
    34. It’s not a great eReader – In the previous bullet I already pointed out the readibility issues with magazines. That’s not the only reason why the iPad mini is not a good eReader. It also has one of the most reflective displays you’ll find in a small tablet. Because of this, using the iPad Mini outside is often a problem because of glare. How bad is it? According to Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies, “The Screen reflectance on the iPad mini is surprisingly high (9.0%). The Nexus 7 has a much lower 5.9 percent reflectance, while on the Kindle Fire HD has a reflectance of 6.4%. As a result, the iPad mini reflects 53 percent more ambient light than the Nexus 7 and 41 percent more than the Kindle Fire HD. That’s quite a large difference.
    35. Samsung tablets have much better stylus support than Apple

      Samsung tablets have much better stylus support than Apple

    36. Reliable data cables – Apple’s Lightning cables get a 1.5 star rating in the Apple Store due to breakage, fraying and corrosion.

    37. Limited stylus support – Although you can use a capacitive stylus on an iPad mini, you don’t get the same level of expression that you get on Android tablets. Samsung’s Galaxy Note tablets have a Wacom touchscreen with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. iOS also won’t let you toggle between a brush, pencil or eraser by simply holding the stylus above the screen and clicking a button. The stylus on Galaxy Note tablets even lets you preview emails, photos or videos by hovering slightly above the screen.
    38. No infrared transmitter – Tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 — along with Vizio and Sony Experia tablets all have built-in IR-transmitters so you can use your tablet to control devices in your home like your TV — without using Wi-Fi and special apps. The iPad mini does not have infrared support.
    39. No multi-user support – The iPad mini is a single-user device tied to a single iTunes account. Nexus tablets allow multiple users to log-in. Each user has their own home screen, background, apps and widgets. Things like game-progress and high-scores remain separate.
    40. Mediocre-sounding speakers – The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 (and other tablets) have better sounding speakers than the iPad mini. Reviews say “O.K. is also how I’d describe the speaker system. The Kindle Fire HD, which sports Dolby stereo, pumped out noticeably more pleasing audio than the Mini’s speakers.”
    41. Very difficult to repair – The iPad mini is much more difficult to repair than other tablets. iFixit gives the iPad mini with Retina display a repairability score of ‘2 out of 10,’ where 10 is the easiest to repair. One of the main reasons why it gets such a poor score is because large amounts of cement hold the front glass, logic board, battery, front camera, back camera, ribbon cables in place. This cement makes repair extremely difficult. By comparison, the Kindle Fire HDX and Nexus 7 both get repairability scores of ‘7 out of 10’ (10 is easiest to repair).
    42. The iPad mini is not water-resistant like Sony tablets

      The iPad mini is not water-resistant like Sony tablets

    43. Not accident-resistant – Sony’s Xperia Z Tablet is water resistant. You can submerse it in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes at a time. Now you can read in the tub, use in the kitchen or browse by the pool, worry free.
    44. Can’t make phone calls – You can make phone calls on Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.7 and Nexus 7 if you’ve installed a SIM. You can also send or receive texts without using a special third-party app. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 calling function has been upgraded to let you make and receive voice calls privately by using Receiver Mode in public places.
    45. No replaceable battery – Tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and Toshiba Thrive have batteries which are easily replaceable. This is important, because all rechargeable batteries have a limited life-span and need to be replaced.
    46. Inferior multitasking – Apple places restrictions on third-party apps which run in the background. In most cases, they are suspended and not allowed to communicate with other apps. Android supports true-multitasking without any of the above restrictions. This makes it possible to do things on Android tablets that can not be done on the iPad mini.
    47. Small keyboard makes it hard to type accurately – The keyboard on the iPad mini is small enough that you’ll have a hard time typing accurately on it. To some extent this issue is true with 7″ Android tablets, but you can install one of the many great third-party keyboards like SwiftKey3, which have much more accurate corrections and predictions than the iOS keyboard. You can see the dramatic difference here.

      Android keyboard apps provide different keyboard layouts like this one with number keys

    48. It has a much worse on-screen keyboard – Like the iPad mini, the Nexus 7 has standard keyboard features like a spell checker, auto-capitalization and auto-correction. However, the Nexus 7 has a much better on-screen keyboard. It has the ability to add words to a personal dictionary, show correction suggestions, perform gesture typing where you swipe from key to key, show next-word suggestions and the ability to change your keyboard to one that is more PC-like and includes all numbers and extra keys.
    49. Not able to easily load custom ROMs – Android devices like the Nexus 7 don’t come with locked or encrypted bootloaders. That means you are free to install customs ROMs and fully tailor your device however you wish.
    50. Undesired side-effects of the new display – One reviewer pointed out that “because the screen real estate is so much larger than an iPhone but icons are now roughly iPhone size, apps with lots of navigational elements can be a little less intuitive to navigate.
    51. Hard for small hands to hold securely – The iPad mini is wide enough that it is harder to carry securely than Nexus 7. The bezel is also so narrow that its hard to hold the screen in portrait-mode without touching the active part of the touchscreen.
    52. No LED alerts – Most Android phones have a small LED indicator that alerts you to missed calls, new messages and other system events. As with other Android phones, you can customize exactly how this works by installing a third-party LED control app like Light Flow. The iPhone has a setting buried under Accessibility that flashes an LED when a call or text is received. The iPad mini does not support LED alerts at all.
    53. No multi-window Support – Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note let you split the screen in two sections so you can interact with two different apps at once. Not only can you view any two windows at once, you can also drag things from one window to the other. This is a really useful feature the iPad mini does not have.
    54. No ability to set software defaults – One of the most powerful Android features is the ability to change the default software the OS uses for different tasks. For example, if you want the Dolphin browser to open any URL (instead of the stock Android browser), just pick the app you want to use. Want to use a different app for turn-by-turn directions or media playback? Pick one, and it will use that app every time. This is an incredibly powerful feature.
    55. iCloud is inferior to other cloud services – Third-party cloud services are more reliable, provide more storage, and are much more flexible — because they don’t lock you into an Apple-only world. If you shop around, you’ll find up to 50GB of free cloud-based storage, much better photo sharing services that automatically upload every photo and improve their quality, and store an unlimited number of photos at full-resolution (e.g. Google+). Android office apps like Google Drive are also much better than Apple’s offerings. They support more formats, allow you to share more easily and even collaborate with others at the same time. They also automatically save every change you make to the cloud, so you can access everything from any device or computer — not just Apple products. Android calendar and contact apps also have advantages and are much more open. Sure, some of these products are available to iPhone users as well, but most iPad users stick with Apple’s inferior pre-installed cloud services.
    56. DLNA Support – Most Android tablets include DLNA support. That means they can stream media to over 10,000 devices. Chance are you have several DLNA-certified devices in your home and you don’t even know it. Most TVs, game consoles, media streamers and Blu-ray players are DLNA-certified.
    57. Better tablets are on the way – Every month exciting new Android tablets are released. Many of these will have better specs than the iPad mini with Retina display.
    58. The iPad mini is not a bad product, but it’s not the thinnest, or the lightest, or the fastest, or the highest-resolution tablet of its size. Other tablets are available that cost much less and do much more. You owe it to yourself to check them out. You can use some of the money you save to buy books, movies, music and some great premium apps, which will increase your enjoyment even more.

      Why You’ll Still Buy an iPad Mini

      If you’re an Apple fan, you don’t comparison shop. You don’t care that Apple products cost more and do less. You tell yourself that specs don’t matter and Apple’s ecosystem is superior — even though you’ve never actually used an Android 4.4-powered product. You’ll find a way to convince yourself that all of the above reasons somehow don’t apply to you and, you’ll buy an iPad mini anyway.

      – Rick

      If you like this article, you may like these as well:
      40+ Things you won’t get with the iPhone 5s
      Debunking the Retina Display Myth – Why the iPad mini isn’t a true retina display
      Who makes the best tablet on Earth?

      For the Apple Fanboys

      1. This is an opinion piece – I think the title makes that very clear. Don’t read this if you can’t handle an opposing view point.

      2. This article is focused on the advantages of other tablets – I’m aware there are some good reasons to buy a iPad. Since every other reviewer focuses on those, I see value in showing another point of view.

      3. I don’t just pick on Apple – I write highly-opinionated articles about other companies as well. Here are examples where I single out Samsung, AT&T, United, Google and Rhapsody.

      4. I don’t hate all Apple products – I think some of the new Apple products are fine — just not the iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina display. I’ve owned two iPhones, two iPads and an Apple TV. I buy Apple products when they outperform other products and are not insanely priced.

      5. I want this to be factually correct – Believe it or not, I really do try to keep my articles factually correct. If you find an error here, please let me know and I will fix the section containing the error. If you read the comments section, you’ll find many examples where I’ve done so.

      6. Save your flames – You’re not going to change my beliefs and I’m not going to changes yours.

      Copyright 2013-2014 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

      Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

      Note: This article was originally written about the first iPad mini. Since then, it has been updated to reflect new iPad mini with Retina display. Keep this in mind when you read the comments.

    What Samsung & Google Don’t Tell You About Beaming

    Last update: October 17, 2013

    This article has had almost 190,000 views! Thanks for reading it. Although this article refers to the Galaxy S III, S Beam also works with current Samsung mobile products.

    Beaming Is Not New

    By now you’ve probably seen the Samsung TV commercial where the wife sends a video to her husband by simply touching phones.

    Samsung promotes video sharing in their newest ads

    Samsung promotes video sharing in their newest ads

    Both Google and Samsung refer to this process as beaming. Beaming multimedia is very cool, but it’s not new. I helped create patent-pending software back in 2009 that sent music, photos or video from a web browser to a connected TV, stereo, game console or mobile phone. That was the first software that used the term “beam” to describe the wireless transmission of multimedia from a computer to a connected device, but readers have pointed out that Palm Pilots were beaming contacts, notes, to-do items and calendar entries more than a decade ago. Beaming of multimedia from one phone to another has been possible for over a year using this and other apps, but few knew this was possible before Samsung started running their commercials for the Galaxy S III. The technology which makes beaming possible is called NFC, which stands for Near Field Communication. NFC has been available on Android devices for almost two years. You can learn more about NFC and its many uses here. The technology used to beam the music playlist in Samsung’s TV commercial is called S Beam. It uses NFC and Wi-Fi Direct and has been available since May.

    Beaming Isn’t as Easy as It Looks

    The Samsung commercial makes beaming look easy. Google claims Android Beam lets users share with a single tap. Is it really this easy? No. Beaming only works after both mobile devices have been setup properly. Before I wrote this article, I couldn’t even get beaming to work between my Samsung Galaxy S III and a Nexus 7 tablet. But once I setup both devices properly and learned a few tricks, beaming now works almost 100% of the time. This article will teach you how to beam like a pro.

    You need to configure several settings before you can beam

    How to Beam Like a Pro

    The section will teach you how to setup your devices and use Android Beam.

    1. In order to beam items from one phone to another, you need two Android devices that have NFC support. Here’s a list of all of the phones with NFC support.
    • Before trying to beam you must go to Settings/More Settings and make sure NFC is checked and Android Beam is enabled on both devices.
    • Now you’re ready to beam, but before you can do so, you need to open the app you wish to beam from. A list of supported apps is displayed later in this article.
    • Next, you need to locate the item you want to beam. You can beam web pages, contacts, maps, YouTube videos and much more.
    • Finally, you need to hold the backs of your two mobile devices together until you hear a chiming sound. If this doesn’t happen in a few seconds, move your devices apart and then back together.

    Troubleshooting Tips: Beaming won’t work unless the screen on the destination device is unlocked. You do not need to tap the two devices together, but they do need to be very close. When beaming from a phone to a tablet, you may need to move your phone around on the back of the tablet to find the spot where the NFC module is located.

    1. After you hear the chime, you need to quickly touch the item you want to beam. If you do this correctly, you’ll see the screen shrink and hear a two-tone confirmation sound.
    • If you press too long, you’ll hear a fast four-part tone that goes from high to low and you’ll need to beam again.
    • If you wait to touch the screen until after the image grows back, you need to move the two devices apart and beam again.
    • If you touch outside of the shrunken item, it won’t beam.

    You may need to click OK to accept beamed media

    1. After performing all of the steps above, the beamed item should appear on the other devices’ screen. Although this may seem like a lot of steps to follow, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy and you’ll want to beam all of the time.

    In order to accept a beamed You Tube video on devices like a Samsung Galaxy S III, you need to touch “OK” when you see this message:

    Good Luck Trying to Beam a Music Playlist

    Want to beam a music playlist like you see in the Samsung commercial? What about a photo or video that you took with the camera on your phone? You can’t do that with Android Beam (running on Android 4.0-powered devices). Fortunately, there are several solutions to these problems.

    1. Use S Beam on Two Galaxy S IIIs — NFC is great for transferring things like contacts or URLs that point to maps or YouTube videos, but it’s not ideal for large files like videos. That’s why S Beam uses NFC for device pairing and Wi-Fi Direct for high-speed data transfer. Wi-Fi Direct is capable of data speeds around 250 Mbps, but because the Galaxy S III supports Wi-Fi channel bonding, files can be transferred at speeds up to 300Mbps. Of course your mileage may vary, depending on the distance from your wireless access point and the amount of interference in your area.

    You can see S Beam in action here. Real world speeds are good, but not amazing. The actual transfer time for a photo is 1 to 2 seconds, but it takes an additional 4 to 6 seconds to establish a connection using S Beam.

    Another thing to be aware of: When you touch the back of a Galaxy S III to another S Beam-enabled device for the first time, it takes about 10 seconds to make the connection. For security, the connection times out after 10 minutes.

    1. Use Android Beam on Two Mobile Devices Running Jelly Bean — Android Beam now allows you to send photos and videos from one device running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) to another. Just select a photo or video in the Gallery app, and then hold any two NFC-enabled devices back to back. When prompted, tap the screen to send the file as described above. File are now send using Bluetooth, so transfer speeds are faster than earlier. However files transfers are not as fast as S Beam — because Bluetooth is only capable of data transfer speeds up to 24 Mbit/s. Performance isn’t too bad. It takes about 7 to 9 seconds to send a photo, and 15 seconds to send a short video.

    Beamed photos don’t automatically appear

    After you beam a photo from the Gallery app, you’ll see the photo downloading in the Notification bar. After the download is complete, you have to swipe down, and select the photo you wish to view. Beamed videos automatically appear after the download is complete however and are ready to play.

    Cool observation: Bluetooth does not need to be enabled before you beam a photo. Android Beam will automatically turn Bluetooth on and off as needed. This should reduce battery usage.

    Most people don’t know Android Beam can now send multiple files from one Android 4.1 device to another. To do this, long press on a photo or video in the Gallery, select the items you want to transfer, and then hold the devices back-to-back to start the beaming process. Because Bluetooth is being used, you should avoid trying to send too many files at once.

    Which Apps Work and Which Ones Don’t?

    Apps that work with Android Beam
    Here is a list of apps that work with Android Beam followed by any issues they may have.

    • aCalendar
    • Any.Do – This task management app lets you beam assignments to co-workers
    • Chrome
    • Clover Pay
    • Contacts (Android 4.0) – This app seems to be a little temperamental. Wait until the screen gets small before you tap it. This takes about four seconds. Then tap near the photo area.
    • Financial Times
    • Gmail
    • Gallery – only works when Android 4.1 is installed
    • Google Play – Android Beam pushes a link to the app’s details page in Google Play. On the other device, Google Play launches and loads the details page, for easy downloading of the app.
    • Google Earth
    • Google I/O 2012
    • Google Maps
    • Internet (stock Android 4.0 browser)
    • Just Player
    • Kingsoft Office
    • Local – Maps, but nothing else
    • MonTransit
    • Navigation
    • NFC Reader
    • Paper Camera
    • Pattrn
    • People (Android 4.1)
    • Shazam
    • Shazam Encore
    • Songkick Concerts
    • StumbleUpon
    • WiFiBeam – This app can pass WiFi setup info from one device to another
    • YouTube – Can’t beam ads, skip any ads before beaming.

    This is a partial list of the apps which work with Android Beam. As I find more apps that work, I’ll add them here.

    Apps that don’t work with Android Beam

    • Calculator
    • Currents – Loads app, but not selected article
    • Gallery
    • Google Now – Cards can’t be sent
    • Google+
    • Play Music (appears to work on Android 4.0, but music is not transferred immediately)
    • Samsung’s Calendar
    • Street View on Google Maps
    • Most other Android apps

    The Pros and Cons of Android Beam and Samsung’s S Beam

    Android Beam – Pros

    • Works with all NFC-enabled Android devices running Android 4.0 (or later)
    • Works on devices that do not have Wi-Fi Direct support
    • Requires less configuration than S Beam (because Wi-Fi Direct does not have to be enabled)
    • Very safe because NFC only works at distances of 4cm or less.
    • More power efficient than S Beam because it uses NFC and Bluetooth

    Android Beam – Cons

    • Only works with Android devices that have NFC support
    • Has data transfer rates up to 10x slower than S Beam
    • Can only send photos, videos and playlists if you’re running Android 4.1 (or later)
    • Beamed photos don’t automatically open
    • Doesn’t use Bluetooth for transfers unless you’re running Android 4.1 (or later)

    S Beam – Pros

    • Capable transfer speeds up to 10x faster than Android Beam
    • Supports music playlists, photos and videos on Android 4.0 devices
    • Once a transfer in started it’s capable of working at greater distances than NFC-only transfers
    • Safe when good Wi-Fi security practices are followed.
    • Can be used to transfer documents from one Galaxy Note 2 to another

    S Beam – Cons

    • Only works with a limited number of Samsung devices (like the Galaxy S III)
    • Only works on devices running Android 4.0 (and later)
    • Wi-Fi Direct draws so much power that it’s turned off after only a few minutes of inactivity
    • Only works on devices that have with NFC and Wi-Fi Direct support
    • S Beam works with fewer apps than Android Beam
    You can now beam files from Android to iOS devices

    You can now beam files from Android to iOS devices

    How to Beam Files to an iPhone or iPad

    S Beam isn’t the only game in town. I’ve been using an app called Bump for years. It started as a way to exchange contacts on iOS devices, but now can transfer any file you have on your device (videos, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc). First install the Bump app on both of your devices. Next, launch the app on both devices and select the type of file you want to exchange. Then touch your devices together lightly until you feel them vibrate. You need to press the blue Connect button on both devices, before your file can be transferred. Like Android Beam, Bump can be a little temperamental and often requires several tries before it works. Also be aware that all music metadata and album art is lost when you transfer music files.

    Cross-platform Beaming Issues

    In theory, you should be able to tap an NFC-enabled Windows Phone 8 to a Galaxy S III or Galaxy Nexus and share anything. However, I’m told that sharing of web pages and contacts work fine, but sharing of files and photos does not. Let’s hope Microsoft and Google get together to address this issue soon.

    The Final Word

    While it’s true that Samsung and Google may have oversold beaming, once you know how to use it, it’s a powerful feature. As more devices support these two features, I’d like to see both companies enable these by default so no setup is required. Also, Samsung should find a way to automatically toggle on and off Wi- Fi Direct (like Google does with Bluetooth beaming), so you don’t have to turn it on every time. I’m glad that Samsung has made this concept something that everyone now is aware of. We live in a wireless world, and you should never have to connect a cable to transfer files.

    Have fun beaming!

    – Rick

    Copyright 2013 Rick E. Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

    Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

    iOS 6’s Advantages Over Android 4.2

    Last updated: January 23, 2013

    [This article is still under construction. Please come back later to view the final version]

    Last year I wrote two articles that compared Android to iOS. One stressed Apple’s advantages, and the other stressed Google’s advantages. Both turned out to be extremely popular. Since each operating system has had a major new update since then, I’ve decided to update both articles. Android has come a long way since my first post, so far that some experts feel it’s reached parity, but iOS still has a few important advantages. Earlier this week I listed Android 4.2’s advantages over iOS 6. Here are the advantages that iOS 6 has over Android 4.2.

    The Top Ten Most Important iOS Advantages

    The App Store still leads based on quality and quantity of apps (App Store: Left; Google Play: Right)

    1. Better Overall App Quality – Google Play has almost caught up to Apple in the total number of apps, but there is no doubt that Apple still has the edge when it comes to the number of quality apps available — especially in categories such as games, media creation and children’s apps.

    Both of these phones run the same version of Android, but their graphic interfaces are quite different

    1. More Consistent User ExperienceSome reviewers have complained that Apple hasn’t made any major changes to iOS since the first version. That may be true, but it’s not entirely a bad thing. The user interface on every iOS device is very similar. By contrast, the Android user experience varies greatly from one manufacturer’s device to another due to skinning.

      Fragmentation is also a problem on the Android platform. Sixty percent of all iPhone users are running the newest version of iOS, while less than 5% of all Android users are running the newest version of Android. Because carriers and handset manufacturers don’t make all Android updates available on every phone, over half of all Android users are still running version 2.3, which was released back in 2010. Apple doesn’t allow skinning, and most of the time allows users with older devices to upgrade to the newest OS (although they may not always get access to all of the new features). This results is a more consistent user experience.

    Tablet-optimized apps look better on larger screens

    1. Tablet-optimized App Listings – The App Store displays iPhone and iPad apps in separate areas. iPad-optimized apps normally look better on tablets — because they have been modified to take advantage of the larger screen which tablets have. I wish Google Play had a filter for tablet-optimized apps.
    1. No Carrier Bloatware – Carriers preload their Android phones with loads of apps. Some promote paid services (e.g. VZ Navigator), while others are carrier-branded or third-party apps. Many preinstalled apps are things you don’t need and will never use. They clutter the screens of Android phones and often cannot be deleted. Apple doesn’t allow carriers to install bloatware on their products. While you could argue this isn’t an operating system-related advantage, it is an advantage that iOS users have over non-Nexus Android users.

    Siri has improved and has some advantages over Google Now and S-Voice

    1. A Better Personal Assistant – Although Google Now is pretty good, the version of Siri which is included with iOS 6 has some advantages — including more human-like and actionable responses. Here’s a good comparison between the two.
    1. More iOS-only or iOS-first Apps – By now you’d think all popular apps would be available on both platforms, but that’s not the case. Android is still missing some popular iOS apps. To make things worse, even when developers support both platforms, they often release their iOS apps first.
    1. Better HTML5 Support – Although Flash is still a popular way of handling multimedia on the Web, many people believe HTML5 will one day replace it. Instead of supporting Flash, Apple put its efforts into supporting HTML5 and it shows.
    1. Dynamic App Icons – iOS may not have widget support yet, but I love how the icon for the Calendar app displays the current day and date. Folders and apps like Spotify also are capable of showing notifications.
    1. Global Search – Swiping to the right displays a screen where you can search for Apps, Calendar, Mail, Music, Notes, Web and Wikipedia. This is a pretty big deal and Apple has shown they will litigate if anyone attempts to support this.

    Other Areas Where iOS is Ahead

    1. Better Voice Mail App – I think it’s ridiculous that I have to dial *86 to get voice-mail on my Galaxy Nexus. You’d think its 1998, not 2012. Apple’s phone app has dedicated voice mail button and its interface is excellent.
    1. Better Power Management – iOS devices seem to have power management than Android devices. Some of this may be a result of the fact that iOS doesn’t allow third-party apps to run in the background. Others might have to do with the fact that iPhone 4S has an under-clocked processor and no LTE support. Whatever the reason, it’s an Apple advantage.
    1. One-button Operation – Apple uses a single button to return to the Home screen, display the search box, and show recently opened apps. Is it intuitive? No, but once you learn it, it works well.
    1. Better Calendar app – Another thing I miss is the iOS calendar. I found it much easier to add appointments to the Apple Calendar than the Android Calendar.
    1. Better Cut & Paste – Although Android devices had cut and paste first, Apple has done a much better job implementing the feature. iOS devices have more region selection options and it’s much easier to quickly select text by dragging the region select handles around. Although this seems like a minor issue, it’s important to some users.
    1. iOS has better support for USB audio devices – iOS devices can play and record audio with standard USB audio devices using the camera connection kit. Android is saddled with a USB port that cannot host audio devices. Android 4.1 supports audio output only (no input) with accessory devices, but audio accessories have to be the USB host. [Source: Paul N.]
    1. You can enter phonetic pronunciations for Siri – iOS allows you to add phonetic pronunciations to your contacts which will tell Siri how to pronounce certain names.

    These are just some of the main advantages iOS 6 has over Android 4.2. Let me know if I left any major advantages out, and I’ll add them here.

    – Rick

    Copyright 2013 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

    Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1