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Tablet shopping 2013 edition


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#1 Orange Julia


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:35 PM

I am looking to get a tablet that would be fun, but also functional for taking notes at meetings and stuff. One of my colleagues has an iPad with a keyboard that is integrated into the case, which is pretty awesome. What are my options, outside of an iPad for something like this?

I'd like to stick with the android operating system, although it is possible that i could get a deal on a surface as one of my board members works at Microsoft... Whatever I get it will be WiFi only and I'd want to tether it when WiFI is not available, to my galaxy3 with unlimited data. And I will want to get something that i can put a sd card into. I have been limping along with the first gen Kindle Fire which is fine for puttering around the internet but i've run out of room to put anything on it, and it can't be tethered and I can't tether it.

I am currently looking at the Nexus 7 and 10 (but is there a keyboard?)
Samsung Note (is it really worth it to have that pen thingy?)
Samsung Tab (note that both these seem to only have ICS--will Samsung push an upgrade to Jellybean at some point or are they just not built to expand that way?)

Thanks! Also its possible I'll buy two at the same time, think anyone will give me a deal?

#2 Marbleheader


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:00 PM

Any tablet that has a USB port can have a case with an integrated keyboard.

#3 Hambone


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:07 PM

I started using the Samsung Galaxy Tab10.1 a couple weeks ago for work. I really like the form factor, weight and size, but am definitely still learning how to use it. For instance I don't type on it as naturally as I do on the iPad or my Android phone. I've tried a couple different keyboards, but not sure if it's settings or one more thing to get used to.

One thing about the Tab and Nexus 7 is when you are browsing you often get the mobile page as you would from your phone. Some sites are optimized for the devices, but others you'll have to hit the view full page to not have the annoying view you'd expect with a flip phone. Not sure if that's based on cell connectivity vs WiFi or not....

Plenty of options for keyboards and cases as anything USB or BlueTooth should work. Go to the store and play around with the ones that interest you as I think it's just going to come down to what form factor you like best.

#4 jayhoz


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:25 PM

Any tablet that has a USB port can have a case with an integrated keyboard.


No need for a USB port. Most of the keyboards connect via Bluetooth.

#5 jayhoz


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:30 PM

Tethering will be completely dependent on the GS3 as it will produce a WiFi hotspot that anything WiFi can connect to. You can either pay Verizon for this option or root the device and install a ROM or app that allows tethering.

#6 saintnick912


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:31 PM

I've read good things about the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700). It has probably the best keyboard case of any Android tablet, and possibly any tablet short of the Surface. It is a bit expensive though.

I have a Nexus 10 and really like it, but I'm a pretty light user in terms of "content creation".

#7 Orange Julia


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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:12 PM

Tethering will be completely dependent on the GS3 as it will produce a WiFi hotspot that anything WiFi can connect to. You can either pay Verizon for this option or root the device and install a ROM or app that allows tethering.


I have Tmobile and have an app i use on my phone and computer that tethers really well. I assume i can put the same app on the tablet? (PDAnet, to be specific)

#8 Zeebo

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 06:46 PM

I am looking to get a tablet that would be fun, but also functional for taking notes at meetings and stuff. One of my colleagues has an iPad with a keyboard that is integrated into the case, which is pretty awesome. What are my options, outside of an iPad for something like this?

I'd like to stick with the android operating system, although it is possible that i could get a deal on a surface as one of my board members works at Microsoft... Whatever I get it will be WiFi only and I'd want to tether it when WiFI is not available, to my galaxy3 with unlimited data. And I will want to get something that i can put a sd card into. I have been limping along with the first gen Kindle Fire which is fine for puttering around the internet but i've run out of room to put anything on it, and it can't be tethered and I can't tether it.

I am currently looking at the Nexus 7 and 10 (but is there a keyboard?)
Samsung Note (is it really worth it to have that pen thingy?)
Samsung Tab (note that both these seem to only have ICS--will Samsung push an upgrade to Jellybean at some point or are they just not built to expand that way?)

Thanks! Also its possible I'll buy two at the same time, think anyone will give me a deal?


While the Nexus 7 and 10 are both great devices, neither of them have sd card slots to add storage, and they don't have official keyboard attachments. Any recent Asus Transformer (TF300 or TF700) might be a good fit for you. Lenovo released their competitor to the Transformer line, the IdeaPad S2110, but I don't think they've been quite as well received.

The Note is fairly expensive for what it is, while it attempts to do some multi-window stuff, I've never used one so I don't know if being able to do that is super useful, and if you don't plan on taking handwritten notes or drawing with the pen, I'm not sure it would be the best choice for you.

It sounds like you should check out some of the Transformers and see what you think of those (Best Buy usually has them with their docks on the floor to play with), they ship with a fairly up to date Android version, and I think Asus does a decent job of providing OS updates post-launch. They've also good performance, solid screens, expandable storage, and optional keyboard docks that give you more ports and more battery life.

Tethering will be completely dependent on the GS3 as it will produce a WiFi hotspot that anything WiFi can connect to. You can either pay Verizon for this option or root the device and install a ROM or app that allows tethering.


You may also be able to connect the tablet and phone via USB and tether over USB, I've done that for my desktop before at least, using my rooted galaxy nexus.


* Full disclosure, I have yet to purchase a tablet, but I've come close a few times. I think I'm going to try and hold out to see what the Nexus 7.7 looks like later this year. *

#9 Curll

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:00 PM

So, I'm looking for a tablet that can also double as a HTPC - so an HDMI-out would be ideal is what I'm getting at. Most of these things now have a GPU and a dual-core or quad-core processor, so streaming 1080p videos shouldn't be an issue.

However, our current setup is just the laptop connected via HDMI and it works great for Netflix and The Daily Show/Colbert/Conan mostly because we have AdBlock installed and the TV shows are commercial free. I haven't seen any good tablet AdBlock software, so aside from torrenting, is there a way to avoid the damn commercials?

I don't particularly want a tablet, so if there's a better solution for a media-streamer, feel free to opine. The laptop tends to get hot after ~45 minutes. I'd rather not stick in an entire tower in the living room for a HTPC hence the tablet idea. I've looked at a few of the Asus tablets, they're nice. But, I figure a newer version will be out by May.

Edited by Curll, 20 January 2013 - 11:03 PM.


#10 jercra

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:18 PM

Tethering will be completely dependent on the GS3 as it will produce a WiFi hotspot that anything WiFi can connect to. You can either pay Verizon for this option or root the device and install a ROM or app that allows tethering.

Tethering is included in Verizon data plans. ATT, T-Mo and Sprint require you to root/ROM in order to get it for free.

#11 jayhoz


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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:55 AM

Tethering is included in Verizon data plans. ATT, T-Mo and Sprint require you to root/ROM in order to get it for free.


Not for those of us grandfathered into unlimited data.

#12 jayhoz


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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:03 AM

So, I'm looking for a tablet that can also double as a HTPC - so an HDMI-out would be ideal is what I'm getting at. Most of these things now have a GPU and a dual-core or quad-core processor, so streaming 1080p videos shouldn't be an issue.


If all you want to do is use the tablet to stream content from Netflix then look for a tablet with an MHL port (requires MHL adapter) or a micro-HDMI port. Please note that when you are using a tablet websites like Comedy Central know that you are on a mobile device and block the streaming content. There are ways to hide this, but can be a bit tricky to do.

However, our current setup is just the laptop connected via HDMI and it works great for Netflix and The Daily Show/Colbert/Conan mostly because we have AdBlock installed and the TV shows are commercial free. I haven't seen any good tablet AdBlock software, so aside from torrenting, is there a way to avoid the damn commercials?


AdAway works well for me. It blocks the commercials on Comedy Central.

I don't particularly want a tablet, so if there's a better solution for a media-streamer, feel free to opine. The laptop tends to get hot after ~45 minutes. I'd rather not stick in an entire tower in the living room for a HTPC hence the tablet idea. I've looked at a few of the Asus tablets, they're nice. But, I figure a newer version will be out by May.


Do you want to just stream content or do you want other functionality like storage for movie files or a DVR?

#13 Curll

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 04:55 PM

Do you want to just stream content or do you want other functionality like storage for movie files or a DVR?


I've got an extra box or two laying around that can serve as a media server, so I don't need the tablet to do that and have ~5TB of external HDDs with content. Obviously, the functionality would extend beyond just a set-top streamer, but that's just normal, casual tablet things like internetin' it up while on the couch, a quick photo album, or whatever the hell else people do with a tablet.

It seems like a lot of the Acer and Asus tablets have the ports I'd be looking for. But, considering the restrictions you mentioned on CC and my limited needs, it may be a better option to have a media server and just connect a small HTPC or Raspberry Pi.

Edited by Curll, 21 January 2013 - 04:56 PM.


#14 behindthepen


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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:28 AM

OJ
replying to your original question ...
what is the most important feature for you?

If you are taking light notes for meetings, I think it's worth trying any tablet without the keyboard. As jayhoz mentioned, you can add a bluetooth keyboard to most tablets so if typing on the screen doesn't work you can always add that later.

I haven't heard of what note-taking apps people use on Android, but there is a very rich ecosystem on the ipad. I use mine for note-taking at work as do many of my peers. Most people use the Notes app, and that syncs to your icloud so it's easy to access the notes away from the ipad. I don't think it's great for maintaining an archive of notes though. I use ThinkBook, which is a little better for archiving, and it also syncs to Dropbox. You can also use Pages on the ipad which will sync to icloud.

If you also want to play games or watch video on your tablet, I'm not sure there is a huge difference between Android and ipad, although the retina screen on ipad is gorgeous.

Unless you are wired into the Microsoft ecosystem, and have to use Excel, I would avoid the Windows tabs for now. They are solid but relatively expensive, and a little behind app wise. Outside of that, I think other tablets like the Kindle are probably too under-spec'ed, and you risk either underperformance or weaker battery life.

#15 Orange Julia


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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:30 AM

Thanks. that's very helpful. I guess i am just very against the iPad price point and inability to tether it to my phone for when I don't have Wifi. I think the most important feature would be to be able to leave my laptop at home for short trips and still be able to check mail, watch hulu and get connected to the internet even when i don't have a wifi connection, via my tmobile unlimited data plan...I currently use my phone to tether to my laptop when i'm in a hotel or airport where they charge for that, but I am unsure whether i can tether a tablet to a phone...I assume it can be done, just not sure whether i load the same phone software onto the tablet, or if I use the desktop software...

Selloutwoot has an Asus Transformer (refurb) 10" up today. I might pull the trigger on it but the comments suggest that it is not quite worth it without the dock (which i guess in this instance you have to buy separately?) Does anyone have any insight?

#16 Tim Naehrings Girl

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:04 AM

Is there a real computer the size of a tablet? My husband needs it for school. It is much easier for him to use something that is laying flat but the program he uses isn't compatible with a tablet.

#17 jayhoz


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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:06 AM

PDANet turns your phone into a wifi hotspot. Any device that uses wifi can connect to a phone using PDANet.

That being said, TMobile and all carries want you to pay them a monthly fee for the right to tether. They actively try to block you from using 3rd party apps to get around their fees. Your ability to tether is independent of the tablet. Any issues will be phone or carrier related.

#18 Rudi Fingers

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:10 AM

Is there a real computer the size of a tablet? My husband needs it for school. It is much easier for him to use something that is laying flat but the program he uses isn't compatible with a tablet.


Sounds like a Windows 8 Pro machine would fit the bill. I have used both of these and can recommend them for this specific purpose:

- Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (which is a laptop that folds flat whenever needed with a touchscreen)
- Acer Iconia W700 (a tablet that comes with a stand and bluetooth keyboard, but can also be used flat).

They both run around $700 - $900 depending on configuration - in my opinion the Twist is a better value, but the Iconia has longer battery life.


----
For most tablet use cases (not TMG's husband's), though, my #1 recommendations would be the Google Nexus (either the 7 or 10 inch) or the iPad (regular or mini)

#19 Orange Julia


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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:27 AM

I think those netbooks ( i had a gateway one that i gave to my intern to use) that is tablet sized and was actually quite a decent little machine)

BTW, to follow up on the Transformer on woot--i checked with our tech guy here at the office and he agrees that the gamestop deal is better because it is new and comes with the 1 year warranty and i can bring it back to my local store if anything goes wrong with it. The squaretrade warranty on the woot refurb is 49.00 so the gamestop seems the way to go. And i found the dock at my local BB for 49, so i think i'll pull the trigger on it tonight and I will report back. Thanks for everyone's input.

And I have been using PDAnet for two years now, and very happy with the product.

#20 Tim Naehrings Girl

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 05:23 PM

Great suggestions, thank you!!



#21 Orange Julia


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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:34 AM

Update:
I got the Asus Transformer 300T from Gamestop (it is on sale til the 31st i think) and it comes with games that i don't care about. It upgraded the firmware and the camera stuff within 24 hours so i have jelly bean running on it.

Best Buy only had one keyboard at 49, so I am looking at another best buy, or I might pull the trigger and get the matching blue one anyway. It is a little intimidating because it is so big (yeah, haha) but i'm slowly populating it with apps. It is definitely a little heavier than an iPad (one of the new ones) but it is lighter than my kindlefire. I haven't tried tethering yet. can i put a swyping keyboard on it for when i'm not using the physical keyboard? It has surprisingly good sound. It has a micro sd card slot and hdmi on the tablet itself; Teamster says the keyboard also has an sd card slot.

Thanks for all the help. So far I would recommend this to someone who wants to spend less than 300 for a tablet that is 10' that runs jelly bean.

#22 Orange Julia


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Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:14 PM

bumping this to say that the Transformer is a nice tablet--it looks good, but it is a little heavy and I can't for the life of me figure out how to watch amazon movies on it. Do they really make it impossible to watch stuff on anything but the kindlefire?

 

Also i put swiftkey on it and it works very well. We bought one keyboard, which is very helpful and probably will buy another one. I haven't tried tethering it yet, because I seem to always have wifi.



#23 Scott Cooper's Grand Slam

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:19 PM

bumping this to say that the Transformer is a nice tablet--it looks good, but it is a little heavy and I can't for the life of me figure out how to watch amazon movies on it. Do they really make it impossible to watch stuff on anything but the kindlefire?

 

More or less. Here's the list of compatible devices. There's quite a few (I watch primarily on my PS3 hooked up to my TV), but as far as tablets go it's Kindle Fire, iPad or bust. 



#24 Orange Julia


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Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:33 PM

THOSE FUCKERS! I guess i can just buy movies on the Play store, but can i move movies i've already purchased and own to the sd card and use a third party viewer, do you think?



#25 Foulkey Reese


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Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:36 PM

THOSE FUCKERS! I guess i can just buy movies on the Play store, but can i move movies i've already purchased and own to the sd card and use a third party viewer, do you think?

Yea you can easily do this for most video files, but I'm not sure if Amazon puts any restrictions on what you purchase with them.

 

Download an app like MX player and you can watch any video file that you have on your PC on your Android tablet. Also apps like Netflix and Hulu are great for streaming content. 



#26 czar


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Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:56 PM

OJ, have you tried using the browser?

 

I downloaded Flash for the czarette's rooted Nook Tablet (Jellybean) -- there is no Amazon app (although I think some people have tried to sideload the Kindle app onto other Android devices), but you can now browse to Amazon and watch shows/movies through the browser. It's probably a touch laggy, but she seems happy with it.

 

I'd Google getting Amazon movies to run on the Transformer and see what pops up.



#27 deconstruction

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 01:03 PM

Bump. I'm looking for a 10" tablet with the primary purpose of annotating PDFs. I have literally spent less than 30 minutes in the past 5 years interacting with tablets, so I realize I need to do my homework. 

 

But between the Galaxy Note 10.1, iPad Air, and Thinkpad Tablet 2, does anyone have thoughts on which one would be best for this? 


Edited by deconstruction, 10 December 2013 - 01:03 PM.


#28 deconstruction

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 10:32 PM

Bump for some advice. Don't make me resort to going to an actual store with people who will try to help me.



#29 BillMuellerFanClub

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 12:16 AM

I'm not seeing a lot of surface mentions in here, which I find odd.  I've spent the better part of the last 10 years as an avid Apple user, however, my brother is a Microsoft apologist and as a half joke got me a surface 2 RT for Christmas.  and I love it.  its an awesome little device.  my only complaint is lack of schtuff due to the infancy of the windows store but it is quickly improving and the operating system is surprisingly stable. 

 

For your use I would say its compatibility with a keyboard and mouse even with the RT it may be a nice option for productivity (as is the inclusion of MS Office).

 

I do, in full disclosure, despise the android operating system.



#30 deconstruction

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 12:59 AM

Thanks. I'll keep that in the loop. Having Office capability is appealing. I have a Macbook Air and Galaxy SII, so adding a Windows device would complete the trifecta! 



#31 saintnick912


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Posted 11 January 2014 - 09:09 AM

I got my mother a Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11 (the RT one) when they cut the price to $300.  Great little piece of hardware at that price but the app support is very very limited on RT.  She mainly wanted office, email, web, facebook, skype so everything was covered on the must-have list, and the keyboard is worlds ahead of the Surface covers or the Asus with the bolt-on.  Comparable in size to a Macbook Air 11.



#32 jercra

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 12:17 PM

work just got me a surface pro 2 and it's a great device.  The soft keyboard is pretty far behind the Swiftkey for Android but otherwise it's like having a very portabable laptop.  My wife has the RT and it's still good but the lack of apps for it is annoying.



#33 Joe Sixpack

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 03:02 PM

Sony's Xperia Tablet Z is by far the best 10" tablet out there. I got one for my wife for Christmas and after seeing it firsthand I'm tempted to get one for myself, and I've never really had any interest in a 10" tablet before.

Thinner and lighter than Ipad Air. Also completely waterproof - you can fully submerge it in water while it's running.

Anyone looking for a 10" tablet should take a serious look at the Sony.


Edited by Joe Sixpack, 11 January 2014 - 03:14 PM.


#34 deconstruction

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 09:51 PM

Thanks for the additions, guys. 

 

I think the reason I'm still leaning towards the Note 10.1 is the active digitizer and its ability to really capture fine movements with the pen. From what I can gather, the Xperia, Surface, and Yoga don't have this, but the Surface Pro and Note 10.1 do. And the price between those latter two is pretty significant.

 

Thoughts on the pen/active vs. stylus/capacitive difference?



#35 Max Power


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Posted 11 January 2014 - 11:38 PM

Check out the Dell Venue 11 Pro. You can get it configured with an Atom CPU and a stylus for just over $500. There's an attachable keyboard option for that one, too.



#36 deconstruction

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 12:05 AM

Very good call. Have been checking that out during the last few hours. Seems like they've remedied the stylus issues with it, too.



#37 BillMuellerFanClub

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 01:15 AM

pen/active is much more preferable to stylus/capacitive if you want good writing recognition and it's not even close. technological restraints will prevent capacitive displays from replicating anything like it for at least the current generation devices.

it will depend on if your device is geared more towards entertainment or productivity to which style would play up best based on utilization.




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