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(Update: now in Play Store) T-Mobile releases Nexus 9 LTE for $600 (total price)

Posted by wicked December - 13 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

Nexus 9-32

Update: The Nexus 9 LTE is now available on the Google Play Store for $600 for those who wish to buy it directly.

Original post: The HTC Nexus 9 is a curious device. With an unconventional 4:3 aspect ratio, uneven build quality (read: quality control issues), and a pretty premium price, it’s more-or-less everything the Nexus 7 wasn’t. Then again, with its 64-bit CPU, Lollipop packing performance, it need not be. Previously available only in Wi-Fi only variants (with the Sand “gold” variant nowhere to be seen), from today T-Mobile has become the first carrier to sell the LTE model, and has beat even the Google Play Store to the proverbial punch.

As always with the Uncarrier, pricing is set to $0 up-front, with 24 monthly installments of $24.99. The Full Retail Price (FRP) therefore comes out to $599.76, which makes it significantly more expensive than the Wi-Fi model. The LTE tablet is sold only in the black color variant unfortunately, and has the larger 32GB capacity storage.

Check out more details in the press release:

Show Press Release

HTC Nexus 9 Now Available at T-Mobile with Best Tablet Plan in Wireless

If you don’t know, now you know. Starting today, the HTC Nexus 9 is available at T-Mobile online via the Underground for $0 down (and $24.99 for 24 months; FRP $599.76).T-Mobile is the first U.S. carrier to offer the LTE Nexus 9 tablet – and is the ONLY place Nexus 9 customers can get the best tablet plan in wireless this holiday season. Just $10 a month enables you to add a tablet and match the data on your Simple Choice™ voice plan—up to 5 GB a month—for use specifically on your tablet. And all T-Mobile tablets can get you Free Data for Life, giving you 200 MB of free data a month for the life of the device as long as you use it with T-Mobile.The HTC Nexus 9 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, features a crisp 8.9-inch screen with two front-facing speakers and is powered by a 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor, for fast and easy transitions from work to play.

More information on the best tablet plan in wireless can be found at http://www.t-mobile.com.

Interested in the LTE Nexus 9? What do you think about the price?

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Review

Posted by wicked December - 11 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

The Bottom Line

PROS
  • Large and gorgeous display
  • Loud front firing speakers
  • Versatile kickstand
  • Unique pico projector
  • More than adequate battery life
CONS
  • Uninspiring software
  • Subpar camera
  • Inconsistent performance
8.0

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is a tablet with beautiful hardware and unique features that is slightly crippled by mediocre software.

While tablets between 7-inches and 10.1-inches are quite common, those with even larger display sizes fall under a more niche segment. There aren’t a lot of options available in this category, but those that are do offer quite a different experience. If you’re on the lookout for an ultra-large tablet, one that you should consider is the latest high-end offering from Lenovo. What does this device have to offer? We find out, in this comprehensive review of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro.

Design

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro-18

With a 13.3-inch display, there’s no denying that the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is a big tablet, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case. The tablet is quite thin and made entirely of plastic, save for the cylinder at the bottom, a signature design element and feature of the Yoga series. While the size can result in some awkward handling moments, it does feel great in the hand. Of course, one-handed use is out of the question, and it is also not the most portable, but that is obviously something you are fine with, if you have decided on picking up such a large device.

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As is the case with any Yoga tablet, the cylinder at the bottom houses a built-in kickstand. As mentioned, this is one of the few parts of the tablet that is made of metal, and the resulting weight does a good job in keeping the device propped up. There is a button to release the kickstand available this time around, and hidden below is a microSD card slot, allowing for an additional 64 GB of storage. The kickstand lets you prop the tablet up in a few different positions, such as the stand position which is at a relatively steep angle, ideal for media consumption. It is quite difficult to hit the power button at this placement though, so a tap-to-wake feature would have been appreciated.

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Another tilt position at a much smaller angle serves as the all-purpose position, letting you do everything including typing, playing games, watching videos, or browsing the web. There is now also a hole in the kickstand that allows you to hang the tablet upside down for viewing media. While definitely introducing a different use case for the tablet, there are very few situations in which I could imagine needing to hang my tablet up anywhere.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro-4

As if the Lenovo Yoga series wasn’t already unique enough, the Tablet 2 Pro also comes with a pico projector on the right side of the cylinder. Right above the projector is the power button to start it, and towards the back is a physical slider to adjust the focus. The projector is powerful enough to project an image up to 50-inches before the quality to starts to deteriorate. It’s not quite at the mark to replace a home theatre system, but can be very useful for presentations, or sharing videos and movies with a lot of people without needing to huddle around an otherwise relatively small screen.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro-7

If you are planning to use this tablet as a media consumption device, especially with the availability of the projector, a great audio experience is also a necessity, and the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro certainly delivers. On the front are two 1.5 W speakers flanking the left and right sides of the kickstand, along with a 5 W JBL sub-woofer on the back. This speaker setup gets quite loud, with great highs and mids, making this one of the best setups you can get on a tablet right now. Their front-facing placement is always a big plus, and adds a lot to media consumption experience.

Display

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The display is of course the reason the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is as large as it is. The tablet features a 13.3-inch LCD display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 221 ppi. While that pixel density may not inspire a lot of confidence, the display is actually fantastic. It is bright and vivid, colors are saturated, and the viewing angles are good. You get everything you’d expect from a high quality panel, and you’ll certainly have a great experience using this screen. Watching videos are especially fun, and while gaming might be a little awkward because of the size, the display still makes for an enjoyable time.

Performance

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro-11

Under the hood, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is packing a quad-core Intel Atom Z3745 processor, clocked at 1.86 GHz, along with 2 GB of RAM. While the processing package looks good on paper, the performance is unfortunately not up to to mark, even if it might have more to do with software optimization, as opposed a fault with the processor itself.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro-13

Applications do open and close quickly, and even graphically-intensive games are handled well, but it is in the small things that you’ll notice a lot of hiccups. Animations can be very jittery, scrolling through web pages is choppy, and there is even a slight lag while waking the device when you press the power button. The projector is also a resource hog, and all of these issues are accentuated when the projector is on. It is quite difficult to pinpoint whether it is the software optimization or the choice of processor that is at fault, but it is quite disappointing to see a relatively high-end tablet suffer from lag while doing something as simple as swiping through homescreens. If it is software based though, upcoming updates should hopefully alleviate these issues.

Camera

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The Yoga 2 Tablet Pro features a 1.6 MP front-facing camera and an 8 MP rear camera, which will certainly do in a pinch, but is likely not nearly as good as your smartphone camera, as is the case with most tablets currently available. The camera interface is simple, straightforward, and easy to use, and includes just the most basic of modes and functionality, such as panorama and macro, along with a big and spacious viewfinder to go along with the huge display.

The auto focus is also extremely slow, taking about 2 or 3 seconds to focus on something, so you won’t be able to rapidly take a lot of shots. The image quality is not particularly impressive either. Photos look dark and dull, colors are washed out, details are soft, and the image is full of noise, with the quality expectedly deteriorating even further with worsening lighting conditions. This camera is nothing more than an adequate backup if you don’t have your primary camera with you, and more than anything, it will be quite embarrassing to pick up such a large device to take a picture anyway.

Battery

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Screenshot-9

Since a lot of people use their tablets primarily as media consumption devices or for gaming, the 9,600 mAh battery of the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro performs quite well. With normal to heavy usage, you will get at least a full day of use, with about 5 hours of screen-on time. With lighter use the decent standby time, the battery life can be pushed to as long as 3 days. If you do plan to use the projector a lot though, up to 2 movies is the most you will get out of it.

Software

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro-36

While Lenovo may have nailed it with the majority of the hardware, the same cannot be said with regards to the software. The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro runs Android 4.4 Kitkat, with Lenovo’s custom skin on top, that will quite familiar to some. The user interface is flat and colorful, with a lot of transparencies, and there is also no application drawer, requiring the use of folders for organization instead.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Screenshot-16

The biggest problem with the software is not with its appearance, but rather, the optimization to take advantage of the large 13.3-inch display. While you can fit a lot more widgets and shortcuts on your homescreens, there is not a whole lot more to take advantage of its size. The notification shade is just blown up to fit the entire display, and the Recent Apps screen is still limited to only three apps at a time, regardless of whether you’re in landscape or portrait orientation. While the panel that slides up from the bottom of the display is useful, giving you access to commonly used settings and a brightness slider, there’s not much that Lenovo got right here.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Screenshot-15

There is a multi-window feature that lets you place up to 4 apps on the screen at the same time, but that is limited to only a few compatible applications, with even a majority of Lenovo’s own in-built applications not utilizing the display to its fullest potential.The calculator app is just a blown up simple calculator in portrait mode, and while a few more functions are added when in landscape, it’s not nearly as much as you’d expect for a display this large. The gallery application also has a lot of unused space and is without a split view, which makes the app look more like it was made more a smartphone instead of a tablet. The same can be said about the weather app, that only shows the current weather and a 5 day forecast, even if the space could have allowed for a lot more information.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Screenshot-14

Since this is all software related, it should be relatively easy to fix. Lenovo should certainly get more creative with the pre-installed applications, and their own custom skin, as it is the software that makes or breaks the user experience.

Gallery

Pricing and Final Thoughts

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is available directly from Lenovo and Amazon for $469.99, which is a fair price for a tablet of this size. The Wi-Fi only model is available for now, with a LTE version coming soon, that will likely set you back an additional $50 or $100.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro-1

So, there you have it – the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro! There is no doubt that Lenovo has built an Android tablet with fantastic hardware, and are continuing to push the boundaries with regards to design. The build quality is solid, the kickstand is incredibly useful, especially for a tablet of this size, and the 13.3-inch Quad HD display is great to look at. The pico projector may be considered gimmicky by some, but is still an unique feature. What is missing is an optimized software experience, which is the only thing holding this tablet from being a truly amazing and powerful tablet.

See it on Amazon

Ultra Fast Wireless Charging for Tablets and Big Phones Will Soon be a Thing

Posted by Kellex December - 8 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Thanks to the introduction of the world’s first 15 Watt Qi-compliant wireless charging solution by Freescale, ultra fast wireless charging of tablets and big-screened phones will soon be a thing. Most traditional wireless charging units deliver at 5 Watts, but that low power delivery typically means that it takes hours to fully charge a device with a large battery. In fact, I don’t know that anyone who uses wireless charging on a regular basis would even attempt to call it “speedy.” With Freescale’s new solution, we could see a time where a 4,000mAh tablet could be charged in just a couple of hours. 

Their new charging solution is scheduled for Q1 2015 availability, which means they have production-ready reference designs and evaluation boards ready for manufacturers to use quickly to bring new wireless charging products to market.

The new 15 W portfolio from Freescale is also supported with the Wireless Power Consortium and the Power Matters Alliance, the two major wireless charging standards. So should manufacturers adopt Freescale’s new systems, we should see 15 W wireless chargers and embedded wireless charging with both Qi and PMA solutions.

Again, Q1 2015 is when the first products could arrive.

Via:  Venturebeat | Freescale

Ultra Fast Wireless Charging for Tablets and Big Phones Will Soon be a Thing is a post from: Droid Life

Get a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 for just $339.99

Posted by wicked December - 8 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off
Samsung Galaxy TabPro 12.2

Samsung released the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 earlier this year along with the Tab Pro 8.4 and Tab Pro 10.1. These “Pro” versions of the Galaxy Tab line are designed to offer the very best possible specs along with some of Samsung’s best premium software. The Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 has a RRP of $649, but if you shop around you can get a new one for around $550. However if that is beyond your budget, at the moment you can pick up a refurbished device for just $339.99 from eBay.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 is a 12.2 inch device with a 2560 x 1600 pixel TFT LCD display.

According to the seller the device has been “fully tested and found to be fully functional.” It has been restored to the factory settings, but it may show some signs of previous use. This means it may have moderate scuffs and/or scratches typically found on the casing or edges. However this does not “affect the functionality of the unit and is simply cosmetic.”

So what do you get for $340? As the name implies, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 is a 12.2 inch device. It has a 2560 x 1600 pixel TFT LCD display. It is powered by a Exynos 5 Octa processor and packs 3GB of RAM. The model on eBay comes with 32GB of internal storage, and if that isn’t enough there is also an SD card slot. The device runs Android 4.4 KitKat and the massive 9500 mAh battery should last at least 11 hours, probably more.

At the time of writing “QuickShip Electronics” has sold over 100 of these devices, and the remaining stock is “limited.” If you want to snap yourself up a bargain, I guess you are going to need to be quick.

Are you tempted? Please let us know in the comments below.

 

 

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 & Yoga Tablet 2 Pro review

Posted by wicked December - 7 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

Lenovo has made a big impact on the Android world with their Yoga tablets. Most of the attention is paid to the design, where a cylindrical battery occupies a side (or bottom… or top) of the Yoga Tablet. Now that Lenovo has released their second iteration of their funky tablet, the Yoga Tablet 2, is it still worth our praise and admiration? Does a battery/handle/stand straddle the right lines, or has Lenovo fallen victim to malaise in not updating their hardware enough?

Design

There is no denying the Yoga Tablet 2’s unique design. A very prominent cylinder occupies one end of the tablet. No matter how you look at it — or hold it — the Yoga Tablet 2 is a unique experience.

If you look past the side-battery, Lenovo has kept the integrated stand. The Yoga Tablet 2 has a simple pull-out stand that has a few settling points where Lenovo thinks you’d be most comfortable watching media; and make no mistake, the stand is meant for media consumption in landscape mode. It will hold your Yoga Tablet 2 in any position, though.

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The yoga Tablet 2 Pro is similarly styled with regard to the battery and stand, except the Pro model has a button that releases the stand. It’s a bit more awkward than simply rolling the stand off the side.

If one thing can be said for the Yoga Tablet 2 and 2 Pro, it’s that both have front-facing speakers that shine. For watching a movie, they really come in handy.

On “top” of the cylindrical battery tower you’ll find the power button. On the bottom of the Yoga Tablet 2, you’ll see the audio jack. On the bottom of the 2 Pro, you’ll find a pico projector, which can beam just about anything you want onto a wall. As if the 13.3-inch screen were’t large enough!

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Hardware

Neither the Yoga Tablet 2 or yoga Tablet 2 Pro are spec-heavy washouts. What they both offer is respectable hardware that keeps up admirably.

Here are the specs for both:

Yoga Tablet 2
Display: 8-inch, 1200 x 1920 resolution, 283 ppi
Processor: Intel Atom Z3745, quad-core, 1.86 GHz
Battery: 6400 mAh
RAM: 2GB
Memory: 16GB internal, expandable via microSD card (up to 64GB)
Camera: 8 MP rear, 1.6 MP front
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
Speakers: dual front, Dolby Digital Plus

Yoga Tablet 2 Pro
Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1440 resolution IPS
Processor: Intel Atom Z3745, quad-core, 1.86 GHz
Battery: 9600 mAh
RAM: 2GB
Memory: 32GB internal, expandable via microSD card (up to 64GB)
Camera: 8 MP rear, 1.6 MP front
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
Speakers: dual front, Dolby Digital Plus

Software

Both tablets operate on the Android platform, obviously, but they’re not stock. At first blush, the tablet interface looks dated, almost like Android Honeycomb. Though KitKat is the underlying platform, the UI needs work.

To be quite blunt, the UI smacks of iOS; so much so that a long-press on an app brings up the very iOS-like delete option. The included app icons, like the ones Lenovo cobbles in, are also rounded squares, just like an iPad.

That’s not a knock on Lenovo, but it feels much less Android that it could. Android purists may not enjoy the UI here, but I really doubt that’s Lenovo’s core market with the Yoga Tablet 2 or Tablet 2 Pro.

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Lenovo’s touch

On the software end, Lenovo has packed in quite a few apps meant to make life easier. Apps like SYNCit let you back up documents to an SD card. That’s something many novices won’t know how to do via a mobile platform, so I consider it a smart inclusion by Lenovo.

SHAREit is Lenovo’s means of syncing files between devices. You can share photos, music, videos, contacts, or files to any other device with the app installed. It’s a great option for Lenovo purists who have a Lenovo Yoga Pro computer or the like.

CLONEit is much like SHAREit, except it lets you copy things to a new device. Maybe the neatest option of CLONEit is the duplication of settings to a new device. If Lenovo had a better market share for their phones stateside, this would be a great feature.

Lenovo’s Security HD app is handy for power users. In the app, you can find which other apps are taking up memory and shut them down, and get a quick look at available memory through the app manager section. In the app manager section, you can also uninstall apps, move them between memory and SD cards, as well as freeze them (that stops them from working). An Ad Blocker feature also kills annoying ads both in apps and in the browser.

Another neat feature on the Yoga Tablet 2 and 2 Pro is the multi-window white-list. A small icon sits at the bottom left of the screen, and in it are apps you want to use in multi-window format. It’s not new — we see this on many Samsung devices — but Lenovo’s take on it is the cleanest we’ve seen to-date.

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Battery Life

The batteries in these two Lenovo tablets are massive. Battery life is typically a sticking point in a review, but the Yoga Pro 2 and 2 Pro are disgustingly long-lasting. Both offer larger-than-average battery size, and while that’s a trade-off for a super slim tablet, it’s a welcome one. There’s almost no point in showing battery life stats.

One word of caution, keep in mind the SHAREit app is highly consumptive of battery life. In using it a few minutes, it sapped energy in what seemed to be a rapid clip. Even at that, the battery life on the Yoga Tablets are impressive. Lenovo says they can deliver 18-hour-plus battery life in use, and I won’t argue that.

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Use

I can’t complain about these tablets much; they’re just that good. While I admit the UI is dated and a bit clumsy, it’s not bad. The touchscreen is also responsive, but better suited for navigating web pages rather than intense gaming.

For someone who likes to watch videos, these are two great tablets. The included stand is incredibly handy, and the front facing speakers are superb. I would go so far as to say the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro could double as a nightstand TV if you didn’t have room for a proper one.

The projector on the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro isn’t wonderful, but it doesn’t let me down. You could watch a movie, sure, but it’s more useful for casting app content or pictures on a wall. If you have a suite of productivity apps you like for Android, this is a really nice option to have for enterprise.

If you’re going to be gaming, or doing some heavy lifting with apps, this may not be the tablet for you. The quad-core Intel processor is underpowered for heavier tasks. I didn’t find the experience lacking, but it wasn’t nearly as smooth as I’d have liked or experienced on other Android tablets. There’s enough RAM and memory to keep things humming along nicely, but the processor doesn’t do them justice.

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For media consumption or web browsing — no problems. If you’re going to play a heavy FPS game, stuttering and buffering will probably exist.

In the case of using the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro as an actual tablet — you can, but it’s cumbersome. I like it for the enterprise space, because the larger screen would be great for reviewing documents, but for browsing Facebook or Twitter, it’s overkill. The Yoga Tablet 2 is just fine as a “regular” tablet; just keep in mind the battery bulge is always there.

One thing I enjoyed about both tablets was using it in landscape on my lap. The battery bulge provided a nice prop, and the larger screens made typing on-screen pretty easy.

lenovoTab2

Verdict

If you’re a hardcore Android fan who knows what CyanogenMod is all about and gets tucked into long debates on Google+ about the merits of the new Lollipop keyboard, you may not be happy with the Lenovo Yoga Tablet lineup. There is enough change here to dissuade you. While the underlying core is still Android, Lenovo’s overlay is very noticeable.

For the rest of the world, these two tablets are an easy recommendation. Though I’m not a fan of heavy Android skins, Lenovo has done it in a crafty way. Like the easier-to-grasp iOS, everything is right up front on the Yoga Tablet 2 and 2 Pro. I think for the average user, the learning curve here will be minimal.

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The larger screen on the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro takes a bit of getting used to. I definitely don’t think Android is in a place where it can replace a laptop, but if you use Google Drive as a means to be productive day-to-day, I could see this replacing a Chromebook for many users. With a bluetooth keyboard, this is just about to that point.

The Yoga Tablet 2 is $249. The Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is $499. Those prices are hard to argue as being out of line, or out of touch. For what amounts to two very adequate tablets, the pricing is right, and that’s important for the market Lenovo is after.

Best Android tablets

Posted by wicked December - 5 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Android tablets make great holiday gifts, and the best thing about them is that everyone can use them, from a three-year-old to your grandma. But with so many devices out there, how can you make sure you get the best Android tablet for your money?

There are probably hundreds of Android tablets on Amazon, and avoiding the overpriced and the plain bad can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be that hard. Just take a look at the tablets below – they are the very best Android has to offer, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

Without further ado, here’s our list of the best Android tablets available in December 2014.

Editor’s Note – If you’re interested in some great, cheaper tablets, check out our Best Cheap Android Tablets Guide! 


Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4

Update – Price drop to $363.00 – if you want the fastest performance and most incredible display  of any compact tablet on the market then this is the one to get.

Most of us use tablets for watching movies, reading, and playing games. So it makes sense to go for the very best display you can get, and it’s hard to find anything better than the Galaxy Tab S 8.4. The Tab S 8.4 is one of the few tablets with an AMOLED screen and a super crisp Quad HD at that, with an excellent 359 ppi pixel density. Being AMOLED, the screen will show deep blacks and vivid colors, perfect for games and movies.

The portable Tab S 8.4 combines the portability of smaller devices with the screen real estate afforded by larger tablets. Plus, this 8.4-incher is fast and feature-rich, making it good for just about any task.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 212.8 x 125.6 x 6.6 mm (8.38 x 4.94 x 0.26 in), 298 g (10.51 oz)
  • Display: 8.4-inch AMOLED, Quad HD (2560 x 1600) resolution, 359 ppi
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 2.3GHz quad-core
  • GPU: Adreno 330 GPU
  • Memory: 3GB RAM
  • Storage: 16/32GB
  • microSD slot: Yes, up to 128 GB
  • Cameras: 8 MP rear, 2.1 MP front
  • Battery: 4,900 mAh
  • OS: Android 4.4.2 KitKat with TouchWiz
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi/3G-LTE
  • Others: fingerprint scanner

Read more

Buy now from Amazon for $363.00


Nvidia Shield Tablet

Nvidia is known for video cards, not Android tablets, but the Shield Tablet is definitely worth of your attention, especially if you’re into gaming. That’s because the Shield Tablet is powered by a mighty Tegra K1 processor and comes with Nvidia’s TegraZone portal, that gives you access to dozens of Tegra-optimized Android games.

The rest of the specs are nothing to sneeze at, and build quality and design are top-notch. The Shield’s stereo front-facing speakers are great for gaming, video, and music, and the stylus that comes in the box will amp up your productivity. On the downside, this device is a bit heavy and the battery life tends towards the lower end of the spectrum.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 221 x 126 x 9.2 mm (8.70 x 4.96 x 0.36 in), 390 g (13.76 oz)
  • Display: 8-inch LCD, Full HD (1920 x 1200) resolution, 283 ppi
  • Processor: Nvidia Tegra K1, 2.2GHz quad-core
  • GPU: Kepler (192 cores)
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16/32GB
  • microSD slot: Yes
  • Cameras: 5 MP rear, 5  MP front
  • Battery: 5,200 mAh
  • OS: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi/3G-LTE
  • Others: stylus, stereo speaker

Read more

Buy now from Amazon for $299


Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

Like the Tab S 8.4, the Tab S 10.5 gives you a beautiful high-resolution AMOLED display that is ideal for consuming media. Everything is in a bigger package, so if a large screen is on your priorities list, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is the ideal choice from our list of best Android tablets. Despite its generous dimensions, the Tab S 10.5 is easy to handle, weighing a little over a pound.

The Tab S 10.5 comes with almost everything you may want in a tablet, and Samsung’s TouchWiz delivers tons of features on the software side, though you may end up ignoring some of them. And while the Tab S 10.5 is all plastic, it still feels like a premium device.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6 mm (9.74 x 6.98 x 0.26 in), 467 g (1.03 lb)
  • Display: 10.5-inch AMOLED, Quad HD (2560 x 1600) resolution, 288 ppi
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 2.3GHz quad-core
  • GPU: Adreno 330 GPU
  • Memory: 3GB RAM
  • Storage: 16/32GB
  • microSD slot: Yes, up to 128 GB
  • Cameras: 8 MP rear, 2.1 MP front
  • Battery: 7,900 mAh
  • OS: Android 4.4.2 KitKat with TouchWiz
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi/3G-LTE
  • Others: fingerprint scanner

Read more

Buy Now from Amazon for $382


Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Don’t let the mouthful of a name fool you – the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is as sleek as Android tablets get. This 8-inch device impresses through its lightness and very slim profile – at 6.4 millimeters, this is the thinnest tablet you can get. But the Z3 Tablet Compact has more than good looks. On the inside, the fast Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM ensure you will be flying through the screens of Sony’s minimalist user interface.

The LCD screen is not Quad HD, but Sony’s unique display technology ensures you get vivid colors that are similar to what you get on AMOLED. Another unique attribute of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is its water resistance. Yup, you can take this device to beach or the hot tub without worrying about dropping it in the water.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 213.4 x 123.6 x 6.4 mm (8.40 x 4.87 x 0.25 in), 270 g (9.52 oz)
  • Display: 8-inch LCD, Full HD (1920 x 1200) resolution, 283 ppi
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2.5GHz quad-core
  • GPU: Adreno 330 GPU
  • Memory: 3GB RAM
  • Storage: 16GB
  • microSD slot: Yes, up to 128 GB
  • Cameras: 8.1 MP rear, 2.2 MP front
  • Battery: 4,500 mAh
  • OS: Android 4.4.4 KitKat
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi/3G-LTE
  • Others: IP68 water resistance

Read more

See it on Amazon for $469


Google Nexus 9

The brand new Nexus 9 from Google and HTC is an Android fanboy’s dream. It runs the purest, most recent version of Android – Lollipop 5.0 – and it will stay current for at least two years. There are no OEM additions (though stock Android may be a little too minimal for your taste) and therefore nothing to bog down the user experience.

The Nexus 9 is just as impressive on the hardware side – you get a 64-bit Tegra processor, a beautiful 1536 x 2048 pixels screen, stereo front speakers (disguised under the protective glass) and a big battery. However, like all Nexus devices, there’s no microSD card slot. The device features a utilitarian, yet elegant design, with an aluminum frame that gives it rigidity without adding much heft.

 Specs

  • Dimensions: 228.2 x 153.7 x 7.9 mm (8.98 x 6.05 x 0.31 in), 270 g (9.52 oz)
  • Display: 8.95-inch IPS LCD, 1536 x 2048 resolution, 281 ppi
  • Processor: Nvidia Tegra K1 Denver, 2.3 GHz dual-core
  • GPU: Kepler DX1
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16/32GB
  • microSD slot: No
  • Cameras: 8 MP rear, 1.6 MP front
  • Battery: 6,700 mAh
  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi/3G-LTE

Read more

Get it on Amazon for $399


Best for money – Google Nexus 7 (2013)

Not everyone looks for the latest specs and thinnest designs. For some, getting a good deal is more important that staying on the edge. That is why we can’t wrap up our list of best Android tablets without mentioning the Nexus 7 (2013). Although it’s a year old, the Nexus 7 is still a great tablet that gives you all the essentials in an attractive package. The Full HD screen is still great, and its pixel density is actually higher than some devices listed above.

While you won’t get the same lighting fast performance you’ll get from the Nexus 9, the Nexus 7 is more than capable, especially for less demanding users. Coupled with the guaranteed fast update to Lollipop, the Nexus 7 remains a top choice for those looking for an affordable tablet.

Specs

  • Dimensions: 200 x 114 x 8.7 mm (7.87 x 4.49 x 0.34 in), 299 g  (10.55 oz)
  • Display: 7-inch IPS LCD, Full HD (1200 x 1920) resolution, 323 ppi
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, 1.5 GHz quad-core
  • GPU: Adreno 320
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16/32GB
  • microSD slot: No
  • Cameras: 5 MP rear, 1.2 MP front
  • Battery: 3950 mAh
  • OS: Android 4.4 KitKat (Lollipop coming soon)
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi/3G-LTE

Read more

Buy now from Amazon for $199


There you have it – our picks from the best Android has to offer right now. Missed anything? Tell us in the comments!

For more tablet information head on over to the TabTimes blog for more tablet news, reviews and information.

 

E-Ceros Revolution 2 tablet review

Posted by wicked December - 4 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

The Bottom Line

PROS
  • High resolution display
  • Good performance
  • Battery
  • Price
CONS
  • External charger
  • Flash memory divided up badly
  • Poor standby battery usage
7.8

A worthy successor the first generation Revolution tablet. The Revolution 2 has a great display and is coupled with a fast processor package. At just $260 it is certainly an interesting option.


Buy it here

E-Ceros is a Chinese OEM that has released several tablets, and a smartphone, over the last year or so. These include the E-Ceros One smartphone, the 10.1 inch widescreen E-Ceros Vision, and the Ceros Motion – a 7-inch budget tablet. Back in August 2013, the company release the E-Ceros Revolution tablet. It was a 9.7 inch device with a 2048 x 1536 high resolution display. Now, a little more than a year later, the company has released the next iteration of the tablet, the Revolution 2.

Like the original Revolution tablet, the E-Ceros Revolution 2 is clearly aimed at those who want an Android device that looks physically similar to an iPad. The tablet sports a 9.7 inch, 2048 x 1536 IPS display with a pixel density of 264ppi (the same as the iPad), and is roughly the same height and width as the iPad (give or take a few millimeters).

e-ceros-revolution-2- (1)

Design

Although the front of the E-Ceros Revolution 2 looks physically similar to an iPad, once you start to turn it around you will see some clear design differences that show that this is an Android tablet. One is the lack of volume buttons. The volume is controlled using the soft keys that appear on the system bar on either side of the traditional set of back, home and recent buttons.

Switching over to the back, you will see the speaker, the plug for the external charger, the headphone jack, a micro SD card slot, a microUSB port, the power button, and the rear facing camera.

e-ceros-revolution-2- (6)

The device is constructed mainly out of plastic, including the screen, but for the price that is to be expected. It feels sturdy and doesn’t suffer from any plastic creaks or groans when you are using it. There are however a couple of negative points about its design. First, the device charges using an external charger and can’t be charged via USB. Second, there is only one speaker, no stereo here! Having said that, the sound from that one speaker is quite impressive.

Display

The viewing angles on the Revolution 2 are excellent and the colors are vibrant, but not over saturated. With a resolution of  2048 x 1536, browsing the web is great and high-res photos from sites like Flickr are stunning. When reading an ebook with an app like Kindle the text is sharp and easy on the eyes. The QXGA display has a 4:3 aspect ratio and packs in some 3.1 million pixels. Remembering that 1080p is 1920 x 1080, the display on this device will easily display any HD videos.

Hardware

Besides the high resolution display the E-Ceros Revolution 2 also features a quad-core Cortex-A17 CPU, 32GB of internal storage, 2GB of RAM, an 8 megapixel rear camera and an 8000mAh battery!

The full specs are as follows:

Display 9.7” Full HD, 2048 x 1576
Processor 1.8GHz, Rockchips RK3288,Quad-core Cortex-A17
RAM 2GB
Storage 32GB, microSD card slot, up to 128GB
Camera 8.0 Megapixel Rear Camera, 2MP Front Camera
Battery 8000 mAh
Connectivity microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth
Software Android 4.4 with Google Play
Dimensions 242 x 175 x 8 mm, 541g

Software

The tablet uses a fairly vanilla version of Android 4.4, but with some minor changes. There is a section in the Settings for configuring MHL and there is also a section for controlling the screenshot button which, when activated, is placed on the menu bar along with the volume, back, home and recent buttons.

One missing feature is the ability to create separate user accounts, however everything else is stock Android 4.4. There weren’t many of Google’s apps installed by default, but Google Play is available and installing Google’s apps, as well as other popular apps, is easy.

For unknown reasons, E-Ceros decided to partition the flash memory on the Revolution 2 into two parts. One of 1GB and one of 27GB. Apps are installed by default to the 1GB partition, which means you could run out of space quite quickly. However, there is the option to move apps to the 27GB partition from within the Apps section of the Settings. It would have been much better if the internal memory was undivided or that more space was allocated to the first partition.

e-ceros-revolution-2-flash-memory

Battery

Like the first generation of this tablet, the Revolution 2 has an 8000mAh battery, which means that battery life shouldn’t be an issue. You should be able to get around 8 to 10 hours of battery life from this device, depending on how you use it. I did my usual battery tests and Epic Citadel will run for around 6 hours on one charge, which is quite impressive considering how hard that app pushes the CPU and GPU. You should be able to watch around 8 hours of locally stored video or you should be able to watch YouTube for the same length of time. All my tests were performed with Wi-Fi enabled and the screen on half-brightness.

One downside is that the device has poor overnight standby battery usage. On average the device used around 25% of its battery during a 24 hour period, when not being used.

Connectivity

e-ceros-revolution-2-1

As well as Wi-Fi  b/g/n the tablet also supports Bluetooth and 3G via a Huawei UltraStick ES1220. Towards the bottom of the tablet is a special slot for the dongle. With it you will get support for Internet access over 3G on 2100MHz and 900MHz. According to Chinavasion’s website the Huawei UltraStick should be included as standard with the tablet. I didn’t receive one with my review unit, however that could have been a simple oversight.

A problem that has affected cheaper Chinese tablets in the past is poor Wi-Fi reception. However the Wi-Fi on the E-Ceros Revolution 2 is solid and works well. During my testing I was able to use Wi-Fi normally within and around my house.

Performance

At the heart of the tablet is the RockChip RK3288. RockChip processors, like MediaTek ones, are a popular choice for cheaper tablets, especially those coming out of Asia. The RK3288 is a quad-core based on ARM’s Cortex-A17 design. Cortex-A17 cores are faster than Cortex-A9 cores but slower than Cortex-A15 cores. However the A17 design is more battery friendly that the Cortex-A15. That makes it a good choice for mid- to high- end devices.

e-ceros-revolution-2-riptide

Looking at the performance benchmarks, the tablet managed an average score of 32149 on AnTuTu, double that of the first gen Revolution tablet. This just shows how much faster the Cortex-A17 is when compared to the Cortex-A9 found in the first gen tablet. For Epic Citadel the results were also very good. The Mali-T764 GPU manages to drive that large 2048 x 1536 display at 51 frames per second.

During normal use the tablet is smooth and doesn’t seem to suffer from any lags or annoying delays.

Camera

The tablet has a 8MP rear camera and a 2MP front-facing camera. With tablets, the front facing camera is often the more useful of the two, as it is used for video chats etc. The 2MP front facing camera is certainly good enough for video chats, but if you are a selfie junkie (and for some reason you want to take selfies with your tablet) then 2MP won’t be enough.

You are unlikely to be using a tablet as your main camera, but when something unexpected happens the best camera is the one you have with you. The 8MP sensor produces OK shots, nothing spectacular, but more than good enough for a tablet.

The included camera app is very simple and offers only a few controls. You can switch from the back camera to the front camera, and there are a few other settings like configuring the self-timer or whether to include your location in the photos. You can record video and there is a panorama mode, but that is it. If you want anything more you will need to install a 3rd party camera app from the play store.

Here are a few test shots!

Conclusion

The E-Ceros Revolution 2 is available directly from Chinavasion for just $260. That makes it a lot cheaper than the iPad and pitches it as an inexpensive option for those looking for a 9.7 inch Android tablet. It has a fast processing package, 2GB of RAM and lots of internal storage. It also includes a micro SD card slot, something missing on both the iPad and from Google’s Nexus tablets.

Buy Now

iPad shipments decline by 12.7% in 2014, but worldwide tablet sales aren’t much better

Posted by wicked November - 25 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Nexus 9 vs iPad

Overall, it has been a pretty good year for Android tablets. We’ve seen Google’s new Nexus 9, a ton of new Samsung tablets, and not to mention the countless budget-friendly options we’re so used to seeing. As far as Apple’s iPad is concerned, however, they’re not doing so hot this year. The IDC reports that Apple will have shipped 64.9 million iPads in 2014… which is a 12.7% decline from 2013.

Now before we get to poking fun at the iPad, let’s be realistic. Tablet shipments worldwide are suffering by a lot. We’re not at an overall decline, but from 2013, tablet shipments have slowed down from 52.5% (2012-2013) to 7.2% (2013-2014) in year over year growth. That’s pretty bad, especially considering that tablets are constantly getting new technologies and features with every iteration.

As for Android? Year over year growth has risen by 16% in 2014, and the platform still holds 67.7% of the worldwide tablet marketshare. Almost 160 million Android tablets were shipped just this year. On the flip side, Apple is still holding down 27.5% of tablet marketshare, making it the biggest OEM in the space.

Google HTC Nexus 9 Android 5 Lollipop-9

So, why are tablets doing poorly? The IDC points out that a tablet’s lifespan was originally forecasted to be similar to that of a smartphone. Largely surpassing its goal, some people hold on to their tablets for 3 or maybe even 4 years, with just about no reason to upgrade. Most people use their tablets for media consumption, and tablets bought 3 years ago can still keep up quite nicely. It could also be that tablets just aren’t making a compelling enough argument to upgrade. In a phone, something that most of us use way more than our tablets, a minor upgrade could make your life a heck of a lot easier. But when a new tablet comes out and all that changes is the battery capacity and screen size, that’s not going to be enough for most people.

Many consumers hold on to their tablets for 3 or maybe even 4 years, with just about no reason to upgrade

Many factors could impact tablet sales in 2015. Of the many options, Google‘s work in both Chrome OS and Android and Microsoft’s work in Windows 10, and whatever Apple has coming down the pipeline could change things up. All of these are no-brainers, sure, but what does that mean for tablets as a whole? I think we’ve all agreed by now that users keep tablets longer than they do smartphones. In turn, making a new slab of plastic or aluminum with a slight bump in specs from last year isn’t going to get people excited. It’s not going to get people to drop $400 when they already have a tablet. We need something new in the market to bring up sales again.

The two platforms that could potentially do that are Google’s Chrome OS and Microsoft’s Windows platform. Chrome OS has been working to make a nice in-between product for people who don’t want tablets, and don’t want to spend a fortune on a laptop. Windows is doing some great things in the 2-in-1 space, giving users the option on whether to use a tablet or a laptop at any moment. We also have Google’s Project Tango and Ara to look forward to. But for now, the tablet market seems to have somewhat plateaued.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing in the tablet space? Any guesses? Conversely, do you feel this decline in tablet share is only natural with the rise of bigger-screened smartphones, and not anything to get too worked up about?

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 MDP smartphone and tablet give us a glimpse of the future

Posted by wicked November - 24 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Snapdragon Mobile Development Platform Smartphone

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 810 Mobile Development Platform smartphone and tablet are now available for purchase, each equipped with some of the best mobile technology currently available. Priced at $799 and $999 respectively, these developer oriented devices aren’t cheap. Fortunately, staring in quiet awe is free of charge.

The Snapdragon 810 developer smartphone is a 6.2-inch behemoth, packing a 2560×1600 (490ppi) display. It also comes with 4GB of LP-DDR4 RAM, a 3020mAh battery, 13MP OIS and dual flash rear camera, 4MP front facing camera capable of 1080p 120fps recording, QuickCharge 2.0 technology, and a fingerprint reader on the back. The handset also features a huge array of sensors, 8 microphones, a micro HDMI slot that supports 4K displays, USB 3.0 support, and an ultrasound emitter. Plenty of toys for developers to play around with.

Qualcomm’s latest reference tablet is an equally lavish affair. It features a 10.1-inch UHD 4K (3840×2160) 16:9 display, 4GB of LP-DDR4 RAM, the same camera setup as the smartphone, and a decent sized 7560mAh battery. The tablet also features a similar range of sensors, but also comes with dual 3D IR gesture cameras and front facing stereo speakers.

Snapdragon Mobile Development Platform Tablet

The major point of these developer devices is, of course, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC inside. The Snapdragon 810 is a 64-bit octo-core chip that features four ARM Cortex-A57s and four Cortex-A53. The chip offers superior performance and energy efficiency compared to the last generation of ARM CPU designs. The 810 also contains the improved Adreno 430 GPU, which boasts 30 percent more performance than the Snapdragon 805’s Adreno 420, as well as features such as 4K display support.

While Qualcomm’s reference devices contain a good many features that will likely never make their way to consumer flagships, Qualcomm has offered some insight as to what we can expect from next year’s high-end smartphones and tablets. Faster processors are a given, but faster memory types, new USB and Bluetooth standards, and even higher resolution displays could also become the norm in 2015.

If you’re a developer, or simply have some spare cash to spend, the Mobile Development Platform smartphone and tablet can be ordered directly from Qualcomm. Shipments are scheduled for mid-December.

This is N1, Nokia’s new Android tablet!

Posted by wicked November - 18 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

nokia n1 (4)

In a momentous event, Nokia, the former titan of the mobile industry, is making a comeback of sorts, just months after it completed the sales of its smartphone division to Microsoft.

At its Slush 2014 conference in Finland, Nokia just introduced the N1, a brand new tablet running Android. The device features a sleek all-aluminum design, a 7.9-inch laminated display, a 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom Z358, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, an 8MP rear camera, a 5MP front-facing camera, and a 5,300 mAh battery.

nokia n1 (1)

On the software side, the Nokia N1 will run Android 5.0 Lollipop, customized with Nokia’s homemade Z Launcher. The minimalist launcher debuted in June, and back then we called it “an, simple and surprisingly enjoyable”. The launcher is named after one of its key features: the ability to write out letters onto the screen to quickly search for apps, contacts, frequently utilized webpages and more. You can even search the web through this method.

The Nokia N1 will cost $250 and launch in China initially, starting in February. Nokia says the device will be in stores in time for the Chinese New Year (February 19, 2015). After that, Nokia plans to introduce the device to Russia and some European countries, markets where historically it had the biggest influence and where the Nokia brand is still highly valued by consumers. There is no information yet on the eventual availability of the Nokia N1 in the US and other regions from around the world.

nokia n1 (3)

Nokia’s CEO recently said Nokia won’t return to making smartphones, even if the contract with Microsoft allows Nokia to sell smartphones from 2016. Instead, Nokia is looking to license its brand to interested companies, that will be able to sell devices under the Nokia name.

nokia n1 (2)

Under the Microsoft agreement, Microsoft holds a 10-year license for the Nokia brand on feature phones, while the Finnish company can return to the smartphone game as soon as January 1, 2016.

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