Saturday, January 26, 2013

Very short review of TOP 3 tablets on the market

Yesterday I bought second tablet in my Android carrier - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (N8000). Internet is full of different reviews about this device, so I wont be writing essay about it. What I want to do, is to write about 3 current high-end tablets you can find on the market and why non of them are worth to buy. This concerns: Galaxy Nexus 10, Galaxy Note 10.1 and Asus Transformer Infinity. I will mostly write short pros and cons of each.

Every of these three devices presents different approach of using a tablet:
  1. Galaxy Nexus 10 ---> hand only
  2. Galaxy Note 10.1 --> hand & active pen
  3. Asus Transformer Infinity ---> hand & keyboard dock
Galaxy Nexus 10
The build quality of Nexus 10 is superb. Screen is actually the best on the market. Hardware (CPU, GPU) are top components as well. However, using N10 with only a hand makes this device nothing more then a overgrown phone. You can browse internet, zoom in or zoom out 100 times the same pictures, watch a movie (if you have some battery bank with you), chat with friends etc. You can do all these amazing things... Oh wait... no, you can't! There is no 3G connectivity. So if you are not close to some Wi-Fi hot-spot (you can make one yourself if you have enough mobile data-plan in your smartphone) you can only watch photos, read some e-book or listen to the music. Or you can browse the Internet on your tablet sitting home on the couch with your notebook next to you. I don't know what's so cool in browsing Internet on 10" screen, if you can do it on 15"4 screen as well, with full keyboard and mouse. Let's get back to that hot-spot. Why it sucks? Because now you need 2 battery banks. One for your tablet, and one for your mobile phone.

You might say there are many advanced active pens on the market you can buy and use with your Nexus 10. Sure, you can. Try to make a note having your hand lying on the screen. It's not possible to write anything (at least nothing readable) if there is no software protection against random hand touch (like Samsung has in Note 10.1). So forget about using pen with Nexus 10. Pure Android is not ready yet for active pens.

  1. Great screen (2560 x 1600)
  2. Great hardware
  3. Great design
  1. No 3G connectivity
  2. Not ready for active pens, so using this device is limited just to entertainment.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Now... let's be honest. I'm not disappointed with this device. But I'm also not that excited as I was when I bought my first tablet - Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101. So what's wrong about it? It's Samsung design, so it feels plastic. And no matter how great and innovatory this plastic will be, it still feels like plastic. Other tablets are plastic too, but when you hold Samsung you feel like holding a cheap plastic. Sorry, it's they way I feel. But what is worse, it's creaking here and there. Samsung, please! For that price you give us cheap, noisy plastic? I'm not saying it's creaking a lot. But it shouldn't be creaking at all. Another things is the screen. 1280 x 800 is embarrassing resolution for 10'1 tablet. This should not happen. Screen quality is just bad. And there is no Gorilla Glass. By the way - S-Pen feels cheap too.

When it comes to connectivity, it's one of not many tablets on the market with 3G connection. So if you have a SIM card with at least 2 GB mobile data plan, it's a perfect solution to have your tablet connected all the time.

The best thing about this tablet is not S-Pen. It's Samsung software. And trust me - I'm a HTC fan so it's not easy for me to say that I like anything about Samsung software. But when it comes to using a pen, this is the only tablet on the market with such advanced software for handwriting. There is also great multitasking - you can have active applications on the desktop and work without closing each other. It would take too long to write about all amazing things you can find using this tablet together with S-Pen. If you're looking for a tablet that you can use not only for fun - Note 10.1 it's the only right choice.

  1. Great active pen (S-Pen)
  2. Amazing software for handwriting and great multitasking features
  3. 3G connectivity
  1. Plastic design
  2. Low resolution (1280 x 800)
  3. No Gorilla Glas protection
  4. Cracking body
Asus Transformer Infinity

The last one from the TOP 3. Asus tablets are well known from their keyboard dock stations. What is so great about it? In my opinion - nothing. But let's start from the beginning. Screen in this model is somewhere in between Nexus 10 and Galaxy Note 10.1. It has 1920 x 1200 resolution. Not as good as Nexus 10, but decisively much better than Galaxy Note 10.1. It also has IPS+ panel instead of TFT (guess which one have TFT...?). Also there is 3G connectivity. Of course if you find TF700TG version. So far 3G variant seems to be a ghost version, almost like Nexus 10 in some countries. Build quality is very good, I like the design as well. Again, it's between Nexus 10 and Samsung. Not that good as N10, but much better then Note 10.1.

When it comes to software I must say I pretty like it. GUI is not as expanded as HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz, but it gives you some more widgets and applications than pure Android (Galaxy Nexus 10).

Now the best part - keyboard. This is the approach I find the most ridiculous. And the useless touchpad is lovely too! Just one question - if you need to write fast on your portable device - why using limited Android with quasi-keyboard is better then using ultrabook with Windows (or Linux) Intel CPU, big SSD drive, HD graphic and 4 GB RAM? If you want to carry 10'1 tablet with external keyboard, you can get Asus or Samsung ultrabook for the same price. With much more features and power under the hood.

Of course you can buy an active pen. But like I mentioned before in Nexus 10 part, using an active pen without a special software is pointless. It just wont work as you could expect.

  1. Good screen (IPS+ 1920 x 1200)
  2. Nice design
  3. Good build quality
  1. Almost not possible to find model with 3G
  2. Not ready for active pens, so using this device is limited just to entertainment (if you don't have keyboard dock)
  3. If you actually have keyboard dock, think about functionality of such combo against e.g. HP Envy ultrabook.

As you can see, there is no perfect tablet on the market. At least not for me. Some of them are missing 3G, some of them are not yet ready for handwriting. And if there is a tablet with 3G and great handwriting software, it doesn't look as good as it could. Maybe it's time for HTC to show some tablet? We haven't seen from HTC anything new with 10'1 screen since a long time.

So what the best tablet should be and look like?
  1. Galaxy Nexus 10 build quality and design
  2. Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity (additionally variant with LTE instead of 3G)
  3. Samsung handwriting software & S-Pen
  4. IPS+ panel with 2560 x 1600 resolution, covered with Gorilla Glass
  5. Top CPU, GPU and sufficient amount of RAM memory
  6. MicoSD card slot
For such tablet I will pay every price.

At the end, here is some thought - do you think tablets have a chance to survive in a world where more and more ultrabooks and notebooks have touch screens or even rotating screens (like Dell XPS 12, Lenovo ThinkPad Twist) or dual-screen like Asus Taichi.

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  1. Active pen support isn't exactly a software issue only, for example, both HTC Flyer and HTC Jetstream and Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet support active pens - I don't remember HTC shipping anything with those ;)

  2. Nexus 10 hands down, its a shame that you didnt add Direct support from Google as a Pos

  3. I would rather get a Win8 ultrabook.

  4. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has Gorilla Glass 2

  5. corning displayed the note 10.1 at ces in their fields glass display, whose is misinformed you, or corning?

    1. As far as I know Galaxy Note 10.1 does't have Gorilla Glass. Also it's not in the device specification at the back of the box, where such things usually are mentioned.

  6. This review makes tablets look bad in comparison to laptops... But, they're not, they're tablets.

    I'm developing an enterprise app for android (which will be ported to IOS and Metro), and tablets are seem absolutely perfect for this market... Inspectors walking around, out in the field, performing inspections on tablets, instead of writting on paper. All the touch interaction is fine, clicking dropdown buttons and making selections, and using the soft-keyboard to make quick notes.