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Tablets Review, PC Supporter Roundup

Source: PC Magazine June Edition

 

  A Cheap Tablet in stores or online may appear to be a thing of beauty, but not all tablets are created equal. Tablets vary from terrible to tremendous, and it’s not always easy to pick out which ones are good. Behold the iPad in All Its Glory.

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

Fortunately, we’ve done the groundwork and tested eight tablet devices for you, so you can make an informed choice – whether you’re looking for a tool or a toy.

The question most commonly asked about tablets is, “What does it do that my smartphone doesn’t?” A reasonable question: tablets are, in many ways, overgrown phones. They won’t replace a phone or a laptop, but as an in-between device, they’re useful for those people who want something more portable than a laptop, or who travel a lot and want to read, write and play comfortable.

Are tablets just a toy? We think so, unless you’re really determined to use it for productivity. Most people buying tablets plan to use it for six, seven, or even fifteen different tasks, and in reality end up using it for one or two – usually web browsing and casual gaming. But let’s be honest – if you want a tablet, hearing that you don’t need one isn’t going to be a deterrent. You’re never too grown up for exciting, if expensive, toys, and if you can use it as a tool as well, so much the better.

Tablets Roundup [June 2011]

Samsung Galaxy Tab – (# 5)

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Review at a Glance

1. The Galaxy Tab has a 1000MHz processor, which makes it speedy enough given that it’s running a comparatively slow OS.

2. It takes about half a second to flip a page on an e-book, complete with animation.

3. The Galaxy Tab is a nice device to use. Its size makes it easy to hold in one hand, but its resolution is high enough – at 600 x 1024 pixels, that we didn’t feel as though we were missing out on screen real estate.

4. On the contrary, we found the 7-inch screen to be the perfect size.

5. Powerful despite its small form factor.

6. Nice, bright display.

7. Old, smartphone – optimized Android 2.2

8. Best non-Honeycomb Android tablet.

 

Acer Iconia Tab A500 – (# 4)

A Laptop without a Keyboard.

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Review at a Glance

1. The Iconia has a solid aluminum backing.

2. A mini HDMI port to play media on your TV directly from the tablet.

3. The ability to act as a wireless DLNA media server via a pre-installed app.

4. A USB host port so you can grab files from any USB drive.

5. At the moment it can only play video in 720p, but a later software update will allow the Iconia to step up to the full 1080p.

6. The screen’s resolution is 1024 x 1280, the highest of any tablet tested by “PC Mag editors”.

7. 5MP rear-facing camera, which is mediocre and doesn’t record in HD.

8. Comparatively most full-featured tablet.

9. Great as an entertainment device.

10. Slightly too thick.

11. No 3G models yet.

 

BlackBerry PlayBook – (#3)

The PlayBook is designed to fit in a suit pocket.

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Review at a Glance

1. It can run Adobe AIR as an overlay on QNX (a version of POSIX), rather than running a tablet or smartphone OS. The end results feels like a BlackBerry smartphone.

2. The square-off 7-inch design is apparently modeled on a Moleskine notebook.

3. The influence is apparent in the soft-touch rear of the device. It sports front and rear-facing cameras (3MP and 5MP, respectively), and includes a volume control.

4. 3.5mm headphone jack and support mini-HDMI port.

5. Thanks to dual-core 1GHZ processor and AIR overlay, and everything from viewing slid shows to reading books feels crisp and sharp.

6. Full Adobe Flash and HTML5 support.

7. While the PlayBook comes with 16GB of storage, you can also get 32 or 64GB versions, but note that none come with external storage of any form.

8. Battery life is the poorest of the tablet devices tested by “PC Mag editors”.

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v – (#2)

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Review at a Glance

1. Size 8.9-inch, the thinner the lighter. (But it’s still worth your money if you want an Android based iPad 2 competitor.

2. Like the Acer Iconia Tab, the Galaxy Tab 10.1v is running Android’s tablet-optimized Honeycomb operating system. This makes everything from web browsing to navigating the OS vastly improved on the 7-inch Galaxy Tab.

3. Comes with Wi-Fi + 3G versions or a 3G-only version.

4. The good news is that while the Galaxy Tab’s resolution isn’t as higher as the Iconia’s, the 1280 x 800 display is still very much worth your while.

5. The 10.1-inch screen gives you the ability to really pinpoint the pineapple that needs slicing or the trajectory of the angry bird, and while it’s not quite as responsive as the iPad 2, it’s still sharp enough.

6. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Tab 10.1v has some of the worst battery life of the tablets tested by “PC Mag editors”, but since it doesn’t take a very long time to charge, it may not be an issue for you.

7. Sharp dual-core processor.

8. Large form factor makes it ideal for productivity.

 

Apple iPad 2 – (#1)

Slim, fast and really rather good.

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Review at a Glance

1. The 10.1-inch form factor gives you maximum screen real estate, and the iPad2 manages it with minimal weight (603g) or bulk.

2. The 9.7-inch IPS panel is viewable even in bright sunlight.

3. The iPad has the fastest processor in this roundup, a 1.2GHz Dual-core, and this makes it feel the most nimble of the tablets tested.

4. A proprietary USB connector that can be used to add accessories and a 3.5mm headphone jack is all you get.

5. Comparatively best Battery life and timing.

6. For some, the 10.1-inch size may be a downside; it won’t fit neatly into a jacket pocket, unlike the 7-inch alternatives.

7. Facetime is easier with the new Smart Cover & in terms of its design, it’s a clear winner.

8. App store is large and comprehensive.

9. Excellent screen quality and performance.

10. Good range of accessories.

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