Tablets

Tablet computers are on the rise, even though sales haven’t quite matched expectations. If you’re going to get a tablet, you might wonder why you should even bother.

In the tech world, every dollar counts. There’s always a new gadget trying to win our attention. This means that we have to be even more aware of how much we’re going to spend, and what we’re going to spend our money on in the first place. You might find that it’s really in your best interest to think about trying to get the best tablet possible.

Tablet computers

These days, it’s all about portability. You don’t want to get something that isn’t going to be able to go with you everywhere you need to be. Sure, this space is filled by smartphones, but have you ever tried to handle a major representation on a smartphone? It’s not pretty. It requires a lot of patience that you probably don’t have. It would be a better approach to think more about getting the best tablet that can give you all of the functionalities of a laptop without having to go get a bigger model.

When it comes to getting a tablet, there’s a few things that you will definitely want to keep in mind:

First and foremost, you definitely need to make sure you get the right size. A 10″ tablet can be a good thing, but it’s going to cost you more than the 7 inch specials going around. Anything less than 7 inches isn’t really going to be more than a smartphone on steroids.

You also want to make sure that you get Wi-Fi. While carriers are doing tablets big time, you don’t want to be locked into one carrier forever. You want to have the power to move things around if necessary. Of course, if your carrier does have a good price on a tablet, you should check that out.

If you’re willing to go with slightly older technology to see if a tablet could be the right step for you to take, you definitely want to check out some used tablets. Going with a used tablet gives you a chance to evaluate the technology on the cheap.

There’s a lot of tablets to list, so we wanted to give you some general pointers. Be sure that if you get a tablet that you also get a good case to protect it. You just never know where you’re headed in life, so why not make sure that you’re as protected as you possibly can be? Good luck out there!

Given up on the Nook? Barnes & Noble think that you need to give it another look. No, no, not just because of the hardware involved. Barnes and Noble think that you should be looking at the Nook because of the kicked up Nook Video catalog. There’s UltraViolet being moved into the HD and HD+ offerings, and that means that there’s definitely something to look at.

B & N are mixing things up by getting more aggressive with the movie studios and other content providers of high-end video content. The HD and HD+ tablets have made a nice stir, but B&N don’t want to just stop there. There’s going to be a lot more SD and HD movies coming down the pipe. This really gives you a nice chance to get more content on your device, along with some new Nook Video apps to access all of that glorious content.

UltraViolet is on the scene as well. If you’re not in the loop when it comes to UltraViolet, don’t worry about it. We’ll fill you in. You see, a lot of people cite “ease of access” when it comes to why they pirate movies in the first place. UltraViolet aims to make that less of an excuse through giving you cloud based movie watching. Instead of having to lug around a bunch of movies everywhere you go, you simply tap into the UltraViolet experience.

Don’t forget that you have other options than just UV, but UV makes it easy because you can even look at your movie “cloud” while you’re on the road. So even if you’re not going to do Apple TV or anything like that, you’re still going to be covered regardless.

There’s something important to be said here — not every movie is automatically in UltraViolet. There’s preference for Blu-ray discs, but more and more movies are being added to the UV collection. You will be able to watch your movie in a digital format across a wide range of devices. You can even stream it if you have the Movies by Flixster app. There are also some smart TVs that hook into the UltraViolet system now.

Setting it up isn’t difficult at all. You just need to get a code that comes with whatever DVD you purchased.

UltraViolet is aimed towards Blu-Ray, but it’s still a nifty way to get your movies in the cloud. There will be other movies coming out that automatically give you an UV option.

Check it out along with the Nook Video catalog — you will not be disappointed.

If you missed the fuss about the Kindle Touch, believe us — you’re not alone. We wanted to quickly go over the features and specs of the Kindle Touch before you get too pulled away by the newest Kindle offerings.

Why? Well, a lot of people assume that the only market for technology today is with super fans that hang onto every new piece of technology. But that’s just not the case at all. Everyone embraces technology in their own different way, at their own pace. Some people have never had an iPhone — does that mean that suddenly the iPhone 4S isn’t important? Just because something is new doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily suitable for everyone’s consumption. You have to always think about what your needs are, and then weigh them against the actual items that are available for purchase.

The Kindle Touch was first released in May 2012, making it “old news” in the tech world but it definitely has some good points to it.

The great thing about the touch is in the name — this is truly a touchscreen device. When you look at it, you might miss the keyboard. Yet it’s worth it, we promise. You still get a 3G version, but you can indeed choose just Wi-Fi only. It’s completely up to you.

That touch interface is very responsive, giving you finger-friendly menus everywhere you go. If you’re in the middle of reading something, different parts of the screen are going to give you multiple options when you tap them. If you touch the screen on the right, you’ll move forward a page. The far left of the screen can be tapped to go backwards.

Yet it’s not just about tapping. There are also gestures to be had here. You can always go with using gestures to move to the next page. That’s done through “swiping” your finger right to left, and then reversing the motion to go back a page.

You can even swipe upwards to move quickly to the next chapter, and downwards to go back.

Naturally, these gestures indicate navigation in books that are properly formatted in Kindle. There might be small snags in your experience if you’re getting a book that isn’t as well formatted as it should be.

You still have a 6 inch, 600 x 800 E-Ink display, with a 16 level grayscale. Sorry, color fans — this is not a color device, but that’s okay. If you’re someone that just wants to be able to read basic books on the go, you will benefit from the Kindle Touch.

We found the screen very bright, though not as bright as an iPhone 5 — that’s in a class of its very own.

If you’re expecting this to be directly comparable to the Android or even an iPhone of any kind, you’re not going to be receiving good news. The device is a bit slow when compared to a smartphone, but fast when you look at it for what it is — an e-reader.

Give the Kindle Touch a spin — you won’t regret it at all!

If you thought that we were going to declare the e-reading trend dead and gone and move on to something else, we have news for you — no chance of that at all.

You see, the e-reading trend is here to stay, and there are a wide number of reasons for that. First and foremost, e-reading is a lot more comfortable than lugging around a stack of paper books. We apologize to traditional reading fans. We’re not saying that you can’t do that. If you want to curl up under a tree with a stack of books like people have been doing for centuries, that’s perfectly fine. However, if you’re thinking about making sure that you really can have as lightweight of a solution as possible, it’s really time to start thinking about the selection of e-readers and tablets.

We like several, including the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook.

What you really need to do is think about the entire world of e-readers at large and figure out what you exactly what. Some people prefer to get tablets rather than simple e-readers because they don’t want to be hassled with having to switch devices. On the other hand, some people really like that type of thing and they feel it’s best to have multiple devices.

The trouble with figuring out where you want to go and what you want to do is that there are just so many different options out there. If you really want to make sure that you’re zipping along in the right direction, you really need to hit up a few forums and even read the reviews on Amazon and other places.

We know what you’re thinking — why on earth should you even dream about listening to reviews? Don’t you already know exactly what you need to do? Well, you might know what you need to do, and then again — you might not. It’s just a matter of making sure that you have all of your thoughts centered before you make a purchase.

We’re not saying that it’s impossible to get what you want done — you just have to go out and find what you’re looking for. Test drive a few e-readers and tablets — if they’re not what you’re looking for, chances are good that the store will let you send it back in.

Another way to go is that you can always buy a used model for less, and if you really don’t like it — you can always sell it to someone else that’s a huge fan of the platform. It’s completely up to you.

Either way, it’s time to join the revolution while it’s still hot. You know what to do!

Sometimes technology moves a lot faster than we would like it to. If you blink, chances are good that you’re going to miss something, and it can be often a big shift that you weren’t looking for. As more and more people embrace tablets like the iPad — and now the iPad 3 — the question has to be asked: does that mean netbooks are dead? We’re not so sure about that.

Don’t get us wrong — tablets are pretty school, and the touchscreen technology is nice when you really need to be super portable. However, there’s just no getting around the things that you have to give up in order to make the super portable tag really stick, and that’s part of the problem. It can be getting hard to get people to buy into the tablet with all of the limitations. You’re going to have to give up some of those USB ports, along with screen size and hard drive space.

You’re not going to always have the same specs that you would be used to with a netbook, but if you can get over that there’s a wide world that awaits you with tablets.

Still, we think that netbooks are going to have their place in the industry for a very long time. Not everyone is good with touchscreen technology, and that means that a keyboard and a mouse are going to be your standby classics when it comes to the input side of the equation. In addition, you will also need to think about the type of experience that you want. If you’re going to be working in front of a screen for a while, you’re going to need that keyboard and mouse more than you think. Business travelers on the go are probably going to reach for the netbook over the tablet just because the idea of sending a lot of email on a touchscreen sounds like its own little circle of hell — but that’s just us. If your experience has been different, feel free to sign off about it in the comments.

Not sure what netbooks to even look at right now? We did some digging and found a bunch that you should enjoy:

First, you have to check out the Toshiba Mini MB305-N410BN, which sports a nice new Atom processor and a lot of design tweaks. It’s a sign that Toshiba was definitely listening to their fanbase when they came out with this remake. The price isn’t bad at $399, and gives you a little more functionality than the classic tablets do.

We also couldn’t pass up the Asus Eee PC 1015PN. You get a dual-core processor along with Nvidia Ion graphics. Itís top of the line, but if you’re really doing your comparison shopping you’re bound to find a few better copies with only a slightly higher price tag.

We also found the Samsung NF310, which is also a 10-inch netbook model. It’s got a lot of good reviews from the early adopters, which is always a good sign. Samsung isn’t always known for producing products like this, but they do definitely take a lot of different things into consideration.

Overall, does all of this mean that the netbook is dead? Hardly — manufacturers are still going to produce netbooks because they know that for everyone that wants a tablet, there really are people that don’t want tablets at all. You just need to know what to do and where to go from here as far as your purchasing needs go. Check it out today!

Before the recent launch of the MoneySupermarket car insurance app it was relatively difficult to compare the price of new policies on your iPad.

However, now the iPad version of the app is available to download you do not need to sit crouched over your keyboard in the study to check out various quotes from some of the top insurance firms.

You can instead pull out your Apple tablet and enjoy the opportunity to save money on car insurance from the comfort of your sofa.

The app was initially only compatible with the iPhone but it has since been optimised for the iPad, so you can enjoy all of the comparison-based functionality but on a device with a larger display.

Users of the app will need to create an account with MoneySupermarket, which takes just a few minutes and will allow you to log on to both via the app itself and through the desktop website.

All of your information will be saved remotely so you will not need to re-enter every detail if you want to renew your insurance further down the line.

The online integration also means you can save time by retrieving your quotes from any web-enabled device. You could start your search for insurance policies on your iPad and confirm your choice from your work PC.

The interface of the app is uncomplicated, although it contains a very comprehensive set of comparison tools which will go to work to bring you insurance policies from over 100 companies.

Policies will be organised according to their cost and you can also see whether they include common features such as courtesy-car provision and windscreen repair.

The price of insurance will be listed both annually and monthly and each offer will allow you to easily get in contact with the relevant company to find out more and potentially complete the transaction.

If you have a Wi-Fi only iPad then you can use the app whenever you are in range of a hotspot to which you have access.

Those with a 3G-enabled iPad will be able to compare the cost of car insurance wherever there is network coverage.

The app developers were aware of the potentially temperamental nature of connectivity and for that reason the software will remember where you were up to in the comparison process if you lose your network for some reason, so that you can resume without having to repeat any steps.

The app is free to download and is the first free car-insurance price-comparison app to emerge for the iPad, with average savings of up to £374.93 available to customers.

If this is the first time you’ve been hearing about Apple within your own personal space, it’s time to take away your nerd card. Big time. However, we’re just pulling your leg — we know that you know Apple, and Apple certainly wants to get to know you. They want to make sure that you know about the iPad, and not that pesky Kindle Fire or any of the other tablet type devices that are hitting the Internet. Apple is all about the cool factor, and the cult of all things Apple is still going strong.

Don’t get us wrong — we’re pretty Team Apple around here, but we still think that you might need to take all of the Apple love with a grain of salt. Like most technologies, there are some flaws and there are some strengths. It’s going to be up to the user to figure out what they want to get out of the platform, and how they think that the device in question is going to benefit them.

So is the iPad 2 worth getting? Well, the price point of $499 and up might get you down, but the Apple machine has really cranked out a great device. No, really — there’s a lot to love in the iPad 2.

You can buy it in two flavors — Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G. We like this because the 3G part only covers Verizon and ATT, and it’s probably likely that you want to make sure that you can go with the iPad even if you don’t have either one of these carriers.

Bluetooth technology is standard no matter which model you pick up, and there’s lasso plenty of storage to be found here — all the way up to 64GB. It’s highly unlikely that you will need that much space, but a lot of people like to be prepared just in case. It all depends on how often you update your technology as well. By the time you even begin to fill up 64GB, you will probably be ready for another tablet.

The screen has standard multi-touch technology, so if you’re used to your experience on the iPhone this will translate over well. it’s better to make sure that you’re going to be able to manipulate the screen as you see fit rather than struggle to get this done. It can feel weird to actually touch the screen so much if you’re used to a physical keyboard, but Apple has made sure that the virtual keyboard experience really isn’t so bad.

We think that the iPad 2 is worth getting if you really want something portable. Watching multimedia is a treat on a device like this, and there isn’t a lot of clutter. You load up what you want and go — which makes for a much faster experience than what you would normally find with say, your laptop.

Still, this tablet isn’t going to do everything, and if you needed to do some intense work for a long period of time, you would want to make sure that you can absolutely handle that type of thing as well — along with using the right tool in the first place. This is not really a laptop killer, more like a laptop replacement. Keep these points in mind, and there’s no doubt in our minds that you could really get a lot of good use out of the iPad 2!

Toshiba has already attempted to enter the tablet market last year, with the Thrive being pretty much a complete failure. The fault didn’t lie in poor hardware, though – on the contrary, the Thrive had a lot of features that other tablets don’t, including a full size USB and HDMI ports and a SD card reader. The reason why it failed was poor marketing (people didn’t even know that it hit the stores!) and, to a lesser degree, the bland design of the device. But this year, Toshiba is back in action, with a completely new tablet that is sure to rock everyone’s socks off – the Excite X10.

Exterior design

Unlike its predecessor, the new Excite X10 is all about design. It is the thinnest and lightest tablet on the market, being only 0.3 inches thick and weighing only 1.18 pounds, and it’s not made out of cheap plastic either. Instead, you have a full metal and glass design, with the front being covered by a big sheet of Gorilla glass and the back cover (which is non-removable) having a very nice brushed finish and a big Toshiba logo in chrome letters. The sides of the tablet also have a groove that makes it look unique and pretty cool.

Hardware features and performance

Despite the ultra slim and trendy design, the Excite X10 hasn’t lost any of the important hardware features – it has everything you’d ever need on a tablet and more. The 10.1 inch display is the first thing that amazes you when you turn the device on: the IPS LCD unit is simply great, with a sharp picture thanks to the 1280×800 pixels resolution, near perfect viewing angles and of course, excellent colors, contrast and brightness.

The other hardware specs are everything you would expect from a modern, high end tablet: there’s the standard Wifi N, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS radio combo, a set of sensors for normal operation, as well as a micro SD card slot, 3.5 mm audio jack, micro USB and micro HDMI ports – there’s nothing the Excite X10 can’t accomplish. There are also 16 or 32 GB of storage space inbuilt, and with a micro SD card, you can extend that by up to 32 GB more.

There are two cameras on the X10: a 5 megapixels unit on the back with an LED flash for photos and HD videos (1080p video recording is supported), and a 2 megapixels unit on the front for video calls and occasional self-snapshots. The quality of both cameras is great and either one can be used for photos to be posted on Facebook or sent via IM, for example.

Software

Toshiba will be shipping the Excite X10 with Android 3.2 Honeycomb out of the factory, but there’s an OTA update to Ice Cream Sandwich coming up, so there will be no issues with outdated software on this tablet. The user interface has a few customizations made by Toshiba, but it’s nothing extensive and you can enjoy a mostly vanilla Android experience (which is great compared to iOS, for example –there’s so much you can customize and do) out of the box.

Price and Availability

The Excite X10 will cost $529 and $599 for the 16 and 32 GB versions, and while it’s a bit on the high side (especially with sub-$500 quad core coming up), the high quality of the tablet and the hardware features can definitely be worth it. Toshiba hasn’t yet announced a release date, but the tablet should become available in stores by the beginning of spring, so it won’t be long before we can buy or at least pre-order it. I just hope that Toshiba hires a better marketing and PR firm for this device, so that it doesn’t repeat the Thrive’s mistake.

Lenovo has released quite a few devices at CES 2012 this year, but among the half a dozen laptops and a couple of tablets, the IdeaPad Yoga definitely stood out the most. It is basically a Ultrabook/tablet hybrid, but unlike convertibles like the Dell Latitude XT3, the Yoga has a different mechanism by which it transforms into a tablet, which is unique and, in many ways, better than a single rotating hinge.

The tablet heavily depends on Windows 8, which is coming out as a Beta at the end of February, and should be released as a final version by the end of summer, which is when the Yoga will be released, as well. Until then, you have plenty of time to decide if it’s worth it, and this short review can help you with that.

Exterior design

When closed, the IdeaPad Yoga looks just like any other Ultrabook – it’s slim, light and has a pretty nice exterior design, which reminds a lot of its bigger brother, the IdeaPad U300s. It has an all metal build, with a big sheet of glass covering the display and offering a decent amount of scratch protection, and you won’t find any flexing or creaks anywhere. The lid has a matter aluminum finish, as does the underside, while the palm rest and the frame around the keyboard is covered with leather, which prevents scratches and makes it easier to hold the laptop when in tablet mode.

The tablet mode transformation is simple – just open the lid and continue pushing it backwards, up to 180 degrees – it’s pretty wicked when you see it the first time, but you get used to it. Obviously, the laptop is thicker and heavier than your usual tablet (at 17mm and 1.5 kg), but you get a big 13 inch IPS display with a 1600×900 pixels resolution in exchange, plus of course some very powerful hardware inside. The keyboard is exposed on the back, but it won’t be damaged by everyday use, since it’s sunk into the housing.

Thanks to the 180 degrees opening angle, you can use the tablet mode on a desk without an additional stand, or watch movies, surf the web, read documents or play games with the display closer to you, which is more comfortable on a bed, for example.

Performance and hardware features

The performance of the IdeaPad Yoga will be quite respectable, thanks to the Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor with the next generation Intel graphics adapter (which is two to three times as fast as its Sandy Bridge counterpart), 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD in the top configuration. The battery life won’t suffer either, both because Ivy Bridge is very energy efficient and because Lenovo is using a pretty massive 54 W/Hr battery in the Ultrabook, which will last around 8 hours of continuous use.

The other hardware specs are nothing special – as is the case with most of the other Ultrabooks and tablets, the Yoga has a Wifi N and Bluetooth adapters inside, as well as a slew of ports on the outside: two USB ports, a HDMI out port, a Thunderbolt port, a 3.5 mm audio jack and a SD card slot.

Software

The IdeaPad Yoga relies heavily on Microsoft’s new Windows 8 OS, which is still in the early release stages, although it will definitely hit the market in time, by the looks of it. The new Metro UI makes it easy to use the tablet mode, and you still have the full power of a desktop Windows in laptop mode – you can use it to work with Photoshop, Microsoft Office, the powerful desktop version of Mozilla Firefox and other great software that you won’t find on any ARM tablet yet.

Price and Availability

As I already mentioned, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga will be available by the end of the upcoming summer, so there’s still a pretty long way to go. The price is expected to be $999 for the base model (with Core i5, 128 GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM) and $1299 for the top model, but I believe that it will decrease by the time the device is released since there will be more competition, for sure. The Yoga is a perfect universal computer for those who need performance, portability and flexibility in one package.

This year at CES, Lenovo seemed to be focused more on laptops than other products, but alongside the dozen or so different ThinkPads and IdeaPads, they did somehow manage to announce and demonstrate not only several tablets, but also a couple of smartphones (one of which was the K800 – a Medfield prototype).

One of the more interesting tablets was the IdeaPad K2, which was running Android and had a pretty impressive feature set that could easily be compared to that of the current flagships Asus Transformer Prime, Acer Iconia Tab A500 and of course, the iPad 2. In fact, the IdeaPad K2 is better than its competition in a few ways, and if it makes it to the market before the iPad 3, it sure would deserve a potential buyer’s attention.

Exterior design

The IdeaPad K2 looks pretty good on the outside – it certainly is more unique than the other tablets on the market. The front has the beautiful 10.1 inch IPS display with a 1920×1200 Full HD resolution, as well as two conspicuous grills, which of course hide the four audio speakers. That’s right, there are four of them on the K2, and all of them are aimed towards the user for the best audio quality on a tablet – there’s even Dolby Surround support, and unlike all the other tablets, it’s actually pretty good at creating a good 3D audio image.

The back of the device has a brushed metal finish and a distinct look, with the fingerprint reader being visible on the left side. It’s actually pretty useful, seeing as Android Ice Cream Sandwich has full on-device encryption, and it should be a great way of keeping your data safe and still being able to quickly access your device with one swipe instead of typing a password. The overall build quality of the IdeaPad K2 is simply great – it is made mostly out of metal, after all.

Performance and hardware features

The performance of Lenovo’s new flagship Android tablet is at the highest level, thanks to the latest Tegra 3 platform, which features a quad core 1.3 GHz processor, and a new GeForce GPU with 12 cores, both of which are two to three times as fast as the components of the previous Tegra 2. That’s pretty impressive considering the whole SoC consumes the same amount of power. There’s also a full 1024 MB of RAM to keep things smooth when running multiple apps at the same time or loading a particularly intensive game or application.

The other hardware features are everything you would expect from a modern high end tablet. You’ve got the usual Wifi N, Bluetooth and GPS radios, as well as a 3.5 mm audio jack, HDMI and USB out ports, a micro SD card slot for storage space (in addition to the onboard memory), and two cameras – a 2 megapixels unit on the front for video calls and occasional quick snapshots, and a bigger 5 megapixels unit on the back with LED flash and support for 1080p video recording.

Software

The IdeaPad K2 will be running the all new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, and that’s great since the new OS brings a lot of improvements over previous versions, all of which are important. Aside from the full encryption support, Ice Cream Sandwich also has a new interface, universal APIs, a lot of fixes and improvements, new Google Apps and a slew of useful features like Face Unlock and Android Beam. It’s definitely much better than Honeycomb, and it will be the mainstay Android OS for at least a year or so.

Price and Availability

The Lenovo IdeaPad K2 is expected to be available by the end of spring this year, and the price is confirmed to be around $1000, making it one of the most expensive Android tablets to hit the market. The reason for the high price is that the IdeaPad is aimed at the business and corporate markets, bringing a few unique features to keep data secure, plus the build quality is simple awesome – this thing can take a beating! Hopefully the price will come down though, making the K2 a good choice for consumers, as well.