[Op-Ed] Do you need a tablet anymore?

Maybe a better question is: did you ever need one?  Don’t get me wrong, as some readers will know, I have a tablet myself, the LG GPad, and while I don’t use it too often anymore (since my wife has assumed ownership of it) it still does see a lot of use.  So it might seem silly that I would even ask the question of anyone needing a tablet, when I myself still do.  But I think there have been a few changes in the smartphone market (and elsewhere) that have maybe, just maybe, diminished the need for this once thriving tech segment.

The line between smartphone and tablet has been starting to blur for years now.  My original tablet purchase was a Nexus 7, which sported a 7″ display.  And when I had a Galaxy Nexus and its 4.65″ display, the purchase of the Nexus tablet seemed like a great idea.  Then I got the LG G2 – which sported a whopping 5.2″ display and then after that my LG G3 had a 5.5″ display.  Other phones like the Nexus 6 debuted with an an all but 6″ display – the iPhone 6S+ has a 5.5″ display – the new Nexus 6P has a 5.7″ display – and none of these are perhaps the most popular of the large screen phones, the Note series from Samsung, which has sold in the tens of millions of devices, and has had a 5.5″ and above screen size for multiple generations.  Tablets, especially in the value Android space (like my Nexus 7), traditionally started in the 7″ size range, which isn’t that much larger than the Note and Nexus devices.

And as the saying goes “the best camera is the one you have with you” and so the best mobile device is the one you have with you.  While we are out and about, its much more likely that we’ve got our mobile smartphone with us than a tablet – as its primary function is to serve as a communication device to begin with.  The shift towards larger screen phones is a recent phenomenon, and only lately have our devices been large enough to make things other than calling and texting on them an option.  Even when we are home or at a place where WiFi would make a tablet fully functional, we tend to gravitate towards our phones, simply because they DO do so much more than surf the web.  We can send and receive text messages, make and receive phone calls, listen to music, post and review social media accounts, and watch video of any length.

The flip side of this argument is that why not go big or go home – the laptop option.  So if you are home or in public and don’t want to use your phone for any reason, chances are good you’re going the other direction and using an actual computer.  Again are seen the great advantages of mobile phones: you can watch video, listen to music and surf web content, and even text message (using an option like iMessage or Pushbullet) and you’re doing it on generally a larger display, with a more powerful set of computing guidelines.  A large portion of Americans are now replacing their home PCs with portable laptop options, and Apple is doing things like making a new Macbook that is both powerful and portable and all of a sudden you have a device that does pretty much everything you need it to do from both an entertainment and productivity standpoint.  It would seem that most consumers now have a choice between a few devices that can serve as a web appliance as well as a host of other things, and increasingly in our modern society, convenience is king.  The phone you whip out of your pocket or the laptop you already have in your bag for work seems a much better option than the tablet you have that’s not quite as handy as your phone and doesn’t quite have the same keyboard options as your laptop has.  The tablet is the odd man out in a household of tech that all basically do the same things.

Tablets are great, for certain things – and in the past when the average display size on mobile phones was between 3.7″ and 4.3″, we probably felt a need for something bigger that could render web content more readable and heck, probably even more enjoyable.  But now that most major OEMs are offering a mobile device choice starting around 5″ – this need doesn’t seem so great so more.  And with laptops making a move towards being lighter, faster, thinner, and more powerful, they are more convenient to use than ever before.  Whereas in a previous era, portable computers were clunky heavy beasts designed to be used by the ubiquitous business road warrior out in the field, now they are modern sleek machines designed to be beautiful, functional, and most importantly available when needed both at work and at home.

Now need is a pretty strong word – and you may still want to have a tablet handy where you live.  But with mobile phones getting bigger, and mobile computers getting smaller and lighter, it doesn’t seem to me that many people really need a tablet any longer.  And maybe they never really did to begin with.


[Review] LG GPad 8.3 tablet

Recently, chance and good fortune happened to land me a 1st generation iPad mini.  While very grateful for such a princely gift, I (of all people) had no use for such an Apple product.  So, armed with some courage and a good story, I found a local merchant that was willing to swap me out for my choice of Android tablet.  I had thought to find myself the proud owner of a 32GB Nexus 7 (2013) but at the 11th hour found myself going with the LG GPad 8.3 instead.  As those of you who follow this blog might know, I am rather fond of LG’s most recent tech products (see my review of the G2 here) and thought to give their new tablet a try.  Is it as outstanding a product as their flagship superphone?  Read below to get my thoughts!

How It Looks:

The GPad is sharp looking device.  The screen is bright and sharp, and is a great size at 8.3 inches.  The white version is very clean looking and the aluminum back gives the tablet a very futuristic look.  The power and volume buttons are well positioned and the LG logo on the bottom gives it the look of a supersized G2 (which isn’t a bad thing at all)  It’s a little unusual looking at first, since it resides somewhere between the ultra portable 7 inch tablets and the first generation 10 inch tablets like the iPad.  But the GPad is anything but a left over device.

How It Feels:

As I just finsihed mentioning, the screen and overall size of the device are great.  The GPad is a light and easy to hold device, and has that  premium feel.  The edges are nice and rounded and make this a 1 handed device if you have average to larger than average hands.  Its easy to view in both portrait and landscape positions and the device is very pleasant to hold for long periods of time watching a movie, TV show, or other video content.  The aluminum back also had a nice tactile feel that gives you a good grippy surface to hold onto.

How It Works:

The GPad is powered by a Snapdragon 600 processor, and is plenty quick to keep pace with most activity.  Even though the S800 is the current standard for mobile procesors, the GPad holds its own.  Its got a very large capacity battery which lasts and lasts and lasts.  In standby, its not unusual for me to get well over 100 hours off of a single charge.  The 16GB of internal storage is a bit of a downer, but the GPad does have an external SD card slot which helps with things like photos and music and other things you don’t want taking up your precious internal memory.  And speaking of internal memory, the LG UI isn’t exactly bloat free, but most of the extra features aren’t annoying to the point of unusability.  The device ships with Android 4.2.2, which should get upgraded to Kit Kat (Android 4.4) very soon.  The device is simple to root (much like the G2 itself it) which opens the door to a host of other options for the power user group.

The camera is just so-so, but for a tablet, it should suffice when you don’t have any other type of way to snap quick photos around.  But it also does have both a front and rear camera, something the earliest generation of the Nexus 7 lacked, so there’s that. There aren’t a whole lot of accessories available for this thing still, and LG seems to have not had enough money in their marketing budget to make a huge push for this.  In fact, at the time of this publishing, they’ve thrown down the gauntlet by adding 3 more tablets to their line up (some notes on that from the folks over at Droid-Life here) and the other competition in this space is fierce (Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 info and iPad mini retina) so some more differentiation would probably serve LG quite well.

Final thoughts:

Overall, this is a great tablet to use, great size, and if the pricing were about $50 less, it would be THE tablet that’s not called Nexus.  Since I got mine for basically free, its a great buy.  Perhaps the new generation of LG’s tablets might get a bit more marketing love than the GPad 8.3 did, and it seems that the G2 (and the soon to be released G3) got LG moving in the right direction.  And while LG had previously had a reputation for slow updates, I got a notification that Kit Kat was available for my GPad the other day, and I was very excited.  This also is a great thing for LG.

While I might feel differently if I had to pay full price for LG’s GPad 8.3, at it’s current price, its almost worth it.

[News] Google’s Nexus 7 tablet reported sales about 1 million per month

Asus executives are reporting some substantial growth in the Nexus 7 tablet area, according to their quarterly earnings call.  While Google does not discuss sales figures for their products, Asus apparently doesn’t have any such qualms…the call indicates that the first few months after launch about 500,000 units were sold, then steadily grew to 600,000 and then 700,000 in the months after that.  Currently that sales figure is just south of 1,000,000 – an impressive feat considering this device has had a handful of television commercials, a 1 day stint on Google’s homepage, and word of mouth marketing.  While these numbers pale in comparison to the numbers of iPads sold each week, it demonstrates the Nexus line from Google and partners is making headway in the Android tablet market.

With the Kindle Fire HD it’s only real competition, and with the upcoming release of larger storage and 3G connectivity options in the Nexus 7 (as well as the soon to be released Nexus 10 model) Android tablet sales as we head into the holiday season may well yet be even further on the rise.

[Op-Ed] Which Tablet Should You Buy?

So guess what? Yes, it’s true Apple has announced the iPad mini propelling themselves into the small tablet market. Should you buy it? Well Let’s take a look at the most popular small tablets on the market right now and see if it is in fact a purchase worth making.

Lets start with Apple. It starts out at a pretty steep price for a small tablet beginning at $329 for the 16GB. A lot of speculation was hoping that the price would be lower but you know it’s Apple they don’t follow the rules and do want they want. This does leave a lot of options available for the consumer out there that feels the need for a tablet but just doesn’t have the funds.

Next, the Amazon Kindle Fire 7 HD. I personally don’t have any experience with this or most of these items for that matter but I would say that the Kindle Fire is more of a media application tablet. It starts out at a nice looking price of $199 for the 16GB and is still hugely competitive.

The Nexus 7 which is transitioning from 8G/16GB to 32GB and likely getting cellular is rolling in at $199 for the 8GB. It runs more smartphone apps than tablet apps. Still, if that’s all you need or care about, it’s the best bigger iPod touch on the market right now. As much of an Apple fan that I am, I was considering getting my hands on one of these.

Microsoft’s Surface with Windows RT isn’t really a small tablet but since no small Windows 8 tablets have been announced yet, let’s add it just for fun. Microsoft’s messaging is still confusing and poorly articulated, with that said it will be interesting to see how it holds up and makes sense in the real world. It starts at $499 for a 32 GB.

RIM’s Blackberry Playbook is one of the original 7-inch tablets, is still one of the most interesting. I remember the original release from 2011 and wanting this device. It’s reportedly going to be upgraded to BlackBerry 10 next year, and if you look around you can find them for as little as $149.

Well there you go. Plenty of options for your tablet fix right now. And with Apple’s iPad mini starting price over 50% more than most of the competitors the question is will it be enough to take control of the small tablet market? With those crazy fanboys out there you never know but I’m more than confident saying that it will be successful. 

Source: iMore