Tag Archives: ipad mini

SomeGadgetGuy’s 2013 Holiday Tablet Buying Guide!

ipad miniTis the season for shiny new glowing rectangles! Tablets are proving to be all the rage this year, and if you were thinking of shopping one for a loved one (or for yourself you cheeky bugger you), here’s the scoop on our favorite computing slabs.

Apple: iPad Mini ($399)

Ok. This one’s easy. The iPad Air is the big dog, but the Mini now sports a proper retina display and pretty much the same processor guts as its big brother. The Mini is a touch easier to leave the house with thanks to its smaller form factor, and you’ll save yourself a cool $100 opting for the little iPad over the bigger one. Thankfully that wont come with a performance deficit. This is likely going to be one of the hottest sellers of the year, so make sure you get that pre-order in before it goes on sale later this month if you want to secure a place in line.

Apple announces iPad Mini.

Microsoft: Nokia Lumia 2520 ($499, available later this month)

WP_20131024_19_19_31_ProWe’re restricting our discussion here to Windows RT powered devices. Microsoft is doing a great job of blurring the lines between proper PC’s and consumer tablets, but keeping the playing field equal here, we’re looking at ARM powered portable devices not X86. Sorry Surface Pro and Sony Tap.

The Surface 2 might be Microsoft’s example of what Windows RT should resemble, but Nokia looks like they might take the cake. The Lumia 2520 runs $50 more than the Surface 2, but it comes with LTE built in. Activate it on a carrier which supports it, and you can count on ultra-fast data anywhere you have cell service. To put it into perspective, for $499 you could get a WiFi only iPad Air with 16GB of storage (and no ability to add more storage), or you could get a Lumia 2520 with LTE, 32GB of storage, MicroSD card slot, and a proper USB port.

Microsoft’s OS is still geared a little more towards “work” than “play” but we should see the app ecosystem improve radically once Windows Phone and Windows RT merge early next year (Power Keyboard shown in this pic sold separately).

Hands on with the Lumia 2520!

Android: Tie – Samsung Note 10.1 2014 Edition ($599) vs Asus Google Nexus 7 ($229)

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-10.1-2014Sorry folks. I really tried. It was just too much of a Sophie’s choice to declare one clear winner. Thankfully these two exist at POLAR OPPOSITES of the Android spectrum. Samsung takes an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach to their devices and the Note 10.1 is audacious.

An incredible WQXGA (2560×1600) display exceeds the iPad by almost a million pixels, 32GB of on board storage plus a memory card slot, the ability to use two apps at the same time, Samsung’s excellent S-Pen stylus, and an IR port to use it as a huge universal remote for your TV. It’s a premium experience at a premier price point.

nexus 7 FHD side angle 2013Contrast that with with Google’s market disrupting Nexus 7. Asus helped Goog build out a high end mini-tablet with solid specs, and the two are offering it up at a price usually reserved for “disposable” gear. A 1080p HD screen paired up with a mid-range Qualcomm quad-core and 16GB of storage. You wont get some of the bells and whistles like expandable storage or an IR port, but it’s hard to be disappointed when you consider the bang for buck.

Honorable Mention: Kindles Galore

kindle paperwhite second generation ereader review somegadgetguy (3)So each ecosystem has its strengths and weaknesses, and there’s a lot of overlap.

If you’re an Amazon junky however, a Kindle Fire might be the content consumption platform for you. Powerful specs, great screens, and Amazon prices them low to encourage you to buy music, books, apps, and movies through their online shopping portals.

Lastly, if books are your thing, never underestimate the value of a proper digital ink eReader.

Those are our picks for the year! Did we miss your favorite slate? Is there another tablet which you think is better? Leave us a comment below.

So Many Tablets! I Join BooredAtWork to chat iPads, Lumias, and Surfaces

iPadAir-iPadMini_34B2B_lock-blue_home-nebula-PRINTMany, yesterday was a pretty full day. Microsoft started selling the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. Apple showed off sleeker iPads. Nokia unleashed a Windows Phone phablet and a Windows 8.1 RT slate. Plenty to keep a solo tech blogger like myself busy. Thankfully I have a few friends in the tech blog community to help me out. I joined BooredAtWork.com in hangout last night to chat about all the exciting developments.

It was a lively discussion, chatting up all the news. What was your favorite announcement yesterday? Are you looking forward to a Retina iPad Mini? LTE on a Nokia tablet? Drop us a comment!

Apple Announces iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini – Refreshes MacBooks and Mac Pro

Just a banner day for tech! First, Microsoft starts selling the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro today, then Nokia announces the Lumia 1520 phablet and 2520 tablet, now Apple is getting into the act with refreshes to their tablets and computing lineups.

iPadAir-iPadMini_34B2B_lock-blue_home-nebula-PRINTThe iPad is getting a significant face lift. Now dubbed the iPad Air, it’s thinner, narrower, and lighter than previous iPads. I’m happy to see more rounded corners than the iPad Mini. Measuring just one pound, it’s a significant achievement keeping weight that low without sacrificing battery life. It’ll also go a long ways for folks who might have issues holding onto a heavy 10″ slab. The same pretty Retina Display is up front, but it’s backed up by faster and more powerful internals. iPad Air will retail for $499 for a 16GB WiF model and $629 for an LTE model.

Oddly enough, the iPad 2 will be sticking around as a low cost 10″ option at $299. In this market it’s getting REALLY long in the tooth… Continue reading Apple Announces iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini – Refreshes MacBooks and Mac Pro

Pick Your Poison: OS Fragmentation or Feature Fragmentation?

One of the most impressive aspects of owning an Apple phone or tablet is how good Apple is at rolling out OS updates. With very few meltdowns, MILLIONS of devices are updated on launch day, and the entire ecosystem moves forward very quickly. Early estimates point to almost 30% of iOS users are now on iOS7. By controlling the hardware and software environment, Apple has created a process Google will probably never be able to approximate.

TheAppleLounge iOS-7-Comparison-ChartWhile even older devices will get these OS updates, iDevices like the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 wont be getting all of the new features of the OS. This makes sense as it’s older, under-powered hardware, and Apple is ruthless about protecting the user experience. However, as what we get excited about during an OS update are new features, claiming the iPhone 4 “also gets iOS7” is a very small touch disingenuous. It does get iOS7, just not ALL of it.

The Apple Lounge built this great graphic detailing which devices would be getting new features, and which would be left out. On the whole Apple has done a terrific job of moving things like Control Center and Multi-tasking forward, but some lost features might be a touch frustrating.Things like panorama photos and in-camera filters might be kind of a bummer for folks who prized the iPhone’s camera. Also, for as frustrating as it can be to transfer files on and off iDevices, the lack of AirDrop on older hardware might be frustrating for some.

This also brings up weird splits in product lines. The iPad Mini is largely the same internal hardware as the iPad 2, but the iPad 2 will not be receiving Air Drop support while the iPad Mini will. Ditto the “iPad with Retina Display”. If you have the iPad 3, no Air Drop for you, but the iPad 4 is good to go. Definitely a bummer as we would imagine the hardware in the iPad 3 is probably more robust than in the iPad Mini.

Contrast that with the scattered OS update path on Android, and Apple still has the cleaner process, but Google is taking steps to improve the Android ecosystem. They wont be able to corral all of the various manufacturers, they’ve been trying to do that for a while now, but they can go around them to a degree. Over the last several months we’ve been watching Google slice pieces off of Android and putting those pieces up as stand alone apps. While it might seem like a small thing, it shouldn’t require a full new OS update to install a small improvement to something like the keyboard, and now Android users can install the stock Nexus keyboard as a separate app.

google settings app screenshot somegadgetguyTaking that idea a step further, the new Google Settings app shows up in your app drawer now and gives you a lot of control over gaming, Google+, and remote device management (like tracking your phone if it gets stolen). Google Play Services is also updated through the Google Play app store. Rather than waiting out full OS updates, all of the peripheral services and controls, things that developers interact with for instance, can all be updated independently of the OS.

While most services like G+, Play Music, and Maps have always been this way, and people are somewhat used to them being one part hardware and one part cloud, I hope this idea extends soon to other features on our phones like the camera. Taking a cue from the Nexus Keyboard app, it would be a nice way to unify the camera experience on Android handsets, that there would be one simple Android camera experience if people want something simple and familiar. Ditto the photo Gallery, as it can be jarring moving to a new phone and having a completely different experience for organizing and sharing photos and videos.

This solution isn’t perfect either, as some improvements will still require that full OS iteration, and things like hardware controls have to be buttoned down (hello Bluetooth funkiness), but as Google implements more individual component updates, fewer and fewer Android users will be left out in the cold as app developers and services move forward.

I’ve come to the opinion that there really isn’t a “best” phone, tablet, or ecosystem anymore. For a couple years now, the question you have to ask yourself is: What compromises are you willing to live with? As even low end phones now can be surprisingly capable, I think service and support will become even more meaningful to the end user.

So pick your poison. What kinds of updates work better for you?

TLD gives us a sneak peek of the iPad 5 casing!

This is actually a pretty decent scoop. TLD has gotten their hands on an iPad 5 shell, and they spend some time comparing it to the current iPad 4. The design will be very similar to the iPad Mini, thinner and slimmer with more rectangular edges. I still want to see a “pick it up off of a flat surface” test, as the Mini can be incredibly difficult to pick up off a tablet without sliding it around, potentially scratching it.

iPad 5 looks like it will feature much smaller bezels, but this means it’ll be an even tighter fit for all of the guts inside. Hopefully battery life doesn’t take a hit, and fingers crossed it doesn’t run any hotter than the current iPads do.

PSA: The LTE version of the New Nexus 7 (2013) now available on Google Play

nexus 7 2013 lte version google play store somegadgetguyJust a heads up for you tablet shoppers looking for a mini tablet with LTE capability. FourGees is now available as an option on the 2013 edition of the Nexus 7!

This little tab is rocking the most current version of the Android OS, and it’s completely unlocked and ready to jump on T-Mobile’s small (but growing) LTE network. As expected, the price is $349 out the door with 32GB of storage on board. This is a pretty killer hardware deal as the 16GB WiFi-only version of the iPad Mini is currently selling for $329. Google is offering quite a bit more tech for only $20 more.

Check out the Google Play store for more info!

Ask GadgetGuy: Why SHOULDN’T I buy an iPad Mini right now?

ipad miniRoss from Facebook asks:

Hey Gadget Guy… tell me why I shouldn’t buy an iPad Mini, and what I should buy instead, and why it’d be better. I don’t want to admit to drinking the apple-flavored kool-aid, but I love my iPhone, and wanna get a pair of tablets for me and my special lady friend… yeah, we gotta get 2 because we can’t share. hehe…
Thanks!

No worries on “drinking the kool-aid”, I’d be daft to say Apple doesn’t make fine products. The Mini is in an interesting position at the moment however, and buying one now, might not be the best move.

It’s old hardware. It was old-ish hardware when it was released, essentially a shrunk iPad 2. This brings up numerous support questions, like whether it will receive two full proper updates of iOS, as the iPad 2 is most likely done with major updates this year. That and I would fully expect we’ll see an iPad Mini refresh this November. Plus for hardware almost three years old, it’s really expensive compared to the current crop of Android Mini tablets.

And to answer your question about what else to buy, I’d start by looking at the Nexus 7.

Nexus 7 - hero - press siteFor $100 less you get a MUCH nicer true HD 1080p screen, in proper widescreen (so if you watch movies, you don’t lose half your display to letter-boxing). Remember the current Mini isn’t a “Retina” device.

Other things like stereo speakers and NFC might be a wash, but it’s much more current technology.

It’s not out yet, but the LTE variant of the Nexus 7 will likely sell for about $20 more than the least expensive, WiFi only iPad Mini. Ouch.

In conclusion, depending on what you want to do with a tablet, an iPad Mini today would still be a fine purchase. It is a sexy little tablet. However, if you can hold off, treat yourself to more of a Thanksgiving present, you’ll probably get a better “bang for buck”.