Thursday 18 June 2015

On choosing a tablet.

Just recently I bought a new tablet, it's not my first one that I have had (either access to or one that I've owned) but it's the first time that I have spent my own money on one and while I'm happy with my purchase there's still I still don't feel that there's any one system that's really going to do everything that I want a tablet to do.

From a hardware standpoint I like the build quality of Apple's hardware. The metal bodies hold up well and the devices generally last a fairly long time if you take care of them,  however the gap has been closed in many respects by some of the higher end Android Devices. That quality however comes at a fairly large cost on all those premium devices, and I don't personally feel that the higher end iOS devices are that great a deal unless you are going to completely buy into Apple's ecosystem.

And while Android has a lot of options in the lower end of the market if you want something more mid range you are going to have to spend some time tracking down what you want, and quite frankly some of the cheap tablets that I've put hands on have horrid build quality overall.

And while the quality of the iOS stuff is good there are limitations. The first one is that you cannot add a SD card to it to expand the storage - so if you want to be able to save a lot of music or movies onto the device you pretty much have to shell out for one of the more expensive units with the larger disk storage on board. The second limitation, and the one that kills the iOS devices for me almost completely, is the locked in nature of the Apple ecosystem.

If you are going to just use the iPad as Apple intended and purchase all the apps that you need from the Apps store like a good little consumer then all will be good. In fact that's one of the reasons that I recommended a iPad for my mother - they are pretty dammed hard to break and at this point she's able to handle it without issue. I on the other hand wind up swapping data back and forth like a madman since my media library is large enough that there's no iOS device that can hold the entire thing, and doing that through iTunes is quite frankly a pain in the butt.

Android devices (and some of the newer Windows Tablets) have an advantage in this regard because I can simply put the media on a SD card and play it with whatever media player I see fit to use. That however leaves you having to deal with the Google play store (or Microsoft's one) and while the major apps that are in use are sitting around and work well on either platform there is occasionally something that I can't get on Android that I would really like (Bethesda, I'm looking at you). Add to that the number of questionable clones of apps and such sitting in Google's Play and it feels more like the wild west in there than it does in the iTunes store.

Granted that's probably more perception since you get bad apps past the Apple vetting process from time to time, but at least they make a show of trying to keep "objectionable" apps from the store. The classification of "objectionable" is a topic for another rant though.

In the end I did pick up a Galaxy Tab A 8.0. It's about as close to a iPad Mini running Android as I had seen anyplace else, and since it's mainly used for entertainment and consuming music the ability to just pitch a SD card at the device is going to make life much simpler for me since I have a huge pre-exixting library of media kicking around that I would still like to keep around without re-buying everything. There are enough reviews out there on the device that putting another one out there isn't going to be a huge help for most people since I would just be a re-hashing of information that's out there. I will say however that at the 250$ CAD price point that I got it at that it's a decent value and while it's not as well build as the aluminum iPad Mini it's still more that solid enough for anything that I feel I'll be throwing at it in the near future.

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