Like my eReader Review Roundup post, this is a gathering of reviews for tablet devices. There are other tablets on the market besides the ones I’ve chosen to include here, but I picked these because they are either made by eReader companies, or have solid eReading functions, or are the tablets that you typically find major electronics stores. In other words, they are the tablets that you’re most likely to use for eBook reading, in my opinion.
Apple iPad 2 Reviews
Engadget – “It might frustrate the competition to hear this, but it needs to be said: the iPad 2 isn’t just the best tablet on the market, it feels like the only tablet on the market.”
TechCrunch – “Let me sum all of this up in a simple way: the iPad 2, should you buy one? Maybe — it depends on a few factors. Will you want to buy one? Yes. Use that information wisely.”
PCMag – “The clear standout in the ever-widening sea of tablets, the Apple iPad 2 brings a slimmer design, faster processing, dual cameras, and FaceTime video chat to a tablet that already had a leg up on the competition.”
PCWorld – “The iPad 2 remains the tablet to beat, even though its improvements represent just a satisfying aesthetic and spec evolution over its predecessor. “
CNet- “The iPad 2 refines an already excellent product. Its easy-to-use interface, vast app catalog, and marathon battery life bolster Apple’s claim to being the king of tablets. ”
Wired – “Skinnier profile shows mercy to your joints. Big performance boost makes apps, games and web browsing more zippy. Same $500 starting price and 10-hour battery life. Mediocre cameras make still photos look slimy. Thinner body makes physical buttons on the side a little harder to press.”
Nook Color Reviews
Engadget – “So, is the Nook Color worth your hard-earned cash? Well, we’ll say this — if you’re a hardcore reader with an appetite that extends beyond books to magazines and newspapers, the Color is the first viable option we’ve seen that can support your habit. Not only does Barnes & Noble have an astoundingly good selection of e-book titles, the company seems to be aggressively pursuing the periodical business, which is a big deal.”
TechCrunch – This page is specifically for the “Nook Tablet” not the Nook Color. Same basic deal though. Not a full review. TechCrunch doesn’t seem to have a full review on the Nook Color.
PCMag – “More than an ebook reader, less than a full-blown tablet, the Nook Color’s artful compromises make for a compelling, color reading experience that is ideal for both books and magazines.”
PCWorld – “Highlights of this premium e-reader include an intuitive, elegant interface and an LCD screen with minimal glare. “
CNet- “Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color is a very capable color touch-screen e-book reader that offers much of the functionality of an Android tablet for half the price of an iPad.”
Wired – “Nook Color is the only ‘reader’s tablet,’ straddling dedicated e-book readers like the Kindle and multipurpose tablets like the iPad. I was expecting tradeoffs. I wasn’t expecting its advantages.”
Amazon Kindle Fire Reviews
Engadget – “The Kindle Fire is quite an achievement at $200. It’s a perfectly usable tablet that feels good in the hand and has a respectably good looking display up front. Yes, power users will find themselves a little frustrated with what they can and can’t do on the thing without access to the Android Market but, in these carefree days of cloud-based apps ruling the world, increasingly all you need is a good browser. That the Fire has.”
PCMag – “The first easy-to-use, affordable small-screen tablet, the Amazon Kindle Fire is revolutionary.”
PCWorld – “The 7-inch, Android-based Amazon Fire will appeal to those who buy books, videos, and music at Amazon, but it will frustrate those looking for a more versatile slate.”
CNet- “Though it lacks the tech specs found on more-expensive Apple and Android tablets, the $199 Kindle Fire is an outstanding entertainment value that prizes simplicity over techno-wizardry.”
Wired – “iPad killer? No, the Kindle Fire is not. And it doesn’t even match the iPad in web browsing, the one area in which its hardware should have sufficient performance to compete. But the press has definitely supercharged Amazon’s product launch with a level of hype and enthusiasm that would make Apple proud.”
Kobo Vox Reviews
This gadget is perhaps too new to have many solid reviews online, but I’ve dug up what I can:
Engadget – This is Engadget’s basic informational page about the Kobo Vox.
PCMag – A “Hands on” post, not a full review. “In fact, the fact that the Vox is an Android tablet serves as a rather stark reminder that Kobo’s strength is its application … inside the Vox’s social Pulse e-reading application, I didn’t want to leave.”
PCWorld – Not a real review. This is more of a news post.
CNet – Again, not quite a real review yet, just information.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Reviews
Engadget – “The conclusion we came to after using the Tab 10.1 Limited Edition mimics the conclusion we’ve drawn here: this is the best Honeycomb tablet to date, and lucky for you, this one’s available to purchase!”
PCMag – “The Verizon version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 takes the thin, powerful tablet and adds blazing 4G LTE speeds, but it ratchets up the price as well.”
PCWorld – “Thin and stylish, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 hits all the right marks. And at 1.24 pounds, this is the lightest 10-inch-class tablet you can buy. “
CNet- “Sleek, sexy, and light, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gets as close to the iPad 2 as any Android tablet before it.”
Wired – “The trouble is that both hardware and software are rough around the edges. Honeycomb feels like Linux on the desktop before Ubuntu came along, and the Tab 10.1 itself feels like somebody made a toy plastic iPad. The screen stands alone as being quite excellent, but it’s not enough to save the rest.”
Motorola Xoom Reviews
Engadget – “Besides boasting what we consider to be the most complete and clearly functioning version of Android, the hardware which is packed inside Motorola’s tablet is really quite good. The tablet is fast and sleek, and while not exactly being really futureproof, the fact that you’ve got a path to a 4G upgrade is tremendous (and frankly, something no one else in the industry is offering).”
TechCrunch – “Few tablets have met with such widespread anticipation as the recently-announced Xoom. It is the closest anyone has come to an iPad equivalent for the Android set. I was impressed with the speed, design, and quality of the device, and although there are a few caveats, I came away optimistic for the new crop of Honeycomb devices that will follow this one.
PCMag – “The Wi-Fi Motorola Xoom is a solid Android tablet with Flash support, but it doesn’t measure up to the Apple iPad 2 in terms of app selection.”
PCWorld – “The Xoom is well-conceived and well-constructed, but some rough edges, a middling display, and a high price may deter early adopters.”
CNet- “The Xoom’s spec sheet is enough to make any tablet tremble, but the price is high and Google still has some work to do before its tablet software experience is as fleshed out and intuitive as Apple’s.”
Wired – “As Sly Stone said, the nicer the nice, the higher the price.”
PCMag’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards for Tablets and eBook Readers was posted last month, but I just now ran across it. Some of their results are what I would have expected, but some of the data was pretty surprising to me.
It’s no surprise that the Apple iPad was chosen as the favorite. What did shock me was that the Asus Eee Pad Transformer was also chosen as a top pick. I’ve never even seen one of these sold in a store. I knew that these devices existed but I didn’t think that anybody actually used them, because as someone who provides tech support for this category of devices, nobody has ever asked me a question about them. It seems like it could be a cool device to own because of its flexibility … maybe it’s just being overshadowed by the larger companies?
A quote from the article: “If you needed any evidence that Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the leaders in ebook readers, look no further than our Readers’ Choice scores. They far outscore the other ebook reader manufacturers: Sony and Pandigital, the only others we got enough responses to include.” (emphasis mine)
Apparently they let people fill in their own answers, and almost everyone wrote in Amazon Kindle or B&N Nook. The only other devices that people mentioned often enough for PCMag to get enough data for were the Sony Reader and Pandigital Novel. I’m not doubting their data, but I find this hard to believe. There are about a zillion different eReader devices available and some are quite popular, like the Kobo eReader or BeBook. It seems quite odd to me that at least the Kobo didn’t get enough mentions to be included. It’s not surprising that the Kindle and Nook were the most popular, for the same reason mentioned in the article: they are tied to previously established bookstores. Most people will buy eReaders from those companies because they are already shopping at those stores.
Check out the article‘s second and third pages for charts.
What is your choice for best tablet or eReader? Anything besides the iPad, Kindle, or Nook?
I made a new Squidoo Lens: Tablet Comparisons. This one is similar to the eBook Reader Comparisons lens, but obviously about tablets instead. It lists tech specs on each tablet so that you can reference them all in one place, hopefully making it useful as a shopping guide.
Right now the tablets covered are: iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, Blackberry Playbook, Toshiba Tablet, and BeBook Live.
I plan to keep it updated as new tablets come out and as new models are released for the current available tablets. If you know of a new tablet that should be included, feel free to leave a comment to suggest one (either here or on the lens itself). Sometime soon I’ll be updating the eBook Reader Comparisons lens to include the new eReaders that I wrote about in my last post.
The other day I was in Best Buy and I happened to walk through their display of e-readers and tablets. To be totally blunt: the e-readers looked very sad, boring, and even outdated.
It’s not their fault. E-readers are great devices that are really good at what they do. The problem is that they are paling in comparison to tablets, which can function just as well as e-readers while doing a million other things in full color. Next to that, an e-reader with its black & white E-Ink display sort of looks like you’re seeing some piece of technology from the 1950’s.
I’ve written some articles about the differences between tablets and e-readers, such as my Tablet vs eReader Squidoo lens. In my opinion, whether you choose a tablet or e-reader really just depends on what you need from the device.
If all you want is a simple device for reading ebooks, then an e-reader will be fine. The E-Ink screen will also save you a massive amount of battery time, compared to a tablet. E-Ink was created specifically for reading, mimicking text-on-paper, so it can be easier on your eyes than an LCD screen. And, of course, a huge difference between e-readers and tablets is the price. At the Best Buy I was in, they had the Motorola Xoom priced at $799. You can get a Kindle for $129 nowadays.
But then the big question for a shopper is: if I’m going to buy a tablet-style device, why buy one that only reads ebooks when I can get one that I can use for books, games, internet, video, email, apps, etc? The extra cost is reflected in the additional functionality, and they’re not all as expensive as nearly $800.
Modern e-readers, especially the Kindle, did an awesome thing for ebooks. eBooks have been around for 10-15 years but only became mainstream when Amazon managed to make Kindle a household name. In that sense, e-readers have fulfilled their purpose, and done a good job of it.
Now it seems that Amazon will be releasing a tablet, according to this article and others. Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color is already partially a tablet, and I’ve read that they might be coming out with a new device that might be more tablet-like. BeBook has just released a tablet called the BeBook Live, which runs on Android. It’s not yet available in the US, but it’s selling for $279, which really helps in the affordability department.
It also looks like the makers of mobile phones are scrambling to offer tablet devices. Blackberry is now running commercials for their Playbook tablet. We already have the Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab, and of course, the iPad, which everyone is trying to compete against.
Personally, I am torn at the moment. I prefer to read from a device that is back-lit, like a tablet. However, I would not spend more than about $300 for this type of device since they’re not quite full computers and I already have a phone that does most of the same things, albeit on a smaller screen.
If you haven’t already seen it, check out this article about 10 Memorable Milestones in Tablet History.
Recently I was at Best Buy to check out netbook computers, and while I was there I decided to look at the tablets. I recently wrote a Squidoo page and article comparing tablets to e-readers, but that was based on technical specifications and my own general knowledge about the technology. I figured it would be a good idea to mess around with these devices a bit, since there is no way I’m going to be buying one anytime soon.
The main three tablets available right now are the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Xoom.
First, I looked at the Samsung Galaxy Tab. All I could find was the 7″ model (like these). The price for these was $499. I didn’t see the newer 10.1″ model anywhere (not sure if they are even in stores yet). The size of the device seemed too small to really function as a tablet. It’s inbetween the size of a phone and a larger tablet like the iPad, which just leaves it in some kind of no-man’s land. I felt like if I owned one, there would be no real reason to use it instead of my phone or laptop. Its response time seemed just a tad too slow, as well, but I don’t know if that was just a problem with the particular display model I was using. When I would tap the icon to see the apps, the screen didn’t change instantly so I tapped it again, thinking that it didn’t register my tap. Then everything processed all at once, and the app screen appeared and then closed again. I went through this twice before realizing that it was just a bit slow. It’s okay if it takes a second for the screen to change, but there was no indication that anything was happening, so it caused me to tap again and again, waiting for something to happen. Once I was able to get to an app and open it, the graphics looked nice, though.
Next, I looked at the iPad. To be totally honest, I’ve never been that impressed with the iPad. It’s basically a big version of the iPhone. I used an iPhone for about three years (before the upgrades in iOS caused my 3G model to function really poorly) so I’m just not excited about the iPad because it’s the same exact thing. I do like the size of it, though. If I owned one, I would definitely use it to read ebooks and other texts. I think it would also be fun to play games on it. I think it would be excellent to use during travel, especially while waiting in an airport, but I rarely fly anywhere. Again, the price was $499.
Finally, I found the Motorola Xoom. It was displayed next to the netbooks, which was my main reason for going to Best Buy in the first place. I’m glad that they had the Xoom in that location, because it was amusing to see the size comparison. The netbooks have a 10.1″ screen, and so does the Xoom, so the Xoom looked like a netbook that was missing its keyboard. The Xoom is way fancier than a netbook, though. I was more impressed with it than the other tablets by far. It was very responsive, no matter how much I tapped or flicked through the screens. Something about the design of interface seemed futuristic, which was cool. Without paying attention to the actual specs, it felt like it was the most powerful device. It was also the most expensive, at $799. If I were shopping for a computer, I’d buy a whole laptop at that price instead of a tablet.
I didn’t end up getting a netbook either — I mostly went to the store because I wanted to see how big the keyboards were, to get an idea of whether it would be comfortable to type on one. I’m considering buying a netbook to use for some writing projects that I’m going to be doing soon, as well as possibly using it as a backup hard drive because they come with a lot of disk space. If I get one it will be the HP Mini. At $299, it would give me a very lightweight and portable laptop with a real keyboard. For my purposes, I would prefer that over a tablet.
I’ve made another lens on Squidoo. This one compares tablet computers to e-readers.
The lens itself is meant to be very objective about the subject, but my personal opinion is that tablets are quickly making e-readers unnecessary. Since tablets can do so much more than read ebooks, there really isn’t much need for a separate device that is only for reading. However, there is a big barrier to that, which is the price. Tablets are $500 or more right now, while the cheaper ebook readers are about $150, give or take $20.
Check out the lens for more information. I think it should be useful for anybody who is shopping for this type of device.