Tablets

The Best Tablets Set to Release in 2017

An illustration of a tablet. It is one of the best tablets.

Are you excited about the best tablets set to release in 2017?

We’re a few weeks into 2017, so let’s look at the best tablets set to come out this year. All the top names are expected to release new models. This has led to widespread excitement throughout the tech community. Exciting things are coming our way very soon.

Best Tablets for 2017

If you’ve waited through the Christmas season for them, your patience is about to pay off. Here are some of the most anticipated tablet releases of 2017.

Microsoft Surface Pro 5

The Surface Pro became an immediate favorite for its versatility. Unlike most other tablets, the Surface has enough firepower to function as a laptop. The fifth installment is expected to keep that tradition going. Rumors say that the Pro 5 will have up to 16GB of RAM as well as 512GB of internal storage.

Critics hope Microsoft will be able to fix the tablet’s biggest issues with this installment. Most notably, the battery. It does not last very long.

iPad Pro 2

Apple users are understandably confused and frustrated by the company’s tablet line. There are simply too many iPad branches now, it’s hard to keep count. The Pro is certainly the best of the bunch. But the fact that Apple’s still making iPad Minis and iPad Airs, it’s hard for customers to tell the three apart.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

There’s a lot of excitement for the Tab S3. Similar to previous models, sources say the S3’s size will be 8 and 9.7 inches, depending on the model. It will also have the same AMOLED display panel. There is one distinct hardware difference, though. Instead of the Snapdragon chipset, the S3 is rumored to be running on the speedier Exynos this time around.

The Google Tablet

We’re saving the most unknown for last. A lot of sources believe Google might discontinue their line of tablets. Others say it’s coming out this year. If that is the case, it’ll be interesting to see what Google names it. In 2016, they changed the name of their phone line from Nexus to Pixel. Will their tablets be part of the Pixel line, too? Or will they remain Nexus? Nobody seems to know for sure.

As more information comes out, it’s certain that 2017 should be an exciting year for tablets.

The Current iPad Market – Comparing the Available Devices

The iPad may not dominate the tablet market the way it did early on, but it is still the popular choice for many mobile users. Now take a look at the five tablets that you can buy brand new from Apple. They come in three sizes:

  • Small tablets – iPad mini 2, iPad mini 4 with a 7.9 inch screen
  • Large tablets – iPad Air, iPad Air 2 with 9.7 inch screen
  • Enormous tablets – iPad Pro (there’s actually a bigger-size jump from the Air to the Pro than from the mini to the Air) with 12.9 inch screen—practically a laptop

The Difference Between Each iPad

Let’s start with what sets the iPad Pro apart, besides being gigantic. It’s the only tablet for which Apple makes its own keyboard. You have to get a third-party keyboard for the others. It is also the only device compatible with Apple Pencil. You’ll need a third-party stylus for the other tablets. The Pro is also the only model with four speakers, compared to the usual two.

Differences in appearance primarily come down to size and color since they are all aluminum. While the three newest devices are available in a gold color, the iPad Air and the mini 2 are only available in space gray and silver.

All of the devices have the same screen resolution (2048 by 1536) except the Pro, which is 2732 by 2048. Even at that astounding resolution, the mini still has a higher ppi. The newest devices have a coating to reduce reflection that is not available on the mini 2 or the Air. The same is true of the touch ID feature.

Processor speed increases by device generation. The mini 2 and Air use the A7. The Air 2 and mini 4 use the A8. The Pro uses the A9 chip and clocks in at 2.3 GHz. It’s also the only device with 4 GB of RAM. The Air 2 and mini 4 have 2 GB,r and the Air and mini 2 also have 2 GB.

How much can you expect to pay? Occasionally you’ll find deals, with the starting rretail price for the mini 2 at $269, the Air and mini 4 are $399, the Air 3 is $499, and the Pro is $799. That is the base model of each, which is Wi-Fi only, and has 16 GB of storage (except the Pro which starts at 32 GB).

Tablet Review: iPad Pro vs. Surface Book

Wondering about which tablet to get between the iPad Pro or Surface Book? Here’s our tablet review to help you decide.

First, why compare a tablet and a laptop? Well, the iPad Pro is a tablet apparently wanting to be a laptop, and the Surface Book is a laptop attempting a crossover into the tablet universe. The best way to see if either accomplishes the task is to analyze them side by side.

Dimension and weight: When you take the Surface Book’s tablet off the keyboard attachment, it’s only slightly taller, wider, and thicker than the Pro. It also only weighs a few grams more. Of course, that’s only without the keyboard.

Appearance: the Surface sports a beautiful magnesium exterior and the Pro has the sleek aluminum we expect from Apple. So far, things are pretty even.

Display: The Surface Book is slightly smaller, with a screen size of 12.3″ (if that’s what you are looking for), whereas the Pro is 12.9″. Both are huge compared to 10” tablets. The Surface also has a minute advantage in resolution with 267 ppi to the 264 ppi of the Pro. Both screens allow you to multi-task by splitting the screen and using two apps alongside each other.

Microsoft Advantages

So what does the Surface have that the Pro doesn’t? Here are a few things:

  • A Trackpad – Apple still won’t commit to making the iPad a “2-in-1” by adding a mouse or trackpad.
  • Desktop Apps – The Surface book can run the same apps as your PC. The iPad Pro still requires that you shop in the App Store.
  • Facial Recognition – When you sit down in front of your device, it unlocks. A simple and elegant solution.
  • More RAM – While the Pro comes with 4 GB, the Surface has 8 and 16 GB options.
  • USB – Two USB ports allow you to easily connect other devices to your Surface.
  • More Storage – Let’s face it. The Surface Book is a laptop. That means storage ranging from 128 GB to a full terabyte vs. just 32 GB and 128 GB options for the Pro.
  • SD Slot – Not enough storage or data transfer options for you yet? Use an SD card.

So is the Surface Book a clear winner? Not so fast.

Apple Advantages

Here are a few things the iPad Pro has that you won’t get from the Surface Book:

  • Touch ID – It’s not just for unlocking your device. Many apps will let you log in with your fingerprint.
  • Cellular Options – The iPad Pro has an LTE version, so you can use it to get connected anywhere you have cell service.
  • Lower Price – Apple rarely wins the price war, but you can get a Pro with the keyboard and stylus for over $400 less than the Surface Book base model (although you lose a little bit of that if you choose the 128 GB model).

The bottom line: Our tablet review just lays out the specs. It’s a matter which is right for you. Between these two, it comes down to size and resolution. The Pro is larger but with less ppi, where as the Surface is slightly smaller but has better ppi.

Which Display Is Better: IPS or AMOLED?

Usually when this question is asked, a person wants to know whether the mobile digital display is better on a Samsung device or an Apple device. That is because Samsung has become well known for using AMOLED technology while Apple uses IPS. Let us consider the pros and cons of each type of mobile display.

IPS Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD)

Pros:

Sharpness is a major benefit of IPS screens. The clarity of an IPS screen results in truer colors. IPS displays also perform much better in bright light situations than AMOLED screens do.

Ultimately, IPS is more of a photographer’hs screen because you get a more accurate picture of what the image genuinely looks like. Unfortunately, it may suffer in quality when you try to read or watch a movie in a dimly lit situation.

Cons:

Backlighting can actually be a negative factor when you need darker blacks in your images. For example, if you are watching a movie like “Interstellar” where much of the action takes place in space, the dark colors can suffer a little. This also affects contrast when you are reading since a little light will always be filtered through the letters.

Viewing angles are not as good on an LCD display too. This can be a negative when you are trying to show a video to a bunch of your friends. It can be a positive when you are trying to send a private text in a crowded room.

NOTE: Apple is not the only brand that favors IPS. LG and HTC make Android devices with IPS displays as well.

AMOLED Displays

Pros:

Theoretically, AMOLED displays are better for battery life (although battery life comparison on iPhones and Galaxy phones would make a stark opposing argument). AMOLED screens also produce darker blacks because every pixel can be turned on and off rather than having the whole screen backlit. Super AMOLED screens provide the brightest colors.

Cons:

AMOLED screens do not always render the truest colors because they have a tendency to oversaturate everything. That may be a negative factor when you take a picture and post it on a social media site thinking it is perfect only to discover that it was dull and undersaturated. Burn in is another issue, although not a very common one.

The Verdict

Both IPS and AMOLED have their strong and weak points. Which one is better for you will likely depend on how you use your mobile device the most. In the end, there will likely be other factors that will determine which phone or other mobile digital display device you decide to get since the battle between IPS and AMOLED is too close to call.

Move Over IE: Here Comes Spartan

Let’s face it, regardless of how they have done in other tech aspects, Microsoft has been coming up short to competitors in the web browser category for years. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and many other popular browsers have been used in place of Internet Explorer on most PCs, and nobody looks for a Microsoft browser to replace the one that comes on his or her Google or Apple devices. Project Spartan is how Microsoft aims to turn all that around. Look for the revamped Microsoft web browser to be packaged with Windows 10. Here are some features.

The first thing you will notice with Spartan is that Microsoft is getting out of the user’s way. IE, Internet Explorer, was always in your face and taking up precious screen space. Spartan is much more streamlined and actually looks similar to the latest version of Firefox with just the tabs at the top with a URL bar underneath and a small menu off to the right-hand side of the screen. It also loads much faster than its predecessor, which was one of the most frustrating things about IE.

Microsoft has not just pulled a page from their competitor’s playbook, however. There is a new feature in Project Spartan that is unique to the Microsoft web browser. There is a button that allows the user to make a “web note.” This means that the user can draw or write directly on the web page, save it, and send it to other users via email, social media, or other means. It is especially effective on a 2-in-1 device that allows you to draw directly on the screen with a stylus or your finger.

One decent feature from IE that went unnoticed (because no one used the browser) was the Reading view mode. This allows you to read the content of a website without the clutter (although it would be nicer for developers just to make the sites readable in the first place). This feature is staying in place for Spartan, and thus may finally get some recognition.

All in all, we always look forward to new computer technology, and it looks like Microsoft may finally be a player on the web browser scene.

Google Releases New Chrome-Related Devices

Chromebit is one of several new devices to join the Google line of products that operate on Chrome, the tech giant’s operating system. All in all, there are four new Chromebooks available if you count Chromebit, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

First of all, let’s look at the new full-metal Chromebook from Asus. The Flip weighs less than two pounds and is less than 0.6 inches thick, which makes it one of the most portable laptops available on the market today. Flipping the keyboard around allows the user to turn their Chromebook into a tablet with a full onscreen keyboard.

Hisense and Haier, on the other, have produced two of the most economical of all the current Chromebooks, and that is saying something considering the shockingly low price tags on these devices. They are both 11.6 inch devices and have tremendous battery life at 10 hours each. They are inexpensive models that you can grab for about $149 a piece at Walmart, making them a great tool for an on-the-go student or business person who does not need the extra computing power and accessibility of the Flip.

Now let’s get back to the Chromebit, perhaps the most exciting of Google’s new releases. This is basically a Chromebased computing system on a stick that is not much bigger than a flash drive (think small candy bar size). You simply plug it into the HDMI port of a TV or monitor and blammo! You’ve turned it into a Chromebook. Initial reports from Google are that you will be paying less than $100 for the device.

Obviously the effectiveness of the Chromebit will depend on the features of the screen it is plugged into. A touchscreen device or one that can also be hooked to a mouse or keyboard will be optimal. In lieu of those options, it will still give a standard TV Internet accessibility and access to the limited number of Chrome apps on the market.

Using a Tablet as Your Laptop

Using a Tablet as Your Laptop: Are You Ready to Trade Your Laptop for a Tablet and Keyboard?

2-in-1 laptops are becoming more common, integrating aspects of tablets (e.g., the touchscreen), with what we expect from laptops (desktop computer programs, a CD drive, etc.). But, now that all tablets seem to have available keyboards, are you ready to begin using a tablet as your laptop? The second question to consider, if tablets are poised to double as a laptop, is which tablet is right for you? Let’s compare the Surface with the iPad and decide which tablet is the better “laptop” option.

Microsoft is advertising the Surface as a powerful business tool, and it is. However, that doesn’t mean the iPad is only for use at the local coffee shop. Microsoft did develop their own keyboard, while Apple was content to let third party manufacturers handle theirs. However, this fact doesn’t make an iPad second tier in quality or usefulness. 

One advantage the Surface does have are digital connectors. These allow the keyboard direct access. The iPad wasn’t designed this way, which makes Bluetooth a requirement for iPad keyboards. This is another drain on your iPad battery and it can affect the iPad’s usefulness. Surface keyboards also have a trackpad, which makes for more of a laptop feel.

However, once everything is connected, the iPad reminds us why Apple products have such a following. The iPad is lighter and better suited for travel. If you will be carrying the device for long periods, you’ll definitely appreciate the iPad’s lighter weight. The Surface, however, has a better aspect ratio for video. Ironically this makes it the better ‘toy.’ Of course, in no way does this make it less of a business machine.

Microsoft Office is a big selling point in regards to productivity. However, the Surface Pro 2 doesn’t come with a free version of Office. This flagship Microsoft program does come with the non-pro Surface 2. This factor alone may make the Surface 2 the best of the Microsoft tablets to use as a laptop. On the other hand, iPad now has free Office apps. There is a catch. The Office apps are read-only, unless you get a $7/month subscription to Office 365.

In the end, two of the most important factors are price and the amount of storage space needed. The Surface Pro 2 provides greater processing power, while sacrificing a little portability. The Surface 2 is the least expensive choice. Apple’s iPad’s are lighter, feature better displays, and have a longer battery life. The final factor might be App selection. Apple clearly has the lead here, as their product has been around much longer.

If you are ready to begin using your tablet as your laptop, there are several choices. None of the choices are perfect for everyone, but as tablets have matured they have become more versatile. It is possible to make this step, as long as you choose based on your own specific needs.

iPad Mini vs. Nexus 7: Battle of the Tablets

Apple Versus Google: 7-Inch Tablet Edition

Let’s compare some of the features of the latest 7-inch tablets from Apple™ and Google™. How does the new Google Nexus™ 7 (2013 edition) compare to the iPad mini™ with Retina Display? It’s time to take a closer look.

Let’s begin with size. Both devices are the exact same height, but the Nexus, however, is not as wide, creating a very different look. In fact, one may immediately appeal to you more than the other upon seeing them side-by-side depending on your personal preference.

As for width, while both devices are thin, the iPad mini is more than a millimeter thinner. How does this translate to weight? The Nexus is lighter, coming in at under two-thirds of a pound. The iPad is only slightly heavier, but the real surprise is that it weighs a little more than previous models; if you’re looking to upgrade from an earlier iPad mini, you may notice a slight difference.

Of course, when it comes to appearance and aesthetics, Apple always maintains an advantage, and the aluminum case on the iPad mini continues that trend. The black plastic on the Nexus isn’t bad to look at, though; it’s just that the iPad is prettier and has a nice feel to it. While both devices are easy to hold with one hand, the iPad has the advantage of not registering your thumb when it sits on the edge of the device.

Now, let’s talk display. While the resolution is higher on the iPad, the pixels per inch on both devices are just about equal since the display is slightly smaller on the Nexus. If storage is your thing, you’ll be happy with the larger storage versions of the iPad that are available. Google has only released 16 and 32 GB versions on the Nexus 7.

A faster processor and more RAM make the Nexus a powerhouse and give it a distinct advantage over the iPad. However, if battery life is a concern, the difference will be far more noticeable. The iPad can go through 10 hours of use on one full charge. The Nexus will only last a little over half of that.

In the end, if price is what is most important to you, you’ll end up with a Nexus, since you can’t beat the $230 starting price tag for the 16 GB base model. The 16 GB iPad mini, on the other hand, starts at $400.

Which Tablet to Buy for Your Kid

Who says technology and kids don’t mix? The fact is—and you already know this if you have a child—there’s no way to keep those inquisitive eyes (and, ultimately, hands) off of your tablet. So how do you keep your kid’s fingers off of your work and personal devices? Simple: Get them their own.

Durability is obviously going to be the most important feature; kids can break just about anything, and technology is relatively fragile, so shop around for the most indestructible tablet you can get. Regardless of the model you choose, it’s still a good idea to teach your kid play nice with it: Rubber grips that help your child hold on to the device are a nice touch, and bumpers on the corners and edges help when the device inevitably hits the floor.

Another thing to consider is technical specs. Before you brush the idea off, consider this: Children know when they are being duped. If they see your device responds instantly and has great picture quality and theirs slow to respond and pixelated, you better believe they will still be reaching for the real deal.

You also want to find a device with the right parental controls. Just because you child isn’t old enough to intentionally get in trouble online doesn’t mean they can’t do it accidentally by clicking buttons. Be sure you can control content and purchases. And make sure the device you choose can use the apps your child has been playing with on your device, or they’ll still want to borrow yours all the time.

What are a few devices to look into? Some good starting places include the Vtech Innotab 3S, LeapPad Ultra and the Nabi Jr. Samsung also makes a kids version of the Galaxy Tab.

You’ll spend a few extra dollars, but you won’t have to worry about sharing your tablet. Plus, it’s pretty easy to turn these into educational devices.

Will Your Next Mobile Device Disinfect Itself?

Which is safer: The flusher on the public toilet you just used or the mobile device you currently hold in your hand? Shockingly enough, the toilet lever is cleaner, and it’s not even a close comparison. Your mobile device likely has 1,800% as much harmful bacteria on it, according to a recent study. Not every study has shown the same level of bacteria, but every study has revealed the mobile device to be the dirtier object of the two. Fortunately, Corning plans to have antimicrobial glass ready for mobile devices within a couple of years.

According to the company, the glass is intended to kill both harmful viruses and bacteria that come in contact with your mobile device’s screen. The screen was already in the works before studies showed a commercial need, since it was being developed for use in the medical industry. Some of the research is now being repurposed to aid in commercial development.

How does it work? Corning isn’t saying, and no one else knows yet. Initial tests show that the glass does what it is supposed to do, though. E. coli was the bug of choice for the test. While it has no problem living on a regular piece of glass, the new self-cleaning glass killed the bug within two hours.

It’s still a closely guarded secret which company will get access to antimicrobial glass first. According to Corning, we’ll know within the next two years when the first device is released using this new technology. In the meantime, you may want to think twice about what you do with your hands after you touch your mobile device screen. Make sure to sanitize your devices properly and regularly.

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