Tour of test driving 7 inch Tablets

Yesterday I spent the day going from store to store looking for a reasonable 7 inch tablet. I thought this would be easy, but after about 2 hours I wanted to start pulling my hair out. Anyhow my specs for the tablet are:

  • Must be 7 inches in size – big enough to fit in the hand/pocketbook without being too big
  • Must have front and rear facing cameras – this is so I can copy & take pictures of research during conferences and when researching things. Also, the front facing camera is if I have to Skype, I can without a problem.
  • Be instinctive to use – I’ve noticed more and more over the years as operating systems evolve, programmers are going away from the first rule of programming a program – make it instinctive and easy for the user to use. A good example of this would be the Windows 8 failure (notice I did not say 8.1 as this is when Microsoft back pedaled and put the desktop feature in).
  • Colors/Colours must be about right and not too one color/colour as they sometimes are.
  • Speed must be passable. I do not do many in-depth things or plan to with it – microphone for interviews, pictures, maybe a map to point out locations on a map for reference, Skype video conferencing, amended documents from pdf or Word/Excel. Not high-powered stuff at all.
  • Expandable memory – So I can just change chips in and out if needed.
  • Low Cost – Under $200 should be good enough to get something to meet these needs.

I know its not Christmas yet – but making my tablet list and checking it twice

As you can see, it’s not high usage stuff but its enough to use on just a basic model. The part I’m having a problem with is that I try to get the lowest cost item but with the best tech item I can get it.

After looking at my specs versus what’s out there today, what the intended use for it was and how much I was able to spend, I came up with 4 options.

HP 7 Plus Quad Core 1GHz Tablet

This is the one I was first looking at. The price was the cheapest around, it hand the cameras, has a good camera (front/back) and ticked off all the boxes. BUT when I went looking for one yesterday, one I found and wouldn’t turn on and when I went to another store, they said its a past model and businesses were selling them and not getting in any other stock. This was confirmed by another store as well.

Asus Atom 7″ Tablet

This one I found in 3 stores. The first store was good but was over the budget I set by about $30. Another store had it but it wouldn’t turn on – frustrating. The third store had one, I had to get someone to unlock it (protection from kids) to use it and sat there playing and REALLY liked it and it was on special which made it within my budget. One concern was I couldn’t find the expansion slot for the microSD card and asked about it. I forgot this was a FonePad and would have to have the back casing taken off to put in the SIM and expansion cards. Annoying to do – yes, but it’s not like I expected to be doing this a lot with the expansion card so I could get around it. The other annoying thing was the power/volume buttons were made for people who use the left hand and not the right so these were on the left underside of the tablet. Annoying but acceptable.

The thing that was a deal breaker? The one on display was the only one they had in stock. Sorry that’s a no go area with me. If I’m spending good money on something I want it brand new – not used in the store or refurbished. It was heartbreaking to walk away from it but I did.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 16GB Tablet

I’ve been looking at Samsung’s because of the name, but of course when you involve things like a name it has its drawback – the cost. The first tablet I was looking at, and that was offered at one of the stores for the same cost as the Asus (above) was the one model below the Tab 3 – it was the Tab 3 Lite. That meant it didn’t have the cameras like I wanted but had most of the things I wanted – to me it wasn’t very instinctive at all, but I’d just have to get used to it like I did when the first iPads came out – annoying but doable. But could I live without the front facing camera – no.

The one above, has the front facing camera (no Lite in the name), but the cost is over the budget I want to spend. Talk about frustrating. The great thing is the volume and power button are on the right side for right-handed people. Another was the easy to identify the expansion slot for extra memory – on the left side of the tablet. Nice.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8GB Tablet

This was my next, and final, stop. I think I was just getting desperate at this point. It had the same set out like the Samsung Tab 3 (above), it had a bit more on it, but the cost was waaaaay more than what I wanted.

The result? I walked away annoyed I didn’t end up coming home with a new toy to play with. Its been over 12 months since I went and bought one, so I think I’m going through withdrawals.

Moving forward

Well, now what can I do in order to get that desired Tablet? I came home and after a while, I went searching (because I had enough disappointment for the day) on eBay and other online sites to see what I can do and get.

Questions I asked myself:

Do I centre on the HP which has walked away, or so it seems, from the tablet market?

Answer: Yes. I want something that’s going to be around for a bit in case I have problems. Besides it doesn’t have Bluetooth and I might want that in the future.

Do I keep looking for the Asus? But can I find out within my price range and it won’t take forever to get here?

Answer: I’ll look online. Yes, some were within my budget but are either used or refurbished, which I don’t want. Overall – I can keep looking until something goes on special which is within my budget.

Do I really want a Samsung? Can I justify the increase in budget to satisfy buying one of these tablets? Or can I do without the front camera?

Answer: Samsung or not doesn’t bother me. Do without the front facing camera – not its a must have. The increase in budget? Well that one is still being decided upon.

I haven’t given up, but I am still actively researching how I can still get what I want for my budget, which is always one of the main problems when I do go to buy anything. Why? I’m a cheap skate.


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