How To ... Choose the right tablet

2013-07-17 18:07

Price will become less of a deterrent with heavyweights such as Acer, Asur and HP launching value-for-money tablets this year. Yolandi Groenewald rates the tablets in the market.

Tablet winners of 2013

The tiny tablets

1. The iPad Mini

If you are a Steve Jobs devotee (even though the man himself hated the idea of a small tablet), the Mini does not disappoint. It delivers all the features of its big brother in a cheaper, more compact version that will ensure Apple’s sales do not nosedive this year. Priced at around R5 000

2. The Google Nexus 7

Techies all over South Africa are falling in love with the Android flagship device that delivers on the media options, is lightning fast and does not disappoint with an almost faultless touch screen and faultless display. All for less than R3 000.

3. Samsung Galaxy 7-inch

Samsung re-entered the 7-inch market this year, and apart from the solid bells and whistles of the bigger 10-inch models it has wrapped up inside, the smaller Galaxy tablet boasts better portability and grip in its design. Powered by Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), it is lightning fast and users are raving about its camera. Priced at around R5 000

4. Acer Iconia A1

Tech gurus predict that Acer’s affordable tablet might be a game changer for price-savvy South Africans who are after a reliable name, but want the cheapest around that will still work in a year’s time. Powered by Android, the Acer promises to be fast and user-friendly, with a host of multimedia and a very responsive touch screen. Also, its battery can last for more than eight hours. Priced at around R2 000

5. The Kindle Fire

Overseas, Amazon’s Kindle Fire has been a huge hit, competing with the iPad and Galaxy offerings. The Fire boasts a host of features that make it very attractive for heavy multimedia users. Earlier this year in South Africa, the Kindle was still retailing at a ridiculous premium. But Incredbile Connection recently advertised it for much less. The “locked out content” with a South African address is still a minor hiccup. Priced at around R3 200

The rest

ZTE 9VA – Both Vodacom and Cell C offer this small Chinese tablet on a competitive deal. It’s real entry-level stuff though and can be frustratingly slow. But it does the job.

HP’s Slate 7 – HP’s latest offering also wants to compete on price, but early reviews describe it as limited and its Android as slow.

HTC Flyer – This HTC is still around, but never took off.

Huawei MediaPad 7 – Huawei’s latest offering will compete with the Iconia on price, but it lags behind other offerings on quality.

Asus MeMO Pad – Solid, with few bells and whistles, but competitively priced and aimed at the low-end user. There is not really a lot wrong with the Asus, but it is rather underwhelming in a world with the iPad Mini, Nexus and Galaxy.

The 10-inchers

1. Google Nexus 10

If you love Android, the Nexus is one of the best devices to sample it on. It is as fast and responsive as Samsung’s and Apple’s tablets, with all the necessary bells and whistles. While its little brother is still currently the best value-for-money tablet in South Africa, the Nexus 10 rules the roost among the big boys. Priced at around R5 000

2. Apple iPad

South Africans love their iPads and are sure to stand in the queue every time Apple releases its latest. Why? They’re fast, flashy and reliable. The multimedia and app offerings, user-friendliness and quality of the product remain probably the best in the market and Apple’s design, although not as unique as it used to be, is still the style icon to compete with. You can find a brand-new iPad for R4 000 if you shop around, but normally they go for between R5 000 and R10 000 for the top models at major retailers.

3. Samsung Galaxy 10-inch tablets

Samsung’s range of tablets is supposed to be the iPad killer and it is slowly eroding the market. The tablet has the same feel as an iPad, but thanks to the Android system, offers a lot more freedom and impressive features unique to Samsung. They are priced from around R5 000 if you can get a good deal.

4. The Toshiba AT200

Thin and lightweight, the Toshiba AT200 is a good, solid and portable device, delivering everything you’d expect from an unfussy Android slate. If you’re looking for a standard tablet experience with no bells and whistles attached, the AT200 is for you, priced at R7 899.95

The rest:

Motorola Xoom 2 – Great battery life and new improved design, but price and performance are still not good enough to compete with the top enders. Retails at about R5 000.

Sony Tablet S – Sturdy tablet that will excite PlayStation enthusiasts, but it is expensive and has limitations. Retails at around R6 000.

Sansui 9.7-inch 3G WiFi LifePad – Another “value for money” tablet that delivers on the basics, but will leave more tech-savvy users a bit frustrated. Priced at around R2 500.

Asus ME400 W8 Tablet – One of the best Windows tablets and boasts great performance – at a price. Budget for at least R7 000.

Dell Latitude 10 Tablet – Described as a business-friendly Windows tablet, Dell seems a good, sturdy bet for the businessperson, but again its price will frighten South African consumers.

Crossovers

Worldwide, the popular Netbook is also dying out and savvy manufacturers are catching on that a type of hybrid, crossover tablet/netbook might be the next big thing. These crossover tablets are gaining popularity, with Asus and Acer leading the charge.

The hybrids have a similar feel to the old netbook, but the keyboard snaps off to leave you with a perfectly functioning touch tablet.

Most of these devices are using Windows 8, which gives these tablet a more PC-like feel.

1. The Asus Transformers

Asus is leading the pack with its cheaper range of transformer tablets/netbooks that give users the mobility of switching from tablet to PC with one click. The Tab TF300 and Pad 300 offer laptop-like performance and are priced at around R5 000. These can also have a battery life of up to 12 hours, making them really mobile.

2. Acer Aspire P3

The P3 is part of Acer’s new range of ultrabooks that cross the divide from traditional notebook to slate PC when the keyboard is removed. The Aspire P3 features a 29.5cm (11.6-inch) HD display with IPS technology highlights, Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processors, an Acer Crystal Eye HD front webcam to capture video in 720p HD, a 60GB or 120GB SSD and a longer battery life of up to six hours. It also runs on Windows 8. Goes for around R7 000

3. The Asus Transformer Prime Infinity

At R8 000, the Prime does not come cheap, but it proclaims itself the fastest Android device and does have a beautiful display.

The rest:

HP SlateBook X2 – At around R4 000, the Slatebook is competitively priced with good, solid performance. Its big brother operating on Windows 8, the HP Windows 8 Split X2, is pricier, at R7 200, but it’s faster

» Sources: Incredible Connection, Gadget, Top10 tablets

Tablet facts

» There are just more than 1 million tablets in South Africa, and Apple and Samsung have cornered the market for the most part.

» Fifty percent of devices sold through FNB’s smartphone and tablet deal are tablets, says Farren Roper, head of FNB Connect ISP and Business Operations.

» There are about 10 million PC owners in South Africa and potentially every one of them who has not invested in a tablet is likely to do so in future.

» International tech research firm IDC expects tablet shipments worldwide to outstrip desktop PC shipments for the first time this year.

» Apple is still the world leader, according to research, and its new iPad Mini ensures solid performances, but Samsung is gaining ground.

» In September, South African ezine Gadget interviewed retailers, distributors and marketing representatives of major brands to determine the market share of the different players in South Africa. Gadget found that Apple had about 50% of the share, followed by Samsung with 33%.

» Apple’s edge was that it could sell its products in South Africa at much the same price it did in the US or Europe.

» Apple’s iPad had sold close to 400 000 by the end of last year in South Africa, and Samsung tablets 275 000. The surprise is that Chinese multinational Huawei came in third with 60 000, or 7.5%, indicating that price certainly matters to many South Africans. Huawei offers stripped-down Android devices that specialise in media consumption.

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