Stylish and slick, but overpriced. Wallet-friendly, but lacklustre. The current dearth of tablet PCs that can combine looks and functionality with affordability will put many people off buying one.
What Apple’s iPad started, many manufacturers are now trying to rival. To date I’ve been lucky enough (or not) to play with no less than four tablets.
That one of them’s the iPad almost goes without saying, but I’ve also checked out the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Toshiba Folio 100 and the Next 10-inch Tablet.
Ben Stevens recently chastised journalists who are quick to dismiss technological innovations, such as tablets, without just cause. But having checked out much of the range on the market, I reckon I have grounds to question the value of tablet PCs – at the moment, anyway.
Decent tablets are too expensive
Don’t get me wrong. The glass and aluminium styled iPad 3G, like all things Apple, is a thing of beauty. What it does, it does brilliantly. And the petite Samsung Galaxy Tab more than lived up to my expectations of web access and functionality in an attractive, pocket-sized package.
But at well over £400 each, the iPad and Galaxy Tab are simply out of the financial reach of many of us poor mortals – especially when you can get a Which? Best Buy netbook for half the price.
Budget tablets aren’t up to scratch
So I eagerly anticipated getting my hands on two of the more modestly priced Android tablets to hit the high street – the Toshiba Folio 100 (RRP £329) and the budget Next 10-inch Tablet (RRP £180). Sadly, my optimism was short-lived.
While we’ve not put them through our full lab tests yet, initial impressions of both left something to be desired. Build quality ain’t great – particularly on the Next Tablet.
Key tablet selling features, like access to the Google Android App store and 3G connectivity, are missing from both. And touchscreen usability for the Next Tablet is shockingly bad.
Who really needs a tablet anyway?
For me, there’s a big difference between ‘cheap’ and ‘value for money’, and despite their lower costs, neither Toshiba nor Next’s tablets offer good value for money.
I might be willing to fork out the £400+ for the iPad or Galaxy Tab if I felt a tablet would fill a gaping void in my tech-gadget ownership. But I already have a smartphone and a laptop, and in spite of what tablet-makers would like us to think, I’m not convinced there’s such a big gap between the two for tablets to fill.
I’m willing to be proved wrong. And perhaps if you’re a big fan of watching video on-the-go, or crave a level of portability that a netbook or laptop doesn’t offer, you might disagree. But until the prices of high-spec tablets come down – which previous technology trends suggest they will – I’ve got more important things to spend my hard-earned cash on.
Read Al Warman’s argument in favour of tablets in ‘Tablet PCs are inspirational gadgets‘.
Do you think Tablet PCs are any good?
No, they're inessential playthings (37%, 143 Votes)
I don't give a monkey's (33%, 127 Votes)
Yes, they're inspirational gadgets (30%, 115 Votes)
Total Voters: 385