/ Technology

Tablet PCs are inspirational gadgets

samsung-galaxy-tab

You get what you pay for when it comes to tablets, and £500 is a price worth paying for one of life’s computing luxuries. Just make sure you avoid the cheap imitations.

Tablets are here to stay, and not just for Christmas 2010. Earlier this year Apple’s iPad created and defined the trend, showing people that a touchscreen device needn’t be clunky and dowdy – it could be inspirational.

Millions of people have already bought them, and Apple Store tills will no doubt be racking up record pre-Christmas sales over the next month.

There are good and bad tablets

Up until now the tablet race has been run by just one horse, albeit a thoroughbred. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is a worthy competitor, but based on my experience, it’s best to ignore the rash of cheaper imitation tablets on the high street.

Next was first with its 10-inch Tablet – how long before Primark gets in on the act? I wouldn’t buy a tablet from a clothing retailer, just like I would be hesitant to buy a TV from Tesco.

So yes, there are good tablets and bad tablets, just like there are good cars and bad cars. And that’s one of the reasons Which? exists – to weed out the dross from the distinguished.

Tablets offer the best of both worlds

Like Ceri Stanaway, I’m also lucky to have both a smartphone and a laptop. Certainly, it’s hard to justify buying a tablet in that situation, but tablets offer another choice.

For playing the occasional game of Angry Birds, or updating Facebook on the sofa, I’d choose a tablet every time. Unlike netbooks, it turns on instantly, and unlike smartphones the screen makes watching videos a practical reality rather than an exercise in squinting. I’d wager that a tablet is on Ceri’s shortlist when her laptop expires and her smartphone’s contract is up for renewal.

Tablets are what touchscreens were made for – give someone an iPad and they intuitively know how to interact with it. The famous 86-year-old Dutchman is a great example. He didn’t know he wanted a tablet until he got one, but now he loves it!

Tablets remove the computer from computing tasks, unshackling people from the keyboard and mouse that may hold them back. True, it’s a simplified and slightly limited computing experience, but one that’s free of crashing applications and virus risks.

Not much more than a smartphone

It’s also easy to forget the price of tablets relative to smartphones. Some smartphones retail for upwards of £350 and the only reason most of us think we can afford them is because we pay for them in instalments on contract.

The iPad will soon be priced similarly, according to T-Mobile and Orange, meaning any complaints about a high price will cease to exist. As tablets basically tack a larger screen onto the innards of a smartphone, personally I think it’s reasonable they come at a higher price than their little brothers.

Finally, there are young professional women sitting just over the partition from me at Which? HQ who think nothing of spending over £500 on a handbag. And that doesn’t run Flash, although I suppose it does potentially allow multitasking.

Both designer handbags (or manbags!) and media tablets are undoubtedly luxury items. It’s up to you which of life’s luxuries you choose.

Read Ceri Stanaway’s argument against tablets in ‘Tablet PCs are inessential playthings‘.

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

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Comments
Profile photo of Laura Starkey
Member

As one of the aforementioned handbag lovers, I agree with you Al. I’m often judged for indulging my love of luxury leather goods, particularly by men who’d think nothing of buying a £600 iPad or £700 football season ticket. The irony! We should all be free to splash whatever disposable cash we have on things that enhance our lives and make us happy.

And personally, I think the iPad is marvellous. I didn’t see what all the fuss was about until a friend of mine bought one – and then I couldn’t put it down.

Obviously I can’t afford one after spending all this year’s birthday money in the handbag department at Selfridges… But I can dream!

Profile photo of jjmmwgdupree
Member

The Ipad is hardly the best of both worlds. It doesn’t make ‘phone calls, you can’t touch type on it, and if you’re blind, partially sighted, or physically handicapped in the region of your hands it’s just a chunk of plastic. Apple seem to be having the same problem with their ‘phones and pads. They’re forgetting what they’re supposed to be.

I agree people should be allowed to waste their excess cash on whatever they wish. They just shouldn’t try to justify it with silly claims of usefulness.

Member

jjmmwgdupree, in response to your silly posting.
1/ You can make phone calls from iPad using a voip app, you can call out to all traditional phones.
2/ If you really want to touch type you can tether a bluetooth keyboard to the device. What did you want, a full physical slide out qwerty keyboard, that would make the device sooo much better!
3/ It also has voiceover, zoom, large text among other accessibility features – Apple is doing more than any other company to make it easy for everyone to use their neat products.
4/ iPad’s construction is aluminium and glass, not chunks of plastic.
5/ Apple have legitimised the tablet computer factor, thats not forgetting what they’re supposed to be that’s called innovating.

In summary the iPad is useful, for lots of people just not you, so get over it.

Member

Tablets will come of age soon, this is just the start.
As everyone considers apple to have really brought the smartphone world alive, the same hopes could be true when it comes to tablets.
The good thing about this apple opening the door, then we find many more devices coming onto the market which will most likely have more features (apple isn’t known for its cutting edge tech) and come in cheaper than the ipad.

As mentioned in the article if you have a smartphone, its hard to justify having a tablet.
I looked at the HP tablet which runs windows 7, my reasoning was this, why would i want a bigger iphone which can’t make calls.
Windows 7 may not have the nice interface, but i know every bit of software on my hope pc will run, all websites will display as intended and i have a USB port for connecting any device i wish.

lets see where the tablets end up in 12 months time, i think then we will see some very interesting devices coming out.

Member
Paddy19 says:
30 November 2010

I’m surprised that a Which correspondent should open an article with a statement like “You get what you pay for when it comes to tablets”. “Which” has proven over and over again that in many areas you don’t get you pay for, you get marketing hype. It certainly has not been proven that this statement holds true for tablets.

He won’t buy a TV in Tesco or Primark. Why not? Most consumer electronics products are made in China. So in many cases you getting marginally different products with a different logo. If it’s the same model from the same company, I’d buy it from the cheapest reputable supplier.

Are you insinuating that the big electronic retailers add some quality value to the product? Most of time they are trying to flog me overpriced insurance. Doesn’t indicate much faith in the quality of their products!

This sort of snobbery should be banned by Which.

Get real, £500 is a lot of money for a tablet. If I can get a reasonable tablet for £200 I’d be happy to take a lesser brand.

Surprised that Which is getting away from its goal of getting best value for consumers. Anyone can recommend the most expensive product it takes work to show the best value.

Profile photo of Al Warman
Member

Hi Paddy,
Maybe I should qualify my opinion that “you get what you pay for when it comes to tablets” holds true at the moment, but is unlikely to be the case in a few months’ time. Which? will be lab-testing tablets soon, and awarding Best Buys, as always, based on the individual products’ merits, and regardless of price.

Rather than being brand snobbery, both Ceri and I are in agreement that, in a snapshot of the tablet market pre-Christmas 2010, there are only really two tablets worth considering. Both of these are around £500 and both are from premium brands. I am eagerly awaiting the day, hopefully early 2011, when we start to see sub-£200 tablets from China which are actually worth buying, rather than models rushed out to cash in on the tablet bandwagon in the consumerist rush that is December.

And I didn’t say I wouldn’t buy a TV from Tesco, merely that I would be hesitant (i.e. research it first, and yes, that means checking the Which? TV reviews first!). I wholeheartedly endorse cut-price tech when it works well, and swear by my memory card reader, for example, which originated from the aisles of my local Poundland. There are bargains out there, but not tablet PC bargains yet!

Our guide to bargain own-brand electronics is worth a read too…
Cheers, Al

Profile photo of davidgc
Member

I have an iPhone4 and an iPad (WiFi 64Gb version) and for my purposes they are both ideal gadgets and I would not want to be without them – it depends on one’s life style. They do not replace a Windows PC or laptop but supplement them assuming that one can afford to splash out the cost. Since I acquired the iPad I use the iPhone far less for browsing the web and answering E-mails because f its larger screen. What is so useful is that things downloaded from iTunes synchronise to both. The only current problem I have for my purposes is not being able to print from the iPad although this will no doubt be solved in due course. Using Google gmail and apps means that I have them available on the iPhoine, the iPad and all my PCs of various vintages which are still in use. Unlike a Windows PC the iPad takes far less effort to maintain for what it is capable of doing. Personally, I can currently see no point in having a phone or a camera on the iPad when I have an iPhone for these purposes.Skype will no doubt provide phone capability for the iPad in due course. I have about 70 different Email addresses used for different purposes and the most used ones are set up on the iPad such that it is possible to go into them as if one is using sub-folders without having to retype a username and password each time; ths save a lot of my time as I get about 70 E-mails per day, many with attachments. Opening doc, docx and pdf file attachments takes only a few seconds each and the size of the iPad screen means that one can easily read a complete page at a time without having to spend time scrolling; in comparison, this is a real bore when using a small netbook. It is of course a matter of horses for courses and what one wants to use these devices for.

Profile photo of terfar
Member

I used a desktop PC and although tempted by Smart phones, I’ve hung on to my ancient Nokia mobile for a long time. The problem with Smart Phones is that the screens are just too small for someone without sharp (or should I say young) eyesight.

I’ve looked at the iPad (and other ‘conventional’ tablets) and to me they just doesn’t cut the ice. There are too many things they don’t do and are way too large to put in your pocket.

About two weeks ago, I finally succumb to temptation by purchasing a Galaxy TAB. It really is good. The screen is brilliant and just the right size: it is easy to read without being too large for the pocket (admittedly a large pocket). It makes ordinary phone calls (not just VOiP), has a webcam for video calls, the camera takes reasonable photos in non-challenging conditions, has great SatNav and mapping (thanks Google), provides quick access to your emails, has a great browser (mobile Chrome) and does just about everything you expect. The iPad and Smart Phones just don’t do it for me.

It is no replacement for a full laptop/desktop PC, but it is certainly a true portable device with some great features.

Profile photo of Al Warman
Member

Great to finally read some opinions from satisfied tablet owners! David and Terry – you’re both clear that your iPad and Galaxy Tab are no replacement for conventional computers, but have seen their potential as portable alternatives.

One question – I’d be interested to know where your tablets get used the most – in the home with wi-fi, or out and about on 3G networks?

Member
Robin Harris says:
30 November 2010

I purchased an Apple Ipad and it is brilliant I have applications on it that I use daily Bloombergs Times Economist Telegraph Windguru Keynote Financial Times and BBCi player to name but a few. The GPS feature allows me to know where I am and I have just purchased an application for the WHOLE marine chart of the UK and Europe Western Europe for £26!

It allows me to read books on the train (downloaded without the need to hard wire) watch videos look at pictures and listen to music it has all my personal and work related information (emails) on it and with the 3g card it is all accessable everywhere I would recommend it to all and think that Apple have stolen the show

I believe that the Tablet and the IPAD in particular are here to stay and this is just the beginning

Profile photo of mark
Member

I admit to be underwhelmed by a lot of modern gadgets but I love the tablet. I can think of many uses for them such as web browsing when you can’t be bothered to switch the computer on. However I would avoid the ipad as I don’t like Apple’s closed environment and their prices. If I can ever afford a tablet I would go for Google’s Android system.