Fixya, the problem-solving website, has analyzed more than 10,000 complaints about four leading tablets: Microsoft's Surface 2, Apple's iPad Air, Amazon's Kindle HDX, and the iPad Mini. Fixya's founder, Yaniv Bensadon, says: "We want to give the public a fair understanding of what previous device owners are seeing as the most common problems, while also providing some easy fixes for current owners.”
Some problems you will know about already, but others are worth checking -- particularly the screen problems with Apple iPads.
Fixya says "the Microsoft Surface 2 is a great option for the businessman or woman -- its full range of Microsoft Office features really appeals to professionals who are on the go." The obvious drawback is the shortage of apps, and this was the main complaint from Fixya users (25 percent). Other problems included the loudspeaker quality (20 percent), the Touch Cover keyboard, and "Compatibility with other Microsoft Products" (15 percent each).
The report says "the speakers are quiet, lack crispness in sound quality, and don't do enough to warrant using them when showing a friend a video or using it to play music." The Touch Cover keyboard "is difficult to type on" and "hampers the performance of the Surface 2 as a true business option".
Insofar as there's a fix for the lack of apps, it's to use websites instead. Apps became popular because browsing was poor on smartphones, but it's excellent on the Surface 2. As for typing, some people like -- or dislike -- the Touch Cover more than others. I find it very uncomfortable for touch-typing, and agree with Fixya that "the comfort that comes with the Type Cover is well worth the price."
Fixya doesn't mention it but the fix for (lack of) "Compatibility with other Microsoft Products" is to buy a Windows tablet that uses an Intel x86-compatible processor, not the ARM chip in the Surface 2. The Dell Venue Pro, for example.
The most complained-about problem with the iPad Air is Safari browser crashes (30 percent), followed by "screen issues" (25 percent), then keyboard responsiveness and Wi-Fi connectivity (15 percent each).
Fixya says the browser crashes on certain websites (possibly ones that use Flash?) and when opening multiple tabs. It adds: "Upon rebooting, the browser is typically unable to recover the web pages the user was on, making an extended browsing session frustrating." The possible fix is to clear cookies and browser history data regularly, or use a different browser.
Some iPad Air users complain of screens with a yellow tint over half the screen, or faint grey lines across the screen. "It's purely an aesthetic issue, but one that users should pay attention to before purchasing the device," says Fixya.
The Kindle HDX with its 8.9in screen is integrated with Amazon's online store, and provides live help via its Mayday program. The main complaint is the "somewhat unreliable" Silk browser (30 percent), followed by lack of app support, battery life, and device freezes (20 percent each).
Fixya users complained about the browser's "choppy performance" and tendency to lock up, and some thought the Kindle HDX took too long to charge. The advice for the latter is: "make sure you're using the Amazon cable … plugged into a wall socket".
Lack of app support comes from the fact that it uses a forked version of Google Android. The obvious "fix": if apps are important to you, buy an Android tablet (with access to Google Play) or Apple iPad instead.
Sadly, the popular iPad Mini with Retina display also has "screen issues" (30 percent). The other main complaints are storage space and browser crashes (20 percent each), then keyboard responsiveness (15 percent).
While the Retina screen provides an increase in clarity and readability (removing gripes about the original model), some users complained about ghosting when flipping between apps or otherwise changing the screen display. See the online report for possible fixes.
On storage, "users complain that the storage size … is too small at its lowest price point", but Fixya points out that it has the same amount (16GB) as the Kindle HDX and entry-level iPad Air. Problems with Safari crashing and with the on-screen keyboard's variable responsiveness are the same as the iPad Air
The full (but short) report is available online.