Best tablet for those who don't want an iPad

Best tablet for those who don't want an iPad

Summary: While I firmly believe that the iPad is the best tablet out there, there are some fantastic Android tablets on offer. Here are my top six Android tablets.

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  • Barnes & Noble Nook

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    Pantech Element

    This is the tablet for those who like to take their tablets into the outdoors. The Pantech Element is waterproof against incidental exposure to water when all ports (incl. USB and earphone ports) are tightly closed, and is submersible up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

    • 1.5GHz dual-core processor
    • 8-inch 1024 x 768 XGA screen
    • 16 GB internal storage
    • Storage expandable with microSD storage
    • Waterproof based on IP57 rating

    Image credit: Pantech

    Price: $500 (contract-free)

  • Pantech Element

Topics: Laptops, Android, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Tablets

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72 comments
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  • A few comments

    1) I'm salivating for the Asus Transformer TF300. I've already fallen into my familiar pattern of swinging by Best Buy every other day to play with one, so at this point resistance is futile. I'm just waiting for Best Buy to stock the 32Gb version.

    2) The Lenovo tablet looks OK, but there's really no excuse in 2012 to not be shipping, at the very least Honeycomb with your tablets. And really, everyone should me moving to Ice Cream Sandwich by now.

    3) It would be more correct to say that the Kindle Fire was Amazon's answer to the Nook Color, given that the Nook Color preceded the Kindle Fire by about a year.

    4) If I had a hot tub I'd probably buy the Pantech just to have something to play with while relaxing in hot water (though it would probably be a "second tablet" rather than my main device). I'm honestly suprised that neiether Barnes & Noble nor Amazon have released a waterproof e-reader. It would strike me as even easier and more logical to produce a watertight e-reader than a foll-blown color tablet.
    dsf3g
    • Waterproof e-reader...

      I use my Kindle Fire in a name brand ziplock baggie. If you feel especially paranoid, use 2, one inside the other.

      I have accrued many hot tub hours in this configuration with no incidents.
      n0mb
      • Really?

        How well does a capacitative touchscreen work through a plastic bag??
        trevor@...
    • There's the problem.... open your eyes first.

      I've the tf201, and an iPad but they're two different beasts. They don't run similar apps in the same way. Try Sky player or BBC, two different renditions of the same website. On the other hand I can play much more multimedia formats on my Asus.

      You want proper, full synch - Get the iPad
      You want FULL ongoing OS support - Get the iPad
      You want a keyboard and trackpad - Get the Asus
      You want USB, SD, uSD ports for easy file play - Get the Asus
      You dont like Apple - get the Asus

      If you want integration with home, car etc, it's hard for me to see past the Apple family. I'm no lover of their ethos BUT until Android has a common connector for attaching to HiFi, and cars etc I'll not be buying any more. (HTC personal Android phone and iphone4(from work, but don't use it) and Blackberry torch for work (much better battery life). If I was looking to expand my homeautomation and car access it would be iPhone at this point. Bluetooth doesn't count... it has to be hardwired for ease of use predominantly.

      Re the Lenovo... Of course theres an excuse. It's either too much effort, not worth the effort, or can't run it for some reason. There's the problem. Android CANNOT be supported in the same way IOS is and they NEED to get a grip on that. Why are there so many devices? Why can't there be fewer, but better supported? IOS has this cornered, with essentially a single device that expands in time. I dont like Apple but can't see any real competition right now. Think it through before you waste money, whatever way you decide.
      pjmckay
      • I have to agree - kinda..

        I agree - everyone and their DOG makes iDevices for use with iDevices. I know for a fact that I can walk into any store in the mall, or any Best Buy, and buy keyboards, and speaker docks, and screen protectors aplenty for the iPad. I can't do that for my Transformer Prime. On the other hand, my Prime has functionality that either has to be paid extra for on an iPad, or can't be found at all - no SD or micro SD slot, no native GPS (unless you buy a 3 or 4G version and spend a couple of extra hundred dollars), no flash on the sucky 5 Mega-pixel camera (mine's 8) etc.

        The lack of all of these features kept me from the iPad, and made my choice clear - Android (for me anyway) was the way to go. I do wish that the bevy of Android tablets out there could agree on a standard port, so that the market would start producing things like speaker docks etc, but that is about as likely as Apple allowing expandable storage on their devices.. so honestly it's pretty much a wash between them.
        Papamambo
  • Ignoring Kobo?

    If you can have the Kindle and Nook reviewed, what's wrong with the Kobo Vox? Sure it's not available as readily in the US, but then you have a lot more than just US resident people reading your site. The Vox is right there with the Kindle and Nook, I've seen both of them.
    gddeluca
    • The Vox?

      I bought one of these, and there's a VERY good reason it isn't android certified. It's slow, buggy, and just overall painful to use. I'd recommend a chalk board over a Vox, more functional with MUCH better video response capabilities. Only owned it for about 14 hours, and that was much, much too long.
      Squire72
  • GPS!

    For $189 I got a decent tablet and GPS! I haven't seen GPS on any of the others and no way am I spending $500 on a tablet anyway. Now I have GPS, Kindle and Internet...I am complete!
    rcarr38@...
    • $189 ?

      Could you give some details of what you got for such a price ($189)?
      will_mike@...
    • "I haven't seen GPS on any of the others..."

      For $199 you can have a 16Gb BlackBeery PlayBook (that I'm surprised is not in this list while some "Pantech Element" is, that I haven't even heard of).
      7", 1024x600, dual-core 1GHz proc, 1Gb of RAM, 3 MPx front camera, 5 MPx rear camera, HDMI out, Wifi, BT.
      Mezomish
      • Playbook

        Agreed overlooking the playbook at $199 with all it brings is a big oversight.
        alawishis
      • Playbook

        I purchased one of these when it went on sale for $249 (32gb) and I have to say, it's a fantastic little device. Been using it very happily as an e-reader and an alarm clock, with occasional games and web surfing, and it's been nothing but excellent.
        Squire72
  • Asus tf300t is awesome!

    Just bought the Asus tf300 and I'm glad. Much cheaper, faster, and the only disadvantage is that the screen on the iPad is a lil better (more pixels) but you can barely tell side by side which is better. Also, it can transform with the keyboard dock which is awesome.
    An alien
  • One really nice low dollar table is the ZPad C91 @ $225.00 Great Buy

    One of the nicest tables on the low end of the price scale is the ZPad C91, 10" Screen. At a $225.00 price point, it is hard to beat. The company is very active in porting Android to the tablet, it is already running Ice Cream Sandwich, or you can run 2.3. It is sleek and durable, and Google Play friendly. I gave each of my 5 daughters one for Christmas, and they can kill a block of cement. The ZPads are still going strong, the girls use them for hours and hours. Check it out, it isn't the Asus, which is a great tablet, but then again, I got two of these for only a few dollars more than one Asus. Bang for Buck, these can't be beat.
    john@...
  • Missing the point much?

    I've already got an Android phone, and plan to "upgrade" from my current HTC Desire G7 to the Samsung Galaxy 3 next month. As Android is the world's most popular Smartphone, this makes me "part of the majority". When I bought a tablet recently, it wasn't therefore to "give me access to the world of Android" - I already HAVE that access (and have had it since owning an HTC G1 "Dream") What I wanted was... a bigger screen. Good battery life was important too. So I bought a MIPS-powered Ainol Novo7 "Paladin". It measures almost exactly the same as a standard paperback book, and the lack of "100% compatibility" seems a fair trade-off against absolutely amazing battery life. The screen is perfect for reading e-books, or watching movies (it's big enough to read subtitles, too). No GPS... but I've GOT that on my phone - which can also be used as a "WiFi Hotspot". My tablet cost me around HALF what the cheapest model in your review goes for.... Which is what makes me ask the question about "Missing the point".
    BigRonW
    • I'm glad it's working for you

      I bought the Novo 7 Advanved and it has been less than stellar on the ICS upgrade. I will probably try to roll it back to 2.3. I also have seen issues with getting Market apps. Buth it was very inexpensive at $140.00 Just my $0.02
      fldbryan@...
    • As you say.... depends what you want.

      As an Asus and iPad owner though I would definitely say folk need to know what they want to do with their tablet. You're OK, and I'm OK, but many folk will buy a cheaper model expecting it to do the same as an iPad. It wont! If you want your stuff to synch like an iPad and retain your music etc then it has to be an ipad and the dreaded itunes. I've tried some of the others and its way too much effort, and I just synch a folder to my Asus (but that then involves duplication).

      All I would say to folk is think it through first. If you dont need it on the road then forget 3G etc and get a cheaper WiFi only device (tether to a phone for the odd use) BUT do get a device that does ALL you want or you'll feel short-changed. List what you think you need and compare the platforms... and remember many Android devices will be stuck with their OS. If it's 2.3 it may well only ever be 2.3.
      pjmckay
  • Why is the iPad so popular?

    Aspect ratio. The 16:9 aspect ratio used by Android just isn't right for a tablet. People would rather have a 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio for displaying pictures, and reading text. It is just more pleasant, and more adaptable.
    rphunter42
    • For pictures maybe, but for other media not a chance..

      I admit, the 4:3 ratio is great for pictures. But in today's day and age of multimedia and MOVING pictures, Apple should be ashamed that they've allowed 3 generations of iPad to come and go, and not give people what they want - a 16:9 tablet that allows them to watch their movies the way they were meant to be seen.

      No thanks, I'll stick with my Prime..
      Papamambo
      • the way they were meant to be seen?

        Movies are meant to be seen on a screen the size of a wall, not some puny hand-held.
        john-whorfin