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The IdeaPad K1 makes a strong case for itself with its usability enhancements and snappy design. The inaccessibility of the microSD card slot, the poor speakers, and the tablet’s relative heft are all drawbacks, but may be minor inconveniences given the value you get with its useful preloaded apps and 32GB of storage for $500.

The IdeaPad K1 is one of two new tablets from Lenovo, each with the same processing guts and the same size of displays, but with very different physical designs. While the ThinkPad Tablet is boxy and in basic black, the IdeaPad is contoured, with metallic edges and your choice of a black, white, or red plastic back.

Inside, the IdeaPad packs features that have quickly become standard for Honeycomb tablets: Android version 3.1, a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, and 1GB of memory. The front face is a 10.1-inch, 1280-by-800-pixel display, with a generous black border around it.

The display looked good overall, on a par with the Toshiba Thrive‘s and the Motorola Xoom‘s (which are good but not outstanding), and I found that on some images, the IdeaPad had better color saturation. The viewing angle was actually a bit better than that of the Thrive, likely because the air gap between the display and the outer glass is smaller on the IdeaPad than it is on the Thrive. I did note the fine-line grid of the touch sensors, though, and found its presence distracting on many of this Lenovo unit’s screens–particularly on white backgrounds. The grid looked identical to what I’ve seen on the Thrive and the Xoom, among others.

We’ll update this review with our full PCWorld Lab test results–including battery life and recharge times, and the performance and display tests–as soon as those results are ready.

IdeaPad: Design Maven

Outside, the IdeaPad has a stylish, distinctive design. It measures 10.4 by 7.4 by 0.5 inches, making it noticeably wider (by more than half an inch) than the Thrive, and about as wide as the Apple iPad 2 (which has a 4:3 aspect ratio, compared with the IdeaPad’s 16:10 ratio).

The IdeaPad’s design favors a landscape orientation. A 2-megapixel front-facing camera is centered atop the display; a micro-HDMI port, a headphone jack, and a docking port run along the bottom edge; and power and volume buttons, screen-rotation lock, and a microSD card slot run along the left side. This is a healthy number of inputs for a tablet–it’s more than what we’ve seen on many others–but not as many as what’s on the sibling ThinkPad tablet, or on the input-laden Thrive. One oblong, central home button is to the right of the display (if it’s held in landscape; at the bottom if held in portrait). At back, you’ll find the 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash–an uncommon feature in tablets.

IdeaPad Makes Android Work Better

With the IdeaPad K1, Lenovo takes a middle-of-the-road approach. The company has clearly reimagined Android 3.x, through a mix of widgets and overlays. The result is very appealing, with useful and innovative tweaks.

Lenovo’s enhancements are evident from the moment you first boot up the tablet. Front and center on the main screen is the Lenovo Launcher, four big, finger-friendly buttons designed around the core features you’ll likely use your tablet for–watch, e-mail, listen, and read. At the center sits a globe for jumping into the Web browser.

Each of the four launcher buttons–or “zones,” as Lenovo refers to them–can be customized to start the software of your choice. It comes preconfigured with some unusual choices (Slacker Radio as the default for Listen, instead of Google’s Music app?), but at least each of these can be changed to whatever you want. You can even change the browser launch in the middle to be a photo or slideshow–nifty, handy, and well-designed. And you can disable the pop-up Lenovo messages that give usage tips and promo software.

The default home screen also has plenty of other Lenovo customizations. You’ll find widget icons for screen lock you can put the device to sleep without hitting a physical button), and for muting sound and microphone with a single touch; a link to Lenovo’s App Shop (more on that in a moment); and an overhaul of Honeycomb’s standard basic home navigation buttons.

Along the system bar at bottom, you’ll notice that Honeycomb’s faint line-art buttons have been replaced by clear, deeply outlined buttons. The obtuse-looking native Honeycomb back button is now a clear back arrow (think of the “less than” symbol), and the “recent apps” button is sharper, and dubbed “layers” by Lenovo.

Go into layers, and you now have the ability to close a recently opened app–a terrific addition, given that Android 3.1 increased the number of recent items that appear from a set amount (dependent upon the tablet’s orientation) to a seemingly infinite number. Other changes include adding quick-access controls for additional oft-used settings like Bluetooth (a welcome addition), GPS, and e-mail sync; just tap the time/settings panel in the system bar, and the new pop-up appears.

Speaking of home screens, Lenovo lets you choose which of the five screens is your default home screen, and gives additional custom controls over editing and rearranging screens.

In addition to its Launcher widget, Lenovo also has its own social networking hub. The Social Touch app, built for Lenovo, integrates Twitter, Facebook, mail, Gmail, and calendar access into a single timeline feed that you can view by contact, date, or time; the timeline can be further separated for work life, home life, and your commute time, no less. While one has to wonder if every tablet maker really needs to include a social networking aggregator (Samsung will have one, too), it’s nice to see Lenovo trying to innovate here, even if the result currently is visually uninspiring and crashes often. Not included is Google+, at least for now.

One reason IdeaPad users may gravitate to the Social Launcher: It’s an app designed for tablet use. While the inclusion of over 30 apps on the IdeaPad may seem as if bloatware from PCs is migrating to this new category, it’s actually a good thing for several reasons. For one, there are enough useful inclusions here–a full version of Documents to Go, a suite of ArcSoft imaging apps, a file manager, and Netflix–that a new owner can get started without having to start searching for apps first.

One thing with Lenovo’s gaggle of apps that I wasn’t keen on: I found a lot of duplication, without a clear understanding of similar apps’ value. For example, I get why you’d want to have Google’s Music app along with Amazon MP3 (complete with access to the cloud service), mSpot ( a service for syncing up to 5GB of your music to the cloud), and even Slacker Radio. But why have another, unnamed Music app–whose purpose appears identical to Google’s own app?

That said, the software bundle impressed me. For productivity and utilities, Lenovo includes: ArcSoft Gallery, with image organizing capabilities and linkage to ArcSoft’s Workshop image editor; ArcSoft PhotoStudio Paint (one of the rare trial versions I encountered); chúng tôi Drawing Pad; Documents to Go; PrinterShare; ArcSoft Movie Story; a file manager; and Norton Mobile Security (90-day trial). For entertainment, the featured apps are: Netflix–a first on tablets; mSpot Movies (for rentals); Zinio Reader; Amazon Kindle; an e-reader for viewing sideloaded books; and a video player. Games include Galaxy on Fire 2 THD, NFS Shift (trial version), Angry Birds HD, HW Solitaire SE (and several other HW game apps), Warships, Talking Tom, Arcade by Kongregate, and Vendetta Online (trial version).

I occasionally ran into “force close” requests from Android–not enough for me to say that the IdeaPad was unstable, but more than I encountered in casual use of several other recent tablets (and as many as in some early tablets). That, coupled with a glitch that kept me from copying some photos (the tablet was reporting itself as disconnected from my PC), marred my otherwise smooth experiences with the IdeaPad. Lenovo is looking into the copying glitch I encountered, but it didn’t have an answer as to why it occurred.

Bottom Line

In a sea of Android tablets, the IdeaPad K1 stands out. It makes a strong case for itself with its usability enhancements and its snappy design. The inaccessibility of the microSD card slot, the poor speakers, and the unit’s relative heft are all drawbacks, but they may be minor inconveniences, given the value you get with the useful preloaded apps and the 32GB of storage for about $500.

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Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 Hd+ Hands

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ hands-on

This week the folks at Lenovo have revealed the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+, and today we’re getting out first hands-on experience with the machine. This device is easily the finest tablet the company has put forth thus far with Android aboard, rolling with a three-mode delivery with a 10.1-inch “20/20 Vision” Full HD (that’s 1080p) display to boot. This device also rolls with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor under the hood.

This device’s display is quite nice – coming up with 1920 x 1020 pixels up front, you’ll have automatic adjustments to your lighting conditions on the go. Thus far we’ve seen the tablet turning dim or bright based on the very tiny lighting variations we’ve got here in the test room with Lenovo in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress 2014 – rather impressive from the start.

This machine is made to be a stand-alone tablet as well as a do-everything slate. With an 8-megapixel camera at its back, you can use this as a go-anywhere shooter, but you can also kick out this machine’s kickstand to hold, tilt, or stand it up like the previously-released Lenovo Yoga Pad 8 and 10. As we’ve seen with the previously-released 10, this makes the tablet an entirely travel-friendly device for long trips as well as normal everyday usage.

This machine takes what the original Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 was and makes it a whole lot better, kicking out a much better display resolution whilst keeping the original’s long-lasting battery. While we’ll have to review this new device at length to get the full story, for now we’ve got Lenovo’s promise that it’ll last 18 hours a charge.

We’re also excited about the new Smart Cover for this tablet, starting in on the original from the first Yoga Tablet 10 but here coming with a more premium look and feel. This cover fits over the tablet’s display for transport, if you wish, and has a Bluetooth-connected keyboard. You’ll also be able to charge this keyboard cover up with a basic microUSB cord.

This device is also outfitted with a number of software features that’ll connect it with the devices around it. These apps include SHAREit, SECUREit, SYNCit, SNAPit Camera, and SEEit Gallery.

With SHAREit, users will be able to send media between devices with a local wi-fi network with extreme ease. With SECUREit, you’ll have an app that’s all about data protection, preventing threats and keeping the tablet run at optimum performance.

With SYNCit, we’ve seen this device back up and restore contacts, SMS messages, and call logs for transfer to another device. This is especially helpful if you’re switching from an old tablet to the new Lenovo tablet with ease.

With SNAPit Camera, users are able to roll out with photo effects that work with live preview. SNAPit Camera Gallery also works with facial recognition and a number of skin-tone enhancements and “face lift” features that work instantly.

We’ll be seeing a full review of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ some time between here and April, while this machine will be available to the world starting in April with a friendly $349 USD price tag.

Ipad Air Vs Xperia Z2 Tablet Comparison Review

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

Ultimately it is a matter of personal preference. Both these tablets stand head and shoulders above the rest of the 10in tablet world. They are thin and light, well made, designed and built. They offer great displays and excellent performance, decent cameras and so on. and they are priced the same. The main difference is that the iPad Air runs iOS7 and the Xperia Z2 Tablet runs Google’s Android OS. Both have their supporters – which one are you?

The iPad no longer has the tablet market to itself. As 7in Androids such as the  Nexus 7 and  Tesco Hudl offer cheaper but acceptable alternatives to the iPad mini, market share declines even as tablet sales go up. But the iPad Air remains the king of the 10in tablet in the premium space… until now. Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet changes things.

This is a premium tablet priced to match the iPad Air. And it doesn’t look out of place in such rarified company. the Xperia Z2 Tablet is thinner and lighter than the iPad Air, appears to be a better performer, and is waterproof and dustproof. So should you choose the Xperia Z2 Tablet over the iPad Air? Read our iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison to find out.

For more on both read our individual reviews: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: slim, light, powerful Android tablet is best iPad Air alternative and iPad Air review – latest iPad is great, but is the iPad still the best tablet? For a wider view of the tablet market, read: best tablets of 2014.

iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: UK price

The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet and the iPad Air both retail with a starting price of £399 for the 16GB WiFi-only model. In the case of the Xperia Z2 Tablet this scales up to £449 for the 32GB WiFi only model, and £499 for the 16GB LTE model. There’s no 32GB tablet with cellular connectivity, or anything with bigger storage.

The 32GB Wi-Fi iPad Air costs £30 more at £479. The 16GB LTE Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet costs the same as Apple’s equivalent iPad. Apple does offer a 32GB cellular model, at £579. Other options include 64GB and 128GB Wi-Fi only- and cellular iPad Airs. These range from £559 for the 64GB Wi-Fi iPad, up to £739 for a 128GB Wi-Fi and cellular iPad Air.

So there is more variety in the iPad Air range, but if you want a 32GB Wi-Fi-only tablet the Xperia Z2 Tablet is cheaper. One other thing to consider: a quick online search suggests that if you shop around you can get the Xperia Z2 Tablet cheaper than you can the iPad Air. But it’s marginal. Price is not a key differential when considering whether to buy the iPad air or Xperia Z2 Tablet. (See also: best Android tablets of 2014.)

iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: build quality, design

Let’s look at the Sony, first. Straight out of the box we are smitten by the Xperia Z2 Tablet. It is the thinnest and lightest 10in tablet you can buy – noticably thinner and lighter than the iPad Air, which is itself famously easy to hold and carry. The Wi-Fi Xperia Z2 Tablet weighs just 426g – or 439g if you opt for the LTE version.

It’s exceptionally thin, too, at just 6.4mm. Again, that’s thinner than the iPad Air (and any other 7in or 10in tablet you can name).

And it matters, not just for reasons of tablet oneupmanship. Holding the Xperia Z2 Tablet feels great, despite the large, 10.1in display, and for lengthy periods of time in standing, sitting and lying positions. Previously we have preferred 7in tablets such as the Nexus 7 or iPad mini, simply because the bigger tablets feel to bulky to hold when watching movies or reading books. But you could spend hours using the Xperia Z2 Tablet without wrist-strain, even when reading in bed. That’s a big win.

It doesn’t, of course, solve the problem of having to carry your 10in tab in a bag where a Kindle-sized 7-incher can slip into a coat pocket – but the trade off of larger screen to weight and bulk feels like a deal worth making with the Xperia Z2.

And you can just sling this tablet into a bag, too. The Xperia Z2 Tablet is waterproof and dust resistant. It’s built to last and feels so, constructed principally of metal and glass, but with a rubbery outer coat around the back and on the corners. That rear cover provides grip but does get grubby with fingerprints, though.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and your views may differ, but we think the Xperia 2 Tablet is a good-looking device, too. It’s a simple, stylish device. A slice of black or white tech sharing the same rounded corners and metal frame as the Sony Xperia Z2 smartphone but – to our eyes at least – looking somewhat smarter for larger scale. Our complaint is functional rather than stylistic, in that the bezel is a little larger than we would like. We presume that this is a trade-off in return for the incredible thinness (not a phrase ever used about your author). (See also: 10 best tablets for children.)

It’s available in black or white. We tested – and prefer – the black Xperia Tablet Z2.

The iPad Air is primarily a portrait-mode tablet in 3:4 aspect ratio, yet one that works well on its side in landscape. Contrast this with successive Google Android tablets that take a 16:9 widescreen, a shape that’s better for video but when used for reading webpages or ebooks in portrait you get an overly tall narrow window.

When we first tried the new iPad Air we though it quite widescreen in appearance, not unlike a 16:9 device. The proportions didn’t look right any more – by slimming the edges but not the sides, the tablet looked too tall, not so aesthetically ‘right’.

Foremost, the iPad Air is about lightness. We tried a 128GB iPad with 4G modem and on the scales this – the heaviest possible version of the iPad Air – does weigh just 478g, and is only 7.5mm thick. If you’ve used any previous full-size iPad, you’ll notice immediately the transformation from that circa-650g weight. But pick up the Xperia Z2 Tablet and you’ll notice further lightness.

In general handling, the iPad Air is very light none the less. Yet we found the shape and feel much less tactile than the shape of the iPad 2, 3 and 4, with their gently curved radiuses at the rear and smooth snag-free edges around the front. The iPad Air has harder, less well finished edges which may add more purchase to the fingers but make it less satisfying to handle.

You will decide which you prefer to look at based on subjective critera. But we prefer the Sony based on comfort when holding it, and it is dust- and waterproof. (See also: 10 best budget tablets of 2014.)

iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: display

The design of both of these tablets is of course built around a 10in display. It’s the bit you’ll be looking at, so let’s take a closer look right now.

The Xperia Z2 Tablet in fact sports a full HD 10.1in display. This packs a whopping 1920×1200-pixel resolution, giving it a pixel density of 224ppi. That’s up there with some pretty decent smartphones, but not quite as sharp as the market-leading iPad Air. It’s an IPS display and the aspect ratio is 16:10, so viewing angles are good but there is a little screen space under utilised when watching movies.

Sony tells us that the Xperia Z2’s display has been given a colour boost thanks to TRILUMINOS and Live Colour LED – designed to increase the colour accuracy, depth and gradation. Which is nice.

Of course, all that is so much window dressing. What matters is that we found the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s display to be simply stunning. It displays crisp, vivid colours. Watching TV and movies is great. Photos are faithfully reproduced with great clarity but not too much colour as you sometimes find with OLED displays on smartphones. And text documents are sharp, even when you zoom in.

The Xperia Z2 Tablet’s touchscreen responsive in use, bar the almost imperceptible lag that is found on all Android devices when compared directly with their iOS equivalents. And from our initial roughhouse tests at least it seems reasonably immune to scratching. Our only complaint was that the display was all but impossible to see in natural daylight.

The iPad Air is primarily a portrait-mode tablet in 3:4 aspect ratio, yet one that works well on its side in landscape. When we first tried the new iPad Air we thought it quite widescreen in appearance, not unlike a 16:9 device. The proportions didn’t look right any more – by slimming the edges but not the sides, the tablet looked too tall, not so aesthetically ‘right’.

The iPad Air screen is in essence unchanged since the first iPad with Retina display – a 9.7in capacitive touchscreen using IPS technology which delivers rich, faithful colours and clear viewing from any angle.

Strictly speaking it is a 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit MultiTouch display. And that IPS display is blessed with fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating.

That 2048×1536 resolution makes for a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch (ppi). You may find the odd tablet that is sharper, and certainly a few smartphones, but when you look at the iPad Air’s display you see only a vibrant and sharp display. And it is sharper than the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s screen, although both displays show even detailed text in fine detail.

We’re going to call this a draw. The iPad is sharper but smaller, and we prefer the aspect ratio of the Sony tablet. But both are great displays.

iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: specification, performance

As you would expect at the premium end of the market the Xperia Z2 Tablet is blessed with a strong specification. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz – the same chip as the superfast Xperia Z2 smartphone. This is a Krait 400 CPU with which you get Adreno 320 graphics. It’s paired with 3GB RAM.

Other key specs include a massive 6000mAh battery, and a MicroSD slot so you can add up to 64GB of storage. Our 16GB model had 11.2GB available to use out of the box.

It all adds up to a beast of a tablet. Despite the thin and light shell the Xperia Z2 Tablet is a snappy performer. We’ll get into synthetic benchmarks in a moment, but the most important thing to say is that you will find the Z2 Tablet fast and responsive. As fast and responsive as any Android device we have used, even when placed under load.

Benchmarks are fun because they give you an idea of where a tablet or smartphone ranks against its rival, but take them with a pinch of salt. They are synthetic test designed to give you a number, not hard-and-fast rankings. None the less, the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s benchmark performance backs up our subjective experience of a superfast tablet – mostly.

The exception was the SunSpider Javascript test from which we got a decent but not amazing average score of 1099ms. Lower is better in this test which measures your browser’s ability to handle Javascript, and the iPad Air blitzes the Xperia Z2 Tablet with a score a little faster than 400ms. We have to say that we found web browsing on the Xperia Z2 tablet a joyous experience, and only occasionally laggy. But this is one to chalk up to the iPad.

We ran a GFXBench test to benchmark graphics performance. In the T-Rex (onscreen) test we got our best ever tablet result of 1,530 frames at 27fps (averaged over three runs). The Xperia Z2 Tablet will chew up and spit out even the most demanding Android games, and beats out the iPad Air which averaged 1,187 and 21fps.

And then there is GeekBench 3. This is a somewhat controversial all-round benchmark as some Android manufacturers have been accused of designing their devices to perform abnormally well in this test. (Allegations they almost all deny, by the way.) So make of this what you will, but the Xperia Z2 Tablet smashed GeekBench 3 to bits in our tests. It returned an average single-core result of 967, a more important multi-core score of 2719. That’s the fastest multi-core result we’ve ever got from a 10in tablet, comparing well with the iPad Air’s 2703 points in multi-core mode; and 1487 points for a single core.

All you can really take from this is the fact that the Xperia Z2 Tablet is a fast and responsive tablet. It really is. But then so is the iPad Air as can be seen by those excellent synthetic benchmark results. It runs an A7 processor clocked at 1.39GHz, paired with 1GB RAM.

We’re a little troubled by the sometimes unsmooth interface. This is a general criticism of iOS 7 but one we didn’t expect to see on the latest iPad with bestest-yet graphics processor.

Most apparent with app zooming, when you open or close an app and return to the home screen, we saw jittery animations. It’s not always apparent, and we suspect many people will probably not notice, let alone be troubled by it. Elsewhere in text scrolling and pinch-to-zoom actions there were no such issues, as free and fluid as ever.

If you trust benchmarks you will say the Xperia Z2 Tablet is the faster performer in most but not all respects. If not, we are happy to report that both the iPad Air and the Xperia Z2 Tablet are at the pinnacle of tablet performance. Both are great in use with only occasional lag.

iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: camera

Both also have pretty good cameras, particularly for tablets. Pick up the Xperia Z2 Tablet and you’ll find an 8.1Mp camera around the back. This has autofocus and captures 3264 x 2448 pixel images which look good on the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s display. Additional features include Exmor RS for mobile, which is designed to help users take good-looking shots in any light, as well as geo-tagging, touch focus, face- and smile detection, HDR and a panorama. The rear-facing camera captures 1080p video at 30fps.

Up front there is a 2Mp webcam for selfies and video chat.

The iPad Air has a rear-facing 5Mp iSight camera, with f2.4 aperture. On the front is a 1.2Mp HD webcam. The former takes full-HD video. The front-facing camera is a 720p video camera for FaceTime and Skype. We found night-time Skype calls were more clearly lit than before.

You won’t be buying the iPad Air or the Xperia Z2 Tablet as your main camera. But if you take photos and video with your tablet you won’t be disappointed. Both are solid performers in this respect, no better than they ought to be. You can find more detail in our individual Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: slim, light, powerful Android tablet is best iPad Air alternative and iPad Air review – latest iPad is great, but is the iPad still the best tablet? articles.

iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: software

This is the classic iOS vs Android battle: in this case iOS7 for the iPad Air vs Android KitKat for the Xperia Z2 Tablet.

Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet runs Android 4.4 KitKat, with relatively little customisation. It does have Sony’s user interface over the top of vanilla Android. It’s a stylish customisation that thankfully doesn’t take over the OS in the way that Samsung’s and HTC’s do.

KitKat is Google’s best ever tablet OS. Feature rich, easy to use and good to look at. It offers full access to the Google Play app- and media stores, as well as Sony’s own stores and apps.

You can simply mount the Xperia Z2 Tablet as external storage on your PC, but Sony also provides software to make pairing and synching a little easier.

Flip over to the iPad Air and iOS looks fresh and modern, with features that help keep it on a par with (if not ahead of) Android.

However, iOS 7 still lacks customisation, so anyone hoping for Android-style widgets, or merely the ability to change the default keyboard, will be disappointed.

Apple’s walled-garden approach hasn’t changed, and that’s largely a good thing. You can’t install apps except through the App Store, which means tight security and less piracy.

It’s interesting that Microsoft ditched transparency in Windows 8, since this is a major part of iOS 7. Apple says it helps to orient you, and we can’t help but agree. Overall, iOS 7 is a success.

So should you choose it and the iPad Air rather than the Android-toting Xperia Z2 Tablet? It really is impossible to say. Both are stable and fast, feature-rich operating systems.

You can argue the toss over which offers access to the most tablet-specific apps (it’s iOS), but it is unlikely you will find any major apps missing in either. And although the iTunes media stores are brilliantly easy to use and stocked with the latest tablets, Android offers you access to multiple stores so you can shop around for the best deal.

iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison:  battery life

We haven’t yet had time to properly test the Xperia Z2 Tablet’s battery life and will update this review when we do. Our early experience of using the Z2 Tablet suggest that it won’t be a problem, despite the killer power specs. That 6000mAh battery cell should help. And, according to the company, there’s also the Battery STAMINA mode, designed to prolong battery life. We’ll test it and get back to you.

But the Xperia Z2 Tablet is unlikely to beat out the iPad Air. Battery life here is exemplary, with Apple assuring around 10 hours continuous use, while we found that occasional but steady use meant it could last the best part of a week between charges.

With the caveat that it may change, for now we give the battery life nod to the iPad Air.

iPad Air vs Xperia Z2 Tablet comparison: which should you buy?

Ultimately it is a matter of personal preference. Both these tablets stand head and shoulders above the rest of the 10in tablet world. They are thin and light, well made, designed and built. They offer great displays and excellent performance, decent cameras and so on. and they are priced the same. The main difference is that the iPad Air runs iOS7 and the Xperia Z2 Tablet runs Google’s Android OS. Both have their supporters – which one are you? Find out more about which tablet to buy in our

Specs Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet: Specs

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900

HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 – SGP541, SGP521, SGP551

LTE 700/800/850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600 – SGP521

LTE 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2100 / 2600 – SGP551

Micro-SIM

266 x 172 x 6.4 mm

439 g

TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 1200 x 1920 pixels, 10.1 inches (~224 ppi pixel density), Multitouch

stereo speakers

3.5mm jack

microSD, up to 64 GB

16 GB

3 GB RAM

GPRS

EDGE

HSDPA, 42 Mbps

HSUPA, 5.8 Mbps

LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot

Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP

NFC

microUSB v2.0 (MHL 3)

8.1 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, 1080p@30fps, HDR

2.2 MP, 1080p@30fps

Android OS, v4.4.2 (KitKat)

Qualcomm MSM8974AB Snapdragon 801, Adreno 330

FM radio with RDS

GPS

Non-removable Li-Po 6000 mAh battery

Apple Tablet: What’s The Killer App?

So, today’s the day: Apple is expected to unveil its oft-rumored tablet computer to the world. The growing consensus is that this device will run the iPhone OS or something close to it, have a 7- or 10-inch touchscreen, and be geared towards displaying all kinds of media content including newspapers, magazines, and videos. The tablet will supposedly have a persistent 3G connection similar to the Kindle, but there isn’t a firm consensus on whether or not the device will have Wi-Fi, a camera, or Webcam. But you know, I just can’t help thinking that the closer we get to Apple’s event, the more the tablet sounds like it’s going to be a glorified iPod Touch.

Product Gap Theory

Many tablet prognosticators rely on the theory that Apple’s product lineup is missing something between the iPhone and the 13-inch MacBook. But before the tech world was talking about an Apple tablet, it was talking about an Apple netbook. Non-Apple netbooks have been around for a while, but it really wasn’t until late 2008 and early 2009 that pundits took notice of netbooks as a growing market segment. People loved these mini-laptops because they were cheap, small, and able to run Windows XP.

Just before netbooks became popular, analysts and reporters started asking Apple CEO Steve Jobs whether his company would produce a netbook as other tech companies were starting to do. Jobs’ answer was a resounding no. “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that,” Jobs said in late 2008 during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

In light of the netbook phenomenon, a lot of people were talking up the product gap in Apple’s lineup and convinced something had to go there. So after Jobs poured water on the Apple netbook idea, rumors of a large iPod Touch started emerging. It didn’t take long before the netbook rumor was gone, and tablet madness had gripped tech writers everywhere.

Apple Invasion

The other problem with the tablet is that it’s a big risk for Apple. Well, based on what the tech world thinks it knows about this device anyway. Historically, Apple invades established markets–it does not create them.

Content is Big

I’ve said it, Wired has said it, and many others have also said it: content is going to be key for the tablet. Apple is expected to unveil on Wednesday, alongside the tablet, new formats of print media that will supposedly revitalize the publishing industry. Most pundits are saying Apple will deliver these new forms of content via the iTunes Store. But if that’s the case, will this content be accessible on other devices? If content is king it wouldn’t make much sense to restrict new media formats to the tablet, but open them up to as many platforms as possible.

Back to Square One

So is there something more to the tablet than all these worn out rumors? Does Apple have a secret up its sleeve that nobody’s been able to discern, leak, or predict? CrunchGear has an interesting breakdown of supposed tablet specs leaked by tech entrepreneur Jason Calcanis.

The most recent Apple events have been ruined by a slew of rumors that leave little to the imagination by the time Jobs & Co. hit the stage. But this time, there just has to be something more to this device than we’ve already heard. Don’t you think so?

Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).

How To Create A Tablet

There’s a reason every office building, mall and hotel has a permanent map as soon as you walk in: People want their information relevant, easily digestible and accurate, and there’s no better way to introduce them to your space than by providing exactly what they’re looking for.

And tablet-based kiosks can do much more than any static display ever could. Whether presenting information in multiple languages, using touchscreen menus to quickly navigate a wealth of information, or even hosting a face-to-face call with someone who can provide greater assistance, tablets make it easy and uncomplicated to create an informative, user-friendly experience, which has become increasingly important today.

How do you make all this work? Here are four key steps to creating a tablet-based kiosk.

1. Define objectives

It’s OK to start with a vague initial thought: “I want a map,” or “We need a product catalog,” or “Our daily schedule doesn’t meet our needs.” But before you go any further, you need to lay out a clear vision of what the end result is going to look like.

An information kiosk usually presents a seamless interface and runs a single application, so your definition doesn’t need to be complicated — and shouldn’t be, because complicated kiosks are not very successful. It’s easier if you have a single application already selected, but it’s not required. Because modern tablets are based on modern browsers, building a web-based application for a kiosk is not a major undertaking.

In some cases, you may want to set up a multi-app kiosk, which allows managers or users to cycle between two or more specific functions with locked-down settings — for example, your company app plus a web browser that can only access your corporate website. As you expand your kiosk’s apps and settings, keep in mind the more you have, the more complex your configuration will be. Beginning in June 2023, Samsung Knox Configure officially introduced support for multi-app kiosk setups — which can streamline the process of creating and maintaining this type of arrangement for your business.

But whether you have one app or several, it’s important to be specific and clear. Be sure to answer these five questions:

What specific information will the kiosk present, and how will that leverage the kiosk’s interactive power? For example, event information might be the starting point, but a map and directions might be the very next thing guests want to see.

What kinds of users will engage with this kiosk? Also establish a rough idea of the number of users, because kiosks usually only service a single user at a time. This helps in planning the number of stations.

Where will the information be stored and updated? Ideally, a kiosk will be connected to an online system using Wi-Fi (or Ethernet if necessary) that provides constantly updated information. Standalone tablet-based kiosks don’t deliver the kinds of information people are accustomed to getting today, and will take more effort to keep updated.

How much time will they spend at the kiosk? When you define the time window, whether it’s “10 seconds” or “10 minutes,” you set expectations about the experience at your kiosk.

Will you need special hardware features, such as printers or cameras? If you want anything beyond a touchscreen, get that requirement down on paper early.

2. What should the kiosk look like?

There’s a big industry of companies making specialized mounting hardware to secure tablets of all sizes, which offers a lot of flexibility and options to the implementing team. Do you want something in a standalone cabinet? Mounted to a wall? That a user can carry around? Having a vision of how it should look will help your team select the right mounting system.

A diagonal screen size of around 10 inches is very common, and tablets of that size can be purchased for $250-$500 — although the cost of the tablet itself is not a major part of the whole project (more on that later). Smaller screen sizes, such as the more compact 8-in. tablet are also available, with prices in the $150-$300 range. Larger screens are available as well, both in tablets and as standalone touchscreens, but they do drive up costs.

Keep in mind any special hardware features you might want to use, such as cameras and external printers, and how they will integrate with the kiosk. For example, a kiosk that looks like a traditional lectern won’t offer a particularly pleasing camera angle — you’ll want something that faces the user head-on.

Avoid keyboards, whether real or virtual, which can be frustrating and time-consuming when used for anything longer than two or three words. Mice and styluses should also be eliminated except in controlled environments. Touchscreens with simple tap gestures should be all that’s needed to navigate. This also simplifies the construction of the kiosk and gets information out front, with minimal distractions.

3. What’s the use case?

This step is where the project gets handed from business leader to IT group, because the following steps involve technical implementation. This is also the time to include any special cases or details, such as multiple languages or specific data sources (such as nonkiosk applications) to be used.

It’s important to have the big picture of how the kiosk will fit in with other applications, either in place or in the pipeline. If the kiosk is a natural complement to a mobile application or needs similar branding and user experience, this is the time to get these details on the table. Integration between user mobile devices and the kiosk application can be simple, such as by taking a picture of a QR barcode displayed on the kiosk, if that helps extend or improve the experience.

One great way to hand off the project at this point is to use “persona-based” scenarios. These help explain your vision to the technical team responsible for implementation. Personas are a simple way of presenting different use scenarios, and they help everyone involved in the project get on the same page.

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For example, if you’re creating a catalog kiosk for use in a retail location, you might define “Preshopper Pete,” someone who already knows exactly what he wants when he comes into the store and just needs to get to the right location as quickly as possible. Then there’s “Economical Ellen,” who is interested in knowing where you’ve placed the discounted and marked-down items today. Finally, “Browsing Billie” wants to find a particular department so they can browse items without anything specific in mind.

If the cute persona names and specific flows are too much or don’t fit, don’t worry — the key here is to describe how a user is going to approach the kiosk and get information that is accurate, useful and received as efficiently as possible. You could, for example, just write “a user will walk up to the kiosk, find their event on a list on a single page, touch it and see what room it is in and when it starts and ends, along with a map of how to get there.”

The more time you spend defining what you want now, the better the chance you’ll get it, so get as many details down as possible.

4. Design with a life cycle view

The tendency for IT teams will be to immediately look at hardware and software one-time capital costs: how much the tablets and mounting hardware costs, and the cost to design the application. But these costs are only a small part of the big picture. The real costs are management and maintenance.

From the first moment, converting a standard off-the-shelf Android tablet into a kiosk device, locked and secured, can take hours of effort, and is error-prone even for teams accustomed to dealing with tablets. Thinking about the mundane details of how tablets will be deployed, updated and managed is easily overlooked — and you shouldn’t let that happen.

Fortunately, you’re not the first organization to want to use tablets as an accelerator for a kiosk project. Tablet vendors are building infrastructure beyond just providing tablets — they’re helping with the total life cycle. These cloud-based software tools can grab a device, push a rock-solid configuration to it and define all the critical kiosk features, such as disabling buttons or system management functions, or applying corporate branding.

For example, Samsung’s Knox Configure tool includes “ProKiosk mode,” which provides a list of settings needed to fully turn an Android tablet into a secured and dedicated kiosk device — everything from screen timeouts to audio levels to network definitions to autolaunch of specific applications, and all the settings in between — some of which aren’t even available in the normal operating system GUI. Knox Configure also provides for continuous updating — changing profile settings or updating software as the project moves from development to operations phases.

Using off-the-shelf tablets, mounting hardware and configuration tools such as Knox Configure, you can move quickly and economically from business vision to technical implementation.

Browse Samsung’s range of business tablets to find the perfect size and capabilities for your kiosk. Need help choosing? Take this short, free assessment to find the best tablet for your organization.

Cube Talk 9X Review : Fully Loaded Tablet At An Amazing Price!

Now when it comes to Chinese tablets you will find a lot of cheap stuff on the market right now. Sadly, it is a matter of fact that most of these tabs claim to be the Holy Grail while in fact they are nothing more than half assed devices, with more bugs than you can shake a stick at. Unfortunately this is probably the reason why most gadgets lovers aren’t so in love with the whole Chinese tablet market.

Once in a while, there will be a manufacturer who does manage to create a little gem, which works as promised and is well worth the investment.

Again we turn to Cube, who have been doing a lot this year to prove that they are one of the top Chinese Android tablet contenders out their. But is their $192 Cube Talk 9X up to the same standards as their other devices, and more importantly is this a tablet we would recommend?

Cube Talk 9X Review: iPad

feeling

for the cheap

Cube made huge promises for the Talk 9X, claiming it to be just 7.5mm thin. We have seen before that Chinese manufactures like to fib a little when it comes to dimensions, but in this case Cube hold true to their word. Holding the 9.7-inch tablet in your hands proves that it does feel thin, exactly 7.5mm with the rear camera, and even tapers off to only 6.5mm. Although thin it is hardly light at 560g, but this is partly due to the large display and party through the use of alloy rather than plastic for the body.

Cube Talk 9X Review: For indoor use only

Boasting a 9.7-inch IPS OGS panel with a whopping resolution of 2.048 x 1.536, the Cube Talk 9X is really shows what Chinese manufacturers can do on a budget. So on paper we do have a great panel, and for indoor use colors are vivid and the overall image quality is very crisp, but it certainly does lack a little contrast and – more important – brightness. Trying to use this tablet under direct sunlight will seriously impact the readability. Another downside is the digitizer used in here, which isn’t as sensitive as we would’ve liked it to be. Typing on-screen can be a real pain if you as you need to remember to put enough pressure for each tap to properly register.

Cube Talk 9X Review: Performance monster

The Cube Talk 9X comes equipped with a Mediatek MT8392 chipset. This octa-core SoC feature 8 ARM Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.7GHz and a Mali 450MP GPU. Seems familiar? Yes, this SoC is the tablet-optimized version of the MT6592 phone SoC.

To beginning with, we were a little worried, as it seemed unlikely this chipset could handle a 2k screen very well. Luckily we’ve been proven wrong with the tablet working remarkably well throughout the test. The Cube Talk 9X really is a potent tablet and proof that Mediatek know how to make a tablet SoC.

Comparing the performance of the Cube Talk 9X to a similar device running the popular Rockchips RK3188, and well there isn’t much of a comparisons! The Mediatek chip offers a smoother overall experience. It even beats the Onda V989 with Allwinner’s new ARM Cortex A80T!

2GB of RAM means there is no way a bottleneck and offers sufficient memory for pretty much every task you expect of the tablet. This is yet another proof for the fact that software optimization is far more important than an impressive spec-sheet.

Talking about optimization: While Cube did a good job with this in terms of performance, they somehow didn’t in terms of compatibility. The tablet is incompatible with quite a few apps, which is extremely annoying. While some apps that aren’t displayed in the Play Store can indeed be installed and ran through a third party service, the tablet really fails with some important apps like Chrome and Opera, which crash upon loading a website. We hope that Cube is going to fix that with a future software update.

The software part still features some more positive parts though. The most important one probably being the fact that Cube left Android 4.4.2 mostly untouched. They only went for their own launcher, while the remaining items is pure stock. Another nice feature is that there is almost no pre-installed bloatware, leaving you with plenty of free memory thanks to the 16GB of ROM. Not enough? Plug in your micro SD card and you are good to go for more content.

Cube Talk 9X Review: The wireless Allrounder

To find an octacore tablet with 2K at this price is pretty impressive, to find that it packs built-in 3G and a GPS is just plain amazing! With 3G access you can load up Google Maps and use the Cube Talk 9X as a large navigation system, or even a travel companion finding new places of interest. 3G, and full service support means you can even leave your phone at home and use the Cube as a huge phablet making phone calls!

For home and coffee shop use, fast Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, is included which is quite the improvement compared to previous Cube tablets we tested previously which suffered from poor WIFI. And yes, Bluetooth is supported and working fine too and allows you to connect a keyboard for better productivity or headphones for relaxing.

Cube Talk 9X Review: Are you an entertainer?

Having such a huge tablet with a high-res screen, you of course want to use it for some decent video and audio fun within the comfort of your home. As long as you keep this down to 1080p videos and audio enjoyment through headphones, you won’t be disappointed. But please do not expect 4k video playback. The SoC just can’t cater this demand.

Internal speakers are a huge let down, providing lots of distortion and no bass. The only workaround for this are good headphones, or connection to a sound bar, amp etc.

Cube Talk 9X Review: Did we talk about the cam yet?

So far the Cube Talk 9X has delivered a lot for the money and overall has done a good job, so how do the cameras perform? Cube says the Talk 9X comes with an 8 mega pixel rear camera along with an LED flash and a 2 mega pixel shooter on the front. In fact the rear camera only has a real resolution of 5 mega pixels and while the LED flash is nice to have, it isn’t quite bright enough to be of much use. Overall the camera quality on both the front and the rear is acceptable, but nothing more. Don’t expect to take your next vacation pictures with this one. Well, you probably wouldn’t anyway considering the sheer size of this tablet. Overall the camera quality is very similar to the one we’ve seen on the iPad 2.

Cube Talk 9X: A battery to die for

Best of all you can squeeze out even more depending on the usage and how you try to save energy. The maximum we managed to squeeze out of this cell is 11 hours of battery life. Playing games non-stop will result in 5 hours of battery life. Still quite incredible, isn’t it?

Of course you pay a  high price for such a high-capacity battery: Charging does take an age. 5 to 6 hours depending on if you use the tablet to charge or if you continue to use it while plugged in.

Cube Talk 9X: Conclusion

If you are looking for a cheap Android tablet which offers some high-end level specs, this one probably is one of the best choices next to the affordable Intel-based Ramos i-series tablets. The Cube Talk 9X offers unbeivable build quality and performance for only $192, which easily makes it one of the best tablet deals from the far-east. It has some bugs for sure, which probably prevent it from being the ultimate solution for everyone, but for us and most likely for a lot of you as well, it still remains a very good large screen tablet with great mobile connectivity..

Pros

Amazingly thin design

Very solid

Good screen for indoor use

Surprisingly good performance

3G and GPS support

Phone calls support

Large internal memory which is expandable using a micro SD card

OTG and MHL support

Very long battery life

Low price

Cons

Bad screen for outdoor use

Software incompatibility

Long charging time

Bad screen sensitivity

No dedicated HDMI port

Bad audio quality (internal speakers)

Thanks to eFox-Shop for providing us with this interesting review device.

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