Friday, November 29, 2013

Quinton’s geeky holiday device buying guide (Part 2)


I know you’ve all been on pins-and-needles waiting for the second installment of my little device buying guide.  In this episode, I’ll cover a couple more tablets.

I hope these guides are helping somebody out there—if you have questions, or some feedback, post in the comments below!

Microsoft Surface 2

The Surface 2 is a lot like the original Surface RT,

but with better everything.  The screen is better, it’s lighter, the speakers are better, it’s more responsive, and recent updates to Windows RT really do a lot to increase overall usability.

Here’s the kicker: the original Surface RT is actually a decent tablet, with solid specs and build quality.  So the Surface 2 is a nice improvement over a product that was already pretty good.

There are two reasons that the Surface isn’t higher up on my list:

    It’s a little unwieldy.  This has mostly to do with the aspect ratio (16:9 versus the typical 16:10).  It’s a little wider and shorter in landscape than your average Android tablet (16:10), and Apple uses 4:3 which is more square-ish.  It’s also a little heavier than average (though lighter than the RT).
    The current Windows RT app selection is a little limited (though growing fast).  Microsoft has also locked 3rd party web browsers out of Windows RT, which I do not like at all.

That being said, if you’re fine using Internet Explorer all the time, and you want a tablet that grants you a whole lot of excellent productivity options (the best out there, really), the Surface 2 is where it’s at.  The price is not cheap, but reasonable at $450.  If the tech geek on your list has a serious need for heavy word processing and other officey type things, then you can’t really beat the Surface as a tablet option.

Honorable mention: Sony Xperia Tablet Z

 

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z gets an honorable mention because it’s a great tablet that also happens to be water resistant.  Yup, that’s right; you can have this out in the rain and not really worry about it.  It’s a much more useful feature than you might think, and it means that the Tablet Z is pretty resilient.

In fact, if it weren’t for the price (starting at $449 on sale), I’d have probably picked this as my second or third recommendation.  It has a good screen (1920 x 1200 for around 224 ppi), and a decent processor (Snapdragon S4 Pro), but neither make it top of the line.  That’s my gripe—the Tablet Z is priced as a top of the line machine (the 32 GB model is $550).  If they were charging $400 and $450 for the 16 GB and 32 GB model respectively, this tablet would be a great buy.

What, no iPad?

Visit next week for a review of the iPads. Both the mini with retina display and the Air are solid devices, but I personally prefer the tablets above.  If you’re buying for a big Apple fan, or that special someone on your list already has a lot invested in Apple products, then stay tuned.

The Sony Xperia Tablet Z gets an honorable mention because it’s a great tablet that also happens to be water resistant.  Yup, that’s right; you can have this out in the rain and not really worry about it.  It’s a much more useful feature than you might think, and it means that the Tablet Z is pretty resilient.

In fact, if it weren’t for the price (starting at $449 on sale), I’d have probably picked this as my second or third recommendation.  It has a good screen (1920 x 1200 for around 224 ppi), and a decent processor (Snapdragon S4 Pro), but neither make it top of the line.  That’s my gripe—the Tablet Z is priced as a top of the line machine (the 32 GB model is $550).  If they were charging $400 and $450 for the 16 GB and 32 GB model respectively, this tablet would be a great buy.
What, no iPad?

Anders will talk more about the iPad in his post next week.  Both the mini with retina display and the Air are solid devices, but I personally prefer the tablets above.  If you’re buying for a big Apple fan, or that special someone on your list already has a lot invested in Apple products, then stay tuned.  Anders is the man you are waiting to hear from.

Quinton Lawman is a Technical Writer on the Knowledge Services team at OverDrive.

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