The tablet market doesn’t look very different than it did a year ago from the perspective of who’s doing well and who’s not. Perhaps the most exciting developments came towards the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 from the usual big guys: Google released the Nexus 10 and updated the Nexus 7, Apple launched a smaller and cheaper iPad mini, while Microsoft went all in with the Surface RT and Pro.
There’s a flood of 8-inch tablets coming to market this holiday season, and it’s likely that a fair number of these will run the full Windows 8 now that Microsoft has relaxed its hardware guidelines for OEM partners.
The first 8-inch Windows 8 tablet – Acer’s Iconia W3 – was universally panned but that hasn’t stopped Toshiba from unleashing its own tablet of the same size.
The 8-inch Toshiba Encore has a decent 1280 x 800 resolution display, runs Windows 8.1 (which itself launches on October 18) and has Intel’s latest 1.8GHz Bay Trail Atom processor.
As perhaps you would expect, there are some reasonable business features too, with the slate “optimized for Skype” and Office 2013 Home & Student edition on board. Furthermore, there are connections for micro USB and micro HDMI, while the 32GB of internal storage can be expanded via micro SD.
The tablet will launch in November, with price details still to be decided.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 version)
Industry insiders may reckon that Samsung’s latest 10-inch Galaxy Note won’t be a hit, but TabTimes was impressed when we got some hands-on time with the Android Jelly Bean tablet in Berlin, Germany.
It’s not just that the tablet boasts some impressive specs – including a stunning 2560 x 1600 resolution display, octa-core processor and the latest version of Android (4.3) – but a number of extras Samsung includes with the device.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition comes pre-installed with Samsung’s Knox solution for enterprise security and offers some great content for readers – notably free limited-time subscriptions to the New York Times and Bloomberg Business Week.
Add into that the precise and wonderfully light stylus and you have a tablet that deserves its place on this list. The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition will launch later this month.
LG G Pad
After a one-year hiatus, LG is back in the tablet game with the impressive LG G Pad, an Android tablet that looks set to compete with Google’s Nexus 7 and Apple’s iPad mini.
The tablet promises an excellent 8.3-inch 1920 x 1200 resolution screen, a 1.7GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of memory, while the dual-facing cameras (5MP rear, 1.3MP front) are sufficient for taking amateur photographs and basic videoconferencing.
The tablet runs Android 4.2.2 but will have LG’s own custom user interface layered over the top.
The specs are pretty good, but the LG G Pad excels when it comes to apps.
The excellent ‘Q Pair’ app lets you sync the tablet to your phone to reply to phone calls or messages on either device, while Slide Aside lets you multi-task on up to three apps at once. Another app, KnockON, can be used to wake the tablet by knocking twice on the screen.
The LG G Pad is set to launch globally in the fourth quarter. Price details to still to be confirmed.
Doug Drinkwater is the International Editor of TabTimes and is based in London, England.