I probably try to do too much on my phone. It’s a screen small enough to fit in my pocket (and I want it to stay that way, thank you) but I do things on it that are challenging on a small screen like read a newspaper or watch a video or research items to buy. Sure I can pinch and zoom and pan but the phone is just too small to do some things. On the other hand, going to the desktop computer means I am fixed in once place and not free to roam. It’s the place I go to get stuff done (and where I type this blog post!) and it is a wonderfully capable computer but there are many times when the capability is overkill and when I don’t need to be in the office. I do have a Windows laptop and it has a nice dock but given that I use it for work and it is frequently in the middle of some work project, roaming around the house with it means I’d have to interrupt what I was doing. And besides, it’s chunky and relatively heavy. Again, it’s supposed to be those things because I need it to do a lot so I want it to have a lot inside. But more recently, I’ve been realizing there are times when I want something “in between” my other devices. I’d like something really portable and whose purpose is to roam about the house while at the same time having a big screen. And I’d like to be able to take it on vacations instead of bringing my Windows laptop. It’s time for a Tablet.
What to get? Wow, lots of choices. The obvious candidate is an iPad. The wife has one, I know iOS well, and they are, hardware-wise, the best you can get. But I’d like something that I can run apps on that aren’t necessarily approved by Apple. And branching out beyond Apple seems like smart OS-diversity. Oh, and price too, is a disincentive on the Apple products, especially on their full-size tablets.
Windows Surface? Ha! If I needed Windows, I’d go with my laptop, right? Kindle? No, I don’t want to limit myself to the Amazon world. So that means Android.
I found the Product Chart for Tablets to be very helpful. It is not complete, but it gave me some interesting links that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
I started heading towards a Samsung or a Lenovo. Samsung seems like maybe the most popular Android tablet but I liked the comments I was reading about Lenovo having less bloatware and I thought the prices were better for Lenovo. But I found an entry on the chart that showed I could get a PiPO tablet that dual booted Windows and Android. Interesting…
Okay, I know I had just disparaged Windows above and I have no love for the crap OS and never have. But there is something to be said for the fact that Windows has been for years the dominant player in personal computing. In other words, if I want a program to do something, odds are good that I can get it for Windows. And the main reason I didn’t want a Windows only tablet is because I didn’t want to be “stuck” with Windows on yet another device. But if Windows is a choice that I can make and the device can also run Android, then the ability to run Windows becomes a positive instead of a negative.
But the PiPO isn’t the only such tablet out there like this. It turns out that there are a number of such companies producing similar products for the Chinese market. Brands like PiPO, CHUWI, Onda, Cube, and Teclast all make Android and Windows tablets that are relatively cheap, have pretty good specs, and have models available for sale to the US market. So now I have a whole new world to research.
I found the research for this more difficult. US sellers like Amazon do sell some of these tablets but the sellers are really just the same sellers as sell through Amazon and the selection is more limited on Amazon. Also, Amazon reviews weren’t very plentiful or well-informed, in my opinion. Fortunately, I found the TechTablets site. It focuses on this genre of Chinese tablets and includes unboxing info, reviews, specs, comparisons, etc.. I definitely recommend the site if you are shopping this genre.
I did a lot of reading through TechTablets and ended up settling on the relatively new Teclast X16 Pro. It is dual boot so I can use either Android or Windows. The screen size is a good size while still being something that is easy to carry around. And you can get an optional keyboard case to go with it. The only two negatives that were mentioned in the TechTablets review for it are less-than-stellar battery life and an issue with “throttling” when the device gets warm. I am not anticipating needing airplane flight battery life nor do I imagine me running compute intensive applications so neither of the reviewed negatives should be issues for me.
As for where to buy, I chose GearBest. The site gets pretty good ratings, they seemed to be easy enough for this non-Chinese speaking buyer to figure out, and they had good prices with good shipping policies. So I ordered the Teclast X16 Pro for $263, the keyboard case for $25, and also got a stylus for $8. Shipping should take a couple of weeks. I’ll write another post when the Tablet arrives and I get a chance to play with it.