For many years it seemed as if Apple had a choke-hold on the smart device market. The introduction of the iPhone and then the iPad, coupled with the expense involved in purchasing one, meant that for many people tablets were very much a luxury purchase. As further smart devices make their way into the market, many consumers are realizing that the iPad is not the only option when it comes to tablet computing. In fact, many people are steering clear of Apple products in an effort to get away from their restrictive operating system and inflated prices – because let’s face it, price is one of the big issues when it comes to Apple products.
But what exactly are the alternatives available? 2013 has been a good year for consumer electronics, and there are number of them in fact, predominantly running Android, that were released in 2013 and which are good, solid alternatives to the current generation iPad Air, iPad Mini and their predecessors.
Google Nexus 7
The Google Nexus 7 looks quite different to the original Nexus tablet, in a completely good way I might add. Sleek and smooth with a matte black exterior, it’s easier to hold and really light. Although technically it’s made by Asus, you can definitely see Google’s influence. The battery life is decent unless you’re playing games, and then it takes a serious knock, predominantly because the display draws a great deal of power. The display is full HD, 1920×1200 with a 5MP camera. The chip is not the latest and greatest, but it is a Quad Core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro which gives great performance when it comes to viewing movies and playing games. It has 2GB RAM, and makes good use of it – everything runs smoothly even when it comes to multitasking. One of the best Android tablets on the market at the moment, this should definitely be a consideration when tablet shopping.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is, while being a mouthful, a damn good tablet. It has much the same finish as the S4, but with a 10.1″ screen that allows not only for awesome movie viewing, but also a solid gaming experience. The display is not as clear as the iPad Air’s, (1280×800 as opposed to the Air’s 2048×1536) which is a pity. Because the OS is Android, it’s much more customisable than Apple’s alternative. The Galaxy Tab is powered by a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, with 1GB RAM. It has a 3MP camera which is a bit disappointing but the picture quality is really quite good in spite of this. Battery life also isn’t anything to write home about, but if you’re looking for a decent, cheaper alternative to the iPad Air, then this is something you should consider.
ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7
The really good thing about this tablet is the price. It’s being slated as a much cheaper version of the Nexus 7 (also made by Asus) and at first glance it looks a great deal like the previous generation Nexus tablet. The display is 1280×800 which is still relatively decent, the same in fact as the Galaxy Tab, and it’s rather bright and colourful. Asus has significantly skinned the UI, and it looks very different from what you’re used to in terms of Android. The camera is a 5MP camera that is also fairly decent, and it also has a 1.2MP front facing camera. Processor speed is only a 1.2GHz quad core with 1GB RAM which accounts for the reduced price, but if you’re not looking to do many processor intensive tasks such as gaming then it should be okay. Battery life is also relatively good for general usage. Not the best tablet, not the worst, but affordable with solid performance.
Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Funnily enough one of the biggest draw cards of this tablet is the fact that it’s waterproof. Yes, really – I’ve seen it dumped in a bucket of water and left there for about thirty minutes. Granted you need to plug up the holes with rubber stoppers so it’s not going to be any use if you’re unexpectedly pushed into the pool, but if you’re one of those people who likes to read in the bath, or perhaps has kids that will inevitably get the tablet dirty, then this feature becomes very attractive. What’s not attractive however is the price, which is definitely at the higher end of the tablet scale and much more on the same level as the iPad. The display is full HD, utilising Sony’s Bravia technology which means it looks amazing, and it’s fast and light.
It does run an older version of Android, which is a bummer, but you will get 2GB RAM coupled with a 1.5GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro. It also comes with an 8.1MP rear camera, and a 2.2MP webcam although the camera quality unfortunately isn’t wonderful. Battery life also pretty average, especially because beautiful though the screen might look, it eats into the battery life significantly. A light, somewhat expensive Android alternative to the iPad. It looks pretty and it’s waterproof, but I hope they upgrade to a newer version of Android soon.
There are a number of iPad alternatives on the market if you do your research, and don’t be fooled into thinking that the higher the price, the better the performance. If you’re not set on Apple, you’ll find plenty of alternatives to both the iPad Air as well as the iPad Mini if you’re looking for a smaller tablet, from well-known brands including not only the ones mentioned above, but also manufacturers such as Huawei and Acer. While these are some of the best alternatives out there, so many new tablets are hitting the market that there are plenty of options available, no matter your budget or your preference in terms of usage. I have no doubt that no matter what you’re looking for there’s a tablet out there for you.