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me want magic screen box
February 22, 2013 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I would like to purchase an off-brand tablet computer from a discount electronics website. I know nothing about components or specs or anything- the only info I have to go on is bigger number is good. Please help me. (sorry but this post got way too long, you've been warned.)

Hello people who have decided to help! (and those of you who also might need help)

I want to purchase a tablet, but I don't want to pay for a name brand product. I've heard good things about from you mefites, since they have pretty reliable product reviews. The shipping time is quite long, though, and I've found that Light in the Box and Focal Price seem to be the same thing, but with better processing times.

Here's what I want it for:
•ereading (all of my textbooks are ebooks and dragging my laptop into the lecture hall is dumb because it's bigger than the fake tiny desk we're given.)
•reading metafilter (srsly is what I do most of the time on the internet.)
•showing digital portfolio pieces. (these will mostly PDFs that I'd be showing people. So much easier than getting prints of my work, but I do want to make sure the picture quality is good so it doesn't make my work look crappy.)
•watching netflix/ TV on network sites.
•tumblr (don't judge me)
•I know there are sketching apps out there. This could be fun.

Here's some tablets that have (a lot of) great reviews and seem to be what I'm looking for. Can you help me pick the best one/find a better one in the same price range (>$175)

#1 is 8g and 1.66hz (thats a good number, right?) It supports flash, apparently. And it's a multi-point capacative screen. ( I read that capacative screens are better. Please tell me if I'm wrong.) It also says this :"Support Extend Card 32GB". I do not know what this means. Does it have SD storage? It also has a built in microphone. So, like, I can skype I guess? It also has a dualcore processor. I assuming this is better than a single core processor.

#2 is ver similar, but it does not support flash. It does support SUB 3G, but my smartphone has (remarkably good) wifi hotspot, so I don't think I need this feature.

#3 specifically states that it has access to android market. I know that this has been an issue with off brand, non google supported devices.

Those are I think the best options, I'm only going for items that have more than 50 reviews, for safety reasons.

If you see another tablet that is better, please, by all means, let me know.

I do have some other questions

With it being a non-supported device, what kind of trouble will I run into? Updates? Security? Lack of access to apps? Not being able to watch TV on like How do I bypass these problems? If I root it, how? I am not tech savvy, but I'm a smart lady, so if theres a good, simple, step-by-step guide I can do it. Or, alternatively, I purchased a used smartphone from a local electronics store that was rooted, and they seem to be hardcore software guys, and could do it easily. I'm sure if I paid them they would. If rooting is vital, would you suggest I get it done by a "professional"?
posted by FirstMateKate to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
All of them has a max resolution of 800*480 and that isn't too good. Try to set your monitor to that resolution so that you can see what it looks like. My Nexus 7 is 1280x800 and i would recommend a 16Gb Nexus 7 that can be had for $199 and has full support.
I have an 8GB with plenty of space left despite having a ton of books loaded. 4GB of storage is way to little.
posted by Ferrari328 at 12:47 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I recently bought a Ramos w28 7" tablet from the site linked. Shipping took a few weeks.

It now costs $113, and it's about 90% of what you get with a Nexus 7. For the price, it's really excellent, I'm very happy with it. The 1280x800 IPS screen is actually very good.

There were a couple of minor annoyances, though: I had to do some fidgeting to get my Google account correctly synced, and the tablet's Google Play store presents all prices in Hong Kong dollars. (I buy apps in USD through my computer's web browser). Also, the MicroSD card has to be jammed in with a thumbnail in order to work. You should expect these sorts of minor annoyances with a budget foreign tablet.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:54 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know much about any of those, but I know that the ones with the Rockchip 3066 SoC/CPU should be faster than the other options.
posted by Good Brain at 1:11 PM on February 22, 2013

(Correction: I actually bought the 16 GB Ramos w28 for $120. I spent a few hours researching various tablets at different drop-shipping sites, and at the time it was the most powerful tablet I could find in that price range)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:20 PM on February 22, 2013

As Ferrari328 says, I think the first criterion you should look at is pixel count. That will make ereading less eyestrain-y and will presumably make your PDFs look better. A capacitive touchscreen is good (the alternative, a resistive touchscreen, is cheaper but won't support multi-touch operations like pinch-to-zoom[*]). After that, CPU speed, weight, thickness, and all the other goodies like storage size and connectivity and builtin cameras and whatever.

[*] Also capacitive screens are just nicer to use, IMHO. A resistive screen wouldn't otherwise be a problem for browsing/e-reading/video, but might be a problem for sketching apps and the like which want more interaction. So you might not want to completely rule out a device with a resistive screen, but I'd weight the touchscreen type pretty heavily.
posted by hattifattener at 2:22 PM on February 22, 2013

If $175 really is your price range, bump $25 and get the Nexus 7, no questions asked. You get the best of everything - screen quality, best update path bar none, and selection of accessories. I cannot tell you how nice it is to go on Amazon and have multiple cheap and high quality choices for a case. You will not have that with most any other tablet, especially for off brand.

If your price range is really sub $150, I'll let others chime in. I will tell you that I used a hacked Nook Color for my tablet previously, and use the Nexus 7 100 times more often because it is such a great tablet experience.
posted by shinynewnick at 2:23 PM on February 22, 2013

I also came to recommend the 16GB Nexus 7. It's $25 outside of your price range, and worth every penny. I've played with a number of off-brand tablets, and, frankly, none of them came close, imo, to the Nexus. The screen resolution was crap, the colors were muddy, the screens weren't as responsive as I'd expect... Most of them were usable, but none of them were especially enjoyable to use, in my opinion, especially when compared to the Galaxy Tab or a Nexus.

Regarding rooting, with an off-brand, you're pretty much on your own. With some off-brands, I'm told that the Nexus root tools work; with others, not so much. Even if you root it, though, you're not going to be able to do much--ROMs are made on a device-by-device basis, and the ROM for, say, a Nexus or a Galaxy Tab won't work on something that's not that device. (Or it might work in a superficial way, but crucial things--wifi, for example, or other parts of the OS) won't work.) All those things are true, btw, regardless of if you do it or a professional does.

Also, regarding flash support, be aware that Adobe has discontinued the Flash app for Android. You can download it from various Android-related sites and sideload it, and this will work on most devices, regardless of if they claim to "support flash" or not. (I can't recall if the stock Android browser plays nicely with Flash or not--I suggest Firefox or Dolphin browsers, though, and both of them work just fine with it.)

Oh, one last thing--I noticed that several of them list the types of ebook they support. You can ignore that totally--the stock ebook apps on every tablet I've tried have been fair to middling, and there are many great choices in the market. Moon+ Reader is my favorite, and it supports basically everything.

This is apparently a thing on which I have opinions. Feel free to memail me if you think I might be able to help.
posted by MeghanC at 2:27 PM on February 22, 2013

I could, feasibly, buy the nexus 7. My mom has one and so I know how good it is. But I just don't want to spend another $100 on something if the difference is only minor. And the minor annoyances that qxntpqbbbqxl points out don't even count, in my opinion. I'm prone to buying non brand stuff, most of my furniture is either thrifted or dumpstered-I really don't care too much about stuff, I'm not picky. Which is why I don't want to spend the money on a nexus if I don't have to. If I can buy something thats close enough for even $70 cheaper, it's worth it.

Anyway, It's still a good suggestion and I'll keep it in mind, but I'll just go ahead and check off on "try the Nexus 7". So other advice is appreciated! :D
posted by FirstMateKate at 3:05 PM on February 22, 2013

As someone who is wearing thrift-store shorts and a free T-shirt.... Always feels worth spending a bit more for something like the Nexus 7 (made by Asus, which also built the cheap, workhorse, long-lasting computer I'm using) because of better prospects with build quality, component quality (prospects for it lasting) and customer support if it has problems.
posted by ambient2 at 9:46 PM on February 22, 2013

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