Which small tablet to get? (7-inch-ish)
November 27, 2013 10:18 PM   Subscribe

I like Apple stuff so I ideally want an iPad mini :), but it's a little too expensive...

I just want to use the internet & Google Maps & emails while on the go, so I thought maybe I should get a cheaper one.
Doing all that on an iPhone screen got kinda annoying because it's so small!! (and it broke)
But I don't want a 10-inch tablet: too huge and heavy :/
Also I'd like to be able to use Excel or something like it on the tablet... is that possible?
Plus a capability to connect to a wireless keyboard (a light one!!) would be good!
Is this hard to do on a small tablet?

Can you tech-savvy people please recommend which tablet(s) I should check out? Thank u thank u :)
posted by pelu to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I love my nexus 7, 2013 model. Perfect size and it does everything you asked for (excel only sort of, but Google docs spreadsheets are also available and are OK for smaller spreadsheets.
posted by aspo at 10:39 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have an ipad mini and it's great, but I have a couple of friends with Nexus 7s and they seem to enjoy those as well. If you don't care about retina screens you could always look into a refurbished ipad mini to get the price down.

Also, if you want to do those things "on the go", then of course you will need a tablet with a data plan - have you considered that aspect? Different tablets may have different available plans.
posted by modernnomad at 12:33 AM on November 28, 2013

You can get some deals on ipad minis Thursday and friday this week - at best buy and meijer in particular.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:56 AM on November 28, 2013

Unless you can pick up an iPad cheaply then I would also recommend the latest 2013 model Nexus 7.

We have a couple of the Samsung tablets lying around at work and no-one particularly likes the changes they've made to the stock Android. Evidenced by the fact that very few people actually want to use them.
posted by mr_silver at 3:10 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came in to say Nexus 7 (2013) too. Have an iPad as well, but it is great for being on the go. Price is good.
posted by Lescha at 5:47 AM on November 28, 2013

I'm an Apple person too, generally, and love my iPhone. But if you seriously want to use it mainly for things that you use your phone for but want a bgger screen, I'd seriously consider trading in the iPhone for one of the new 'phablets', huge phones that are basically just barely smaller than the 7" tablets. My impression is that people who have them really like them. For me, the bonus of only having one always on data plan and only needing to deal with, carry, and charge, one device would be pretty attractive.

If you definitely want a second device, then I think you won't go wrong with the Nexus 7. Last year's model is super cheap now.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:48 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another iDevice user here who bought a 2013 Nexus 7 for a decent price a few weeks ago as a Kindle-alike. I find some aspects of Android quite crude and think the apps are often (usually?) unpolished / downright amateurish or ad-infested. But it is a decent e-book reader and browser when on the go.

Yes there may be less vetting of the apps which some see as 'greater choice' but most of the choices are laughable. The hardware is very good but have modest expectations of the software and you'll be alright.
posted by epo at 5:54 AM on November 28, 2013

The Nook HD is on sale for 80 bucks at Barnes and Nobles until december 2nd. 7 inches, runs android,

Might be worth a look.
posted by gryftir at 6:41 AM on November 28, 2013

Something to take into account with the price is that if you are an iPhone user, I'm at least pretty sure that all your app purchases and stuff carry over to your new iPad. I'm someone with an iPhone 4 and a Nexus 7 and I love the Nexus 7, but I do get mildly annoyed at having to go find and purchase new versions of things that I've already bought. For some people it's no big deal, but if you're one of the types who's already invested a couple hundred bucks in apps and games over time, that could make a difference.

I have a spreadsheet sort of program for Android but as a habitual Excel user I don't like it and I never end up using it. There's talk about a "Surface mini" sort of thing coming out before long, but I have no idea what price point they're looking at--if you're not wedded to the idea of either iOS or Android it might be worth holding off to see if that's viable? There's an app for Android that's supposed to give you access to Office 365 if you've got it, but for some bizarre reason Microsoft seems to have adopted the idea that they'll develop for Android phones but not tablets, so it won't work for this.
posted by Sequence at 7:20 AM on November 28, 2013

If you're up for braving a Black Friday sale, the iPad Mini is discounted at Target. This is wi-fi only, though... not sure what you need if you're expecting to get internet access while on the go as you mentioned - you would not be able to access email or google maps unless you were near wi-fi.
posted by belau at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2013

Nexus 7 is solid. Do be aware that Google Docs spreadsheets can only be viewed, not edited, while you're offline.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:48 AM on November 28, 2013

Nthing the Nexus 7. I have a previous gen one and it's awesome. I even like the screen better than my iPhone 5.
posted by kathrynm at 9:23 AM on November 28, 2013

Another vote for the Nexus 7. I have the first Retina iPad and like it very much but it is a bit too large and heavy to hold it for a longer time.

I bought the Nexus 7 just to test webdev stuff on Android but find myself using it very often. It is also very well made in terms of Hardware finish and I find it great for a bit of youtube, social networking, games etc.
posted by debagel at 1:27 PM on November 28, 2013

Thanks guys, Nexus 7 sounds good :)
Does anyone know if it's compatible with Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard (I know... old...)?
Cuz I'd imagine the tablet needs to be connected through USB to upload pictures and things to a computer once in a while, right?
I couldn't find the specs about computer compatibility online :/

Also regarding the Excel use, does anyone have experience using Apps to do Excel stuff on Nexus 7?
Can it be without having to connect to Wifi? (Right, Google Spreadsheet wouldn't work, then... so 3rd party Apps success?)
posted by pelu at 12:44 AM on November 29, 2013

Nexus 7 is going to be fine for you. I had the 2012 and recently gave it to a friend-in-need as an excuse to buy the 2013 model. The screen & especially the speakers are much better on the new model, although the 2012 was already pretty good.

You don't really need to ever attach it to a computer as all your photos can upload over WiFi automagically, and Airdroid will take care of the rest. (You will need to set up a gmail account if you haven't already got one, though it'll also work with any other addresses you may have).

OfficePro is the nearest 'Office-alike' app there is and works seamlessly off or online. (It's on sale at the moment too). Otherwise, QuickOffice is the competing Google offering, and is free. It's a little too basic for my use though.

Finally, I have one of these keyboards. It's OK, a wee bit too small for fast typing, but doubles as a nifty case / cover for the tablet. Also, cheap!

I could bang on at great length about the Nexus & Android, and how much more flexible I think it is compared to ios, but that'd only start a flame-war, so please fell free to memail me if you want any more info.
posted by punilux at 8:57 AM on November 29, 2013

It has come to my attention that OfficeSuite, which is what I found completely unusable for spreadsheets previously, has made a few improvements, and poking at it I do notice that it's substantially more usable than it was previously. I still wouldn't want to use it all that much, but it's significantly less terrible than it used to be. (Previously, there was some very basic stuff like selecting cells and editing formulas that was incredibly difficult or in some cases impossible, now the UI isn't always fantastic but it's at least usable.) So the latest updates are coming a long way. It's not a free app, but I think at this point it's probably worth what they're asking for it.
posted by Sequence at 11:38 PM on November 29, 2013

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