Help me choose a tablet for reading comics
September 20, 2016 8:43 PM   Subscribe

I want a tablet for reading comics, occasional word processing, and faffing around on the internet. I prioritise screen quality, good input, longevity and low cost. I am not hugely fond of the Apple ecosystem. What do you recommend?

My much-disliked Samsung tablet gave up the ghost and I want a replacement. Here's what I'd like.

- A good screen for reading comics and PDFs. I don't watch things other than the occasional YouTube video. I don't use it for reading non-pdf books for which I will always prefer a Kindle.

- Not too big or bulky. I would like as small a screen as is still reasonable for reading full comic pages (I don't like going panel by panel if I can avoid it).

- Something that will last me at least a few years - so I guess a fairly recent release, a decent processor, reasonable amount of RAM and either a good amount of hard disc space or expandable memory.

- A good stylus or stylus capability for writing or drawing by hand (highly desirable).

- Comes with a good keyboard or can be paired with a good keyboard if I need it for work on the go (essential).

- Access to at least one not-too-expensive office application which plays nicely with Word and (ideally) can deal with track changes. I have something I'm happy with for Windows and Android, but have struggled with getting a smooth workflow from Apple machines to my main Windows laptop.

- Stability and few reasons for frustration.

I am based in Malaysia and have access to a huge number of Chinese brands as well as most of the usual US/ UK ones.

The catch: I don't want to spend too much money. My hard maximum is probably around USD500 and I would prefer to spend much less than that. Given that I don't care about gaming or streaming, I hope this isn't too big an ask.

An iPad is the usual recommendation, but I've never been too fond of the iOS/ Apple ecosystem or my perception of the difficulty of fiddling around with things and controlling setting. That said, if the consensus is that an iPad will meet the sweet spot for work, play, cost and longevity then I'll go with it.

I would probably have got the newest Surface Pro, but it's way out of my budget.

My current shortlist:
- Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro
- Apple iPad Mini 4
- iPad Air 2

All these are at the very top end of my budget and I'm keen for either recommendations within this list or inexpensive alternatives.
posted by tavegyl to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What's about another Samsung?
posted by Ftsqg at 8:45 PM on September 20, 2016

I have an HTC tablet at work I'm super happy with. It's waaaaay less buggy than our Samsung tablets and seems to have the usual good HTC build quality.
posted by fshgrl at 8:57 PM on September 20, 2016

Recommendations of specific models would be greatly appreciated given the huge range of specifications and price points you can find within any single brand.
posted by tavegyl at 9:02 PM on September 20, 2016

I'd get the iPad Air over the mini I think. The mini is a little small for reading comics. It works fine, but it could be better. I know nothing about Android tablets though. I'm not sure it even matters with where you are and how you read comics, but there is no Comixology or Marvel Unlimited app for Windows - it had to be done on the web, which isn't super-great.
posted by wotsac at 9:13 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

No more threadsitting after this, but - thanks, wotsac that's really helpful regarding the Air vs Mini. I plan to use Comixology as well as CBR readers where possible so Windows is clearly out.
posted by tavegyl at 9:20 PM on September 20, 2016

I would stay far away from anything Samsung for a while, given their current issues with exploding batteries. For the same reason, I'd be cautious about unusual brands that offer amazingly fast processors or crazy battery life.

Regarding the iPad Mini vs full size iPad, I just finished reading The Watchmen on my iPad Mini, and read most of the pirate scans of Sandman on the second generation Nexus 7. While a larger tablet is clearly larger, they are also heavier. I found the Nexus and Mini to be ideal, though still bigger and heavier than my Kindles.

Anything with bluetooth will pair with your choice of keyboard. That includes all iPads and most Androids.

As a software developer, I love that Android lets me fiddle with everything. As a user, I hate that apps can ask for arbitrary permissions and there is next to nothing I can do about it, unless I have the latest Android OS and my apps are compiled for it. Anything that contains sensitive financial data (banking apps, but also shopping apps) stays strictly to my iOS devices.

If cost is a major issue, then I would look for a Chinese Android tablet with plenty of screen resolution, but middle of the road CPU and battery life. More memory is helpful, but I've stuffed a ton of PDFs on my 16GB Nexus. You should be able to get something reasonably nice for under USD$200, then replace it in two years, staying under your $500 budget. Most of my Bluetooth keyboards cost less than $30, so just pick up something nice that you like.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:36 PM on September 20, 2016

We have a n HTC flyer, which is old, and a newer HTC which I don't know the model of. Maybe a newer flyer? Possibly the Nexus HTC tablet. I do know it runs the HTC version of android. The HTC browser is pretty excellent at resizing and running all sites, my main complaint with the Samsung's is that they are terrible at that. We have every browser known to man installed on our one remaining galaxy because we never know what will work with what site. Super annoying.
posted by fshgrl at 9:43 PM on September 20, 2016

I just finished reading a comic book on my iPad mini (Ms. Marvel, if you're curious) and I recommend it wholeheartedly. The colours are amazing, the screen resolution is really good, and it's not too heavy.
posted by Tamanna at 10:12 PM on September 20, 2016

Depending upon your budget and the importance of the stylus option, there is no match for an iPad Pro paired with the apple pencil, even if you have to budget for the pencil later. And of course it'll do everything else with bells on.

For documents, easiest way is to use Microsoft Office and either OneDrive or Dropbox the documents to your Windows desktop.
posted by tillsbury at 10:19 PM on September 20, 2016

There are rumours of a new Google tablet built by Huawei. I LOVED my Nexus 7 and I love my Huawei-built Nexus 6P, so it could be a good fit. If it's another 7-inch tablet, it might be a little small for your purposes, but I do think it's worth waiting a couple of weeks to at least check out!
posted by thebots at 12:32 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Depending upon your budget and the importance of the stylus option, there is no match for an iPad Pro paired with the apple pencil, even if you have to budget for the pencil later. And of course it'll do everything else with bells on.

2nding this. 9.7inch iPad Pro + Apple Pencil + Apple Smart Keyboard.
posted by bluecore at 5:08 AM on September 21, 2016

You can get a refurb iPad Air 2 for well within your budget. No pen/stylus, though.

Buying refurbished from Apple is essentially the same thing as buying new. Especially with iPad/iPhone. You get the same 1 year warranty and can extend it with AppleCare if you want.
posted by Gev at 8:28 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can get a refurb iPad Air 2 for well within your budget. No pen/stylus, though.

Just for clarification the the OP, you can use many great pens/styli with the Air 2, but the official Apple Pencil leverages the Pro's pressure sensitivity and orientation capability to give it better artistic control. A lot of artists seem to like it, but I'm not sure if you're just looking for rough sketching and writing that any tablet can provide.
posted by bluecore at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2016

Thank you all. It looks like an iPad remains the best option, and I'll go down to the Apple Store to see which of the three feels right for me. I'm leaning towards the iPad Pro 9.7 because the Apple Pencil looks really cool even if I don't buy it immediately.
posted by tavegyl at 9:14 PM on September 21, 2016

I'm very late to this question, but I just got the iPad Pro 12.9 inch, and it is glorious for reading comics. Full page, no need to zoom, simply perfect.
posted by Eddie Mars at 7:51 AM on December 20, 2016

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