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Thursday, 20 August 2020

Capable budget Android tablets

It is a misconception that Android tablets are on the way out. Yes, some prominent vendors have exited the market - e.g., Acer and Asus - but others are now producing a variety of tablets that meet the needs of different types of users. Specifically, at the lower end, we are seeing capable tablets at prices that were unfathomable a few years ago. With the absence of value - low-cost tablets being generally terrible at the time - Amazon decided to take the budget route in late 2015. Other vendors, it appears, noticed the success of Amazon's strategy and are now releasing capable Android devices at similar prices. 

Currently, in the 8-inches budget category, there is the Samsung Tab A 8.0, Lenovo M8, Lenovo M8 FHD and Huawei Mediapad M5 Lite 8. There is also the Lenovo Smart Tab M8 - in terms of hardware it is near identical to the regular M8, but it also supports a smart dock station that enables Google's smart assistant. I've used the Lenovo Smart Tab M8 and found the smart assistance experience unsatisfactory. The tablet doesn't use the modified Google Cast that Google uses on its smart devices with a display - instead, after a period of activity, it enables Google Assistant's Ambient Mode.

In 10-inches there is the Huawei Matepad, Huawei Mediapad T5, Huawei Mediapad M5 Lite, Samsung Tab A 10.0, Lenovo Tab M10 FHD Plus and Lenovo Smart Tab M10 FHD Plus. Similar to the smaller Tab M8/Smart Tab M8, the Smart Tab M10 FHD supports a charging dock that enables Google Ambient Mode. There are also Android Alexa-enabled smart tablets like the Lenovo Smart Tab P10 - the Alexa smart assistant on the P10 is similar to the feature on Fire tablets that offers a closer experience to Amazon's smart assistant speakers with a display.

Lenovo, as in other areas, is leading innovation and is willing to try out different products. Other than producing tablets with and without smart docks, it also recently released the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. The Chromebook Duet is a tablet - bundled with a keyboard - that supports USI stylus input and runs on Chrome OS. 

Most of the tablets noted above are preferable to Amazon's Fire Tablets. However, when Amazon heavily discounts its tablets, they are an unbeatable value. Either way, Amazon Fire tablets are capable consumption devices, and the Fire HD 10 is powerful enough to be used for some forms of productivity too. 

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