I've said it dozens of times, but I'll say it again: there aren't enough eight-inch Android tablets. When the iPad Mini was announced, I assumed more manufacturers would jump on the form factor, but nope – there still aren't that many. Needless to say, when HP announced the Slate8 Pro, I was intrigued. It's an 8-inch tablet with a 4:3 aspect ratio, which treads directly on the iPad Mini's territory. Of course, we have to be realistic here – it's an HP tablet, and so far there hasn't been anything really remarkable coming from them.
Back when NVIDIA announced its Tegra Note platform, it was said that several manufacturers would be producing their own versions of the unit. The basic components are the same – Tegra 4, 1GB RAM, 1280x800 display, etc. – but each manufacturer is still free to tweak and change the design as they see fit. HP's Slate 7 Extreme is a perfect example of this – it looks nothing like the EVGA Tegra Note 7 (which was the first TN7 device to market), yet it packs all the same features.
There's no need for a full review of the new Google Play Edition of LG's G Pad 8.3 - you're familiar with the software thanks to LG's own Nexus 5 and other AOSP devices, and you can check out Cameron Summerson's review of the retail version of the G Pad 8.3 for a look at the hardware. Aside from the "V510" badge on the tablet's legal tiny type, this is the same device, and there's not so much as a Google logo to tell the two apart.
Imagine your perfect full-sized tablet. It's light, thin, has a gorgeous high-resolution display, multiple-day battery life, powerful speakers, and a cutting-edge processor. The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is all these things and more. From a hardware and engineering standpoint, it is truly a marvel. And, for a certain class of buyer, it may very well be that "perfect" full-sized tablet.
When I reviewed the Fire HD (7") last year, I came to a similar conclusion - I was wowed by the hardware (perhaps excepting the processor, which was a laggardly dual-core TI OMAP), but the software made it difficult to recommend for enthusiasts like you and me.
Asus has been in the business of making Android tablets for as long as it has been a viable business. The company has certainly won praise for its efforts on Google's Nexus tablets, but Asus still makes its own separate tablets in the Transformer line. The newest entrant in that group is the Transformer Pad TF701T. It's not the catchiest name ever slapped on a wedge of metal and glass, but it's not the name that we're interested in – it's the experience.
Toshiba pisses me off. It's a company that released one of my favorite Android tablets of all time (which is also subsequently abandoned after 4.1). When I know that a company is capable of putting out good gadgets but they continuously release garbage, it frustrates me. Announcement after announcement, I think this could be the one – this might just be the next good Toshiba device. And every single time, I'm disappointed.
When LG announced the G Pad 8.3, I was really excited. Finally, another entry into the eight-inch tablet market! Couldn't wait to get my hands on it and really dig in. Sadly, throughout my use of the tablet, my excitement slowly dwindled – when I opened the box and saw the device itself, I was more eager than ever to turn it on, but as time went on, the user interface just killed the experience for me.
Fuhu is a company that kind of appeared out of nowhere and blew me away with the nabi 2. Its two subsequent tablets – the nabi Jr. and nabi XD – cover age groups on either side of the nabi 2, so the whole family can get in on the fun. While I've already reviewed the 2 and Jr., I've been waiting to cover the XD for one reason: the Play Store.
Last year's Note 10.1 was a first for Samsung. It was the first 10-inch tablet to carry the Note name, and the first consumer tablet that made good use of a stylus. It brought about many innovative, though not perfectly executed, features that changed the way Android worked. Multiple apps on the same screen, handwriting input and palm rejection, and the like were all relative newcomers to the tablet scene. And for the most part, they were all well received by those who bought the tablet.
When it comes to Android tablets with detachable keyboards, one name comes to mind: Transformer. There's no denying that ASUS has carved out a pretty specific niche in the Android tablet/laptop convertible category. HP is looking to change that with the SlateBook x2, a 10.2-inch Android tablet with a keyboard dock that essentially converts it to an Android-powered laptop. It's small enough to fall into the "netbook" category, but that's a dirty word I try to stay away from.