Two months ago, we looked at the newest member of the SHIELD family, NVIDIA's SHIELD Tablet. This eight-inch beast is one of the first devices to feature NVIDIA's screaming fast Tegra K1 processor, which makes it not only a killer gaming tablet, but an all-around great digital sidekick for general use. I've used it for everything from Trine 2 gaming sessions on the TV (in Console Mode) to writing full reviews with an external keyboard, and it has been up to the task every time.
It's no big secret that I'm a huge fan of NVIDIA's SHIELD. In fact, I believe I called it my favorite device from last year on a recent podcast, a claim that I readily stand behind. To me, it shows how versatile Android can be, despite the fact that the unit itself is essentially a one trick pony (it's damn good at that one trick, though).
Then there's NVIDIA's second foray into device design, the Tegra Note 7.
There's no denying that Samsung's current tablet lineup is a convoluted, confusing mess for anyone outside of the tech circle – just in the current run we have the Galaxy Tab 4 7, 8, 10.1; Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1/12.2, and now the newest member of the family, the Galaxy Tab S. Deep down, I still wish they would've named it the Galaxy S Tab, just so we could call it the Galaxy Stab.
While many budget smartphones have come a long way in proving that "affordable" no longer necessarily means "bad" over the past few years (Moto G, anyone?), the budget tablet is still oftentimes a gamble. On one hand, devices like the Nexus 7 provide a fantastic user experience for not a lot of moneydollars; on the other, there are devices like the Snakebyte Vyper that basically verify the saying "you get what you pay for." Of course, some manufacturers – like ASUS, for example – seem to have a better handle on the art of building usable, affordable tablets.
Every once in a while, a product comes along that changes our perception of what a particular category of device can be. A device that breaks the mold and becomes something more. Something better. Something that revolutionizes work, play, or both. A thoughtful, well-designed product for the masses.
This is not one of those times.
This is one of those times when a company talks up a product, only to leave its users completely unsatisfied – not that many of you have heard of Snakebyte Vyper in the first place.
Late last year, Samsung released the revamped model of the largest Note tablet, the Note 10.1 2014 Edition (which actually came out in 2013, despite its name). It brought with it a full refresh to the lineup, including high end hardware, a better display, and an improved interface. The S Pen became more valuable, and Multi-Window more usable. All in all, it was a good upgrade.
The Note Pro 12.2 is a continuation of that upgrade to the product line, as it's essentially a larger version of last year's Note 10.1 in both hardware and software.
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.