This story was originally published and last updated .
Android tablets have always been a bit awkward, as products. With the platform lacking the huge ecosystem of tablet-optimized apps that the iPad enjoys, or the large desktop legacy world you can access on something like a Surface Pro, many have asked the question "Why?" when it comes to an Android-powered slate. Perhaps it's not really one worth asking, though, when a company as large as Samsung is bothering to introduce an $850 tablet at all. With the Tab S7 and S7+, Samsung is bringing a capital-P "Premium" tablet hardware experience, and we've spent the last few days using the latter.
Black Friday is in full swing, and the industry's most prominent tech brands are unleashing plenty of deals for the taking. Following up on an entire portfolio of discounts that were announced right after Halloween, Lenovo has taken the wraps off even more Black Friday savings on some of its best Google-powered gadgets, including smart displays, Chromebooks, Android tablets, and more. Here are the highlights worth checking out:
Google has been doing an impressive job of pretending Android tablets don't exist for the last few years, and now it's done pretending. Google has updated the Android website to remove the tablet section entirely. You can now use that site to learn all about Android on Phones, Wear, TV, Auto, and Enterprise. That's it. RIP Android tablets.
Camera company Kodak went bankrupt a while back, but managed to save itself by selling its brand off to anyone who wanted it. Since then, the Kodak name has been pilfered and used to market cheap Android devices. It's a sad state of affairs for the once-great manufacturer, but maybe it's about to get better (or worse, depending on your point of view): ARCHOS has been signed as a brand licensee in Europe, following the release of the Kodak EKTRA smartphone last year.
ARCHOS is well-known for the line of mediocre, budget Android tablets the company makes. Presumably, the new Kodak devices will be the same sort of thing, but with the legendary American imaging company's name slapped on it.
Android tablets are dying. There are signals that bear this out: sales estimates, web traffic, an utter absence of meaningful innovation or even competitive products in the segment. We've watched Android tablets struggle from day one: when Samsung's Galaxy Tab was utterly panned for its subpar performance and pricing, to the years of Honeycomb suffering under the yoke of underpowered chipsets and endless bugs, and finally to the unspoken abandonment of Android tablets by Google's own app teams over the past few years. Android tablets have never been particularly lively, but in 2016, I think we've finally watched the market's pulse near flat-line.
Tablets are a tricky business. For a while there, it looked like tablets might well overwhelm the consumer laptop market with their excellent portability, wireless accessory prowess, and generally better-than-a-laptop battery life. Everyone was also pretty hip on the novelty of the touchscreen in the early tablet days, too, and laptops had yet to really catch up on that front.
But the tablet market has now begun to stagnate, and competition has become more heated than ever before. Ultraportable convertible devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and other similar form factor experiments are attempting to prove that a tablet can be a real laptop, or vice-versa.
Earlier this week, photos of Samsung's upcoming Galaxy View tablet - a word I use primarily because there isn't a better one for a product like this - leaked. Extensively. It's an 18.4" touchscreen with a huge stand/handle attachment, and as far as we can tell, it has basically zero productive aspirations. It's a media consumption device. So, dare I ask: why do we need this?
Samsung isn't the first OEM to try it, either. Alcatel is working on a very similar device called the Xess, and the Nabi brand of children's tablets already has several gigantic slates under its belt.
There's no denying that the increased performance:power consumption ratio of CPUs has been benefiting laptops and tablets alike of late. Microsoft's Surface Pro series, Apple's new iPad Pro (a product I would also call pretty misguided, to be honest), the new MacBook, and a slew of Chromebooks are all doing things that would have been nigh-unthinkable five years ago in their respective form factors or price points. Also, tablet sales are down and the traditional tablet model doesn't seem to be working so well anymore. So, Google is apparently hip to this now and wants Android to get in on the action with its own mobile-feeling but laptop-grade-ish ultra-portable device.