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Tablets

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Galaxy Tab S4 review: An overpriced tablet that is also a horrible laptop

If you've searched for an Android tablet in recent years, especially one in the premium segment, you've probably noticed that there are precious few options available. No Android manufacturer comes close to matching Apple's portfolio, and the one OEM that has dared to challenge the iPad's supremacy - Samsung - has generally done a pretty unremarkable job.

That hasn't stopped them from trying, though, and Samsung's back at it again with the Galaxy Tab S4, the latest and most expensive entry into the Tab lineup to date. Last year's Tab S3 started at $600, already a pretty eye-watering price for an Android slate, especially given the operating system's distinct lack of tablet-optimized apps (or even much in the way of a tablet interface).

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Samsung's Galaxy Tab S4 is a $650 Android tablet with laptop ambitions

Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab S4 this morning, a new 10.5" Android-powered tablet that seeks, first and foremost, to be seen as a laptop replacement (at a cost of another $150 for the keyboard dock). With the company's DeX UI first introduced via its desktop accessory for Galaxy smartphones last year, the Tab S4 can be used in a traditional, windowed operating system layout for productivity. This would seem to squarely aim the Tab S4 to do battle with the array of Chromebook tablets and detachables likely to hit the market in the next year.

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Acer Chromebook Tab 10 now widely available, starts at $330 [Updated]

Acer is one of the busiest OEMs when it comes to Chrome OS hardware, although recent efforts have been mixed. The Chromebook Spin 11 didn't offer the best value, but the Chromebox CXI3 impressed as one of the best in its class. Unsurprisingly, Acer was first to announce a tablet running Chrome OS, and now the Chromebook Tab 10 is on sale at several retailers.

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Huawei MediaPad M5 8", 10", and 10" Pro are available on Amazon and Newegg for $319, $359, and $449, respectively

First announced at MWC this year, the three different Huawei MediaPad M5 tablets are now shipping in the US and available from both Amazon and Newegg. Beside Samsung's Galaxy Tab S series, Huawei's MediaPads are the only other high-end Android tablets that are worth looking at, and this new iteration is better while still being priced reasonably.

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A brief history of Android tablets: From galaxies to gravestones

The year was 2010, and Apple made good on the rumor mill's predictions when it unveiled the iPad. This device was, essentially, a bigger iPhone without the phone part. It turns out that consumers were into that sort of thing, and the first modern tablet sold in huge numbers. Not to be outdone, Android OEMs began launching Android-powered slates. For a time, it seemed like Android tablets would be a thing, but sales slumped, and most current Android tablets are ultra-low-cost junk. With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to see how we got here.

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Ready or not, Chrome OS tablets must replace Android tablets

Android tablets are not and were not ever very good. There. I said it.

From the very first devices that launched without Google's blessing, to the overhyped, underdelivering ones that did, all the way through Google's last-ditch effort to save them, Android tablets never hit their stride.

Sure, there were some bright spots, occasionally. Like the 2013 Nexus 7, which was beloved for its low cost and simplicity. It was the antithesis of the $500 iPad: a frugal hot hatchback to Apple's fully-loaded luxury sedan. But the Nexus 7, and most small, inexpensive tablets, were short-lived in their mainstream popularity as our phones started growing larger and larger.

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AT&T Moto Tab now for sale at $299 or $15/month over 20 months

Although development of Android for tablets has largely stagnated, mid-range media consumption tablets are still cheaply produced. The AT&T Moto Tab (stylized as 'moto tab') is technically Motorola's first tablet since the Xoom 2 (known as the Xyboard in the United States), though the design strongly resembles that of the Lenovo Tab 4 10. You can now buy the Moto Tab from AT&T for $299.99 upfront, or for $15/month for 20 months. This is $120 more than the Lenovo-branded tablet, though the two share more similarities in appearance than power.

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Tablet sales decline 3.4% year-over-year in spite of increases from Amazon, Apple, and Huawei

It's no secret that the tablet market has been shrinking for several years now. The IDC has been tracking data like this for quite some time now, and is reporting that this trend hasn't changed for quarter 2 of 2017. That being said, sales increases from companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Huawei have slowed this decline to 3.4%, or 37.9 million worldwide shipments. That's noticeably better than the 8.5% decline we saw for 1Q17.

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Weekend poll: Do you use a tablet?

Tablets as a form factor seem to be headed for niche-ification in the near future. Sales are down, consumer interest seems low, and smartphones are just getting bigger and better, allowing us to do things that may have seemed a bit impractical on a handset as little as five years ago. Laptops, too, are seeing a resurgence: they last longer, do more, and are becoming even more portable and versatile, often offering touchscreens and convertible designs that make them work as quasi-tablets when needed.

So, I'm curious, nearly halfway through 2017, how many of you still use a tablet? How often?

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Weekend poll: When is the last time you bought an Android tablet?

Not to put too much of a dramatic spin on it, but Android tablets are definitely not in a good spot right now. The last Android-powered tablet to elicit anything but indifference was the Pixel C, and its confusing roots and questionable value left it far from being universally praised. The only tablet line not made by Apple that seems to get consistent acknowledgment in terms of sales success is Amazon's Kindle Fire family, which are based on Android but run Amazon's incompatible Fire OS fork.

This weekend's poll is about proper Android tablets - not the Amazon knockoffs.

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