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Android Handhelds Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Best Android Tablet For Travel? 356

PerlJedi writes "I am planing a long trip (to Ireland), and want to buy an Android tablet to take along for the trip. I am a software engineer (I actually work for Slashdot), a Linux geek, and an Android fan. I would like to get a tablet primarily to use for entertainment (when I'm not working or building robots in my workshop, I'm usually playing with my phone), but something I could get some work done from in a pinch would be a major plus (all I need to be able to work is a Web browser, and an ssh terminal, preferably with a keyboard). My current cell phone is the Samsung Charge, rooted and running GummyCharge 2.1, and it is a good bet I'll want to root whatever tablet I get, if not right away, soon after getting it. From an entertainment standpoint I want something that is large enough to watch high definition videos on, with a battery life that will make it practical for use on a long flight. Having a decent camera would be a nice plus, but is not an absolute necessity. Having a forward facing camera for video chat would also be good, but is also not a necessity." PerlJedi's got a few options in mind; read on for the details of his reasoning and help him fulfill his quest.
"My brief initial search has yielded the following initial contenders:
  • Asus Transformer Prime: This is currently my favorite, for a few reasons: Tegra 3 quad core processor (that's just plain cool); it's designed with a docking station in mind, making it perfect for using for work; sleek, thin design; light weight; available with up to 64 GB. It is on the pricey side, though.
  • Toshiba Thrive: I must admit, I know very little about this one. Unlike the others, I have not heard much hype around it. From what I've read thus far, pros include: full-size SD slot; full USB support; full HDMI support. Cons: Bulkier and heavier than its opponents.
  • Motorola XOOM: This one has been available for some time, which can be both good and bad. Its problems should be known and understood by now, but it's lost some of the sex appeal of the new product.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab: The Galaxy tab line has also been on the market for a while. It does have some added appeal to me because my phone is also from Samsung, so the rooting processes, and available ROMs, will be more familiar to me.
  • Sony Tablet S: Like the Toshiba, I have heard little hype about this tablet. Its feature set also seems similar to the Toshiba. I must admit here, I may be a bit biased against Sony over some of their recent treatment of the hacker/maker community."
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Ask Slashdot: Best Android Tablet For Travel?

Comments Filter:
  • Transformer (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tsingi ( 870990 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .kcir.maharg.> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:39PM (#38529678)
    I have a Transformer, a Novo 7 (China) and an iPad. I paid for the Transformer, the others are company owned test units. I like them all. I haven't tried the Transformer with a keyboard, should have bought it. But that might be the one you want.
  • Check out Lenovo (Score:5, Informative)

    by strangeattraction ( 1058568 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:40PM (#38529686)
    Check out lenovo
  • by Macthorpe ( 960048 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:42PM (#38529726) Journal

    Even without the keyboard, I've barely put mine down in the months since I bought it. You might be better off trying to pick up the original on the cheap now that its successor is on the way - it's a good, solid piece of hardware and it can be rooted easily too.

  • Re:Transformer (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:45PM (#38529772) Homepage Journal

    I have a Transformer with the keyboard, and I can recommend it.

    Not as smooth a user interface as an iPad (it jerks while scrolling), but like the OP, I wanted an Android tablet.

  • Transformer (Score:5, Informative)

    by The_Deacon ( 137827 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:45PM (#38529782)

    I have a friend who sounds almost identical in his needs ... he was traveling (3 months in Japan) and wanted something he could throw in his backpack and work from (web, ssh) if needed, without having to lug around a laptop. He got the ASUS Transformer with keyboard, and loves it -- he still uses it every day, and this is almost a year after buying it. Plus the doubled battery life the keyboard provides is really nice.

  • by flibuste ( 523578 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:48PM (#38529802)

    I own a Xoom and a Transformer. I love both.
    The Xoom feels less plastic and more sturdy than the Transformer, and since the 3.2 update, the Xoom is just as great as the Transformer as used as a tablet-only. I actually prefer it to the Transformer. Now, the Transformer with the keyboard is just another piece of awesome for daily stuff.

    So for your usage pattern I will definitely recommend the Transformer with the keyboard.

  • Xoom (Score:4, Informative)

    by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:53PM (#38529876)

    I have a Xoom that I travel with constantly and I can put multiple movies on the removable SD card quite easily. I've also purchased Asus Transformers for the kids and we've taken all of them on long trips internationally without any problems.

    The only negative I have on all of the tablets is the lack of a standard charge interface, like a micro USB for example. The ASUS has one standard, the Motorola has a 12V plug that's different etc. It's just like cell phones. SO if you're expecting to travel light just plan on bringing another charger along as well.

  • Re:Thrive (Score:4, Informative)

    by chrylis ( 262281 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:57PM (#38529918)

    Additionally, the Thrive has two power quirks that I appreciate: Its battery is easily replaceable, and it sacrifices the ability to charge via USB for a 30W power supply that can charge its battery from zero to full in 90 minutes. For typical business use, I only need to charge it about 30 minutes daily.

  • Re:Check out Lenovo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:57PM (#38529922)

    For those too lazy to Google: here you go [lenovo.com]

  • Re:nook color cm (Score:4, Informative)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @04:13PM (#38530100)

    Nook color, cyanogen. Refurb can be found for 120$. You can do all you state from it, and can buy 4 of them for the price of other shiny devices.

    The OP mentioned "video chat" in his wish list, so presumably he wants to use something like Skype for voice over IP.

    The Nook Color has no microphone capability (but the new Nook Tablet has a built-in Mic).

  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @04:19PM (#38530156)
    Your question will garner far more posts like the one above but I will add my 0.02.

    I like the original Transformer (TF101-A1) [google.com] very much and would suggest you take a look at it if the Prime [engadget.com] is too pricey for what you want. The Prime is currently the only shipping Tegra 3 [wikipedia.org] system I know of so to lump it in with the rest of your list isn't quit fair. While it's still yet to be field proven all indicators point to the Tegra 3 being quite a capable chip which will run for a very long time on a single charge.

    Toshiba's Thrive is an interesting tablet. I have only tested it in store but I like it for the most part. The full size ports are a definite plus and the rubbery backing make for a slip free experience.

    I don't have any experience with the Xoom or the Galaxy but you mentioned rooting and I was curious if you had posed this question over at XDA? [xda-developers.com] I choose my android devices on price and rootability so the Nook Color [xda-developers.com] has been my recommendation to all my non-technical friends looking for a cheap tablet.

    Sony likes to cut off its nose to spite its face. Given their treatment [wikipedia.org] of Geohot [wikipedia.org] I would steer clear if you are looking for rooting. I'm sure you can root them just not sure what Sony's response will be to it.
  • Re:Transformer (Score:4, Informative)

    by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @04:38PM (#38530374)

    He said scrolling on his Transformer isn't as smooth as the iPad. The Transform and Transformer Prime are 2 different products. The Prime is a quad code, but not the older Transformer model.

  • Re:Transformer (Score:4, Informative)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @04:40PM (#38530404) Homepage Journal
    Get a nook color (they're going pretty cheap now, even new).

    Root it, put cyanogenmod7 on it...and voila!! You have a quite functional Android tablet for pennies on the dollar of a store bought 'tablet'.

    Drawbacks? Yes, no camera, no GPS and no 3G.

    I find that pretty much anywhere I want to use a tablet, there are free wifi there....I just traveled with mine over the holidays, and it was great for flying, watching videos (I watched the Led Zeppelin DVD set, and some rifftrax of movies). I have a decent set of in-ear phones (Shure SE530's, great sound, and isolation even on a plane)...paired with my rooted nook color, it was great.

    I have pretty much full access to the Android mkt with it, so I can get most any games or apps I want...there are ssh ones, GPG ones as well as email client ones that work with GPG...

    I've been very happy with the rooted nook color...good size, quality screen, sounds is good, battery life is good.

    And hey, if you *DO* want to use it as an ereader...pretty good at that too, I just put both the kindle and nook ereader on it from the android mkt.

  • by phikapjames ( 811889 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @05:16PM (#38531004)

    I couldn't agree more with this post. Do not discount the original transformer at all. At this point, I fully believe it is the best tegra2 android tablet (that is easily accessible to buy) that will fit your needs specified. I'm only going to discuss the original one and not the new Prime.

    The main reason that I love it so much is the dock. You mentioned that you want to use it for long trips, which with the attached dock, will give you a second battery to burn on the trip, and also make a nice stand for watching it on the tray in front of you. The keyboard with ssh is wonderful, as I use it all the time. It is very helpful for taking into meetings for taking notes also. It has all the good ports that every other one you mentioned as (some in dock and some in tablet), but some additional ones are:

    - The full sdcard reader, which will make looking at pictures from a camera nice
    - Full USB (on dock) which works good for watching moves off a usb flash drive instead of dealing with microsd cards or if you don't have enough internal storage
    - The ability to charge from USB (trickle). Seems minor, but my other tablet, Iconia can only be charged from the short corded adapter. It's annoying.

    I love that you don't have to use the dock though. I probably only use the dock about 15% of the time and the rest of the time is using it as a tablet. I also like the little touches that were added when you plug in external storage. The Iconia is difficult to navigate to the plugged in storage (microsd and usb). When you plug one of those into the transformer, it pops up a notification that you can then click to open up a file manager to that directory.

    When you do your searching though, here's a few things that caught me off guard when I was searching:
    - Make sure it supports all the ports you want. Some have hdmi, some don't have microsd or full size usb. Some don't have anything but a custom docking port that you need to buy adapters to use other ports with
    - Even if the tablet has a camera on the back, I would highly recommend that you only buy ones that also have a flash of some kind. Makes a big difference in the pictures even if it is a cheap LED. I believe the Thrive is one without a Flash, which surprised the heck out of my friend when he tried to take a picture afterwards.
    - It seemed minor at first, but the ability to charge through usb (or micro usb) is a huge ability for me. Even if it is only trickle charging ability, even if having to charge it overnight while you sleep slowly. This would have came in handy a lot on trips in the past.

  • Best answer for you (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @06:40PM (#38532238)

    Here is the Acer Iconia A500 tab (just tab, power supply, and microUSB cable) for 199.

    It has a USB OTG host so you can plug in your USB stick to add storage / transfer data.

    HoneyComb 3.1 already rooted, I suggest you root using this post

    Then install the ROM from tegraowners.com
    Thor there has a great HC 3.2 ROM and also a very good and promising ICS ROM.

    Also Ubuntu is being ported to it as well


  • Re:Hmmmmm.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:06PM (#38532570) Homepage

    You say that like none of us have never seen, used, or owned an iPad. Of course that's not true and your bullshit doesn't impress anyone.

    If he's considering Android, he's probably doing so because he does value his time or wants to do something that Apple Corp doesn't approve of (like Flash).

    Sometimes, there's no substitute for a device that's in the control of the user.

  • Re:Hmmmmm.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by AJH16 ( 940784 ) <aj AT gccafe DOT com> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:45PM (#38533020) Homepage

    They were conservative on the transformer. Ive gotten more than 18 hours of use out of mine with dock or 11 with just the tablet and the prime should be longer still.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.