The best (and worst) Android tablets

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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

You may not realise it by looking at market share data in the tablet category, but there are numerous alternatives to Apple's iPad available, most of which run on Google's Android platform.

(Credit: CBSi)

Unlike the iPad, Android tablets come in a range of sizes, with variations in connectivity options and features. Sizes range between 7 and 10.1 inches (or even as small as 5 inches if you count Samsung's "phablet", the Galaxy Note), and while some Android tablets match Apple's single proprietary port approach for charging and data transfers, others include full-size USB Host ports, SD cards slots and HDMI.

We've now reviewed well over a dozen Android tablets here at CNET Australia, and while we have a few favourites, overall we've been disappointed with the range so far. The hardware design of these machines has been pretty uninspired to date, with a few notable exceptions, and the performance of Google's Honeycomb version of the Android OS leaves a lot of room for improvement.

We're anticipating a big leap forward in performance for the next generation of Android tablets, with the introduction of the Ice Cream Sandwich software update and new quad-core processors. So if you're in the market for an Android tablet, but not in any great hurry, we think it's worth waiting for the next batch of tablets before committing to buying one.

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JohnBarrettRose posted a comment   

Ordered a 7" tablet and a leatherette carry folder with keyboard from LIGHT IN THE BOX, through Amazon.

The goods were shipped from China, and attracted both import duty and V.A.T. (Merhwerststeur) on arrival in Europe. There was no warning of this on the Amazon page which advertised the goods.

Leatherette folder is made of cardboard covered with thin plastic, and glued with a sticky glue which fell apart on first use. Substandard, shoddy goods, not as described. A swindle.

7" tablet works okay, but the battery runs out after ninety minutes. Substandard goods.

LIGHT IN THE BOX is a dishonest Chinese company which should be avoided. It is one more of the swarm of swindlers climbing like a gang of monkeys onto the Amazon wagon.

Amazon of course takes the money for advertising these cheats, but not responsibility.


cubspike posted a comment   
United States

Three year Android veteran here..and I have to agree with other commentators...My two tablets have been disasters. Many are poorly designed, have "customizations" that don't improve or actually harm the user experience, tons of bloatware apps that you can't remove.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is no better...After 3 updates it's still buggy as heck with little functional or practical improvements. Instead we get "face recognition unlock"...Doesn't work well and we really didn't need was designed so that the Google/Android software engineers could show off. Why work on something boring and mundane like Email know, things we users really need and have been asking for for years (check the forums).
Google's apps are some of the worst offenders as well. Maps and Earth experience a "force close (app stops working..fails) at least once every time I try and use them. The Photo Gallery is constantly freezing up and I can't use. The two email apps (yes, for Gmail only, the other for POP emails), camera, gallery, and many more are very basic with a lot of functionality missing. And while there are third-party options in the Play Store, many are hindered by closed APIs...meaning functions and information can't be shared or utilized by these apps. And even when you find a replacement're stuck with the original you aren't using, because you can't uninstall/remove it. It is an incredibly frustrating ecosystem..full of dead ends.
Finally...regarding apps. You'll find that most are not optimized for a tablet...meaning you get the phone version...just larger or stretched out. They are ugly, waste screen space and do a tablet no justice. While it's easy to blame developers, Google/Android hasn't done much to encourage or drive this optimization. Google's own apps are beautifully optimized for the screen, but as usual for Google, the apps are "half-finished"...too simple, lack of function, and some (other than Gmail or other high profile apps) rarely see any updates or improvements.
Last thing...The Play Store is horrible...can't find anything, no useful search filters or sorting. And don't let the high "number of apps available" impress you. The majority of those aren't really apps (themes, add-ons, private items for small, special groups, 500 apps that are just quotes on a wallpaper, etc). Of the actual apps, there are lots of bad ones, With the limitations that Google has set through closed APIs , etc..many apps for one function, few to none for others you may need. Number of apps in the store does NOT equate to popularity or quality of the devices.

Signed..."buying a Windows 8 tablet next month"


FranT posted a comment   

I believe ANDROID should be removed from the market and replaced with a working piece of machinery thst you do.not hsve to be an IT specialist in order to operate. I purchaed n Android "smart" phone, being the "not-so-smart" person I am. It was, I must say, very attractive, but who cares about that if you are ubable to operate it. I thought it was something I was doing wrong but after 4 months of talking with customer service day after day after day, they finally relented and admitted I was issued a defective phone. Now when you pay as much as I did for a piece of communication equipment, you would think they would replace it with a brand new phone - not a refurbished piece of crap. The new phone does not work any better than the first one did. And I am very very angry !! I want a phone I can reky on, as s matter if fact it is not a want but a NEED - I have been diagnosed with the "Big C" and have a dangerous fall risk and need to be able to get in touch with someone right away if I should end up Flat on my face after a fall and not being able to call for help. I want something simple and functional. Anyone have any suggestions?? My best and with gratitude, Briana


EehanS posted a reply   

Try an oldschool nokia if you want to be able to ring someone when you need too...


Ripp_R posted a comment   

Yeah and steer FAR away from OZANDROIDTABLETS... Who did nothing but lie to me and try to scam me.. Sent wrong gear with wrong adapters and in the end I had to get my money back from Paypal.


bazza4.0 posted a reply   

Ozandroidtablets does not list a phone number or address, their only form of contact is online chat or email. If they decide to ignore you, there is nothing you can do. They don't list an ABN or date on their invoices. My tablet from them died after 6 months; however, their 1 year warranty on products is useless if they refuse to acknowledge communications. Like Cheryl, lodging a complaint through NSW Department of Fair Trading - not that I expect to see any money come back. AVOID.


CherylF posted a comment   

Purchased an android from Android Tablets Australia Dec 11, have had problems for the last 7 weeks and ATA will not respond in any way. Would not recommend the products they sell or the company as there is no such thing as "customer service". Now going through Fair Trading.

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