Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 P5100

The Good
  • A new silver exterior looks much more slick than its white predecessor
  • Large screen for easy readability and navigation
The Bad
  • Thicker and heavier than the original Galaxy Tab
  • Lackluster speakers when listening to movies or music
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is a worthy competitor against other heavyweights in the marketplace, though it lacks the thinner-and-lighter improvements that we’ve come to expect from the latest tablets.

R5,632.99
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The Galaxy Tab 2: Samsung’s Successor to the Original

Samsung’s original Galaxy Tab was designed by the company to be the first solid competitor over Apple’s dominance of the tablet space, and it did a great job at introducing consumers to the power of Android on a tablet-sized device. As with all things tech, though, a revision was necessary in order to include more powerful hardware and better features that could continue to win over new customers.

Design & Features

Samsung’s P5100 follow-up tablet is made of plastic, with the same exterior shell that accompanied the original Galaxy Tab. A major differentiator between the two models is the Galaxy Tab 2’s brushed silver exterior, which compares favorably to the white and black models of the original Galaxy Tab. We found the minimalist, silver design to be quite pleasing to the eye, and sturdy in the hand, making the device feel like a premium competitor.

Samsung packs its tablet with the familiar TouchWiz user interface, which can also be found on virtually all of the company’s Android-based smartphones. A number of proprietary apps are included in an effort to enrich the multimedia and gaming experience on the device, including Samsung’s own Music Hub, Game Hub, Media Hub offerings. The applications are a great alternative to the standard Android experience, though many of Android’s native apps and user interface elements have been retained.

Hardware

A 1GHZ processor accompanies this model, along with space for a miniSIM and a microSD card slot. Connectivity options include home Wi-Fi and mobile HSPA networks around the world. Front and rear cameras are included, with the rear camera capable of 720p video and 3 megapixel photos. One gigabyte of RAM comes standard, as does either 16GB or 32GB of included storage.

Software

The Galaxy Tab 2 runs Android 4.0, called “Ice Cream Sandwich” by Google. An upgrade has been released that allows the device to install Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” as well.

Display

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 offers, as its name implies, a 10.1-inch screen with a great resolution and vivid colors. It should be noted, though, that the device’s colors are noticeably less bright than on the previous generation’s screen.

Conclusion

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 is a great competitor that is bound to convert people from their iPads and Kindles. The company embraces Android and supplements with its own apps, enriching the media experience while providing fast, responsive hardware. Overall, the follow-up to the original Galaxy Tab is a worthy successor and a strong option for consumers.

The Good
  • A new silver exterior looks much more slick than its white predecessor
  • Large screen for easy readability and navigation
The Bad
  • Thicker and heavier than the original Galaxy Tab
  • Lackluster speakers when listening to movies or music
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is a worth competitor against other heavyweights in the marketplace, though it lacks the thinner-and-lighter improvements that typically accompany newer generations of hardware in today’s competitive market for new tablets.

R5,632.99
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Google Nexus 10 South Africa

The Good
  • Excellent, vibrant screen
  • Vanilla Android 4.2
  • First-class specs for budget price
The Bad
  • The device’s charger can’t keep up with battery drain during games
  • No removable storage option
  • No 3G/4G version available
The Verdict
★★★★☆

Like it’s smaller brother, the Nexus 10 offers top-end specs at a mid-range price. The only real negatives of the Nexus 10 are the limited storage capacity of 32GB max coupled with the lack of 3G/4G.

R6,499.99
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Nexus 10 [Review]

Google’s Android operating system has already achieved dominance in the smartphone world, and the company is looking to do the same with tablets. It started its ambitious road toward tablet dominance with the all around amazing Nexus 7 device, featuring a 7-inch screen, and it continues that journey with its ten-inch Nexus 10 offering. The device is larger, offers an excellent screen, and comes with the same great features that consumers have come to expect from devices with the Nexus label.

Google Nexus 10 Design

The Nexus 10 tablet is well designed, and it looks like something that might be found on Apple’s Cupertino campus on any given day. The vibrant screen is surrounded by a thick black border, with a sleek back and keeps the tablet thin and light. That thin and light construction shouldn’t be overlooked by consumers, especially because this tablet features a ten-inch screen that can easily weight down otherwise lightweight devices.

Volume controls are placed on the side of the Nexus 10, and a 3.5mm headphone jack is included for listening to music privately or gaming without disrupting other activities going on nearby. Those controls are hidden well, though, to emphasize the otherwise clean design of the tablet.

Features

Without a doubt, the most eye-catching feature of the Nexus 10 is a Google app that the company has decided to call Photo Sphere. The app uses the built-in camera to capture 3D images of the world around the tablet. This is unlike virtually any other app included with any other tablet on the market, and it’s a seriously cool feature that will rope in new customers with all kinds of interests. When considered alongside the extremely affordable price tag for this tablet, it creates a much higher value proposition than many competing models on the market.

On top of this feature is Google’s commitment to “vanilla” Android user experiences for those who purchase its Nexus line of devices. There are no overlays or tweaks here. Instead, a plan Android experience allows for constant updates, smooth operation, and a perfect user experience.

Unfortunately, Google decided to limit the maximum storage on the Nexus 10 to 32GB and with no expandable memory capabilities this might prove too restrictive for users that have become accustomed to the larger storage capacity of a top-end iPad for example. On the upside, being tied into the Google environment, the Nexus 10 obviously integrates well with cloud-based storage via the Google Drive, which offers another handy 5GB of emergency storage.

Hardware

Google’s flagship tablet device is powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core processor that is paired with a robust 2GB of RAM. That makes the Nexus 10 snappy in virtually every setting, which is a great benefit in light of Android’s “true” multi-tasking environment. Wireless connectivity is provided by 802.11 a/b/g/n, though 802.11ac is left out of the mix for now. All told, it’s a very fast experience that comes close to the Apple A6 experience on the latest iPad.

Software

Google’s Nexus line is famous for including plain Android, instead of the overlays and enhanced user interfaces found on phones by the likes of Samsung, HTC, and many others. For this reason, the tablet should be considered a developer powerhouse. It’s also a great buy for those who are concerned about receiving regular Android OS updates from Google in the future.

The user experience on the device is really great, though very different from competing tablet models. It will take some getting used to, but navigating the various settings and home screens will come naturally in no time. One thing to note is that most apps are still designed for mobile phones, with no tablet version available. This makes it feel as though the Nexus 10 is just a really, really big phone, a lot of the time.

Display

A high DPI display is included with the Nexus 10, making it easy to read large blocks of text for long periods of time. The screen can easily show off HD video, and displays a more vibrant set of hues than many competing displays on other tablet models. Of note to those weighing the differences between the Nexus and tablets from other manufacturers is that the Nexus features a higher resolution even than Apple’s Retina iPad display. With that kind of readability, even long hours of reading and working won’t cause stress headaches or blurry vision.

Conclusion

The Nexus 10 is a capable tablet that is held back only by the lack of expandable storage and no support for 3G/4G connectivity. Otherwise, the Nexus 10’s hardware and features are seriously attractive for those who count themselves among the growing Android community in South Africa.

The Good
  • Excellent, vibrant screen
  • Vanilla Android 4.2
  • First-class specs for budget price
The Bad
  • The device’s charger can’t keep up with battery drain during games
  • No removable storage option
  • No 3G/4G version available
The Verdict
★★★★☆

Like it’s smaller brother, the Nexus 10 offers top-end specs at a mid-range price. The only real negatives of the Nexus 10 are the limited storage capacity coupled with the lack of 3G/4G.

R6,499.99
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Sony Tablet S

The Good
  • unique design
  • PlayStation certified
  • TruBlack technology
The Bad
  • expensive
  • WiFi connection only
  • few purchasable videos
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

The unique design gives the Sony Tablet S tabletop advantages, but the lack of 3G or 4G connection speeds can be a little annoying. This is a good tablet with just a few limitations.

R5,949.95
Buy Now

Sony Tablet S [Review]

The unique design gives the Sony Tablet S tabletop advantages, but the lack of 3G or 4G connection speeds can be a little annoying. This is a good tablet with just a few limitations.

Design & Features

The design is a unique selling point for the Sony Tablet S. Most tablets are completely flat, but you usually need to set the tablet at an edge to avoid any glares. The Sony Tablet S has a bevel in the back that puts it at a slight angle when placed flat on a table or lap. This makes it much easier to see the tablet, and hands-free usage is much more intuitive.

The rest of the tablet looks very sleek. The back of this tablet is somewhat textured to help keep it in place. This is much better than smooth tablets, as this will ensure that the tablet is not moving all over the place when put on a table.

The features are basically identical to those built into the Android 3.1 OS, but the Sony Tablet S does have a few unique features. You get Sony’s Video Unlimited Service, but there aren’t many videos up there right now.

The tablet can also automatically function as a universal remote. The remote quickly integrates with devices, but the controller itself is limited by basic commands.

Since Sony built this tablet, the Tablet S is PlayStation certified. The only bad thing about this is that you need to buy the games from Sony before you can play them.

Hardware

The hardware for the Tablet S isn’t bad, but it isn’t groundbreaking. You get a 1GHz processor, and you also get 1GB of RAM. You can also choose between a 16GB or 32GB hard drive. The rear camera is five megapixels, but the front one is one 0.3 megapixels.

The hardware is rather standard, but there is one place where the Tablet S excels: battery life. The battery should last about eight hours on a normal charge. This is longer than most of the other modern tablets, so that should give you a good amount of time to work or have fun.

Software

The Tablet S is loaded with the Android 3.1 OS, but it really only comes with the pre-installed apps common to that OS. There are a few Sony specific apps that were covered in the “Features” section that can be nice.

You do have access to Google Play, so that enables you to buy from the many apps there. The software is good just starting out, but it’s really nothing out of the norm.

Display

The resolution and screen size are both very good for this tablet. The resolution is a crisp 1280-by-800. This should make all the games and videos look great when you play them. The screen size is also 9.4 inches. That isn’t huge, but it’s still a good size that will do very well with the Internet, or anything else you plan to use this tablet for.

One interesting thing about this tablet is that it has TruBlack technology. This technology is used more often in Sony’s TVs, but it really works with this tablet.

TruBlack technology is a new way of displaying black that makes it richer. This causes better contrast on the screen, and this makes the colors really pop. Everything looks more vibrant, and it all comes together beautifully.

Some people have complained that the screen is too dark. There are brightness controls, but even the brightest setting can sometimes look dark. This problem usually isn’t too bad, but some darker games or movies may be a little difficult to watch.


Conclusion

While the Sony Tablet S is limited in a few areas, it is still a very powerful tablet that has some interesting features, and it comes with a useful design. The Tablet S doesn’t differentiate itself much from the basic Android OS, but you can still customize your software by just buying a few apps.

This is a good tablet, and it is definitely worth the money. Try it out, and you will see how good the Tablet S can be.

The Good
  • unique design
  • PlayStation certified
  • TruBlack technology
The Bad
  • expensive
  • WiFi connection only
  • few purchasable videos
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

The unique design gives the Sony Tablet S tabletop advantages, but the lack of 3G or 4G connection speeds can be a little annoying. This is a good tablet with just a few limitations.

R5,949.95
Buy Now

Asus EEE Pad Transformer

The Good
  • Offers good value for money at around R 5 000
  • Handy keyboard dock
  • High quality screen
The Bad
  • Slightly outdated with the release of the Transformer Prime
  • Slightly overpriced in South Africa
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

The Transformer Prime is slightly dated, has some minor software issues and is just that little bit overpriced in the local market

R5,949.95
Buy Now

Asus EEE Pad [Review]

With the release of the first quad-core tablet, Asus has firmly established the Transformer Prime as the Android tablet to beat going into 2012. But the first release of its innovative EEE Pad Transformer Ranges with the optional keyboard dock still holds its own against many current tablet models. Read our review below to find out more.

Design & Features

What sets the EEE Pad apart from similarly priced Honeycomb tablets is its superior build and design. Whilst it continues the all-plastic approach we’ve come to expect from Android tablets – like the Samsung Galaxy Tab series – it feels and handles more like an iPad 2. It’s glossy, black and has a stylish strip of bronzed metal running around the side of the black bezel. The EEE Pad is quite slim at only 13mm, and comes with a curved back design that makes the tablet slightly easier to hold but does mean that it rocks to and fro when placed on a flat surface.

At a weight of 680g it is the heaviest tablet after the new iPad and we’ve found that one-handed use for extended periods to be somewhat strained. But of course that’s what the optional keyboard dock’s partly here for – to remedy the need to constantly keep your hands on the tablet to get it in an optimum position.

On the right edge are the 3.5mm headphone jack, miniHDMI slot, microSD slot and a very low-key speaker grille. There’s no standard USB on the tablet itself and data transfer is handled via a proprietary connector that doubles as both power point and USB connector. Whilst this does make the sides of the tablet appear more minimalist in design, we were not quite convinced by the merging of power and data transfer duties into a single proprietary connector.

Additional features include WiFi or 3G connectivity (depending on the model), GPS as well as dual cameras. A 1.2MP camera on the front, which is a little weak on the resolution side, with the rear facing camera offering a more decent 5MP. Pictures look ok when taken in steady, well lit conditions but video recording is not as great.

Hardware

The Asus Transformer runs on a speedy NVIDA Tegra 2 dual-core processor. Whilst obviously not as quick as its quad core counterpart found in the Transformer Prime, we found the 1GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM to handle most tasks quite efficiently.

The tablet comes in either 16GB or 32GB of on-board storage, which can be expanded via the microSD slots. The additional storage is quite useful, particularly as there is no 64GB version and space can become tight when loaded with lots of movies or pics.

Software

The Asus EEE Pad Transformer ships with Android 3.1 Honeycomb and comes preloaded with plenty of useful apps and features. Whilst you can always grab the apps you need from the Android Market, Asus does include some additional apps such as the ASUS Launcher, MyNet, MyLibrary, File Manager, MyCloud and PC Sync.

In additional, ASUS throws in a free 2GB account for its cloud based WebStorage service that comes in handy for storing extra files, music, videos and for general backup.

Display

Asus really did well to stretch the budget on this $399 tablet to include a gorgeous 10.1-inch IPS screen. And it does show – 1280 x 800 backlit WXGA LED monitor offers a beautiful, well saturated picture that maintained its vibrancy even when we tilted the tablet to test out ASUS’ promised 178-degree viewing angles.
The display on the Transformer is somewhat unconventional in that it is slightly broader when held horizontally in order to fit the length of the keyboard dock.


Conclusion

The EEE Pad Transformer was the best Honeycomb tablet when it was released and still holds its ground against many of the more recent tablet releases (such as the Xoom 2 for example). However, whilst it comes in at the all important sub $400 price tag in the US – the Transformer Prime is priced at almost R 6000 in South Africa. That price will probably include the keyboard dock as well – which is a great additional that really sets the Asus tablet family apart – however when considering you can get an iPad 2 for around the same, we do consider the EEE Pad Transformer to be slightly on the expensive side in South Africa.

If the price were to come down to reflect international pricing or should you purchase it overseas, then the Transformer provides decent value for money. But with additional releases of more budget versions of its flagship Transformer Prime, Asus should be offering more up-to-date models at lower price tags soon.

So the bottom lines is that the Transformer Prime is slightly dated, has some minor software issues and is just that little bit overpriced in the local market.

The Good
  • Offers good value for money at around R 5 000
  • Handy keyboard dock
  • High quality screen
The Bad
  • Slightly outdated with the release of the Transformer Prime
  • Slightly overpriced in South Africa
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

The Transformer Prime is slightly dated, has some minor software issues and is just that little bit overpriced in the local market

R5,949.95
Buy Now

Kindle Fire

The Good
  • Ultra affordable
  • Exceptional screen quality for the price
  • Access to Amazon’s extensive collection of books & magazines
The Bad
  • Limited features available in SA
  • Limited on-board storage, with no expansion slot
  • No 3G, camera, microphone or GPS
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

Whilst the Kindle Fire is not the best tablet that we’ve seen this year, it does provide an excellent alternative for buyers unwilling to fork out R 9000+ for the new iPad or wary of buying a knock-off piece of junk.

R2,399.99
Buy Now

Kindle Fire [Review]

With the Kindle Fire, Amazon has bridged the gap between what the latest techno-fetishist quad-core tablets are capable of doing and what consumers actually want – and that is to be entertained. And whilst not all Kindle Fire features are available in South Africa, it still packs enough of a punch to make the R 3000 odd Amazon Kindle Fire a worth wile purchase.

Design & Features

Similar to the BlackBerry Playbook or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, the Kindle Fire is a tablet with a 7-inch screen. Whilst the screen might initially appear too small if you’re used to the iPad’s much larger display, we found it perfectly adequate for reading e-books, browsing the web or watching a quick movie.

On the bottom of the Kindle Fire, you’ll find a headphone jack, a Micro-USB port, and a power button. An included wall adapter charges the tablet using the Micro-USB port (note: this is a US adapter – make sure you either purchase the optional USB charging cable or a suitable adapter). The back of the Kindle Fire is covered in a dull soft-touch black finish with the Kindle name embossed in the middle.

Whilst the Kindle Fire is somewhat limited in its features, many basic ones are covered. You can browse the web, email, play a variety of music files, read and edit common document files and transfer any media simply via a common Micro-USB connection from your laptop or PC.

Hardware

The Kindle Fire runs off a 1 GHz OMAP dual-core processor, which provides stable performance that will satisfy most users. If you’re planning on doing lots of processor intensive tasks or play games with souped up graphics, you should rather opt for something like the Transformer Prime with its quad-core insides.

Connectivity comes in the form of 802.11n Wi-Fi and USB 2.0 (Micro-B connector) – not that there is currenly to 3G support. We found the battery to deliver a solid 7 hours of video playback or roughly 8 hours of reading time.

Software

The Kindle Fire runs off a very heavily modified version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread, although the interface bears almost no resemblance to the Android OS.

This is where it gets interesting – whilst the Kindle Fire has access to a variety of third-party apps via the Amazon app store, these are not available in South Africa. There is a quick workaround for this, but it is important that customers outside of the US are aware of this limitation.

If you enable “sideloading” on your Kindle Fire, you will be able to upload most common apps such as Google’s app suite (Gmail, the Google App Market etc.) as well as most popular games (see here for a detailed guide on how to do this). Also, South Africans will not be able to consume any video or movies via Amazon’s Prime offering. However you can purchase books & magazines as you would with any Kindle in South Africa.

Display


The Kindle Fire’s multi-touch display uses the same IPS technology as the iPad, which makes for quick and responsive touch navigation and scrolling. Unlike many of its competitors, the Kindle Fire has a 7 inch display with a resolution 1024 pixels by 600 pixels.

The more widescreen resolution actually makes the screen look a bit larger when viewing movies but the overall smaller screen size is not ideal if you are planning on using your tablet primarily to surf the web. Unfortunately, the screen’s brightness is also not quite on par with the iPad’s, but it’s fairly close and definitely bright enough to look great indoors.

If your looking to use the tablet primarily in direct sunlight, you would probably be better off with an e-ink Kindle.

Conclusion

When compared against most other popular tablets, the Kindle Fire can’t really compete. It lacks the depth of features that most tablets now offer as standard, its performance is lagging behind modern quad-core processors and its 7-inch screen is somewhat limiting. However, these tablets usually cost about three to four times as much as the Kindle Fire.

Even with the limitations of the device in South Africa, we can say that the tablet offers some if not the best value for money. Just make sure you understand exactly what features are available and which ones aren’t to avoid disappointment.



So for around R 2000-R3000 we rate the Kindle Fire a buy – however if you can spare the additional expense you are much better served with one of the more advanced tablets.

The Good
  • Ultra affordable
  • Exceptional screen quality for the price
  • Access to Amazon’s extensive collection of books & magazines
The Bad
  • Limited features available in SA
  • Limited on-board storage, with no expansion slot
  • No 3G, camera, microphone or GPS
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

Whilst the Kindle Fire is not the best tablet that we’ve seen this year, it does provide an excellent alternative for buyers unwilling to fork out R 9000+ for the new iPad or wary of buying a knock-off piece of junk.

R2,399.99
Buy Now

Asus Transformer Prime

The Good
  • Thinner than iPad 2
  • Fastest tablet on the market (Quad-core Nvidia Tegra3 processor)
  • MicroSD and Micro-HDMI for expanded storage capabilities
  • 8mp Camera for best detail and colour
  • Optional keyboard dock
The Bad
  • When connected to the keyboard dock, tablet is top-heavy and easy to flip over
The Verdict
★★★★☆

The Asus EEE Transformer Prime is the best Android tablet currently available. It combines a sexy design, with an impressive camera and superfast quad-core processing power.

R6,699.99
Buy Now

Asus Transformer Prime [Review]

Since the release of iPad 2, there hasn’t really been a tablet available that could compete with Apple’s benchmark tablet. However, with the arrival of the Asus Transformer Prime, we could finally have a robust, powerful and sexy Android tablet that can challenge the iPad 2.
Being the only tablet to currently feature a quad-core processor and an industry first 8 mega-pixel camera, it certainly has the potential to shake things up a bit.

Design & Features

The Asus Transformer Prime comes in two colours, amethyst gray (gray and purple) and champagne gold (silver and gold). We got the champagne version of the tablet and whilst some say the metallic spun finish is reminiscent of kitchen pots, we liked the real metal feel it gave to the tablet. It’s also not as prone to finger print smudges.

The Asus Transformer Prime is thinner than the iPad 2 and weighs in at roughly the same. The screen is very similar to most touchscreen tablets, with a minimalist design & branding, high gloss surface and a tiny dot at the top for the 1.2 megapixel camera. The edges on the back of the Prime are smoothly rounded and sit comfortably in your hand. On the left hand side, the device incorporates a microSD slot, a Micro HDMI port as well as volume controls and the microphone jack. The right side contains the speakers as well as the headphone jack. A 40-pin connector port for data/power is located on the bottom.

On the back of the Asus Prime, we find the 8 megapixel camera which can also record video in 1080p resolution. As the only tablet to currently offer an 8 megapixel camera, we found the shutter speed to be nearly instantaneous and the 2.4f aperture of the Prime’s camera produced welcome additional detail in low-light situations.

Another area where the Prime over delivers is in outstanding sound quality – the tiny speaker carried ample bass and surprised with an overall impressive clarity. A slightly higher volume would have been nice, as the iPad 2 easily comes out top in this regard.

Battery life was comparable to other Android tablets, and we were able to use the Transformer Prime continuously all day without needing a charge.

One key feature that distinguishes the Transformer Prime is its optional keyboard dock. This nifty little gadget transforms the Prime into a stylish, ultra-slim Android laptop and includes a touch pad, a 40-pin data/power connection port on the left, and a full-size SD slot and USB port on the right. The process of attaching the two devices has received a major upgrade with the release of the Transformer Prime and the tablet now clips in easily into the dock. Whilst the keyboard dock is totally optional, it does add up to 18hrs of battery life to the Asus Transformer Prime. The only downside is that the tablet/keyboard combo is somewhat top heavy and can easily tip over.

Hardware

With the Nvidia Tegra 3, the Prime is the first android tablet to include a quad-core processor and thus makes it the fastest tablet currently available in South Africa. The Prime is available in both 32GB and 64GB models and also comes standard with 1GB of RAM. Additional features include 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a gyroscope, and GPS.

The Prime can connect to an HDTV or monitor via its Micro-HDMI port and you can play Android games with Xbox 360 or PS3 game pads.

Software

The Transformer Prime ships with Honeycomb 3.2.1. but can be upgraded to the latest Android OS Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). ICS 4.0.2. is the latest version of Android and this is the first time ICS is available on tablets (having previously only been available on smartphones).

If you register at Asus WebStorage you will qualify for 8GB of free cloud storage courtesy of Asus MyCloud for the lifetime of the Prime.

You can access the Prime’s root directory easily via the The File Manager, which provides easy navigation of all files stored on your drive or expanded memory. MyNet lets you stream content to DLNA-enabled devices on your network, and you can purchase and read books with MyLibrary, Asus’ e-reader software.

You can directly control at what speed your CPU is running from the Android interface. This can save on battery life, as you can switch between Normal Mode (CPU runs at full speed), Balanced or Power Saving mode.

Asus also adds a Super IPS+ (In-Plane Switching) mode, which boosts the tablet’s screen brightness, making reading in sunlight a bit easier. There’s also a feature that lets you take screenshots using the Recent Apps button.

Display

The boost from Asus’ improved Super IPS+ mode on screen brightness was immediately noticeable – the screen is clear and sharp, and screen transitions are extremely smooth and responsive. The resolution and overall contrast on the IPS display are impressive, and with Super IPS+ the display offers the highest brightness we’ve yet seen on a tablet. However, both the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 seem to better capable of rendering dynamic colours.

Conclusion

The Asus Transformer Prime is the best full-featured Android tablet yet. It combines refined design and looks just as good as the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 10.1, and its standard list of apps and software makes it one of the most user friendly tablets available. It expands its core offering with great video playback, impressive sound and an industry leading 8 mega pixel camera. Whilst game developers are still catching up to fully exploiting the processing boost of the quad-core processor, overall game performance on the Prime is easily comparable of not better than on the iPad 2.

The optional keyboard dock provides useful additional features and transforms the Asus Prime into a super thin, super stylish ultrabook.

The Asus Transformer Prime will be available in South Africa from mid-Feb 2012 at R 6 368 for the 32GB version and R 7 719 for the 64GB version [check latest prices]. The dock/keyboard is sold separately and will set you back an additional R 1 500.

The Good
  • Thinner than iPad 2
  • Fastest tablet on the market (Quad-core Nvidia Tegra3 processor)
  • MicroSD and Micro-HDMI for expanded storage capabilities
  • 8mp Camera for best detail and colour
  • Optional keyboard dock
The Bad
  • When connected to the keyboard dock, tablet is top-heavy and easy to flip over
The Verdict
★★★★☆

The Asus EEE Transformer Prime is the best Android tablet currently available. It combines a sexy design, with an impressive camera and superfast quad-core processing power.

R6,699.99
Buy Now

Motorola Xoom 2

The Good
  • Great design, balancing looks & ergonomics
  • Crisp, clear screen
  • Good battery life
The Bad
  • Limited internal storage, with no expansion options
  • Too expensive
  • Screen very prone to smudging
  • No confirmed update to Ice Cream Sandwich
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

Whilst the Xoom 2 is a solid improvement on the original, it doesn’t take the lead against new age quad-core tablets like the Transformer Prime or the new and improved iPad.

R5,789.99
Buy Now

Xoom 2 [Review]

With the Xoom 2, Motorola have delivered a solid improvement on the original Xoom tablet. Whilst the original Xoom marked the first tablet to be released with Honeycomb, the Xoom 2 arrives at a point where the tablet market is dominated by Apple’s iPad 2 and the Transformer Prime.

So how does the Xoom 2 fare against these benchmark tablets?

Design & Features

With its super thin profile of just 8.8mm and weighing in at a very competitive 599g, the Xoom 2 definitely comes close to challenging the iPad 2. Overall, the Xoom 2 feels very well put together, with little flex in the cover and a soft plastic edging, surrounding a gun-metal coloured back panel. The matte plastic is superbly grippy, while the metallic look lend a bit of class – overall it’s a great balance of looks and ergonomics.

Interestingly, Motorola has given the corners of the Xoom 2 and angular slant – whilst this didn’t really impact the user experience in our tests, it is good to see Motorola trying to differentiate itself from the standard iPad themed tablet designs that have almost become industry standard.

The only physical buttons on the outside of the Xoom 2 are the volume control and the on-off button. They’re both slightly rubberised and set quite low into the body. The top ridge contains two stereo speakers and the 3.5mm headphone jack and on at the bottom you’ll find micro-USB and mini HDMI ports.

The back of the Xoom 2 features a 5 megapixel camera – luckily Motorola realised that having the camera over to one side was not the best placement and have moved it into the middle this time around. The camera can also capture video at 720p and 30fps, but its slow autofocus make for somewhat subpar results.

Hardware

Inside, the Xoom 2 features a bumped up 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM. Whilst we’re no longer bowled over by dual-core processors since the release of the Asus Transformer Prime, the Xoom 2 easily copes with intense multi-tasking and was able to switch between open apps without hesitation. It’s also got enough juice to tackle demanding 3D games.

In addition there’s 16GB of storage. If you want optimal use from your tablet, we’d consider 16GB as the bare minimum storage capacity on any tablet. Unfortunately, the Xoom 2 is not available in higher-capacity alternatives and Motorola has done away with optional memory expansion slots via microSD which leaves the Xoom 2 aggravatingly limited in terms of on-board storage.

Currently the Xoom 2 is Wi-Fi only and does not offer 3G connectivity.

Display

The 10.1 inch screen on the Xoom 2 is made from Gorilla Glass, which promises to be more scratch resistant but unfortunately smudges even easier than conventional tablet screens. And we mean very easily!
The 1280 x 800 pixels do a good job of rendering clear and vibrant colours and the IPS panel technology ensures wide viewing angle.

Software

Unfortunately, the Xoom 2 currently runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb – the version of Android designed to run on tablets before Ice Cream Sandwich came along. There are rumours of a pending update to ICS so we’re keeping our fingers crossed…

If you’re not too worried about which version of Android you’re running, then the Honeycomb experience on the Xoom 2 has a lot to offer. You have full customisability of your home screen, and can move apps around depending on your preference much like you would on an iPad. The bottom of the screen contains handy navigational buttons, allowing you to go back, switch to the home screen, or display a carousel of currently active apps and tabs.

Whilst the quad-core Transformer Prime obviously provides more processing power, paired up against a similar sized and specced Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Xoom 2’s overall responsiveness and speed comes out slightly on top.The Vellamo web browser offers up some very good web browsing with a clean, simple to use interface and full support for tabbed browsing.

The Xoom 2 comes pre-loaded with some useful, non-invasive apps such as Quickoffice HD, Twonky and Citrix and you can add media easily via Motorola’s own music streaming app, MotoCast.

Conclusion

The Xoom 2 is a stylish and overall improves update on the original Xoom. However the competition in the Android tablet market has gotten a lot tougher and the advances of the Xoom 2 are not enough to put it ahead of the superb Transformer Prime.

Even ignoring the sub-par processor speeds and outdated operating systems, the Xoom 2 struggles with some additional issues. Key among them is the limiting on-board storage of 16GB, with no additional expandable storage options. This forces users to rely on cloud storage for additional capacity, and without 3G support, accessing your files could become a headache.

Whilst the original Xoom was the best Honeycomb tablet when it was released, it was also the only Honeycomb tablet. With the release of the Transformer Prime, the benchmark for Android tablets has been pushed up significantly and unfortunately the Xoom 2 doesn’t offer enough to put it in the lead.

The Good
  • Great design, balancing looks & ergonomics
  • Crisp, clear screen
  • Good battery life
The Bad
  • Limited internal storage, with no expansion options
  • Too expensive
  • Screen very prone to smudging
  • No confirmed update to Ice Cream Sandwich
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

Whilst the Xoom 2 is a solid improvement on the original, it doesn’t take the lead against new age quad-core tablets like the Transformer Prime or the new and improved iPad.

R5,789.99
Buy Now

Apple iPad 3

The Good
  • Stunning Retina display
  • Superb interface
  • Widest availability of apps
The Bad
  • No quad-core processor
  • Apart from display, no massive changes from iPad 2
  • No support for Flash
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★★★

The new iPad 3 is an improved version of the iPad 2 – the best tablet on the market, which makes the new iPad our top tablet by default.

R7,899.00
Buy Now

iPad 3 [Review]

The release of the iPad 2 firmly established Apple’s iPad as the benchmark in the tablet industry. The release of the iPad 3 – officially simple called the new iPad – was marked by high expectations and hopes of quad-core processor or displays with haptic feedback.

Let’s have a look at what was actually shipped.

Design

Compared to some of the super-thin Android releases – like the Transformer Prime – we found the iPad 3 to feel somewhat “chunky” upon first picking it up. We checked the specs and confirmed this wasn’t just our imagination – the iPad 3 put on some weight and now comes in at 1.44 pounds and total thickness of .37 inches. Whilst the impact of the additional weight is somewhat minor, it does make holding the new iPad for longer period of time more strenuous than the Transformer Prime or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. for example.

Apart from the weight issue, the iPad 3 is very much like the iPad we have come to know and love. In true Apple fashion, immaculate attention to detail and superior build quality put the new iPad amongst the top designed tablets available. Since this is an Apple product, there are no additional ports along the outer ridges of the tablet and the surfaces are smooth and the edges fit comfortably into the palm of your hand.

Features

The key new features that the iPad 3 offers compared to its predecessor are a hugely improved display (more on that later), a better camera, 4G LTE connectivity and bumped-up specs.

Whilst the camera on the Apple iPad 2 was certainly not its strongest point, the iPad 3 upgrades the stock standard 0.7 megapixel camera to a 5 megapixel camera featuring a 5-element lens and other improvements. However, upon testing the iPad 3’s camera in a variety of light situations we found that whilst it handles pics in bright light adequate, image quality rapidly declines the moment you take pictures in anything apart from broad daylight.

On the topic of cameras, it might be worth mentioning that the only the rear-facing camera has been upgraded. Much like most competitor tablets, the forward facing camera will not deliver amazing results without lots of ambient light to work with.

Whilst the new 4G LTE connectivity allows for superfast broadband connectivity of up to 100Mbps, it is unfortunately of no use in South Africa as local telecom providers do not yet offer 4G connectivity and deadlines of when – or if – this will become available are uncertain. The iPad 3 will still work in South Africa – however it will do so at 3G speeds until LTE is launched.

The battery for the iPad 3 had to be increased substantially in order to feed the new Retina display and its massively improved screen resolution. However, even after a day’s use we found that the battery still had enough juice to play a movie or two. One downside of the larger battery is increased charging time – it took almost 6 hours to charge the iPad 3 from empty to 100%.

Hardware

Only some of the hardware has been changed. The new iPad is still running a dual-core A5 at 1 GHz, but the graphics have been upgraded to the “quad-core” PowerVR SFX 543MP4, which is essentially a doubling of the iPad 2’s PowerVR SFX 543MP2. RAM has increased to 1GB, a necessary upgrade that Apple doesn’t speak of in press releases.

Software

Whilst we don’t want to go into detail here regarding the benefits of iOS compare to Android, it is important that you understand the primary differences and what you’re buying into. Most notably, iOS offers more selection and higher quality apps at the expense of customizability and portability between systems and non-Apple devices.

Whilst the iPad 3 comes with a lot of software pre-installed, we found it to mostly cover tasks that are easily found on all competing Android tablets, such as a calendar, contacts, a YouTube app, a maps app, etc.

Surprisingly, we couldn’t find Siri anywhere on the new iPad. Apparently the way people interact with tablets makes the personal assistant that debuted with the iPhone 4s obsolete. Maybe they have a point, but it wouldn’t have hurt however to let users chose for themselves.

Display

The new “Retina” display is the feature of the iPad 3, so it’s worth to have an in-depth look at how this compares to the display on the iPad 2.

The new display is a somewhat unusual 2048×1536 resolution but packs four times the pixels of the iPad 2. On the downside, we found that the larger display almost uses twice as much power as the previous model, resulting in less battery life.

Whilst doubling the pixel density sounds amazing on paper, our initial response was somewhat disappointing. Since the new Retina display is the feature of the iPad 3, it had better be good! But when we put the new iPad 3 side by side with the iPad 2, the improvement was quite amazing! The older iPad made apps in folders look like just blobs of pixelated colour; on the new one you can almost make out text.

The Retina Display smoothes out edges and renders text pin-sharp so eBooks, websites and documents are much easier on the eye. There’s better contrast, greater definition with still and moving images, and deeper, richer colour saturation.

Conclusion

The new iPad 3 is an improved version of the iPad 2 – the best tablet on the market, which makes the new iPad our top tablet by default. But does it offer enough to warrant an upgrade?

With the upgraded 4G LTE connectivity being a mute point in South Africa, the decision will primarily boil down to how much you value screen resolution and graphics capabilities. The new Retina display is without doubt the most advanced display available on any iPad or on any other tablet for that matter. But in order to achieve this, Apple had to make the iPad 3 slightly heavier and thicker with a larger battery to ensure that overall battery life remains the same at a solid 10 hours of usage.

The iPad 2 still remains an excellent tablet even after the release of the new iPad. If you’re an iPad 2 owner, we suggest you wait for the iPad 4 (which hopefully will see a quad-core upgrade). As a new buyer, the choice is up to you – both iPads are excellent devices and will remain at the head of the competition for a while. The iPad 2 is thinner, lighter and cheaper, whilst the new iPad has an industry changing Retina display, faster graphics and a slightly thicker build.

The Good
  • Stunning Retina display
  • Superb interface
  • Widest availability of apps
The Bad
  • No quad-core processor
  • Apart from display, no massive changes from iPad 2
  • No support for Flash
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★★★

The new iPad 3 is an improved version of the iPad 2 – the best tablet on the market, which makes the new iPad our top tablet by default.

R7,899.00
Buy Now

Apple iPad 2

The Good
  • Fantastic design & improved ergonomics
  • Good battery life
  • Facetime chat
  • Smudge resistant screen
  • Widest availability of apps
The Bad
  • No “Retina” Display
  • HDMI, USB, SD ports require expensive adapters
  • No support for Flash
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★★☆

Even with the release of the new iPad, the iPad 2 remains the top tablet in South Africa to-date (read full reasoning here).

R6,199.00
Buy Now

iPad 2 [Review]

Update: Check out our new iPad 3 review

Just under one year ago, Apple shocked the computing world with the updated release of its original iPad – the iPad 2 was thinner, faster, and came with additional 3G connectivity. The iPad 2 wasn’t just a successful tablet in 2011 – it quickly turned into the benchmark for any tablet computer.

Has the iPad 2 finally met its match with the release of the iPad 3? Find out below.

Design & Features

The iPad 2 remains one of the thinnest tablets on the market at just 8.33 mm and still sets the bar when it comes to sexy design and elegant finishes.

Many competitors have adopted similar design approaches (most notably the Samsung Galaxy Tab) and the black bezel framing a high gloss, scratch resistant touchscreen have almost become industry standard. However in true Apple fashion, the iPad 2 combines the various elements just a little better, a little more elegantly and what you’re left with is a device that is truly a pleasure to view and handle.

The back of the iPad 2 is made from a single slab of brushed aluminium with the minimalistic Apple-logo displayed prominently in the middle. The sleep/wake buttons and headphone jack are placed alongside the tp edge of the bezel, with the volume control and the mute/rotation lock switch on the right edge. The bottom of the iPad 2 contains the universal dock cnnection and the internal speaker, which now wraps around the back, giving it more surface area and noticeably better sound quality.

Whilst initially a major update to the iPad, the rear-facing and front-facing cameras on the iPad 2 are a handy addition, but not that useful for any real photography or for high-def video chats. Particularly the rear-facing 0.7 mega pixel camera seems slightly sub-par when competitors have released up to 8 mega pixel cameras with superior auto focus and far better low-light performance. But then again, who really uses a tablet to take pictures?

What is unfortunate though is that the video capabilities of the iPad 2 are also nothing to write home about. The rear-facing camera records video at 960×720 but, in our tests, looked grainy, washed out, and almost unusable.

The sound on the iPad 2 is still the best that we’ve tested so far.

Whilst the lack of additional ports along the side of the tablet ensures a smooth, minimalist design, it does mean that the iPad 2 is fairly limited in terms of connectivity to other media devices or storage expansion. This is not an issue if you already own a couple of Apple products, but if you plan on using your iPad 2 with devices from other manufacturers, you will quickly find out how restrictive the iOS environment is. There are adapters for most issues – such as HDMI – but these have to be purchased separately.

Hardware

The iPad 2 comes with Apple’s custom 1GHz dual-core A5X chip. Interestingly whilst the garphic processing has been upped with the release of the new iPad, the latest version uses the same A5 processor as the iPad 2. Even though dual-core processors might seem dated in light of the first quad-core tablets hitting South Africa, the iPad 2 still delivers great results in terms of speed and responsiveness.

Also, with the A5X dual-core, the batter on an iPad 2 can last up to 10hrs, which we found extremely useful for long commutes or extended travels.

Software

The iPad 2 runs on the latest iOS 4.3 and the interface will be immediately familiar if you’ve ever owned an iPad Touch or an iPhone. The tablet comes pre-loaded with many Apple-designed apps for Web browsing, e-mail, maps, photos, music, video, and YouTube. Additional apps can be installed either direclt from the built in App Store or via iTunes. Of course any apps that you might already own on iPhone or iPod are easily transferable to the iPad 2.

Additonal software updates that came with the iPad 2 are FaceTime video chat and imprved JavaScript rendering for the Safari Web browser. Much like any other Apple product, the iPad 2 doesn’t support Flash, which will make a significant amount of online content inaccessbile on the iPad or render webistes without pieces of graphic content.

Display

The display is the one area where the release of the iPad 3 has catapulted the benchmark to the next level. Whilst the iPad 2 does offer an excellent display at a resolution of 768×1024 px, the new “retina” display of the iPad 3 doubles the pixel density to a staggering 1563×2048.

But apart from the new iPad’s retina display, the iPad 2’s screen still provides excellent results when compared to other competitors. The IPS panel technology still ensures outstanding viewing angles from almost any direction and the touch sensitivity is responsive and smooth. Whilst the colours aren’t as vibrant as in the Samsung Galaxy Tab, they are nevertheless crisp and gorgeous to look at.

Conclusion

The iPad 2 remains the tablet to beat in South Africa – even more so with the recent price cut. If you own any other Apple device or plan on purchasing additional Apple products then you can’t go wrong with the iPad 2. Luckily the Asus Transformer Prime does offer an excellent alternative if you’re not a converted Apple evangelist. But even though the Transformer Prime looks significantly better on paper, the Apple iPad 2 is unbeaten in simple versatility (via it’s massive app support) and ease of use.

The main question will be whether or not you should upgrade to the new iPad instead of purchasing the iPad 2. With South Africa unlikely to receive 4G support in the near future, the only major benefit of the new iPad is its eye-popping display. Whether this warrants the additional R 3000 is best left for you to decide – but even if you decide to go for the iPad 2 you can be confident that you’re investing in a quality tablet that will continue to be the benchmark against which current tablet releases will be measured.

The Good
  • Fantastic design & improved ergonomics
  • Good battery life
  • Facetime chat
  • Smudge resistant screen
  • Widest availability of apps
The Bad
  • No “Retina” Display
  • HDMI, USB, SD ports require expensive adapters
  • No support for Flash
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★★☆

Even with the release of the new iPad, the iPad 2 remains the top tablet in South Africa to-date.

R6,199.00
Buy Now

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The Good
  • Bright screen with vibrant colours
  • Light and portable
  • Great battery life
  • 3G & WiFi models available
The Bad
  • No 1080p video recording
  • Limited app availability
  • No HDMI out
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

Whilst the Asus Prime Transformer is a strong challenger to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 as the best overall Android tablet to date, it is still the best option if you need 3G connectivity.

R5,100.00
Buy Now

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 [Review]

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was released as a direct response to Apple’s iPad 2 and features a large, wide-screen display inside an incredibly thin and light body. The 10-inch Samsung Galaxy tab weighs less than most tablets on the market today, yet still finds room for a dual-core 1GHz processor and the latest version of Android 3.1 Honeycomb.

Design & Features

One key feature that sets the the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 apart from other Android competitors is its superior design and build quality. At 256.6mm x 172.9mm it is a fairly large tablet, yet manages to keep the weight below 565g which is significantly lighter than both the new iPad and the iPad 2.

Whilst we generally prefer a more metallic finish to the plastic, high gloss material of the Galaxy Tab 10.0, it does not look cheap and feels solid and tightly put together. Similar to most modern tablets, the screen is devoid of any buttons and merely contains the 1280 x 800 pixel touchscreen display as well as the forward-facing 2 megapixel camera.

Controls for volume and power as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack are found along the top ridge of the tablet. Two stereo speakers – one each on the left and right edge – round of the external features of the Samsung Galaxy tab 10.1.

Whilst the 3 megapixel rear-facing camera on the device does provide some handy extra features (like flash and auto-focus), it is inferior to the updated 8 megapixel camera found on the Asus Transformer Prime. The auto-focus feels somewhat sluggish at times and we had trouble capturing a decent imag eof anything that wasn’t stationary. The camera also supports video recording of up to 720p. It does /data port can be found on the bottom edge.

The front facing 2 megapixel camera provides a slightly higher resolution than the iPad 2, and whilst adequate for basic instant messaging sessions, it’s still a long way from the quality of a real tele-conferencing app.

Hardware

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs of a NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor, offering 16GB or 32GB of internal storage.

Whilst you can easily rely on cloud-based storage solutions for additional storage space, we found the lack of additional memory expansion options via SD or microSD somewhat limiting. The Samsung Tab also doesn’t have a USB port, but can connect to other devices with Bluetooth.

The tablet offers both WiFi and 3G connection options.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs – the now slightly outdated – Android 3.2.

One thing to note is that Samsung uses it’s own customized skin to add additional styling elements to the standard Android OS design and feel. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 displays the Live Panel view upon start up, which is a magazine-like widget view where you can get immediate access to weather, social updates, email, news, etc. With the upgrade of Ice Cream Sandwich, a lot of critics say that the TouchWiz skin takes away from the major design updates of ICS, but we found the skin to provide improved user navigation and an overall more visual, fluid and intuitive computing experience.

The main question is how and when Samsung will update the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to the latest Ice Cream Sandwich release – but as of yet there is no official word from the company.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes pre-loaded with several applications, most of them either develped by Google or made by Samsung. The Google pre-loaded apps include Books, Calendar, Gmail, Google Search, Latitude, Maps, Market, Navigation, Places, Talk, Videos, Voice Search and YouTube. The Samsung pre-loaded apps include eBook, Media Hub, Music Hub, Pen Memo, Photo Editor, Samsung Apps, and Social Hub. Whilst the Samsung apps provide nice alternatives to the more established Andriod Market or Amazon for example, we prefered to stick with more established apps in order to avoid having to maintain an additional account with Samsung.

In addition to the above, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 also offers some improved enterprise focused software, with Cisco VPN, Sybase MDM and Cisco WebEx mobile conference solution for meetings on the go.

Display

The display on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is exeptionally bright and clear, and provides vibrant colours on the back of its 1280 x 800 Super PLS-based display.

The touchscreen is responsive and refreshes quickly. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1’s screen runs at 149 pixels per inch and provides a wide viewing angle that looks great when Web surfing or browsing the app store.

Conclusion

Before the release of the Asus Transformer Prime, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was definitely the best Android tablet around. It still offers some features that keep it right at the top – particulalry the 3G connection option is crucial if you want to connect on the go.

Compared to the iPad 2, Apple still has superior support for games, apps, music, and movies. Apart from this, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is just as capable as the Apple iPad 2. It’s smaller, thinner and lighter. The design is sexy and the build quality is outstanding. And, the screen is just as bright and a bit clearer.

The Good
  • Bright screen with vibrant colours
  • Light and portable
  • Great battery life
  • 3G & WiFi models available
The Bad
  • No 1080p video recording
  • Limited app availability
  • No HDMI out
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★☆☆

Whilst the Asus Prime Transformer is a strong challenger to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 as the best overall Android tablet to date, it is still the best option if you need 3G connectivity.

R5,100.00
Buy Now