Every now and then we come across a tablet that demands we sit up and take notice—not because it’s glamorous, fashionable, or made of nifty materials, but because of its quiet competence. That was the case with the release of last year’s Asus MeMO Pad HD 7, a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice in July of 2013.
Like most compact (7- and 8-inch-class) tablets we’ve seen over the past year or so, the MeMO Pad HD 7 was primarily an entry-level slate. At first glance, you might wonder why it was an Editors’ Choice at all, or even noteworthy. Compared to some competing compact models (such as Google’s highly desirable 2013 version of the Nexus 7), it offered little that was ground-breaking in terms of technology.
What that modest 7-inch slate diddo, though, was bring to reality a well-built, attractive tablet for under $150, complete with a decent sound system and a quite serviceable display. And that’s what the subject of this review—the MeMO Pad HD 7’s replacement—does here in 2014, as well: It redefines what a budget tablet can and should be.
Yes, the name is almost the same, to the point of confusion. The MeMO Pad 7 (no “HD”) is one of a group of three entry-level tablets that Asus rolled out in summer 2014. The others were the $299-list, 10.1-inch Transformer Pad TF103C and the $199-list MeMO Pad 8, both of which we reviewed just before this one. (Hit the links for the deep dives on those models.) The Transformer Pad TF103C, we found, was a pretty reasonable deal. It has a much larger display than our MeMO 7 review unit, and for the additional $150, you get a full-size tablet along with a fully integrated Android keyboard dock that turns it into a workable Android laptop.
Still, that’s double the price of the MeMO Pad 7, and these are two very different tablets, for two different crowds. A closer match is the MeMO Pad 8. For the additional $50 that it costs versus the MeMO Pad 7, you get, well, another diagonal inch of display (which translates, if you do the math, to 30 percent more screen area).
For some buyers, that extra 30 percent is well worth another half a C-note. It does make things larger and easier to see, especially for those of us advanced enough in years to start experiencing declining eyesight. Plus, the 8-incher can be easier to read for another, less obvious reason: Despite its smaller screen, the MeMO Pad 7 has the same native resolution as the MeMO Pad 8. That means that (as we’ll discuss later on) the 7-incher has the more “detailed-looking” screen of the two, due to the necessarily smaller, tighter dots, but the 8-incher renders icons and other elements a bit larger. Even so, it’s a difference only noticeable if you really look for it, and a matter of personal preference between the two.
Otherwise, the MeMO Pad 7 and its 8-inch sibling look, feel, and smell a lot alike, right down to their controls and internal connectivity, which are nearly the same. Unlike last year’s 32-bit MeMO Pad HD 7 model, though, all three of Asus’ new slates run on a fairly new quad-core, 64-bit Intel Atom CPU, which, as we’ve seen in both the Transformer Pad TF103C and the 8-inch MeMO Pad, is an able performer. It delivered respectable scores on our battery of benchmark tests, and it contributed to a good, long runtime on our demanding battery-rundown trial. And it felt snappy in practice.
Those truths, combined with the solid hardware, are what make this new MeMO Pad 7 much parallel to last year’s winner: It balances a lot of things that tend to be mutually exclusive. In addition to performing well, the MeMO Pad 7 is light, thin, and easy to hold on to. While the screen might be a little small for some buyers’ tastes in the current market, given the fast rise in popularity here in 2014 of tablets with 8-inch screens, it’s a good one, as 7-inchers go. If compact, economical, and Android are what you’re after in a tablet, it’s hard to beat the MeMO Pad 7 for the money, given the field.
Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.
Back in November of 2013, we looked at an early attempt at an Android all-in-one PC, the Slate 21-k100 All-in-One Desktop from HP. Our opinion then was that running Android—a mobile operating system designed for smartphones and tablets—on a full-fledged computer was sheer folly. Not only was Android clunky on a 21-inch all-in-one (AIO), but several of HP’s hardware and design choices were baffling, too. As a result, the Slate 21 received one of the lowest scores we’ve given to a product in quite some time.
Now, venerable monitor maker AOC has tried its own hand at the same game with its mySmart All-in-One Android PC, another attempt to run Google’s open-source mobile OS on a large-screen AIO. This time, though, there are actually two such models: a $299.99 (MSRP) version with a 22-inch screen and the $399.99 (MSRP) model A2472PW4T, the 24-inch unit we’re reviewing here. Aside from the 2-inch-diagonal screen difference and the ensuing chassis-size change, these two machines are identical in almost every way.
Note, though, there’s something big the AOC AIO can do that the HP Slate 21 can’t. The mySmart can double as a high-resolution (1,920×1,080-pixel) touch screen for Windows, making it, in a sense, something of a hybrid product. Unfortunately, while it makes a fairly decent monitor for straightforward viewing, this AIO has some serious design and performance issues that affect its overall value and effectiveness as a desktop machine. The touch functionality leaves much to be desired in either mode, too.
In addition, this is the first AIO we’ve seen that comes without a keyboard or pointing device in the box. You’ll have to provide your own, or else resort to typing onscreen, which isn’t at all productive. On the other hand, this AIO has several USB ports, and it supports Bluetooth, so your options are wide open if you want to buy your own input devices. We’ll talk more about these design issues on the next page.
All of this is not to say that there’snothing to like about AOC’s mySmart PC—quite to the contrary. For starters, it’s built around a good-looking 23.6-inch display panel and a decent sound system for watching movies and viewing high-resolution images. Very few Android games and apps, on the other hand, can take proper advantage of the high-resolution screen (which we’ll get into in greater detail in the Features & Apps section). So the screen is really only of note if you’ll be using the display in monitor mode.
On the other hand, for a mid-2014 Android-based device, this one is full of 2013 compromises, were it even just an Android tablet. It’s using last year’s Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, and it came outfitted with a two-versions-behind installation of Android, 4.2. While we didn’t care much for HP’s Android all-in-one, at least the HP Slate 21 came out of the gate with the most modern Tegra 4 CPU and the latest version of the Android OS at the time. Both systems, however, are low on storage (just 8GB inside).
As we said about the Slate 21, this Android AIO provides neither a well-rounded Android-tablet-style experience, nor full-fledged all-in-one PC performance. If all you need is a large touch-screen device for watching videos, browsing the Internet, and managing e-mails and social media sites, this one will do. And, like we said before, it works as a touch-screen monitor—with, as you’ll see on the next page, some major caveats.
Still, realize that you can find basic Windows AIOs starting at about $350 (albeit with smaller screens), and for most users, those will be a far better alternative. Android doesn’t do big screens all that well to begin with, and when you stack on some this model’s shortcomings, it’s tough to get excited about the mySmart in light of what you can get for the same money.
Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.
Two applications that never seem to have quite enough processing power are high-end multimedia editing, and gaming. In Windows, one of the key components of graphics processing in gaming is DirectX technology.
Currently, about 70 percent of Windows machines are running DirectX 11. However, at its Siggraph 2014 booth, Intel recently demoed DirectX 12, and the chip-maker claims that it will significantly increase performance, power efficiency, scalability, and portability.
You may be asking yourself why Intel was running the demo, though Microsoft was also part of the show. The test bed PC consisted of the original Surface Pro 3, which ran on Intel’s Core i5 CPU with integrated Intel HD 4400 graphics.
Read entire review at Digital Trends.
Nearly everybody at some point in their life requires or will require some kind of vision correction, either in the form of glasses, contacts, or laser lens surgery. Corrective lenses, or glasses, have been around since the 13th century.
However, as more and more of us stare at computer screens for good portions of our lives, an increasing number of us require help with our vision.
Thankfully, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and MIT have come up with a different approach to tackling this problem by introducing display technology that can automatically correct for poor or lackluster eyesight.
Read the entire review at Digital Trends.
Hackers continue to play havoc with our computers and networks. Many viruses and other traps are designed primarily to damage your system in some way—by, say, corrupting your data, scrambling the operating system, or crashing the system somehow.
Then there are the more nefarious forms of hacking that entail exploitation, by either accessing his or her financial data and using it to embezzle funds, or by encrypting or removing data from the victim’s PC and then holding it hostage, refusing to restore the data until a fee is paid.
One of the most nefarious of these viruses is Cryptolocker, a nasty little piece of ransomware that, though it has been around for a while (and therefore it’s “treated” by most antivirus software), PC and computer security technicians report that they are still treating CryptoLocker-infected machines.
Read the entire review at Digital Trends.
One aspect of computer technology that has remained relatively constant is the resolutions of the monitors and display panels we use. Think about it: while the display and the graphics processing hardware that drive them continuously get faster and more powerful, the underlying resolutions of the devices themselves haven’t gotten notably higher in quite some time.
However, researchers at Oxford University and the University of Exeter in England recently came up with nanopixels, a new display technology that could increase screen resolution as much as 150 times higher than current tech.
And you thought 4K displays were crazy.
Read the entire article at Digital Trends.
Few computing programs require more system resources than games. Game developers consistently push graphics hardware to their limits. Because of this, the results are frequently less than desirable.
Sometimes, when your GPU/graphics card and monitor are out of sync, and the GPU sends a frame in the middle of a monitor’s refresh rate, the monitor ends up drawing parts of multiple frames on the display at the same time.
This can result in visually discernable artifacts known as “tears,” or tearing; a form of distortion where objects on the screen appear to be out of alignment.
You can keep your GPU and monitor in sync by enabling vsync, which causes the GPU to send frames to the screen in sync with the monitor’s refresh rate (usually at 60Hz, or 60 times per second). However, while maintaining sync via vsync eliminates tearing, it can introduce yet another artifact called “stuttering,” as well as input lag.
The good news is that Nvidia’s G-Sync monitor technology eliminates the tear, stutter, and input lag phenomena that plagues many PCs.
Read the entire review at Digital Trends.
We were wowed by last year’s debut of the Sony Tablet S—a remarkable feat of slate engineering that remains our favorite Android tablet to date. The Tablet S is beautiful and extremely comfortable to hold and use. Plus, it has a gorgeous screen and performs wonderfully. Still, as unique as it is, it looks pretty much like what it is: a tablet.
We can’t quite say that about Sony’s latest offering, the Tablet P. From a distance, there’s no telling what it is. It’s not until you have it in hand and are using it that you realize it’s an Android-based slate. Even then, it’s so profoundly different from what’s come before in tablets that you might find yourself doubting its usefulness. (At first, we did, too.)
As you can see in the image below, the Tablet P is two things. It’s a tablet that folds in the center to make it more compact and easier to carry. But, depending on how you look at it and use it, it’s also a slate with two discrete screens…
Read this review at Computer Shopper
It only takes a quick glance to know: Here in late 2011, most new tablets are built for consumers. Only a few current ones, such as the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook andFujitsu Stylistic Q550 Slate, have been designed specifically for business. The PlayBook might be a little too tied-down for your tastes, in that it doesn’t offer its own e-mail client and must be tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone to get the most out of it. Windows-based slates like the Stylistic Q550, meanwhile, give you easy access to your business documents—but Windows isn’t ideal for touch input. (Also, Microsoft doesn’t yet offer an infrastructure for downloading free or inexpensive apps, like you have with Apple iPad or Android tablets.) These two tablets are pretty accurate representatives of the state of business slates today, so it’s clear that getting the best of both worlds (a consumer-like tablet experience, with all the versatility and security you need for business) hasn’t been possible—until now. Built around a 10.1-inch screen, Lenovo’s new ThinkPad Tablet has all the accoutrements you would expect in a device that bears the ThinkPad name. What sets it apart, though: It lets you keep your access to apps and features as open as your company will allow…. Read more at Computer Shopper.
After looking at many Android tablets, I’ve finally found one that doesn’t look and act like the others. Sony has come out with quite the entertainment value here. Click here to see the Computer Shopper review.