Asus MeMO Pad 8 (ME181C) Review and Ratings Here in the summer of 2014, Asus went and updated its line of entry-level Android tablets, though it hasn’t changed the names of them very much. Two of the new models, the $149-list MeMO Pad 7 (which we’re in the process of testing and reviewing) and the $299-list Transformer Pad TF103C, we’ve seen before in different guises. (We reviewed the similar-sounding, and very good, MeMO Pad HD 7 last year, as well as a host of Transformer Pads in the past.) But then there’s the subject of this review, which breaks new screen-size ground for Asus and its MeMO Pad line.

The $199-list MeMO Pad 8 is yet another in the long list of Android tablets with 8-inch screens to turn up over the past year or so from the usual tablet-making suspects. For the most part, the MeMO Pad 8 is much like the refreshed MeMO Pad 7, aside from the additional inch of screen real estate. As compact slates go, both the 7-incher and the 8-incher are reasonably good values.

Asus MeMO Pad 8What’s different with these, though, is that they’re now Intel-based. The quad-core 64-bit Intel Atom processor in the MeMO Pad 8 ran many of our test apps handily, without, compared to some higher-end 8-inch slates, breaking much of a sweat. And the tablet itself is sleeker, lighter, and thinner than several of its competitors, making it feel more premium, and, to a certain degree, elegant. In fact, in terms of overall performance, durability, and comfort, the MeMO Pad 8 held up reasonably well to some higher-end compact models, such as LG’s premium G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition and G Pad 8.3 Verizon LTE.

In addition to performing well, looking good, and handling better than the price would suggest, the MeMO Pad 8 has a screen that doesn’t disappoint. The native resolution is 1,280×800 pixels, and we found the overall quality (as you’ll see in the Features & Apps section later in this review) a little better than average for an under-$200 slate. When you combine the screen with the tablet’s equally adequate speaker output, this is not a bad slate for viewing movies and consuming other media.

Asus MeMO Pad 8 (Front View)Plus, as we’ll get into in the Performance section of this review, the MeMO Pad 8 kept up relatively well during our tests, not only turning in very good scores on most of our speed-based trials but also delivering great numbers on our battery-rundown test. Like last year’s MeMO Pad HD 7, which impressed us enough to earn it our Editors’ Choice nod, the MeMO Pad 8, at just $50 more, is equally impressive—only with a bigger screen.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One Printer Review and RatingsOne of the best multifunction inkjets we looked at in its time (back in 2012) was Epson’s high-volume WorkForce Pro WP-4590 All-in-One Printer, a flexible $499.99-list workhorse machine. If you weren’t wedded by function, or by law, to laser-printed output, it was practically everything you’d want in a printer designed for a workgroup in a small or medium business (SMB). The WP-4590 served up exceptional print speeds and overall print quality, plus just about every convenience and productivity feature you could think of. Most crucially, it did all of that at an exceptionally low cost per page (CPP).

At the time, we considered the WP-4590 one of the best business-printer values available, and we still hold it in high regard. But now, we feel much the same way about 2014’s $299.99-list WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One Printer, the topic of this review. It hits that same rare balance that the WP-4590 did among SMB printers, of sheer feature depth, performance, and output quality, paired with a very fair CPP.

The WorkForce Pro WF-4630 is one of 11 models in the company’s dramatically refreshed WorkForce line of business printers, released in June 2014. All 11 models were built around Epson’s new, speed-enhancing PrecisonCore printhead technology. The first one we reviewed, the wide-format WorkForce WF-7610, won an Editors’ Choice award. And this one makes Epson’s PrecisionCore-based printers 2-for-2 so far.

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630 (Main)

In the case of this “Pro”-level model, it’s as fast as most entry-level and midlevel laser-class machines. Also, as we discuss in the Setup & Paper Handling section a little later in this review, certain PrecisionCore models, this “Pro” version included, deliver very aggressive CPP figures. That tends to be the missing piece in a moderate-price SMB inkjet, but Epson nails it here while keeping the fundamentals strong.

Also know that you have some paper-handling flexibility here. In addition to the WorkForce Pro WF-4630, Epson offers the $399.99 WorkForce Pro WF-4640. The difference is that it comes with a second 250-sheet paper drawer, for a maximum potential capacity of 580 sheets from three different input sources. (More detail later on that, too.) Both models also have auto-duplexing automatic document feeders (ADFs), for streamlined handling of two-sided multipage originals, and both have a quite-healthy 30,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle. (“Duty cycle” is the highest number of prints the manufacturer recommends in a given time period without inflicting undue wear and tear on the printer.)

In fact, the WorkForce Pro WF-4630 is one of those rare machines about which we found very, very little to grumble. It prints well; it’s fast; it’s loaded with features; and it’s inexpensive to use, not to mention highly attractive and durable. If you’re looking for a high-volume, high-quality multifunction inkjet with a terrific CPP, this is it.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Asus Transformer Pad TF103C Review and RatingsStarting with the Eee Pad Transformer TF101 back in early 2011, Asus’ Transformer Pad has been one of tablet-dom’s stalwart brands, almost as long-running as Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs and Apple’s category-defining iPads. It gets the “Transformer” in its name because attaching Asus’ proprietary keyboard-dock accessories turns these stand-alone tablets into de facto Android laptops.

Asus Transformer Book TF103C (Vertical View)

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a few iterations of the Transformer Pad, starting with the all-polished-aluminum Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201, which came with top-of-the-line everything and sold for $499.99 (MSRP), plus another $150 for the keyboard dock. It was a hot item in early 2012. Shortly after that model came the less-expensive Transformer Pad TF300 (At debut, it was $399.99 MSRP for the tablet, $150 for the keyboard.) For the most part, aside from their elegant polished-metal casings, the Transformer Prime and the Transformer Pad TF300 were, in terms of overall feature sets and performance, rather closely matched.

That was a good thing, because these Transformers were well-built, fast, and attractive tablets in their time. Their only big shortcoming: Once you outfitted the TF300 with its keyboard dock, it sold for more than $500 street price, or, if you opted for the Transformer Prime and its dock, more than $600. In fact, the Transformer Prime decked out with its keyboard dock and 64GB of onboard storage could have set you back upward of a cool $700. We know today (and, really, have known for some time now) that most buyers just won’t pay that much for a 10.1-inch Android tablet.

However, Asus is betting that today’s tablet buyers might shell out less than half that—say, $299—for a full-size Transformer Padwith the keyboard dock in the box. Provided that both the keyboard and the tablet are quality hardware, and that everything works right, we agree. And that was the case with the subject of our review here today, the Transformer Pad TF103C.

Asus Transformer Book TF103C (Detached)On the surface, before we started putting this slate through its paces, it seemed like a tremendous deal. We’re happy to report that our impressions held up to scrutiny. For $299, you get a pretty decent slate and a full Android-optimized keyboard, an impressive combo for the price.

Granted, this entry-level tablet is not identical in build quality to the high-end Transformer Pads of a few years ago. However, considering the tablet’s price, its Intel Atom processor performed well in our hands-on trials, as well as on most of our benchmark tests. The screen, while not spectacular, looked good, and the sound was better than passable, too.

Some of the early Transformer Pads were expense-no-object machines—the best of the best, as Android tablets came. The Transformer Pad TF103C, while it looks quite similar, does show some of its budget roots once you look closely, a trade-off for the lower price and the inclusion of the dock. But, frankly, considering the $299 price, it’s a trade-off well worth making if you can’t shell out the full $500 to play the full-size iPad game.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Canon MG7120 Photo All-in-One Inkjet PrinterFor some folks, printing photographs at home on their inkjet photo printer is more than a mere hobby; for them, it’s a passion—only the best photo printer will do. When somebody asks me what the best consumer-grade photo printer is, I tell them to look at Canon’s six-ink photo printers, such as the Pixma MG6320 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-in-One printer. While there’s a lot of mighty nice photo printers out there, few, if any, print photographs as well as these six-ink Pixmas, including the topic of this review, the $199.99-list Pixma MG7120 Photo All-in-One Printer.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 Review and RatingsWhen it comes to elegant premium Android tablets, few companies outdo Samsung. (And only one outdoes it consistently, among tablet makers in general. We’ll leave you to guess who.) However—and this is true of most tablet makers—the South Korean electronics giant’s entry-level and midrange slates have historically been less impressive than its top-of-the-line ones. But that’s not to say that some aren’t fine tablets in their own right.

The compromises necessary to hit those lower price points can also mar the final product, making it appear cheaply constructed or lacking in high-end features. In our experience, a high screen resolution and a good sound system are usually the first victims.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1Take, for example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 we reviewed about this time last year (July 2013). Beyond its buggy software, we found its relatively low-resolution screen and slow processor disconcerting, as well as its humdrum overall appearance and build quality. At the time, granted, it was $100 to $200 cheaper than the premium ($499.99-list) Toshiba Excite Pro and Samsung’s own $499.99-list Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), but even so, compared to the premium slates of the day, it seemed inferior.

More recently, Samsung released its $499.99-list Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, which we reviewed a couple of months ago, in May 2014. Much like the company’s other premium slates, the Tab Pro delivered a good-looking, super-high-resolution (2,560×1,600-pixel) screen, great sound, and long battery life. And, like most other high-end Samsung Android tablets, not only did it perform well, but it also came with the useful TouchWiz interface customization, or “skinning,” that we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s higher-end Galaxy tablets. That model set the bar until the advent of the Tab S slates.

Therefore, something’s got to give to get a lower price. The real question is, of course, are these $100-to-$200-cheaper Galaxy Tabs, such as the subject of this review (the $349.99-MSRP Galaxy Tab 4 10.1), decent values compared to their higher-end siblings? Or should you just bite the bullet and lay out the full $500 for the premium model?

More often than not, the build and display quality, as well as the performance of, the premium model are better enough that recommending the budget-friendly version over it doesn’t feel right. In other words, what you give up for the savings just doesn’t balance out.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 (Front View)Still, not everybody needs an expensive-but-gorgeous powerhouse of a slate. (Indeed, many folks, we think, would prefer holding on to the savings.) The good news is that, unlike a few of Samsung’s past attempts at making step-down slates, the Galaxy Tab 4 10.1, while in no way perfect, is a pretty decent middle-of-the-road tablet.

Granted, like most budget-friendly models, this one comes with a relatively low-resolution screen for its size (just 1,280×800 pixels) and a middle-of-the-road processor—here, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. The 400 is definitely not the fastest quad-core tablet CPU around, but during our experience with it, it performed reasonably well, if not a little sluggishly, compared to higher-end Qualcomm, Nvidia, and Samsung offerings we’ve tried in various tablets.

The Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 is certainly no Galaxy Tab Pro, nor a Galaxy Tab Note, for that matter. However, compared to some of the midlevel Galaxy Tab models we’ve seen over the past few years, this Galaxy Tab is a clear improvement. It’s almost as attractive as the company’s latest premium model, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. And, while the CPU showed a little rust in our benchmark tests, turning in less-than-impressive scores across the board, the difference was not nearly as pronounced in our hands-on trials. In browsing Web pages, answering e-mails, watching movies, and other common tasks, we saw overall acceptable performance and little to no lag.

In addition, this midlevel model comes with most of the multitasking and other Android interface enhancements we’ve seen on the recent Galaxy Tab Pro and Galaxy Note slates, which greatly enhances this budget-friendly Galaxy Tab’s overall value.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Epson WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One Printer Review and RatingsIt’s not often that we see big changes in printer imaging technology—at least not in the print mechanisms themselves. Both inkjet and laser printer technologies have been around for a while, and, for the most part, they have become predictable and stable. Over the past couple of years, though, a couple of printer makers, namely HP and Epson, have done some serious fiddling around with their printheads. Both companies have come up with more-efficient printhead technologies that are less expensive to use. And as a result, certain of their new printers are capable of competing successfully with laser-class printers on many fronts, notably speed, power consumption, and cost per page (CPP).

The first of these “alternative” printhead technologies, HP’s PageWide, debuted in a line of high-volume Officejets—the Officejet Pro X series—at the beginning of 2013. We were impressed enough with the two Officejet X models we reviewed (the Officejet Pro X576dw Multifunction Printer and the Officejet Pro X551dw Color Printer) that both received our Editors’ Choice Award. Their print speeds and quality were impressive, and the cost per page was low. Much of this was possible because PageWide employs a fixed array of print nozzles that spans the width of the page, rather than the printer relying on the usual moving printhead. In a nutshell, the way it works: The paper moves past the print nozzles, rather than the other way around, and your image or document gets printed a full row at a time.

Epson WorkForce WF-7610Both of the Officejet Pro X printers, however, were relatively high-end, high-volume, and high-priced machines meant for business use. Epson, on the other hand, has taken a different approach, as we’ll lay out in this, our first review of an Epson printer based on its recently debuted PrecisionCore printhead technology—the $249.99-list WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One Printer. Similar to PageWide, in that the ink nozzles on the printheads are much denser, the PrecisionCore-based printers we’ve tested so far have outperformed several of their inkjet and laser counterparts, and some of them are cheaper to use, too. (We’ll get into more detail about PrecisionCore in a bit.)

The WF-7610 is one of 11 PrecisionCore models that Epson debuted last month. In a bold move, Epson just up and replaced its entire WorkForce line of small- and medium-business (SMB) AIOs with PrecisionCore-based models. The WF-7610 is one of two wide-format PrecisionCore machines in the initial lot, capable of printing on sheets up to 13×19 inches (also known as “supertabloid” stock). It can also copy, scan, and fax tabloid (11×17-inch) pages. The other wide-format model in the new line, the $299.99-MSRP WorkForce WF-7620 All-in-One Printer, is much the same machine, but with a second 250-sheet drawer.

In addition to being a wide-format machine, which increases the printer’s versatility in terms of the types of documents you can print, copy, scan, and fax, the WF-7610 is loaded with convenience and productivity features—just about everything you can think of for a business-ready AIO, and for not too much money, either. However, when it comes to the ongoing cost per page (CPP) of using this printer, it’s a bit high for our taste. The CPP is high enough, in fact, that it dampens our enthusiasm for recommending this AIO as the primary printer in an environment with a heavy day-to-day print load.

Epson claims that this AIO’s cost per page is “40 percent lower” than laser printers. We don’t know about that, but what we can say is that, as described in the Design, Features, & PrecisionCore section next, while some PrecisionCore models have exceptionally low CPPs, the WF-7610 is not one of them. Its CPPs are actually about average for an under-$300 inkjet printer, and perhaps just a little lower than several entry-level and midlevel laser-class printers.

Epson WorkForce WF-7610 (Printing)In Epson’s defense, you can’t find many high-volume printers with significantly low CPPs (say, under 2 cents per monochrome page) for much under $300. We should point out, though, that as of this writing, in July 2013, Epson was offering a $70 “Instant Rebate” on both the WF-7610 and WF-7620, dropping their list prices to $179.99 and $229.99, respectively. That softens the initial cost of this model, but it also brings us back to our only real complaint about this AIO: To match that lower price, its CPPs should be lower.

We also went back and looked over our recent reviews of some other wide-format AIO printers. We discovered that, for the most part, the WF-7610’s CPPs were comparable to those of most of them, but were not necessarily competitive with high-volume standard- or letter-size machines. On the whole, the wide-format models were more expensive to use than high-volume document printers in general.

Of course, if you’re using this in a home office with more modest page loads, the page cost is less of an issue. And the flexibility afforded by the wide-format support makes up for a lot of sins if you can own just one printer. So the appeal of this printer all hinges on how much you print. Looking beyond the CPP, this WorkForce model is a feature-rich and dependable machine—a nice printer used in moderation.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Brother HL-L8350CDW Review and RatingsIf your small or medium-size business (SMB) doesn’t print a lot, you might find yourself wondering at the wisdom of springing for a relatively expensive single-function laser printer, especially considering all the (often less expensive) multifunction machines available these days that can print, scan, copy, and (in some cases) fax. Still, plenty of offices rely heavily enough on their printers, churning out hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages each month. In these heavy-use environments, these companies often can’t afford the downtime caused by the printer receiving the occasional fax or making copies now and then.

That’s where high-volume, single-function laser printers come in, like the subject of this review, Brother’s $399.99-list HL-L8350CDW color laser. All this machine does is print, but it does so quickly, with excellent overall print quality, and at a competitive cost per page, or CPP, compared to several other midlevel machines in this price range. However, a handful of high-volume inkjets using new or relatively new inkjet technologies, such as Epson’s new PrecisionCore-based WorkForce models and HP’s PageWide-based Officejet X machines have even lower CPPs. (So do a few office-centric all-in-ones with more traditional inkjet printheads, such as Epson’s WorkForce Pro WP-4590).

Brother HL-L8350CDW (Angle View)If, as we discuss a little later in this review in the Setup & Paper Handling section, you print a lot, your printer’s estimated CPP can be critical. If you’re willing to spend a little more up front for the printer, though, you can often reduce the cost per page significantly—thereby saving you or your company a good chunk of change over the life of the printer.

However, despite the excellent quality of many of today’s high-volume inkjet printers, some applications (for example, medical and some other agencies that do business with certain branches of the government) require laser printers, or laser-class LED machines. If for some reason your office or workgroup scenario requires laser-class devices, the HL-L8350CDW is a good choice.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Buying a Printer: 20 Terms You Need to KnowIntroduction

You may think of printers as old timers’ tech, but they’re as varied and vibrant as ever today, with certain of the latest models packing in some amazing physics and cutting-edge connectivity technologies. And because hundreds of models crowd the market, you need to know what their features mean and how to read a printer spec sheet to avoid buying too much—or too little—printer for your needs.

You’ve probably purchased a printer or three in the past, but if it’s been some time, you’ll see that printers have changed a lot, especially in terms of how they connect to computers, networks, and—now—mobile devices. And in some cases, their core printing technologies have changed a bit.

If you’re in the market for a printer, there’s a lot you should know, or get up to date with. We’ve summarized most of the essential terms, technologies, and specifications you should have a handle on before you buy.

Read entire article at Computer Shopper.

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Brother HL-L8350CDW Review and RatingsIf your small or medium-size business (SMB) doesn’t print a lot, you might find yourself wondering at the wisdom of springing for a relatively expensive single-function laser printer, especially considering all the (often less expensive) multifunction machines available these days that can print, scan, copy, and (in some cases) fax. Still, plenty of offices rely heavily enough on their printers, churning out hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages each month. In these heavy-use environments, these companies often can’t afford the downtime caused by the printer receiving the occasional fax or making copies now and then.

That’s where high-volume, single-function laser printers come in, like the subject of this review, Brother’s $399.99-list HL-L8350CDW color laser. All this machine does is print, but it does so quickly, with excellent overall print quality, and at a competitive cost per page, or CPP, compared to several other midlevel machines in this price range. However, a handful of high-volume inkjets using new or relatively new inkjet technologies, such as Epson’s new PrecisionCore-based WorkForce models and HP’s PageWide-based Officejet X machines have even lower CPPs. (So do a few office-centric all-in-ones with more traditional inkjet printheads, such as Epson’s WorkForce Pro WP-4590).

Brother HL-L8350CDW (Angle View)

If, as we discuss a little later in this review in the Setup & Paper Handling section, you print a lot, your printer’s estimated CPP can be critical. If you’re willing to spend a little more up front for the printer, though, you can often reduce the cost per page significantly—thereby saving you or your company a good chunk of change over the life of the printer.

However, despite the excellent quality of many of today’s high-volume inkjet printers, some applications (for example, medical and some other agencies that do business with certain branches of the government) require laser printers, or laser-class LED machines. If for some reason your office or workgroup scenario requires laser-class devices, the HL-L8350CDW is a good choice.

Design & Features

Unlike a few single-function machines from HP, Brother’s laser-class printers aren’t especially pretty. But they are exceptionally well-built and substantive—built to churn out thousands of pages each month, year in and year out. Take the HL-L8350CDW, for instance, which is in the rough middle of the company’s range of single-function color lasers. (These run from the $249.99-list HL-3140CW up to the $699.99 HL-L9200CDWT.) Considering that all it does is print, this is a big machine, at 16.1 inches across, 19.1 inches from front to back, and 12.3 inches high, and weighing in at a hefty 47.5 pounds. It takes up considerably more surface space than the average small-office inkjet AIO, as well as considerably more electricity.

In terms of productivity and convenience features, though, the HL-L8350DW comes with about everything you’d need from a single-function printer, including the ability to connect to it via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, as well as to a single PC via USB 2.0. (Note: Because the expectation is that this PC will be networked, a USB cable is not included.) When it comes to “PC-free” tasks (which Brother calls “walk-up printing”), such as printing from USB thumb drives, though, your options are limited. You do get a front USB port for direct printing from keys; it’s at the upper left of the body…

Brother HL-L8350CDW (Front USB)
Beyond that, though, since this machine can’t copy or scan, there’s not a lot you can do sans a PC. However, for organizations concerned with security, the HL-L8350CDW provides a number of advanced security functions, such as Secure Function Lock, SSL, Secure Print, Enterprise Security (802.1x), and a few others.

Since the HL-L8350CDW is light on direct-print and like capabilities, it doesn’t need much in way of a control panel. As you can see in the image below, this very simple panel harkens back to the 20th century. It consists of a handful of buttons, a few status lights, and a small monochrome LCD…

Brother HL-L8350CDW (Control Panel)
In addition to printing from USB drives, the HL-L8350CDW also supports several alternative print channels for output from mobile devices: Google’s Cloud Print, Apple’s AirPrint, Cortado Workplace, and Wi-Fi Direct. Cortado Workplace provides cloud space, much like Google Drive or Cloud Print, and Wi-Fi Direct is a wireless protocol that allows you to connect your office’s mobile devices to the printer, without any of them necessarily being connected to an intermediary network.

Also, as we wrote this (in early July 2014), Brother announced that the HL-L8350CDW would, through a firmware update over the Internet, become part of the company’s Mopria-certified printers program. Brother and several other printer makers have joined the Mopria Alliance, which, among other things, provides Wi-Fi Direct-like mobile-device paring with the printer—except that Mopria uses your Wi-Fi network for the connection, whereas Wi-Fi Direct does not. (As the name suggests, Wi-Fi Direct establishes a one-to-one connection between the mobile device and the printer.)

Then, too, there’s Brother’s iPrint&Scan app for mobile devices, which you can install on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to print directly from the device’s memory. It our experience, it works well.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Lenovo Tab A8 Review and RatingsDuring 2013 and the first half of this year, we’ve tested and reviewed a bunch of compact Android tablets. Over that time, as a class, compact tablets have diversified in a big way; earlier, the only common screen size that small Android tablets came in was 7-inch. (Nowadays, we classify slates with 7- to 9-inch screens as “compact,” while tablets with larger screens are “full-size.”) The big growth has been in 8-to-9-inch models, likely thanks to the emergence and success of Apple’s 7.9-inch-screened iPad Mini.

Some of these, such as LG’s G Pad 8.3 (whether the standard, Google Play, or Verizon LTE versions) and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, were premium, high-performance slates ranging between $300 and $400, while others, such as Dell’s Venue 8 and Acer’s Iconia A1-830, were inexpensive, entry-level tabs under $200. Then, too, a few recent “classic compact” models with 7-inch screens, such as our Editors’ Choice favorite of last year, Google’s Nexus (2013), have persevered despite premium prices (in the case of the Nexus, $200 to $300).

Lenovo Tab A8

Without question, we’ve no shortage or lack of variety in compact Android tablets.

That brings us to the subject of this review, part of the recent wave of 8-inchers. Lenovo’s $179.99-list Tab A8 is a low-cost 8-inch model with 16GB of storage, a 1,280×800-resolution screen, and an entry-level MediaTek quad-core processor. What all this adds up to is an under-$200 slate that stacks up well against like-priced competitors, less so against higher-priced models. When compared to Google’s $229.99-list 32GB version of the Nexus 7, for example, the Tab A8 comes up short, even with its larger screen, and even more so when pitted against one of the elegantly designed LG G Pads.

You can buy the Tab A8 in only one configuration—with 16GB of onboard storage, plus the core components mentioned in the previous paragraph. However, Lenovo says it will offer the A8 in four different colors, as you can see here…

Lenovo Tab A8 (Colors)

When we wrote this in early July 2014, though, only the Midnight Blue was available.

In addition, Lenovo says it will offer a 3G version, which will connect you to the Internet via your wireless provider wherever it delivers service. Like the other three chassis colors, the 3G-ready model had not yet materialized. When and if it does, though, it will come with ostensibly upgraded audio: a pair of stereo speakers, rather than the single speaker that graced our Wi-Fi-only test unit. Plus, it’s expected to have proximity and ambient-light sensors, neither of which you’ll find on the Wi-Fi model.

Lenovo Tab A8

The Tab A8 is part of a refresh of the company’s budget-friendly A-series tablets, including the 7-inch IdeaTab A1000. The line comprises three different models—the Tab A7, Tab A8, and Tab A10—each, according to Lenovo, designed for different kinds of use. The smallest of the lot, the Tab A7, is intended primarily for reading and browsing, where the A8 is designed as an entertainment-consumption slate. The 10-inch A10, on the other hand, is meant to serve both productivity and media-playback functions.

With such a wide selection of feature sets and prices available, choosing the right compact slate is often a matter of evaluating overall value in each model—in short, what do you get for the money? In the case of the Tab A8, you get a nice-looking display, reasonably competent audio for a single-speaker tablet, and acceptable performance. We think this Lenovo slate provides good value for its $179.99 list price, but it’s not a breakaway product at that price. We’d like it much better discounted by a Hamilton, a Jackson—or maybe even one of each.

Read entire article at Computer Shopper.

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