android 3.1 : William Harrel – Journalist

Le Pan II ReviewSome live by the school of thought—in design, as well as in life—that less is more. And for some, that works. Apple, for instance, is a perfect success story of making less feel like more. The company typically provides limited port connectivity on both its laptops and tablets, and it generally allows for only one way to do things. But this works because Apple makes “simple” beautiful, and its products always use high-end materials, so they just feel good to use.

After spending some days with the Le Pan II tablet, we realized we needed to look at it through that same lens. At first glance, it has some similarities to the tablet-king Apple iPad, minus some of the panache of the Apple brand. But it also comes in at a much lower price.

At only $299, the Le Pan II is sure to catch the eye of many bargain hunters. Like the iPad, it has a 4-to-3 aspect ratio, a 9.7-inch screen, and solid build quality. A quick, uninformed comparison of the two might seem like a no-brainer—in Le Pan’s favor—when the price difference is a whopping $200. (Apple’s iPads start at $499, unless you count the last-generation iPad 2, whose 16GB base model now sells for $399.)

Le Pan isn’t the only tablet maker to bring a quality budget slate to the market, however. Acer’s sturdy $349 Iconia Tab A200, which we recently reviewed, also impressed us with its performance and build quality, giving us hope that the days of cheap, insubstantial-feeling plastic chassis on bargain-priced tablets are over. On the other hand, all three have attributes we don’t like. With Apple’s iPads, not including HDMI and USB ports is a design choice that we dislike but tolerate because of the lack of direct competition, whereas with Acer and Le Pan, eliminating ports is a sacrifice in the name of price. (Note, though, that the A200 does have a mini-USB port.) The other area where a choice that works for Apple doesn’t necessarily work for an Android tablet is the 4-to-3 screen aspect ratio. (We’ll talk more about that in a bit.)

All told, our biggest gripes with the Le Pan II are the lack of four things: an HDMI port, a USB port, a rear-facing camera, and the latest Android operating system. The last is the most fixable; instead of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich, or ICS), you get Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), but it’s possible a future update will fix this. Regardless of the feature set and the price, however, every tablet should perform well, and in this regard, the Le Pan II delivers. It turned in respectable scores on most of our benchmark tests, and it impressed us during our hands-on evaluation. For couch-bound Web surfers and Facebook users—or anyone who won’t mind any of the missing features we listed—the Le Pan II is a surprisingly good deal.

See this review at Computer Shopper.


Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet - Decked Out for Business

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet – Decked Out for Business

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.


Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 - Small, thin, light and gorgeous.

I’ve looked at a bunch of tablets lately. This one stands out. It’s small, light, and thin. Easy to hold and use, just overall gorgeous. Samsung left off some convenience features, and that’s disappointing. But overall, I’d rather carry this one around than several others I’ve reviewed. See the review at Computer Shopper.

Sony Tablet S

Sony's Tablet S - Finally an Android that doesn't start by yelling, "Me Too,"

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.