S06E06 - Christmas tablets

This week we re-visit our regular pre-Christmas topic - shopping for mobile gifts. This year we think is the 'year of the tablet' and with a huge number of retailers, models and prices to choose from we discuss how to choose a 'first tablet' gift.

  • MacLeod: Ewan highlights SigFox, a new type of mobile operator that offers very low-speed data connectivity tailored for ‘machine to machine’ connectivity.
  • Blandford: Rafe corrects some of the mis-reporting over Nokia’s potential use of Android, pointing out that - if used - it will be a 'fork’ of Android that replaces the low-end Series 40 OS.
  • Smith: Ben is looking at options for mobile blogging now that Posterous has shutdown. Not being a fan of Wordpress (for content-creation from mobile) he’s in-search of other options.

For 'tablet first purchases' the team all agree you should avoid the ‘£50 special’ tablets but beyond that opinion is divided:

WARNING: At around 19 mins into this episode Rafe Blandford uses the phrase ‘optimising the gift-giving experience’. We apologise for any distress caused or beverages spilled.

  • MacLeod: Ewan advises going for quality - your gift recipient may ’settle’ for a cheap device but they really want an iPad and that platform offers the best experience in terms of media and apps. “You can’t”, he says, “go wrong with anything with an Apple logo on it…"
  • Blandford: Rafe agrees that if “money is no object” the iPad is a grey choice but thinks many people won’t want to pay Apple prices for a "first tablet”. He recommends Windows-powered tablets for business people or ‘doing work’, but says the Amazon Kindle tablets offer the best balance of cost and experience. At half the price of an iPad, Amazon still offers a comprehensive ecosystem of content and apps.
  • Smith: Ben agrees Kindles and iPads are both great for users already invested in those platforms, but thinks the Tesco Hudl or Samsung Galaxy tablets are more generally useful for ‘first tablets’ with access to Google’s Play Store and specs that can run popular apps. He notes that - although stock was limited - the Hudl sold out very quickly.

Ultimately the team’s (far from unanimous) recommendations are:

  • Games and streamed media: Lower cost Android tablets, including Samsung's Galaxy range and Google's Nexus range.
  • Readers and film buffs: Amazon’s Kindle range offer good quality devices with access to a good content catalogue whilst still functioning well for web and other apps (albeit Amazon’s catalogue is more limited that Google’s).
  • For ‘workers’ or business people: Nokia’s 2520 is our pick of Windows RT devices currently although the Surface and new full-Windows tablets from the likes of Dell are worth a look (this is a growing category). These devices are ideal if access (and compatibility) with Word and Excel are a priority over apps selection. 
  • As a ‘primary computer’ (for shopping, social networking and apps from favourite brands): Apple’s iPad range are still the winners (despite the higher cost).

This week’s letter of the week (winning a prize from our sponsors Phones 4U) is actually a tweet:

@kennygreig tweeted to alert us to some research by UK-based consumer organisation Which?: The tablet memory mark-up scandal - It costs tablet manufacturers such as Apple less than £6 to add an extra 16GB of tablet memory. But they’ll charge you as much as £80 for the privilege.

This episode is supported by Phones 4u.