Saturday 15 December 2018

Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems


Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Nest 3rd Edition
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q I am looking for advice on purchasing an entry level tablet. I do not wish to purchase an Apple product, as I would prefer an Android at a lower price. I would use the tablet on holiday as a Kindle-type device and would use it for email, internet and viewing sports or films. I would like a keyboard facility as I would use Word regularly. Looking online, the advice is UK and USA based and quite confusing. All assistance and Irish-based suppliers gratefully received.

A I'd recommend Samsung's 10-inch Galaxy Tab A (€259 from Harvey Norman) with Logitech's Universal Folio keyboard (€75 from Argos). If that's still above budget, I'd swap the Samsung tablet for Huawei's 10-inch MediaPad T3 (€159 from Argos) or Lenovo's 10-inch Tab 3 (€110 from Argos) both of which are capable tablets.

First, it's important to consider the device's actual size. For what you say you want, I recommend a 10-inch Android tablet over 'mini' seven-inch or eight-inch devices.

It's true that for Kindle-style e-reader usage, a seven or eight-inch device is often better for ergonomic reasons: you can hold it in one hand for extended periods, compared to a heavier, bulkier 10-inch devices.

But for almost every other activity you mention, the 10-inch tablet is preferable. This is particularly so for watching movies and sport, where aerial shots can make the action around the players seem very small. TV programming, don't forget, is still primarily created for consumption on larger screens.

For productivity, it's also my experience that the more conventional 10-inch size is better when it comes to activities such as Word, especially as most keyboard accessories are tailored for this size. (If, for some reason, you decide the smaller Android tablet is for you, I'd recommend Lenovo's seven-inch 16GB tablet at €149 from Harvey Norman.)

While you're clearly conscious of budgetary considerations, I'd avoid saving €50 or so on a device with a tiny amount of storage. An example is Samsung's 10-inch Galaxy Tab E (€209 from Harvey Norman). Normally, this would be a possible contender. But its 8GB of storage (which is probably closer to 5GB once the system requirements are looked after) just isn't enough. For example, if you find that you want to save documents (such as Word) or images, or even the odd video, you'll run out of space much too quickly. I even find 16GB to be too constrained. But I'm assuming that the movies and TV you're talking about will all be streamed (from services such as Netflix, Sky Go or the RTÉ Player), meaning they won't take up any storage space.

As for keyboards, Logitech's K480 (€65 from Harvey Norman) is a very solid, usable keyboard that will work with any Android tablet. But it's not particularly portable. My choice would be Logitech's Universal Folio keyboard (€75 from Argos), which works with any nine or 10-inch Android tablet and doubles as a protective case.

One last point - avoid getting a tablet that costs under €100. Unless you're lucky, many of these are junk. A good example is Amazon's 7-inch Fire tablet (€79 from PC World), which is a poor experience all round.

RECOMMENDATION: Samsung Galaxy Tab A (pictured €259 from Harvey Norman) with Logitech Universal Folio keyboard (€75 from Argos)

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Two to Try

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 

(€949 or from €199 on operator contract)

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

If you're looking for the natural competitor to Apple's upcoming iPhone X, this is probably it. The Note 8 is arguably the best-designed, most functional smartphone this reviewer has ever seen. Its 6.3-inch screen fits into a frame normally associated with a smaller phone (because of the edge-to-edge design). The Note 8 also has a great camera, with two optically stabilised lenses. It sports decent battery life and is water resistant.

Nest 3rd Edition

(€249 from Harvey Norman)

Nest 3rd Edition

There are quite a few smart thermostats out there, but Nest arguably stands above the fray for a couple of reasons. First, its movement sensors can tell when you're in a room or not. Second, it works with your phone to instantly turn the heating off if you leave the house (by knowing your phone's location via GPS). As with rival devices, you have full control with your phone.

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