Wednesday 18 July 2018

Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Nokia 8110
Apple iPhone Red
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Q. I use my Vodafone Smartphone mainly for email, YouTube, and for catching up on Irish TV programmes via RTÉ and TV3 playback apps. Could you advise me on a suitable budget tablet that would give me all this on a larger screen, maybe 10in. I am not interested in Facebook or WhatsApp, but enjoy watching 'how to' videos on YouTube?

A I'd recommend one of four 10-inch models, ranging from €140 to €370 in price. Three of them are Android-based tablets (like your Vodafone smartphone) and one of them is an Apple iPad.

Even though one of the tablets I'm recommending (the iPad) costs more, I'm going to generally assume that your definition of a 'budget' tablet is something that costs under €250.

I'm also not including anything under €100 because, to be honest, they're largely junk that don't last the course and often deny you access to apps like YouTube.

At what I would describe as an entry budget level, Acer has a passable 10-inch tablet called the Iconia One 10 (€140 from PC World). The screen on it is fine, though the speakers are only so-so, which you might want to consider if you don't always use earphones when you're watching YouTube or television on your portable device. Like many entry-level tablets, a big thing to bear in mind is that it comes with very limited storage memory, 16GB. If you're purely using it to watch things on YouTube and RTÉ Player, that shouldn't be a problem. But if you have a Netflix account and want to occasionally download things to watch offline (like on a plane or a train), you might find that the storage limits of the device start to cramp your viewing preferences. The same goes for other video downloads, such as from Sky Go or rented movies from Google Play, all of which can take up a lot of space on your tablet.

If this doesn't bother you, 16GB might be just fine. If that's the case, another budget model to consider is Lenovo's 10-inch Tab 4 (€199 from Harvey Norman). This is a step up from the Acer, as it's faster and more powerful, meaning less chance of any stalling or buffering.

But if you want the flexibility that comes with a little more storage, it's worth paying an extra €20 to get Samsung's Galaxy Tab A (€219 from PC World). This is a fairly solid 10-inch tablet with 32GB of storage memory, a good screen and very good battery life. The speakers on it are fairly decent, too. Of the three I've mentioned so far, I would choose the Samsung first, then the Lenovo and then the Acer.

But if I was buying for myself, I would choose another machine - Apple's just-released 2018 iPad.

In my opinion, if your budget can stretch, it's worth it.

There are a few reasons for this. In general, all of its components - the screen quality, speakers, speed - are better than the cheaper Android models. This means it will last longer (many people still use iPads they bought five or six years ago). It also has extra security features, such as a Touch ID fingerprint reader. One extra element that I value a lot (but which may not be similarly valuable to everyone) is that iPads have many, many more apps available for them than Android tablets. This won't matter too much if you really only use YouTube and the RTÉ Player, but it will if some other video service pops up down the line. A last reason to go for an iPad is that you can avail of its free FaceTime video calling, which many families now use between themselves and which isn't available on Android devices.

RECOMMENDATION: Samsung Galaxy Tab A (pictured, €219 from PC World)

Email your questions to caomahony@independent.ie

Two to Try

Nokia 8110  (€99)

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Nokia 8110
 

In 2001, it was the height of sophistication. You'd whip your phone out, push a button and 'whlock!' the lower casing would snap down revealing the keypad. Is there a place for Nokia's iconic 'Matrix' phone in 2018? Apparently so. HMD, the company that now owns Nokia, is bringing out a new 4G version of the handset based on Android. It will be pretty cheap and have very basic specifications. But its battery will last a lot longer than a normal smartphone.

Apple iPhone Red (€829 from Apple.com/iestore)

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Apple iPhone Red
 

This new edition of the iPhone has exactly the same specifications as the existing iPhone 8, with two differences. First, it's a deep red. Second, Apple donates a portion of the 'Red' edition products it makes to AIDS research around the world. The iPhone 8 remains one of the best phones out there, with a superb camera, great build quality and very fast operation.

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