Monday, September 1st, 2014
If you’re looking to get a tablet, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is choosing an iPad or an Android tablet. While the iPad was the only real choice several years ago, nowadays both the iPad and Android tablets have evolved considerably. In this article, we’ll show you the strengths and weaknesses of each platform – as well as a few recommendations on the best iPads or Android tablets to buy. Let’s get started!
- Largest range of accessories and apps
- Easy to use
- Well designed, inside and out
So – the iPad. It’s the quintessential tablet, and its popularity is one of its greatest strengths. It means you’ll find a wide range of iPad accessories, from iPad cases and covers to chargers, screen protectors and stands. You can find accessories to fit pretty much every need and every style. With only two models – iPad Mini and iPad Air – to be released recently, an entire industry can work easily to support them.
The same popularity also makes the iPad the biggest target for app developers, allowing them to finetune their apps to suit the iPad and make the very best use of its screen and capabilities. That translates into better apps, and more of them.
Apple have always tried to make their products easy to use, and that continues with the iPad. The Apple tablet is simple in places, but that ensures that there’s little that you quickly won’t learn how to do. Even complex tasks like cloud printing are presented well, making it easy to get things set up properly.
Finally, the iPad is well designed, with powerful hardware and a stylish look. The tablet’s processor and GPU are regularly listed among the best in the business, and the battery life of the tablet is considerable too. The iPad is also good looking, with a slim metal design that feels solid and dependable in your hands. The most important strength of the iPad is its display though, which is generally pixel-dense, bright and well-calibrated.
- Little customisation
- More expensive
Of course, there are downsides to Apple’s approach. The simplicity they have wrought means that more advanced controls are hidden or not present at all, leaving the operating system far less customisable than its peers. Apple’s tight control of their app store also allows them to remove apps they find objectionable, particularly those on questionable moral or legal ground.
The iPad’s premium materials and hardware command a premium price, making the iPad more expensive than similarly equipped Android tablets. Additional storage is also costly, with a 32GB model costing £80 more than the 16GB option – and there’s no option to add more storage with a microSD card later.
iPad: Recommended tablets
If you’re looking to pick up an iPad, there are only two real models to choose between: the iPad Mini with Retina Display and the iPad Air. The iPad Mini has a gorgeous 7.9-inch display, while the Air moves to 10.1-inches. Both tablets are well crafted out of aluminium, and boast good battery lives in addition to their well-tuned screens. The iPad Mini is the better choice for portable use (with one hand), while the iPad Air makes a better tablet for keeping at home (with two hands).
- Wide range of tablets to suit any need (including low price)
- Deep customisation possible
The strength of the Android operating system for tablets is breadth and depth. In almost any attribute you can name – dimensions, speed, capabilities, camera, price - there will be tablets that hit every point on the range. Sony produce a range of powerful, waterproof tablets with good cameras. Samsung opt for slim workhorses, many with styluses built in. Amazon have a range of high-performance tablets, tied into their own ecosystem, for a low price. These are just the tip of the iceberg; with sufficient time you should be able to find an Android tablet to fit any requirements.
You also have a lot of choice with an Android tablet after you’ve purchased it. It’s possible to buy microSD cards which will extend your available storage cheaply, and there are a decent range of other tablet accessories available too. While there aren’t as many third-party accessories available as there are for the iPad, that means tablet makers like Samsung and Motorola often produce an excellent first-party range.
Customisability is another advantage with Android. It’s often possible to make deeper changes than on iOS, and there’s also the option to install a new variant of the Android operating system (like CyanogenMod) that will allow you even greater control. There are very few questions you can ask that start “Can I…” that end “No.”
The final advantage to Android is often price. Google and Amazon are well known for their low-cost tablets that still deliver an excellent experience with good hardware; their content-first strategies mean that they’re willing to sell tablets at a loss so you use their stores for apps, music, videos and books.
- Some Android tablets are poorly designed inside and out
- Less apps truly optimised for tablets
As we saw with the iPad, there’s a definite trade-off between simplicity and customisability. The average Android tablet errs towards customisability, which can be overwhelming.
There’s also a high amount of variability when it comes to the design of Android tablets, in terms of both software and hardware. Many Android tablets – including barebones Android found on the Nexus series – are well designed and look good, but there are also many tablets saddled with confusing interfaces, poor designs and underpowered hardware.
The final bugbear for Android is that of apps. You’ll find some great tablet apps, but lazily designed, stretched out mobile phone apps are still relatively common. The large range of Android devices also makes it harder for developers to optimise their apps, so you may find you’re arbitrarily unable to install apps if you aren’t using a well-known device.
Android: Recommended tablets
Google make some of the best Android tablets, which come with a clean version of Android, good hardware and an aggressive point. The most recent release, the Nexus 7, is a great choice with a sharp 7-inch display, good battery life and a simple, durable outward design.
Samsung are the biggest sellers of Android tablets, thanks to a massive range of models, a host of software additions to stock Android and slim designs. The Tab S 10.5-inch tablet is the most recent, and offers a good battery life, a bright and beautiful screen, and a slim chassis.
Sony operate at the highest end of the Android market, with top-notch screens and cameras and stylish waterproof bodies. The Xperia Z2 Tablet is a good example of their approach, with a squared-off waterproof body, good screen and relatively untouched version of Android on board.
Thanks for checking out the article – we hope it made it easier for you to choose an Android or iOS tablet! If you have any questions or comments, then please leave them below or speak to us on Twitter @mobilefun.
Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
If you’ve got a Surface Pro 3, you already know how productive you can be on this tablet / laptop hybrid. But if you want to really maximise its capabilities, then you can turn it into a workstation with this official docking station!
The docking station makes it easy to use the Surface Pro 3 on your desk, by adding easy-to-access ports that allow you to connect many more peripherals and devices. You’ll have more USB ports (6 in total!) than many desktop computers, allowing you to connect hard drives, mice, keyboards, gamepads, CD drives and printers.
Connecting multiple monitors is possible too – you can have three displays in total, including the Surface’s own screen, which is fantastic for having multiple windows open at once. For example, you might have Word open on the built-in display, while you look at a reference webpage on a monitor.
There’s even an ethernet port to provide the fastest possible network access with minimal lag and no risk of poor wireless performance.
As well as adding ports, you’ll also find that the Docking Station is a great home for your Surface. You’ll benefit from a convenient upright viewing angle that’s perfect for work or play. Your Surface will also charge while it’s in the dock, ensuring that your battery will always be topped up when you’re ready to hit the road.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is the ultimate upgrade for your Surface. For more information, including live pricing and availability data, please visit the product page linked below. You can also see more accessories in the relevant category, also linked below:
Thanks for checking out the article and be sure to let us know what you think of the accessory in the comments below. You can also reach us on Twitter @mobilefun, so feel free to chat to us on there too!
Monday, November 25th, 2013
Today we’re going to take a look at the Office Nexus Wireless Charging Pad.
As you might expect, this item provides rapid wireless charging for the members of the Nexus family of smartphones and tablets that support Qi wireless charging – at present, this includes the LG-made Nexus 4 and 5 smartphones, as well as the latest Asus-made Nexus 7 tablet (released in 2013). No matter which device you’re using, you’ll find wireless charging an easy alternative to micro USB wires.
It can be difficult to remember to plug in your Nexus every time it could be charging, but with wireless charging this is quite straightforward – just place it on top of your wireless charger and forget about it. Your Nexus will charge up to its full capacity, then automatically disengage from charging until it hits a low enough level once again. This practice is thought to extend battery longevity and prevents unnecessary heat and power use.
The coolest feature of the Nexus Wireless Charging Pad is its built-in magnets, which allow the Nexus tablets with magnets – the Nexus 7 (2013) tablet and Nexus 5 smartphone – to easily stick to the charging pad, locking in the device at an angle that ensures optimum wireless charging. This keeps your Nexus from sliding around or falling off, and makes placement a (literal) snap.
Of course, as this is an official wireless charging pad produced by LG, you’ll find that it matches the style of the Nexus family quite well. It is nondescript but well-proportioned, and will be a nice addition to your desk or bedside table.
For more information on this wireless charger, check out the product page linked below. I’ll also throw in a link to the rest of our Qi wireless chargers, which should also work with the Nexus lineup of smartphones and tablets.
Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know what you think of the article!
Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
The easiest way to identify which iPad you have is to check the model number on the iPad’s back case. Just find your number in the table below, then click on the model name to see compatible accessories.
|iPad Air (late 2013)
|iPad Mini 2 (late 2013)
|iPad Mini (late 2012)
|iPad 4 (late 2012)
|iPad 3 (early 2012)
|iPad 2 (2011)
|iPad 1 (2010)
Of course, there are other ways to check which iPad you have without looking up the model number – just follow the steps below, looking at the iPad’s size, its connector, and its thickness.
1. Full-size iPad or iPad Mini?
First things first – do you have the iPad Mini or the full size iPad? The full size iPad has a screen that’s ten inches along the diagonal, while the iPad Mini is smaller at about 8 inches. If you’ve got a full size iPad, skip to the next question. If you’ve got a small iPad, read on.
If you’ve got the smaller kind of iPad, then you have either the iPad Mini or the iPad Mini 2 (also known as the iPad Mini with Retina display). The iPad Mini with Retina display will look sharper due to its higher resolution screen and will be 0.3 mm thicker, but if you don’t have two iPads to compare then the effect won’t be obvious.
Instead, have a look at the back for that model number. For A1488, A1489 and A1490, you’ll want iPad Mini 2 accessories. For model numbers A1432, A1454 and A1455, you should have a look at our iPad Mini accessories here.
The iPad Mini 2 (late 2013) aka the iPad Mini with Retina
The original iPad Mini (late 2012)
2. Full-size iPad with Lightning connector – but does it have a thick or thin bezel?
The most recent iPad is the iPad Air – a newly retitled and redesigned iPad with a very thin bezel, like the iPad Mini. The big difference to previous full-size iPads is the thickness of the bezels. The Air has very thin bezels, and a lighter and thinner design overall as well. If you have a thin-bezeled iPad, then check out our iPad Air accessories.
iPad Air (late 2013) with noticeably thinner bezels than the iPads shown below
If you have wider bezels, then the most recent iPad it could be is the fourth generation iPad, or iPad 4. It’s very similar in shape and size to the third generation iPad, but it has the small micro-USB sized Lightning connector instead of the earlier wide and thin 30 Pin Apple connector. The iPad 4 was released in late 2012.
If you’ve got a thick-bezeled iPad with a Lightning connector, it’s the iPad 4, so have a look at our iPad 4 accessories here.
The 4th generation iPad aka iPad 4 (late 2012)
3. Full-size iPad with 30 Pin connector?
If you’ve got a thick-bezeled iPad with a 30 Pin connector, then you have either the iPad 3 (marketed as “the new iPad”), the iPad 2, or the original iPad.
Third, second and first generation iPad models. Aside from the model number, the only real difference between the Wi-Fi models is the thickness of the chassis.
Telling the difference between the first, second and third generation iPad models is more difficult, because the only real physical difference is the thickness – the original iPad is noticeably thicker (12.7 mm or 1/2 an inch), the iPad 2 is thinner (8.6 mm or .34 inches), and the iPad 3 is slightly thicker than that (9.4 mm or 0.37 inches). The iPad 1 was released in 2010, the iPad 2 in 2011, and the iPad 3 in early 2012.
If you’re still not sure what iPad you’ve got, why not check out Apple’s article on the subject?
Monday, February 4th, 2013
Modern smartphones and tablets are definitely power-hungry beasts, requiring up to 2.1A to charge at full speed. While you can get car chargers that’ll dispense the necessary power, usually they’re 2A split between two USB ports – not enough to charge a tablet and smartphone simultaneously at full speed.
That isn’t a problem for this Kensington Powerbolt Dual Car Charger, though – it dispenses a mighty 3.4A all told, with 2.4A on the top port and 1A on the bottom. That’s more than enough to charge even the latest iPad and iPhone at full speed – no more waiting around for the iPad to charge, or even having it lose charge faster than it gains it back!
This Powerbolt also comes with a rather useful extra – a free Lightning USB cable that’ll allow you to charge any of Apple’s latest devices, including the iPad 4, iPad Mini and iPhone 5. The cable is a meter long too, so it should be quite convenient to use as an iPad charger or for other devices too.
You might worry that you’d mix up which socket is which, but Kensington have thought ahead and included labels on both USB ports to ensure that you’re always going to be charging at maximum speed.
The Kensington has a simple, professional looking design, with a very small size that’s only as big as is necessary to include the two USB ports. That means it’ll never get in the way of other nearby connections or buttons. It’s so small and light that it’s easy to toss in a bag or take on holiday without issues.
All in all, the Kensington Powerbolt 3.4A charger is a complete in-car charging solution, particularly for Apple devices as you’ve got that extra Lightning USB cable. Of course, the USB ports will work fine with your own cables for Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone, as well as other USB charged items like e-readers and headsets.
What do you think of the Kensington Powerbolt – do you reckon it’s the best iPhone 5 and iPad 4 charger? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and have a good one!