Tech: The Tablet Hunt

My tablet is dying. I have finally had to admit it doesn’t hold much charge, the bluetooth keyboards can not manage to stay connected (yes, I have 2 and both of them are in bad shape too). I do NOT want to do this, but Eli is pretty sure my tablet was purchased in 2013 or 2014…. which means it’s well past “expected life” for tech – much less a tablet. Hell, it’s on Google 6.0 and can’t be updated anymore (I could probably jailbreak it and maybe get another version on there, but I’m also afraid this would brick the thing).

So I need a new tablet. Unfortunately, there isn’t a tablet on the market I’m excited about.

What I have now:

To understand what I’ve had for the past ~6 years, it’s a Nexus 7, 32GB version with LTE access through T-mobile.

The Big Problem

My current tablet is 7″ and has been the perfect size for me. Big enough to be a “real” screen and hold more than 2 seconds worth of text, but small enough I could put it with a keyboard case into my purse. The keyboards I have are both big enough I can type two-handed. Barely, and I will grant you 8″ would probably be an acceptable compromise.

There aren’t a lot of tablets that size. Most of them are 9-11 inches. These aren’t comfortable to sit and hold for very long (and definitely not one-handed-reading-an-ebook-while-drinking-tea holding).

My NEEDS (and my Wants)

Ok, so I need a real keyboard. I can handle an onscreen keyboard for simple searches and responding to hangouts messages, but I like writing on my tablet (great use of lunch time!) and I can’t do that with an onscreen keyboard. Call me old, I need my real keyboard with clicky keys. So any tablet I get, I also need a keyboard. I want it to also be a keyboard that works with/fits in the case I get so I’m not carrying tablet and keyboard around.

I need at least the 32 GB I have now. I am good about not generally using up all my memory on devices (I don’t tend to store music and such on my tablets) but updates and apps inevitably eat up space over time. After five-to-six years, I’ve got 12GB left. This still means 16GB just isn’t big enough.

I want Android. I have apps I love, some of which I’ve paid for and I don’t want to swap to iPad where I’d need to repurchase OR they aren’t available and I’d have to learn a new app for the same functions. I could get over this I’m sure, but it’s my want list so it’s what I want dammit.

I would like USB-C charging. It’s what’s on my phone and I would dearly love to get down to one charging cable again. Like the OS question, I’ll get over it if it’s my only option, but a USB-C charging option doesn’t seem unreasonable (to me).

Lastly, I want good battery life. This is only a want, I can always grab a portal recharger, but it would be convenient. But honestly, a 3-4 hr battery life (running video/games) would be plenty. Since my biggest draw for a tablet is essentially word processing…. I don’t tend to run down batteries that fast.

What’s out there

Well let’s get the big one out of the way: The iPad. Whether the iPad mini 5 or the iPad, I’m not excited. As I said in my wants above – I want Android. I like Android. That said, I also have strong reservations to the lightning charger. (A) I said it before – 2 charging cables is a pain, but (B) I’ve heard more people have issues with lightning than with USB (anything). The specs aren’t horrible, but I am highly resistant especially with the “cheap” option still being over $450 and the mini (7″ option) being $530.

Samsung Tab A. A $200 tablet is much more reasonable. Apparently the camera is “underwhelming” but I kind of look at people funny if they talk about the camera on a tablet like they do the camera on a phone. Seriously, have you seen someone trying to take a picture with a tablet? It’s embarrassing. This is really the only other LTE option for a tablet. It’s affordable per say and the specs reflect this. It’s 1.2 Ghz vs the 2.5Ghz of the iPad mini. 1.5GB of ram to the mini’s 3GB. The mini has better screens, more memory, and the *gasp* better camera. There’s no fingerprint sensor. There’s no stylus/pen support.

The comparison is almost embarrassing. I am sad that the Android device makers seem to have ceded the tablet market to Apple. At least for now, there just isn’t much out there.


I don’t like the price. But with my carrier I can finance it over 2 years which helps (hurts slightly less all at once). And honestly, over 6 years (assuming I can keep my next tablet as long as my last) the $500…. nope, that’s still too close to $100/year to make me happy. I don’t like the price. Especially because it feels like there is a 30-40% price hike to have the fruit logo on the back. That price tag also doesn’t cover a keyboard, case, or the stylus/”pen” (and the Apple pen is literally twice as expensive as similar options that don’t have their stupid logo on it).