Tag Archives: Android Tablet

A Phabulous Phablet from Lenovo

Lenovo makes two Phablets that are similar, the 4G and the 4G plus. The latter is not bigger (in fact, it is a little smaller) but rather, has higher specs all around, making it a fairly expensive device. But the Lenovo PHAB 4G Phablet (regular) is practically free and is actually rather Phabulous.

OK, well, not fee, but about 170 bucks or so, except now closer to $130 from Gearbest. (As far as I know this is the only place to get it. Gearbest has a very large selection of Lenovo phones and phablets, as well as a high diversity of generally very affordable tablets.)

So, I tried out the Lenovo PHAB 4G Phablet.

First, what is a Phablet and why do you want one?

The broadest definition of Phablet is that it is a kind of hybrid between a tablet and a phone. So, for example, the Nexus 6 is sometimes called a Phablet. That is the phone I use. It is very large (requires very large hands), so it has piles of screen real estate, yet it is a phone. But, the Nexus 6 is not really a true phablet by a stricter definition, because it acts like a phone, rather than a tablet, in those areas where they are different.


The Lenovo PHAB 4G Phablet is, as far as I can tell, an actual phablet with phone hardware and software and, of course, a place for an SMS card.

It actually has room for 2 SMS cards, and in this and other ways, is highly adaptable and international. Even though you can’t (probably) get this phone from any US carriers, you can still probably buy it an put the SMS of your favorite carrier in it (check here first). Or two SMS cards if you want.

Or, you can use one of the SMS holders to hold the SMS, and the other to hold a micro SD card, for up to 64GB of added storage.

lenovo_phablet_in_handThe display is very large, and the glass front of the device continues out to the edge, with the display, within that area, having a 6.98″ diagonal. The phablet is thin, sturdy, light. The back is gripable rather than super smooth, so it is comfortable in the hand. I probably should put a case on this, but I’d almost rather not it is so easy to handle as is.

There is a normal headphone jack, so you don’t have to worry about that. And, a MicroUSB slot.


<li>The processor is a Qualcomm MSM8916 Quad Core 1.2GHz (with the ability to go to 1.84GHz)</li>
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB eMCP ROM Storage. Note: This tablet uses stock android, so more of this 16GB is available than you might find on, say Samsung phones, which may use many gigabytes of storage for its own proprietary non-removable system software.
  • Capacitive touch display, 6.98 inch, 1280 x 720 (HD 720)
  • Dual cameras, very good quality, 13.0MP rear (with flash) and 5.0MP front.
  • SIM card slot can hold two SIM cards, Dual Standby
  • MicroUSBV slot in place of one of the two SIM cards, as an option (up to 64GB)
  • the Battery is 3.7/4250mAh, and the device comes wiht an adapter that handles 100-240 volts
  • The dual SMS or SMS + microSD holder.
    The dual SMS or SMS + microSD holder.
  • There is a G sensor
  • GPS
  • Blue tooth and WiFi
  • Supports 2G + 3G + 4G high speed internet access
  • Unlocked for international use.
  • Comes with Android 5.1
  • The speaker seems exceptionally good, better sound than my Nexus. Also, the mic is pretty good, for dictation.
  • I am probably going to use this phone for two purposes. First, I’ll offload much of the funcitonality of my Nexus 6 onto this tablet, with its larger screen, etc. I’ve found that the Kindle Reader works really well on this, and the phone is just the right size and weight — Amazon should make a reader just this size and shape — so I’ll be reading non-text books (i.e., technology books, etc.) on this, when I can wrestle the device away from Huxley, who is reading his stuff on it as I write this.

    Second, I’ll get one of those inexpensive short term phone accounts, like Ting provides (but probably not Ting) and I’ll use the tablet as a wireless hotspot for the family’s laptops and other devices, when traveling.

    That second use will also allow me to use this Android phablet as a base for communicating with robots that have SMS cards. Once I get some of those.

    I have always loved Lenovo products, going to back when they were made by IBM. I used only Lenovo laptops back in the day, and I still have a few of them laying around. Lenovo was bought by a Chinese company some time ago, but continued to make laptops. This phablet seems to be in the range of engineering quality I would expect for a consumer grade product made by this company. In other words, well made and solid.

    What Are The Best Android Tablets?

    Which Android Tablet Is Best?

    You will have to decide which tablet is best for you based on your specific needs, and no general review is going to give you that information in a useful way. But, among the many tablets there is a handful that rise to the top and should be looked at either to consider purchasing or to use as a benchmark against which to measure others.

    Here is some guidance to help you decide which Android tablet are in that category, and that you should consider. Note that I look briefly at a very inexpensive option here (not included in the list below).

    Nexus 9
    Nexus 9
    Most of these are higher end tablets for general use, but there are some notable exceptions. Because of the timing of when new technology comes out, many of these tablets are older models that have not been replaced yet with the newer models, and prices might be starting to drop for them.

    First, the Nexus 9 is essentially being replaced by the Pixel, but the Nexus 9 is still an excellent tablet. So, look here for special deals.

    Second, have a look at the Lenovo tablet which combines a projector and a tablet. This could be exactly what is needed for certain folks.

    Third, note that some of the tablets either come with keyboards or have keyboards as an accessory.

    Fourth, do look at the giant tablets (the last two, below). These are a little strange, but may be exactly what you are looking for.

    Finally, if the main thing you are going to use your tablet for is reading Kindle books and watching films (mainly from Amazon) do look at the Amazon tablets. I’ve put two examples here, but you will also find a link below comparing them.

    Some of the key specifications for these tablets are in a table at the bottom, but click through to get more information.

    Google Nexus 9

    Approximate price: $350 and up, look for deals.

    Classic top of the line, not really replaced yet by Google Pixel, but it will be. Will be supported for the near future. Probably a good value right now because it is a great tablet with a dropping price. Sock Android OS. Generally, a Google Nexus product is going to run Android better than anyone else. Easy to hold because of material used to make the back.

    Google Nexus 9 Tablet (8.9-Inch, 32GB, Black, Wi-Fi)

    See also: Google Nexus 10 (Wi-Fi only, 32 GB)

    From the makers: “The magnetically attached, fully-responsive keyboard allows you to type at different angles. Sold separately, it helps you get stuff done at home, at the office, and on the go.”

    Google Pixel C

    Google Pixel C
    Google Pixel C
    Approximate price: $560 and up

    Best pure android tablet. This is the new Google tablet, has great features. Probably overepriced because it is so new, but may be the best tablet in terms of technology.

    Google Pixel C 10.2-in HD Touchscreen Tablet

    From the makers: “Meet the first Android tablet designed and built from start to finish by Google with a full keyboard, USB Type-C charger and multi-angle display functionality.”

    Sony Xperia Z4

    Approximate price: $680.

    Sony Xperia Z4
    Sony Xperia Z4
    Don’t confuse this with the Z4 smart phone. One of the thinnest and lighest, somewhat waterproof, modified Android OS. Has a keyboard, but the keyboard gets mixed reviewes. Great battery life.

    Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet 10.1" 32 GB – Wifi Only – Black (U.S. Warranty) with Bluetooth Keyboard

    From the makers: “This 10.1” Android tablet stretches the limits of display technology. The highest resolution, the brightest screen and the most vivid colours make Xperia Z4 Tablet the best viewing experience you will hold in your hand.”

    Nvidia Shield Tablet K1

    Nvidia_Shield_Tablet_K1Approximate price: $200–250 and up, depending on options.

    Inexpensive, good for gaming, has GeForce. Many versions of this tablet exist depending on what you specify. This is a specialty tablet mainly for gaming, not necessarily the best choice for general use. Long battery life. Not a large amount of onboard storage. (The stylus from earlier models is gone.) Maybe one of the best values given quality and price if you are looking for this type of tablet.

    NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet (WiFi)

    From the makers: “The new NVIDIA SHIELD tablet K1 is a high-performance Android tablet that transforms into an amazing gaming machine with the SHIELD controller and GeForce NOW™ game-streaming service.”

    Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

    Approximate price: $600.

    Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro,  caught in the act of projecting.
    Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro, caught in the act of projecting.
    Powerful processor, great display, good cameras, bulky design, a bit of bloatware. Built in projector, which might make this an excellent choice if you give a lot of presentations in places where there may not be a projector. Ver unique design, with a hinge-stand to help the projector work. This is probably the perfect tablet for some people.

    Lenovo (LENZ9) Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 10 – ZA0F0050US 10.1" WQHD 2-in–1 Laptop/Tablet (Intel Atom Z8500 1.4GHz Processor, 2 GB SDRAM, 32 GB SDD, Android 5.1 Lollipop)

    From the makers: “The YOGA Tab 3 Pro boasts a revolutionary integrated projector that turns any room into your very own theater. Experience a new way to enjoy videos and movies. Use the rotatable hinge and super bright 50 lumen output to project an image of up to 70” (178cm) on any wall or ceiling.”

    Dell Venue 10 7000

    Dell Venue 10 7000
    Dell Venue 10 7000
    Approximate price: $270 – 400 depending on storage specs.

    Comes with a keyboard. Standard Android OS. Heavy, but sturdy. Wraparound front speakers. See also Dell Venu 8. This is a very good tablet, out does earlier Dell models. Probably has a great battery life.

    Dell Venue 10 7040 v7040–6980BLK 10.5-Inch 32 GB Tablet

    From the makers: “With a sleek design, 10.5-inch OLED touch screen and optional magnetically attachable keyboard, the Venue 10 7000 Series is designed to impress.”

    Amazon Fire

    Approximate price: $50.

    Really cheap, highly modified Android OS, slower and lower quality screen than other tablets, and smallish, but well designed for Amazon kindle reading. I like mine.

    Fire Tablet, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black

    See this review.

    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9

    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9
    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9
    Approximate price: $400.

    Dolby Atmos audio-enhancing technology. Highly modified OS, including parental controls. The Amazon App store is not as good as the Google Play store. Mainly a media tablet, and of coruse, great for reading Kindle books.

    Fire HDX 8.9 Tablet, 8.9" HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 64 GB – Includes Special Offers

    If one of the main things you do with your tablet is reading and watching movies, an Amazon tablet may be an excellent choice for you, but there is a huge range of technologies and prices.

    There is a table here at Amazon allowing you to compare them

    Two Giant Tablets

    Fuhu Nabi Big Tab HD 20

    Approximate price: $550.

    Fuhu Nabi Big Tablet
    Fuhu Nabi Big Tablet
    Huge: 24 inches. There are other sizes as well, and the 24 inch version may be hard to get, leaving you with the smaller 20 inch version. Said to have a pretty good screen. Very kid-friendly, parental controlls, stock Android OS, will not fit in your pocket. Probably best for specialized uses such as in schools.

    nabi Big Tab HD 20"

    “Made especially for children and their parents, the nabi Big Tab HD™ line features a massive 20” and 24” HD display, built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, 16 GB of on board storage, Android 4.4 Kit Kat, integrated parental controls and over 400 kid-focused, parent-approved features through nabi’s Blue Morpho OS. Unlike other tablets that are designed to be personal devices, the Big Tab is made for sharing and collaboration in learning, playing, creating and communicating. It features family fun experiences including Two Play (classic 2-player board games), Game Room (arcade games like air hockey), Showtime (popular movies and TV shows), Story Time (interactive bedtime stories), Big Canvas (drawing and editing videos) and more.”

    Samsung Galaxy View

    Samsung Galaxy View
    Samsung Galaxy View
    Samsung Galaxy View 18.4" 32 GB Tablet (Wi-Fi), Black

    Approximate price $500:

    Another giant tablet (older model) to check out in case you are looking for one of those.

    This is essentially a TV. From the manufacturer: “Knowing how you watch TV, we designed the biggest ever Android-powered full HD screen that’s large enough to double as a beautiful TV and light enough to be portable.”

    This tablet is so big it has a handle.


    Tablet Screen Size Screen Resolution Processor Ram (GB) Storage (GB) SD slot
    Google Nexus 9 8.9 2048 X 1536 2.3 GHz Tegra (2 processors) 2 32 No
    Google Pixel C 10.2 2560 X 1800 NVIDIA Tegra X1 with Maxwell GPU 3 32 No
    Sony Xperia Z4 10.1 2560 X 1600 Quad Cxore Snapdragon 2 GHz 3 32 Yes
    Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 8 1920 X 1200 2.2 GHz Tegra K1 2 16 Yes
    Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 10.1 2560 X 1440 1.4 GHz Atom Z8500 2 32 No
    Dell Venue 10 7000 10.5 2560 X 1600 2.33 GHz Atom Z3580 2 32 Yes
    Amazon Fire 7 1024 X 1600 1.3 GHz quad core 1 8 or 16 Yes
    Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 8.9 2560 X 1600 2.5 GHz quad core 2 16 – 64 No
    Fuhu Nabi Big Tab HD 20 19.5+ 1600 X 900 1.6 GHz Tegra 4.0 2 16 No
    Samsung Galaxy View 18.4 1920 X 1080 1.6 GHz 8032 2 32 Yes

    A very promising inexpensive Android tablet

    I’m just passing this information on, I’ve not handled this device. But the price and performance seem like such a sweet spot that I am compelled to tell you about it. Let me know in the comments if you have experience with this item.

    The Dragon Touch M8 2016 Edition 8 inch Quad Core Tablet is a competitively priced high quality tablet, with excellent reviews. It costs 80 bucks. A while back, I asked if you should buy a $50 Kindle Fire Tablet. I concluded that maybe you should, because it is cheap and if the main thing you are doing with your tablet is grazing your Amazon Kindle booklist, it is actually idea. The Dragon Touch M8 (2016) is larger (8 inch display), and runs basic Android (different from the fire) and while a bit more expensive, it is also cheap.

    Click through to see the specs. . It is a quad core with 1gb of ram, has a memory card slot for an extra 32 gigs of storage above the built in 16 gigs, GPS (that requires, I think, wireless), blue tooth, an HDMI plug, which might make it ideal for carrying around to give presentations (though you might need a ).

    Scanning the reviews on Amazon, it seems that the bad reviews are about individual tablets that are broken in some way. The good reviews are pretty glowing. There are some complaints about the forward facing camera, but this may arise from the fact that at least in some tablets, this camera has a separate protective film on it that some may not have removed.

    This tablet is not going to be as good as an iPad or a Google Nexus 9. It may be noticeably slower, especially with high demand apps like some games. But, if you simply can’t afford a tablet this may be a good choice, or if you want a second device for specific purposes that are not that demanding, you can probably skip some mid-priced pleasure (like going out to eat or something) and totally justify the purchase.

    Should You Buy The $50 Kindle Fire Tablet?

    This is a review of the Kindle Fire with 7″ Display and Special Offers by Amazon. In short, this is a tablet/eReader that a lot of people will want, as long as certain needs are extant and certain expectations understood. I have one, and I’m very happy with it. It would take very little convincing for me to get a second one.

    One of the main reasons to give serious thought to getting one of these is the fact that it will put you back a mere fifty bucks.

    Don’t expect a brilliant tablet for fifty bucks. You may want a nice full blown Android tablet, or if you prefer, an iPad. That will cost you several hundred dollars, and may be worth it. The Kindle Fire reviewed here is not that.

    This Kindle tablet has a processor that is slower than the faster processors, has a screen resolution about 20% lower than good quality typical tablets, and moderate but not overwhelming graphics capability. If you are going to rely on a tablet, use it all the time for all the things one might use a tablet for, get a Google Pixel C or, if you don’t have $700 bucks, the also awesome Google Nexus 9.

    Don’t get the Kindle Fire with 7″ Display and Special Offers to be THE tablet in your life. But, if you read Kindle books, and you want an eReader that is tablet-like (rather than electronic paper), consider a device that is 50% as fast as something that is so fast you can’t tell how fast it is, 80% as crisp, but only 10% of the cost. Seriously, at $50, instead of $400 or $700, this is worth consideration.

    I don’t actually own an up to date super tablet. Rather, I have a phablet, a super phone (one of the most powerful out there) which is huge, and acts like a tablet well enough. For watching videos and reading eBooks using the Kindle reader, I have an iPad 2, which is essentially brain dead as a tablet (since it will not run the newer operating systems in any realistic way) but works OK for these two tasks. Adding the Kindle 7″ eReader, which happens to be an Android tablet, made a lot of sense for me, especially because the iPad 2 actually doesn’t work all that well as a Kindle reader.

    Upsides and downsides

    The display is fine. I tend to read with larger than average font size, and in that area I don’t see any problem with the display resolution. If I had some masochistic need to read books in a tiny tiny font, I’d want a super high resolution display, but that is not me.

    When I put my finger on the display, say of a web page, and scroll, I can see some jumpiness on the screen that I would find annoying if this was my main way of using the internet or doing other tablet or computer related things. But the Kindle eReader not scroll, it pages. And, by the way it pages fast, like it is supposed to, not when it feels like it, like the Kindle Reader operating on an old iPad 2 does.

    This is not the ancestral unadulterated Android operating system. And, let me say, that in my opinion, your phone and your main tablet (if you have an Android tablet) should be plain vanilla Android, and not some storage-killing absurdly designed version of the Android operating system like this one. And, the Kindle tablet I’m talking about here is not that. It is an Amazonoid version of the Android operating system.

    I think you can install Google Play Store on this tablet, but it does not come by default. Rather, you use the Amazon app store. The Amazon App store is roughly as annoying as the Amazon Prime Video interface, in that it never occurred to anyone at Amazon to organize things in a way that makes sense. But, you can actually get much of the software the Google Play Store has, that you would ever want, on Amazon once you dig past the games and fluff. Also, many apps on the Amazon App store are free-er or cheaper. And, if you buy stuff from Amazon generally you may occasionally be getting credits (=money) that you can use for buying things like apps.

    If you like Amazon Music (I don’t use it) or audio books, or Kindle eBooks that talk, etc., then this this tablet should serve you well.

    The interface is a bit different than a regular tablet. Again, if you are looking for The Tablet to do Your Stuff, the interface will be a bit annoying. But if you want a machine that handles mainly ebooks or some other Amazon products like music, movies, etc, then this interface will be excellent for you. The interface scrolls/pages up and down within a given realm of stuff, and back and forth to go between apps, books, video, music. etc. (see the picture above). Amazon related things are bigger and up top. Once again, this device is best for, and good at, interfacing with Amazon.

    And yes, generally, you can install and use Android apps of various kinds, so you can have a web browser, calculator, etc. etc. You can use this as a tablet, but the best use is probably to do some tablet-like stuff along side your Amazon focused stuff.

    The cameras are mediocre.

    The tablet has a descent amount of storage. You can add a micro-SD card. You can not put Amazon books on the micro_SD card but you can download movies from Amazon Prime to it for watching off line. You can have some (many, most) of the apps run off the card. You can put photos and videos you take with the on board cameras there as well. The micro-SD slot will handle a 64 gig card.

    One area I intend to use this device is for bird books. Bird books are too small on a phone. Tablets are too big to carry around in the bush, or on a boat. But bird books that are either apps or that are actual e-books work well on this larger-than-a-phone device, which is still easy to carry it around. I am not likely to drop the Kindle Fire into a swamp. But if I do, I’ve dropped a $50 device, not a $500 device, into a swamp.

    But is it a piece of crap or a well built machine?

    The tablet seems well built. Maybe it will survive being dropped in to a swamp. We’ll see!

    I looked through many of the comments on the device on Amazon, to see what other people thought of it. The comments were divided mainly into two categories. Most were saying pretty much what I’m saying here, that the tablet is great for it’s specified uses, given the price. A smaller number of comments hate it, but it seems like almost all of those comments are about broken tablets. So if you get a broken one, it will be, well, broken. Send that one back!

    This could be great for kids

    I’m just starting to experiment with this, but it has promise. You can set up individual accounts on this Kindle so different people in your family can organize their books and stuff separately. But even more interesting, you can set up a kid version of an account, that is isolated from the rest of the system by a passcode.

    I will be setting up an account for Huxley, to see if it works for him. He only barely reads so far, but there are kid’s games and learning tools that he will enjoy. The screen size of this Kindle is the same as his LeapFrog device, and he is quickly outgrowing the LeapFrog. Also, this may be a good transition into regular reading, since it can have regular books. I have mixed feelings about getting a kid reading into eBooks right away, but for some things it will be appropriate.

    And that is probably why I’ll get a second Kindle Fire 7″. For the kid.

    There are a few other reasons to own an Android tablet that have little to do with normal uses of tablets. Like running an Arduino Android shield. I assume the Kindle Fire will work for that, and if I ever do that I’ll let you know!

    The Special Offers

    Obviously this is not a $50 tablet. It is probably a couple hundred dollars worth of tablet made cheaper by the fact that Amazon wants you to be a Kindle user, and Amazon eBook reader. Then, on top of that, this version of the table throws on ads, otherwise known as “special offers” to bring the price down to fifty bucks.

    So, what are these special offers? There are only two things you need to know about them. First, they only show up on the home screen when the device wakes up after being turned off. Second, you can elect to limit them to be family/kid friendly. I’ve not chosen that option and have not seen anything non-kind friendly, so that may not be necessary.

    The Special Offers are easy to ignore unless you are totally paranoid and walk around saying “you are the product, you are the product” all the time. If you are already reading eBooks, and using the Internet a lot, you are already part of the Borg and this tablet will change nothing.

    But, if you want to get rid of the ads or not have them to begin with, you can just pay $15.

    Should you buy a Kindle Fire 7″ tablet with special offers for fifty bucks?

    I’m reccomending this this Kindle Fire tablet and eReader for a lot of people, noting that the risks of being wrong are small, and there are many potential uses. If you have a need for a Kindle reader right now and aren not committed to ePaper, even better. If you lack a larger tablet or you have a tablet that sucks anyway, yet another reason. If you have a concern that your expensive eReader is going to be trashed because you are going on a long and dangerous trip or spend a lot of time in swamps, get one. If you want to experiment on your child with a tablet, this is a good way to do it cheaply. If you are hobbyist who wants an inexpensive Android tablet this may (or may not) be good. (If you take it in that direction, let me know how it goes).