Someday, There Will Be a Great 7″ Tablet

By  |  Friday, August 12, 2011 at 7:36 pm

 With all due respect to Steve Jobs, I’ve never been convinced by his stance that 7″ tablets are a bad idea. But I haven’t been able to mount a convincing case that he’s wrong, either. The original 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab suffered from using a version of Android meant for phones.  RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook had even bigger problems. Neither one was a 7-incher you could use to refute Jobs’ argument. On the other hand, though, it was factors other than their screen size that hurt them–so I continue to hold out hope that someone will make a 7″ tablet that’s just plain nice.

(Note: I’ve only used HTC’s 7″ Flyer briefly.Engadget’s Vlad Savov is reasonably impressed with it, and so is This is My Next’s Joanna Stern. But it  still uses the Gingerbread version of Android and therefore can’t run real Android tablet apps; a Honeycomb upgrade has been promised since April, but it isn’t here yet.)

Acer’s new Iconia A100, which is now available for $330, starts out with one great big advantage over the Galaxy Tab and Flyer: it already has Android 3.2 Honeycomb, the version of the OS meant for tablets. It even has a feature that’s designed to scale phone apps so they look good and work well on a larger screen.

PCMag.com’s Sascha Segan likes the scaling feature, but says that the Iconia’s battery couldn’t even run for four hours before it conked it, a dismal showing. And Joanna finds the tablet to be sluggish and crashy.Both Sascha and Joanna say it looks kind of cheesy, too.

Looks like the Iconia isn’t the 7″ tablet that will justify the existence of 7″ tablets. But there’s no law that says that 7″ tablets have to have poor battery life–the PlayBook’s seems to be reasonably decent, for example. I also refuse to believe that tablets that aren’t iPads are necessarily sluggish and crashy, even though most of the ones I’ve tried have been. Once again, it looks like we have a 7″ tablet with problems that have nothing to do with it being a 7″ tablet.

I’m even willing to settle for a 7″ tablet that’s merely decent–say, as good as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1–while I wait for a great one. In fact, Samsung might be the strongest contender to get it right, assuming that “7-inch iPad” remains an oxymoron.

 
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13 Comments For This Post

  1. sidd Says:

    Acer is not famous for quality products.

  2. Charbax Says:

    Archos 70 Internet Tablet, that's the 7" Android tablet I have been carrying in jacket pockets for the last 10 months and using every day, works great, it's $199 now at http://store.archos.com/10072_BFC70IT100_landing…. should be getting Ice Cream Sandwich officially or unofficially (it's relatively easy to install alternative firmwares) I think 7" is the ultimate tablet size just because it fits in every jacket pocket. If you live in relatively cold areas of the world where you wear a jacket when you go outside, it is perfect to bring your tablet with you everywhere outdoors at all time. Not something you would do with larger tablets, those stay to be used mostly at home on the sofa.

  3. Lindsay Says:

    I like telephone functionality and that's not available in Honeycomb.

  4. ahow628 Says:

    I'm completely dumbfounded at the battery life thing on this tablet. My 7" Galaxy Tab has a 4000+ mAh battery in about the same dimensions as this 1530 mAh tablet. It is actually a bit shocking they skimped on arguably the most important component for a mobile device.

  5. @mynameisseb Says:

    That HP Touchpad Go or whatever it will end up being called definitely looks pretty compelling for the 7-inch form factor.

    If the price is right (I'm thinking 349 or even 299) they should be able to push quite a few of those and probably take the crown among 7-inch tablets.

  6. John M Says:

    I have a Nook Color running Android Froyo? (CM7). It's a great deal of fun, and for $250 a great investment.

    It's not a 100% tablet: no 3G, no vibrating, unofficial software. But if you're up for it, it's recommended.

  7. Russell Says:

    actually and 8" tablet would be the good medium size device. Why?
    Well a 10" is great to browse the web but either too heavy or unwieldy due to leverage from it's length to use as a book replacement.

    a 4" to 4.5" is ok for reading books, and good weight, but screen size is too small for longer reading sessions. You feel like you're forever turning pages, not reading.

    a 7" tablet is almost there but for middle aged and up who are more likely to use medium or larger size fonts there's still not quite enough screen real estate, but a bit more screen size to emulate a trade paperback would be ideal – hence an 8" tablet would be the ideal book replacement and 10" the desktop browser replacement.

  8. lee Says:

    i like my 7 inch galaxy tab. sure it has faults but the battery life is solid, it makes calls, I use it as a wifi hotspot all the time. I also have transformer but honeycomb has so fewapps its not a big deal for me

  9. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    I don't think there will ever be a great 7 inch tablet. That is only half a tablet, and at that size, you end up just running phone apps on there, which you hold a little further away from your eyes, making them the same size and usefulness as they are on a smartphone.

    In the same way it was important for the original iPod to be able to play CD-quality 16-bit 44.1kHz stereo audio so that it could fully replace a CD player, it is important for an iPad (or clone) to be able to show a 1024×768 10-inch full-size PC view so that it can fully replace a PC. If you're not running PC apps, then you are a phone. A 7-inch phone is never going to be popular.

  10. asdas Says:

    <n,.nm,.mn>

  11. Kanaida Says:

    It's called a nook color running Cyanogenmod 7.1 RC-1 + Darlingrin's latest kernel, overclocked 1.3Ghz. It's faster than tablets like the xoom. Plays 3d games just fine. around 5GB internal memory. It's only $250 with tax included at full price, but you can often find them for $200.

    This thing is very fast, and I actually take it everywhere I go. To work, to eat, when I'm waiting for my car to get fixed, people's houses, in the car. A trident case makes it very rugged. Battery life is around 8 hours of regular use, more if you don't do so much. Sometimes I go a day or 2 without charging. Plus its NOWHERE near as heavy as an Ipad. If I wanted to take to lift weights i'd go to a gym lol.

  12. kanaida Says:

    Forgot to mention, it's screen is 1024×600, and setting the lcd density works good if set to 240 if you like things a bit bigger, or 160 for normal size to see more objects but smaller.

  13. Dave Says:

    I am an Android phone guy, but I use an iPad. I feel they are two totally separate Animals. My Android phone is for accessing information quickly while on the go. Using widgets for email, calendar, facebook, twitter, news etc… allows me to have access to all that information with a glance and a swipe. I can also respond by just using swype and my thumb.

    A tablet is more of a media consumption and entertainment device. I don't need to access information instantly so the slower to use iOS doesn't matter, but iOS has much better media consumption apps than android as well as better games. So until Android tablet apps catch up to the iPad, there will not be a great 7" tablet.

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