Sunday, October 06, 2013

Tablet Designs: some things could be better.

It seems like TD Bank in Canada was having a special deal, giving away Galaxy Tab 3 7.0s for new accounts open. These tablets often show up on craigslist below retail and I grabbed one to see what the hooha is about Samsung products :3

After using it for a little bit, here's my thoughts on the designs of tablets.

First, speakers. Tablets usually have their speakers located at the "end" where the home button/usb connector is located (Ipad/galaxy tab). This kinda suck when playing games or watching videos in landscape mode, because the sound is now coming off from the left or right.

One tablet that does it differently is the Kindle Fire, it has its two speakers located at either end of the longer axis. This works much better when working on landscape mode. Of course, if you are now using the Fire in portrait mode, you get sound... coming off the top and bottom. Trade offs eh?

Next, physical buttons. Not always a good thing. The Galaxy Tab has 3 physical buttons, the home, settings and back button. The home button is a physical press button, but the other two appear to be some sort of touch-sensitive buttons. These buttons are rather easy to trigger when holding the device in landscape mode. Annoying.

The Kindle Fire has its own on-screen button tab which is rather annoying as it's always there. The Android 4.2 devices with on-screen buttons have a dedicated area for the buttons, which is a trade off. I still think the best home button design is on the ipad - it's recessed, very obvious when you press it, and it does not use up screen real estate.

UI wise, one thing I really like about the Galaxy Tab is the upper drag down menu. It immediately gives access to the controls for Wifi, GPS, power saving modes, screen brightness etc. It's something I use frequently, and I like how fast it is to access. Similarly, iOS7's bottom drag up menu has the wifi blutooth etc controls there.

There is something that can be improved for the Galaxy Tab's pull down menu though, is is the graphics! For some reason, when I first used it, it reminds me of the look and feel of the dos based Acrobat Reader back in the 90s - very utilitarian, black on white icons. IMO it clashes with the rest of the UI design.

Now for specifics on the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 (ergh, this sounds like I've become a tech writer. I actually dislike clamouring for the latest tech. It is just so not my thing. Tech gets outdated. I much prefer to spend time developing skills as skills don't get outdated. Mostly.)

The first thing I want to point out is the crappy Auto Brightness. Sometimes it works very well, sometimes it dims the screen way to much. Apart from that....

Music uploaded to the device plays fine, so are videos. You got access to the Samung store and google play. I think for the price it is an excellent device, and there is a microSD expansion slot - not tested - hopefully you can put your music library there.

The DAC seems to be quite powerful, on my Shure SE215, I need to reduce the volume to the minimum to be comfortable; I'm guessing they'll drive higher impedance phones just fine. Quality wise, it's hard to say as I didn't do a compare against my MP3 player.

What else can I say.... uh, it's.... light? Not very cuddly? In anycase, it seems like a perfectly great tablet.

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