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16 hours ago

Amazon Fire Tablet 7 vs. Fire Tablet Kids Edition: Which should I buy?


You want to get your youngsters an Amazon Fire Tablet, but which version is right for you?

The Amazon Fire Tablet 7 is a great buy at $50, especially for the kids. It's capable enough to keep them entertained while not costing enough to pull your hair out if it gets accidentally destroyed. You can also get all the (non-Google) major content services on there as well as a dedicated kids mode to keep those little fingers from buying a new laptop on your Amazon account.

But, when you go to buy, there's both a "regular" 7-inch and a Kids Edition, which now also has an 8-inch version. Underneath they're both regular Amazon Fire tablets. So what's the difference and which should you buy?

Let's break it down.

Updated May 23 2017 to reflect the updated versions of the Fire tablet.

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6 days ago

Pre-order a 3-pack of Amazon's newest Alexa-enabled Fire tablets and save 20%


Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a discount on Amazon's latest Fire tablets!

Amazon's Fire tablet has been an extremely popular device since its release, and a large part of that is due to its aggressive price point. The company just announced a refreshed version of it with a higher contrast display, the addition of Alexa and more, yet kept it at the same price point. That's right, the new version still starts at just $49.99, but you can actually get it for less if you buy more of them.

You may be considering picking up a few of these for your family, and if you grab three of them at the same time you can save 20% on the purchase with promo code FIRE3PACK. This drops the price of three Fire tablets down to just $128.38, saving you $29.99.

The Fire tablet has a 7-inch IPS display and comes with a base of 8GB of storage in it. You can opt to upgrade that to 16GB of internal space for $20 more, or you could spend that extra $20 on a microSD card since the tablet can handle up to 256GB of expandable storage. You can grab one in black, yellow, blue, or red depending on your preference.

See at Amazon

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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6 days ago

Amazon's Fire tablets just got a big refresh


Amazon is driving costs down even further, making its tablets irresistible.

Remember way back when there was such a thing as a company capable of competing with Amazon on price for tablets? Those days are long gone, and today Amazon is making sure things stay that way. Four of Amazon's tablets have been refreshed today with new features and colors, and the prices just keep getting better.

Lets see what we're looking at!

Amazon Fire 7 and Fire HD 8

The new Fire 7 tablet from Amazon is lighter and thinner than its predecessor, with a 7-inch IPS display Amazon claims is noticeably improved with higher contrast and less battery drain. This new tablet promises up to 6 hours of batter, 8GB of onboard storage with microSD card support up to 256GB, and Alexa enabled in the OS. If you're looking for a cheap tablet that isn't terrible to use, it's hard to argue with $50 for this offering.

See on Amazon

If you want something a little more capable, the Fire HD 8 bumps the screen resolution to 1280x800 and starts with 16GB of onboard storage. This version of the tablet also offers 12 hours of battery, and like the new 7-inch version comes in the standard black as well as Punch Red, Marine Blue and Canary Yellow. This upgraded experience will run you $80, which is clearly not much considering what you're getting.

See on Amazon

Amazon Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

According to Amazon, the new Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 are already more durable than the current generation iPad. That doesn't stop the company from releasing a Kids Edition variant of its tablets with big silicone bumpers and a two-year "worry-free" guarantee to replace if you actually manage to break yours. The new Fire 7 Kids Edition increases the default storage to 16GB onboard and includes a year of Amazon's FreeTime Unlimited so your kids have access to more apps and shows and books than can be read in that timeframe. This new kid-friendly setup will run you $100, and comes in the three colorful silicone options based on your choice.

See on Amazon

The HD 8-inch variant, like the Adult version, has a better display and larger battery. It's also packing 32GB of onboard storage by default and includes the same two-year guarantee as the smaller version. Like the Adult Fire HD 8, you're paying $30 more than the smaller version for the boost in specs.

See at Amazon

Amazon is clearly not done making a lot of noise when it comes to inexpensive tablets packing all of the best features the company has to offer, so will you be upgrading? Sound off in the comments!

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2 weeks ago

Qualcomm goes all-in on all-day battery with new Snapdragon 630 and 660 platforms


Qualcomm is going to make budget phone buyers very happy.

Qualcomm is back with two new 600-series chips to power the next generation of mid-range phones. The company has announced the Snapdragon 630, a successor to the wildly popular Snapdragon 625 (and little-used 626), along with the Snapdragon 660, a completely revamped and more-efficient sequel to the Snapdragon 650 (and 653).

Let's start with the basics.

Snapdragon 630

The Snapdragon 630 is the more minor of the updates, keeping much about what made the popular Snapdragon 625, which quickly became a battery darling in phones like the Moto Z Play and Huawei Nova Plus (and the upcoming BlackBerry KEYone). It maintains the eight-core Cortex-A53 breakdown of four high-speed cores and four lower-clocked cores, though they are up to 30% faster across the board. And while the graphics chip has also been updated from the Adreno 506 in the Snapdragon 625 to a faster Adreno 508, the fundamental architecture hasn't changed — both are still built on a 14nm process — and improved performance isn't the priority.

Instead, the Snapdragon 630 brings the platform into 2017, with support for LTE speeds up to 600Mhz with 3x carrier aggregation; Bluetooth 5.0, Quick Charge 4.0, and USB 3.1 with USB-C; and a better camera experience with the new Spectra 160 image signal processor.

The Snapdragon 630 will be powering mid-range devices starting in Q3 of this year, and it's definitely going to help devices in the $300 to $400 range reach their potential — aside from the older CPU architecture and anemic GPU, most of the improvements in the platform come directly from the Snapdragon 820 and 835 line.

Snapdragon 660

The Snapdragon 660 is the biggest announcement of the day, making massive improvements over the current Snapdragon 650, 652 and 653. The most important takeaway is the additional battery savings from the switch to a 14nm manufacturing process from the aging and inefficient 28nm process that reached maturity in 2013. That, coupled with the move to Qualcomm's Kryo cluster, based on the custom CPU design that debuted with the Qualcomm 820 last year, means that the Snapdragon 660 should be one of the most-coveted upper-midrange chips on the market.

Coming to devices as early as June — expect the first announcement within the next few weeks — the Snapdragon 660 has eight Kryo cores, four performance cores at 2.2GHz and four at 1.8GHz, and promises a 30% improvement in speeds over the Snapdragon 653. There's also a new Adreno 512 GPU, which is a nice bump over the 510 in the previous generation, and support for Qualcomm's 2016-era X12 baseband, which includes 3x carrier aggregation for speeds up to 600Mbps. Quick Charge 4.0, Bluetooth 5 and USB 3.1 are also included, too.

Aside from the new features, Qualcomm is making perhaps the biggest noise about the improved camera experience inside the Snapdragon 660. While it has the same Spectra 160 ISP as the Snapdragon 630, better support for 4K capture and the same electronic image stabilization that was popularized in high-end phones from 2016 has filtered down to this mid-range line.

Finally, the battery savings that people saw in the Snapdragon 625 are also included in the 660, which is promising; Qualcomm says that users will see an average of two additional hours when moving to a Snapdragon 660 from a 653 using the same hardware (which obviously won't happen, but they're looking for an apples-to-apples comparison).

The takeaway

These chips are going to be very interesting, especially given the success of the Snapdragon 625 and the relative failure of the 650 lineup. For the 630, this is very much an evolution, sticking with what works while shoring up on auxiliary features like cellular speed and camera performance.

The Snapdragon 660 is revelatory, largely because it will bring most of the Snapdragon 835's best features to the $400 to $500 range, and will allow manufacturers to get away with offering a mid-range chip for their flagships.

What do you think of these new chips? Will you be holding out for one or the other? Let us know in the comments!

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2 weeks ago

From the Editor's Desk: Google I/O 2017 and beyond

Google IO

Get ready for the most interesting I/O in years.

In just over a week's time, we'll be heading out to Mountain View for Google I/O, the annual developer conference where we'll see, in broad terms, what's next from Google. At its core, I/O is a developer conference, but it's also been a platform for other major announcements from the firm, and sometimes the occasional product launch. Looking back at last May's conference, Google foreshadowed its big push into consumer hardware with Google Home and Daydream, showed us the next evolution of Android Wear (which, incidentally wouldn't actually be ready until the following February), and laid the foundations for Android apps on Chrome OS and Instant Apps across all Android devices.

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2 weeks ago

Amazon's 7-inch Fire Tablet dropped to £35 again in the UK


If a cheap, yet not terrible Android tablet is what you seek, you can do worse than Amazon's excellent 7-inch Fire Tablet. And if you're in the UK now is definitely the time to buy as Amazon has dropped the price again.

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1 month ago

Xiaomi rolls out the Mi Pad 3 with upgraded hardware, unchanged exterior


The Mi Pad 3 delivers much-needed upgrades while retaining its affordability.

Xiaomi has rolled out an update to the 2015 Mi Pad 2, switching out the Intel SoC — which offered the ability to run both Android and Windows 10 — for a MediaTek MT8176 with two 2.1GHz Cortex A72 cores and four 1.7GHz Cortex A53 cores. The external design hasn't changed with the Mi Pad 3, and the tablet features the same 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 screen as its predecessor.

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1 month ago

Phones with 'foldable' AMOLED displays may not debut until 2019

Foldable OLED

Samsung Display pours cold water on prospect of a foldable Galaxy anytime soon.

Rumors of a foldable Samsung smartphone have been circulating for years, with the name "Galaxy X" doing the rounds recently to refer to a phone that opens like a book to transform into a larger, tablet-sized screen.

But comments by a leading engineer at Samsung Display — the arm of the Korean electronics giant responsible for making those screens — suggest such a device is still a couple of years off.

Technical challenges and strong demand for bezel-free panels are responsible for pushing back the 'foldable' phone.

The Korea Herald quotes Kim Tae-woong, Samsung Display's principal engineer, at the Display TechSalon in Seoul.

"Because the bezel-free display currently sells well," Kim says, "we still have enough time to develop foldable display. The technology is expected to be mature around 2019."

Kim notes that there were still some technical challenges to be overcome before foldable smartphone displays could ship in a retail product, the outlet reports, adding that single-sided foldable phones will likely arrive first. Double-sided foldable devices — where the entire surface area of both sides is basically a screen — should come later.

So unless the demand for bezel-free displays slows unexpectedly in the next year, don't expect a foldable Galaxy anytime soon. The idea of carrying around a single, super-slim device that can instantly double its screen area as needed remains exciting. But it's unlikely we'll see anything besides concept demonstrations from Samsung for the next couple of years.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+


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The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.


Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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1 month ago

Best Android Tablet of 2017

Update, April 2017: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the best Android tablet you can buy right now, but enthusiasts should still consider the Pixel C.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Best Buy

The two most important things to have in a full-size Android tablet are a great screen and software that uses every inch of it. That's what makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 the best Android tablet.

An amazing screen from Samsung is no surprise. The 9.7-inch 2048x1536 Super AMOLED on the Tab S3 carries on the tradition, and it's simply the best display on a tablet. Android and Samsung mesh to provide a great software experience and the new S Pen and its 4096-level pressure sensitivity makes taking notes or producing digital artwork a breeze.

Bottom line: The Galaxy Tab S3 is the best tablet Samsung has ever made, as well as the best Android Tablet you can buy.

One more thing: The internal hardware is also top notch and will keep up with everything you would want to do.

Why the Galaxy Tab S3 is the best

It's exactly what we want from a tablet.

In 2017, a tablet is no longer just a bigger version of a phone. They have to pull extra duty and be a media player, a book reader, a web browser, and a work tool without any complaints or complications. Some tablets are great at some of these things, but the Tabs S3 is great at all of them.

Working, whether it's on a presentation for your boss or a paper for your professor, is very different on a tablet than it is on a more conventional computer. Apps are designed to be more simple and easy to use with a touch screen, while omitting many of the battery-hungry features you would find in their desktop counterparts. The biggest hurdle has always been finding a way to organize the things you're doing on your screen while you're doing them. Samsung has had this figured out for a while and with the debut of native features with Android Nougat, you'll be able to run your apps just how you like to run them.

The S Pen takes things over the top. A tablet with a wonderful screen, a custom-fit keyboard and cover, and powerful hardware is made better with a fully capable digital pen. The excellent Wacom integration makes taking notes or using photoshop a fluid and enjoyable experience that you won't find with any other tablet on the market.

Budget power

NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1

See at Amazon

The Shield Tablet is a gaming powerhouse featuring NVIDIA's cutting-edge 2.2 GHz Tegra K1 processor, but the Shield Tablet's software is what really sets it apart. Built right into the notification tray, for example, is the ability to stream what's on your screen to Twitch. Remote access software combined with the optional hardware gamepad allow you to play games that are running on your PC.

Alternatively, the GeForce Now cloud gaming service lets you do the same with games and computers hosted by NVIDIA. You really can have a great AAA gaming experience on a tablet.

Bottom line: Even for those that aren't hardcore gamers, the NVIDIA Shield Tablet is a powerful tablet and offers excellent value for the price.

One more thing: The Shield Tablet has also been updated to Android 7.0, so you'll have some of the same software benefits as our top pick!

For the enthusiast

Pixel C

See at Google

We liked the Pixel C when it first arrived at the end of 2015. We thought the design was striking and the NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor handled everything well. We really loved the crisp display and thought the package represented the Pixel brand very well. It reached its full potential with Android 7.0 and the native multi-window display feature.

Enthusiasts will love the Pixel C because the hardware is open and unlockable. Third-party Android builds or Linux builds or something nobody has thought of yet can be flashed to the tablet with no worries and the path back is as easy as downloading the software from Google.

Bottom line: The community will continue support for the Pixel C long after it officially ends because of its open hardware and bootloader.

One more thing: Because this is a Google hardware product, the Pixel C will be among the first Android tablets to be updated with new features.


Like most things, there is no one Android tablet that's right for everyone. That's one of the big reasons Google was able to break Apple's dominance in mobile computing — it offers a choice for just about everyone. Whether you want the stylish look and thin profile of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 or the high-powered yet low-priced NVIDIA Shield K1 — or anything in between — someone is making a tablet that will work for you.

Our pick with the Galaxy Tab S3 is tough to beat. Great construction, an awesome screen, and Samsung's unique S Pen experience put it at the top of our list.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

See at Best Buy

The two most important things to have in a full-size Android tablet are a great screen and software that uses every inch of it. That's what makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 the best Android tablet.

An amazing screen from Samsung is no surprise. The 9.7-inch 2048x1536 Super AMOLED on the Tab S3 carrys on the tradition, and it's simply the best display on a tablet. Android and Samsung mesh to provide a great software experience and the new S Pen and its 4096-level pressure sensitivity makes taking notes or producing digital artwork a breeze.

Bottom line: The Galaxy Tab S3 is the best tablet Samsung has ever made, as well as the best Android Tablet you can buy.

One more thing: The internal hardware is also top notch and will keep up with everything you would want to do.

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1 month ago

For a limited time you can grab the Fire Tablet for just $39


Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time making the Fire Tablet even more affordable!

Right now you can pick up Amazon's Fire Tablet for just $39, a savings of $10 from its regular price. Even at $49 this thing is an incredible value, so being able to save an additional $10 on it makes it an even easier purchase. The tablet features a 7-inch IPS display, a 1.3GHz processor and now works with Amazon's Alexa cloud-based voice service. There are tons of great apps, games and more that are completely free through Amazon Underground, so you won't have any shortage of content here.

Amazon is also discounting the Fire HD 8 by $20 and the Fire Kids Edition by $20 as well. Storage in these tends to fill up fast, so you may want to check out some of the best microSD cards to add so you don't find yourself running low. This pricing won't last long, so be sure to pick one up before it is too late!

If you're looking for just an E-reader instead of a tablet, Amazon also has some great savings on its Kindle lineup, so be sure to check those out.

See at Amazon

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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1 month ago

How to edit the Air Command menu on the Galaxy Tab S3


The S Pen is already pretty great. You can make it even better by customizing its companion Air Command dock.

The S Pen is the Galaxy Tab S3's most powerful trait. It features a clickable button that, when pressed while hovering the S Pen above the Tab S3's display, brings up the Air Command dock. You can program this pop-up menu window with oft-used S Pen actions or shortcuts to your favorite stylus-compatible apps.

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1 month ago

How to enable night mode on the Galaxy Tab S3


Avoid messing up your circadian rhythm with the built-in blue-light filter.

I love to read late at night, but doing so on a backlit tablet display isn't the best idea before settling in for some shut eye. Studies have shown that the blue-hued light emitted from screens are detrimental to keeping the circadian rhythm functioning as it should.

Samsung equipped the Galaxy Tab S3 with a yellow-hued night mode so that when you're using the tablet before bed – reading digital magazines or e-books, for instance — you aren't surreptitiously telling your brain you're avoiding rest. You can set it up to automatically switch on after sundown, or toggle it on from the Quick Settings.

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1 month ago

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 vs. ASUS Chromebook Flip: Which one is better for productivity?


Tthe Galaxy Tab S3 and the ASUS Chromebook Flip are exceptional as productivity machines. But one is better for productivity.

I've always been particularly dubious about whether a tablet could fulfill all my productivity needs. And that's why I purchased an ASUS Chromebook Flip: to write copy and edit photos, and then upload all that to the internet. I need to be able to do this quickly and efficiently, which is possible on Chrome OS.

I'd hoped the Galaxy Tab S3 could have shattered those preconceived notions I had about tablets since it comes bundled with a ubiquitous pressure sensitive stylus, the S Pen. But after a week with it as my secondary productivity machine, I went crawling back to my Chromebook. There are still some elements of the Android tablet interface that make it clunky to use for work, and even though Samsung's S Pen makes the Tab S3 such a pleasant experience, it's not enough that I could trust it out on the road as my only productivity device.

Scrawling is nice, but typing is faster

Typing is faster than writing.

I'd much prefer to type on the Chromebook Flip than scrawl out my notes with the Tab S3.

The Galaxy Tab S3's S Pen is incredibly convincing. It's easy to use, to wield, and to write with. You can use it to crop parts of the screen as you need to save a screenshot, or draw on parts of the screen and save that as a diagram. You can even write on the screen while it's off — sort of — and that's my favorite feature because I'm constantly scrawling throughout the day. I can even launch a new Google Keep post-it to scribble down what I need — another great feature to have, particularly if you're furiously jotting down shorthand.

But you don't need to pay the money that's required of the Tab S3 to get that sort of functionality from a tablet-like device. The Chromebook Flip flips into a tablet, which you can then use with a cheap stylus for diagram drawing. It's not as good at handwriting as the S Pen, but it is better for typing marathons; its keyboard is soft and velvety, and more comfortable to use compared to the constricted layout that's offered with the Tab S3's optional $130 keyboard.

See at Amazon

Apps are better with a desktop

The desktop can help you get more done.

The desktop can help you get more done.

Apps are a major part of the productivity realm, and thankfully, many companies have embraced the life of the mobile worker. You can find most of the Microsoft Office suite in the Google Play Store, for instance, as well as various titles from Adobe's camp. There are also apps for other services you might need for work, like VPN clients, chat applications, and collaborative boards. Since Chrome OS has adopted Android apps, these suites have also become available to the Chromebook ecosystem, though many of them also sport companion browser apps.

The Chromebook can use Android apps; Android tablets don't have the flexibility of Chrome apps.

Using Android and Chromebook apps interchangeably have made me realize that I have an easier time flipping between apps on Chrome OS not only because I have a choice between the app and the web app, but there's a desktop available for sprawling out that work. I can spread out windows and place them around as I need them to compare information between apps. I can also easily drag and drop between apps and services without having to tap a multitasking button and sifting between the apps I'm using. And though the Tab S3 employs Nougat's excellent multi-window feature, having to set up two apps side-by-side while up against a deadline is a major stressor. I can move faster on a Chromebook.

Dealing with photos

Photos aren't easy to edit on the Tab S3.

RAW photos aren't easy to manage on the Tab S3.

I'm sticking to the Chromebook Flip, primarily because it can handle a massive batch of those RAW files where the Tab S3 can't.

Neither the Galaxy Tab S3 nor the Chromebook Flip are particularly outstanding at importing a massive batch of RAW photos, but I've found that it's easier to develop a method to the madness with Chrome OS. I set up a virtual "My Documents" folder where I can store RAW files and import only the ones I need into an editing app like Polar. I also appreciate the physical sensation of dragging and dropping files around, which is possible on Chrome OS — even though the trackpad on the Chromebook Flip isn't very good.

I also tend to use a microSD card in an adapter in my DSLR, so that I can mount the card inside the Chromebook. I can do the same with the Galaxy Tab S3 and its expansion slot, but the way that Android handles SD cards means that some apps won't accept the methods of storage, and so I can't access those files or open a batch of them in an editing app.

Which is it? The Chromebook

Which one to use?

Which one to adopt for work?

I worry for my future as I'm realizing that I may be the last generation that's used to a desktop-style environment; that relies on that drag-and-drop sensation in our digital lives. Is my inability to catch on to the Tab S3's tablet interface a true folly of Android's? Or is it that I'm just not used to interface's mechanisms because that's not what I've been conditioned to use?

The answer to that lies in another story, for another time. For now, I'm sticking to the Chromebook Flip as the secondary work machine, primarily because it can handle a massive batch of those RAW files where the Tab S3 can't. Multitasking between windows is easier, too, and though the Chromebook doesn't play as nicely with a stylus, I hardly found myself missing the S Pen after putting it down.

Everyone has different needs, which is what makes the variety of technology that's available so exciting for the rest of us. My experience shouldn't deter you if you're looking to adopt a tablet-only lifestyle, and the Tab S3's S Pen capabilities may be worth the price for you. If you're an artist or a creative type who needs to physically write to be prolific, you're likely to have a better experience with Samsung's tablet than with a convertible Chromebook and some after-market stylus.

See Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 at Amazon See ASUS Chromebook Flip at Amazon

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2 months ago

The Galaxy Tab S3 is worth buying just for its S Pen


Samsung has once again graced the tablet world with the presence of its S Pen. Here's why the Galaxy Tab S3 is worth it simply for its pressure sensitive stylus.

It's been years since a major tablet release from Samsung came bundled with a stylus. The last S Pen-equipped device was the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition (say that in one breath). But now that the Microsoft Surface and Apple iPad Pro have become mainstays with their stylus-equipped tablets, Samsung is throwing its S Pen back into the ring.

The S Pen became an attractive reason to choose a larger Galaxy Note smartphone over smaller devices, and now that technology has been bundled with the Galaxy Tab S3. If you're considering a tablet with a stylus in tow for your next purchase, here are a few reasons to consider Samsung's latest tablet over the competition.

It's compatible with a ton of apps

The most important thing to know about the S Pen is that it's compatible with any mobile application that supports the stylus input. I tested it with apps like Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep, and Adobe Draw and all three applications recognized the S Pen's pressure sensitivity, though not all of them registered it fully. Drawings apps will be more precise than productivity-focused ones, for instance, because they're programmed to recognize the nuance in the direction of the S Pen. The point is, you can get professional-grade work done with this tablet.

The Galaxy Tab S3 also comes with its own Samsung Notes, which is good for quick hits and jotting down random notes when other apps aren't immediately available. But I preferred to use the S Pen with OneNote, which is where I typically scrawl notes throughout the work day. I appreciated, too, that the S Pen's 0.7mm tip helps make it one of the most accurate styluses I've ever used.

Program it, however you like

Adobe Draw.

Maybe you don't want to use the actions set by default in the S Pen's Air Command — that's fine! You can program the Air Command menu as you like, whether to pin oft-used apps and services or to rearrange the order of some of the S Pen's default abilities. You can add up to a maximum of ten shortcuts or as few as one — the one shortcut to rule them all.

Easily translate words

Translate German.

Translate the language on screen with just a hover of the S Pen.

I like to read German website and I'm continuing my education in my parent's native language. It helps to have a built-in translation feature that doesn't require I copy and paste text into another app, as is typically the case with using Google Translate.

On the Galaxy Tab S3, you can enable a mode that translates the language on screen with just a hover of the S Pen over the word. The feature works in most apps with clear text, including Texture, the magazine reading app. I like to use this feature when I'm reading Romanian websites because then I can translate any of the words I'm stumbling on without having to translate the entire page into English. It forces me to practice.

Make animated GIFs


Use this feature to extract text from an image.

This isn't a necessary feature per se but it is a fun feature to have readily available. You can hover over the screen and select Smart select from the Air Command window to create an animated GIF from a non-DRM video file. It works fine with YouTube videos and most videos displayed in the tablet browser, though you won't be able to use it inside apps like Netflix and Hulu — that's considered copyrighted content.

You can also use Smart select to crop out a portion of the screen and save it as a separate image file. This is helpful if, for instance, you need to share quick information with coworkers through chat. You can even use this feature to extract text from an image and then paste it into another note taking app. These are helpful multitasking abilities to have built into the interface.

Write with the screen off

Screen off.

The Galaxy Tab S3 doesn't actually work when its screen is off, but it does come enabled with a feature that lets you easily pen a note without having to endure unlock hell. Simply grab the S Pen, click its button, tap it to the screen, and get to writing. The note will be saved in the Samsung Notes app, where you can then export it to other applications as you need. It's a good feature to have if you're living a life that's constantly on the go.

Would you like a stylus?

Would you like a stylus with your next tablet? Got any other questions about the S Pen's abilities? Sound off in the comments!

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2 months ago

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 review: The next great Android tablet

The Galaxy Tab S3.

The Android world has been patiently waiting for the Next Great Android Tablet. Samsung's third-gen Galaxy Tab S3 may very well be it.

The quick take

The Galaxy Tab S3 is a solid Android tablet with a high definition 9.7-inch display, a stylish metal-and-glass body, and a robust pressure-sensitive stylus that proves — yet again — what a fantastic piece of technology the S Pen really is. If only its battery life were a bit better for those of you planning to multitask the heck out of life with this tablet device in tow.

The Good

  • A bevy of multitasking software features
  • The S Pen is everything
  • Stylish hardware
  • Available with an optional, comfortable keyboard

The Bad

  • Battery life is fine when the screen isn't on
  • No water resistance
  • It's not a replacement for a laptop

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