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10 hours ago

Sales of Project Tango developer tablet open now in Canada and South Korea, more places Aug. 26

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The developer tablet for "Project Tango" went on sale in the US via Google Store without an invite for the first time in May. Now the company has expanded sales of the tablet to two more countries, Canada and South Korea, with more countries joining in later in August.

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5 days ago

NVIDIA rolls out Android 5.1.1 update to the Shield Tablet, fixes audio issues

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Android 5.1.1 update is rolling out to the NVIDIA Shield Tablet, with the OTA coming in at 767MB. According to the release notes, the update brings stability and performance improvements, along with system-wide optimizations and audio fixes.

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1 week ago

NVIDIA Shield Portable Android 5.1 update adds Chromecast support, drops Miracast and some games

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NVIDIA is pushing out an update to its Shield Portable, which brings along with it Android 5.1, and Chromecast support. Unfortunately, while bringing some new features along with it, this update also removes support for Miracast, Sonic 4, the Android Browser, and more.

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2 weeks ago

Dell Venue 8 7840 snags Android 5.1 update

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Android 5.1 has started rolling out to the Dell Venue 8 7840, bringing along minor tweaks and improvements to the tablet, along with added improvements from Dell.

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2 weeks ago

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 specs

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Samsung has taken the wraps off its latest pair of high-end tablets, the Galaxy Tab S2 series. Coming in 9.7 and 8.0-inch flavors, the Tab S2 packs premium internals including an octa-core CPU and 2048x1536-resolution display. What's more, both models will be available as Wifi-only and Wifi-plus-LTE variants.

For the full breakdown of specs across both screen sizes, check out the table below.

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2 weeks ago

Samsung's Galaxy Tab S2 launching in August in 8-inch and 9.7-inch versions

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung has just revealed its plans to launch a new consumer tablet, the Galaxy Tab S2. It will be available worldwide in August in both 8-inch and 9.7-inch versions.

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3 weeks ago

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 now available from Best Buy for $199

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The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 is now available in the US from Best Buy for $199. Back at Computex, we got to check out the ASUS ZenPad S 8.0, a rather compelling tablet at an affordable price. Featuring an 8-inch 2048x1536 display, the ZenPad S 8.0 comes with 32GB of storage on board, and 2GB of RAM inside. It is powered by Intel's Atom Z580C chipset and a 1.83 GHz Quad-core CPU. Running Android 5.1 out of the box, this tablet features a 5MP camera on the rear, along with a 2MP shooter on the front.

Priced at $199, the ZenPad S 8.0 appears to be a great value. Best Buy is now selling the tablet, and shipping is being offered for free currently as well.

Purchase the ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 from Best Buy for $199

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3 weeks ago

16GB Wi-Fi Nexus 9 discounted to £200 at Amazon UK

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If you've been holding out on a Nexus 9 and happen to live in the UK, you may be interested Amazon's latest deal. The online retailer has cut the price of the 16GB Wi-Fi version of the tablet to £200 — a full £119 off of its list price.

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3 weeks ago

LG G Pad F 8.0 arrives on US Cellular for $129 on contract

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US Cellular has added the LG G Pad F 8.0 to its tablet lineup, bringing customers another affordable Android tablet option. The G Pad F 8.0 has already hit AT&T and T-Mobile, and now US Cellular customers can pick it up as well.

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4 weeks ago

Choosing a kid-friendly Android phone or tablet

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YouTube Kids

Wander into any store with an electronics section nowadays and you'll find at least one "kid" tablet. It's usually a brightly-colored rubber block with a low-end touch display running an ancient version of Android, with a custom UI featuring giant buttons and a handful of apps for a handful of basic age groups. Choosing something smaller than a tablet is even worse, especially since the concept of a phone-shaped Android-powered Wifi-only handheld never really took off.

There's not much to these cheap, rubbery slabs, but they sell because it's not always clear there are reasonable alternatives out there. Choosing hardware for a little one should be just as much about software as it is hardware, and while price should absolutely be a factor in a gadget for a kid there's some basics you should be looking at along the way. To help narrow down the options out there today, we've put together this quick buyers guide to break down the important parts.

READ MORE: Choosing a kid-friendly Android device

Choosing the right hardware

Asus ZenPad 8

This may come as a shock, but wrapping a tablet in rubber and painting it with a primary color does not immediately make it invulnerable to harm and perfect for children. In fact, the added expense of something like that probably means the hardware responsible for delivering the experiences you and your child want probably takes a hit. By all means, grab a durable case for your investment to increase its chances of survival, but if you see an $80 tablet with a big red rubber thing wrapped around it keep in mind you're almost certainly not getting a quality device.

Choosing an unlocked phone means there's no carrier-specific software to cause trouble.

Looking for a tablet you want to give a child is relatively easy, as you're essentially looking for the same qualities you'd look for in a tablet for an adult. Screen quality, a reasonably capable processor, and at least 32GB of storage should make up a short list of qualifications for a kid-friendly tablet. There's no reason to look at a tablet with less than 1920 x 1080 resolution display, and the name of the processor manufacturer or how many GHz are in each core isn't nearly as important as how smooth the OS feels when you use it.

If you must dip below 32GB of onboard storage due to the price, you might consider looking at a device with expandable storage. If the tablet is going to be connected to the Internet most of the time that may not be necessary, but games and movies soak up storage fast on these devices.

ZenFone 2

Something smaller than a tablet requires a little more work. There's never been an Android version of the iPod Touch that was worth purchasing, but there are a couple of inexpensive smartphones out there that can be modified to behave like one. If you're willing to put in the work, there are unlocked Android phones in the $200-$300 price range that can do the job. Choosing an unlocked phone means there's no carrier-specific software to cause trouble, which will make setting up the device a little easier. Going this route is especially useful if you've got a kid who is starting to need to make phone calls, as you can insert and pull the SIM card when you feel it is appropriate.

Knowing what software is important

Google Play

It's can't be stressed enough how important software is when making a purchase like this, for several reasons. Google makes Android, but it's not a requirement to make things look the way Google thinks it should. As an open source operating system, Android can be adjusted to what the manufacturer thinks is appropriate before being loaded onto a phone or tablet. This presents some great opportunities for companies that want to include a child-friendly user interface that removes unnecessary or inappropriate items from the primary interface.

Not every parent wants their child to have unfettered access to services like YouTube, for example, and in many cases monitoring apps get pre-loaded that help parents see what their kids are doing on their tablets. These changes are made with the best of intentions, but come with their own unfortunate side-effects.

Kids are smart, there's no reason to rely on simple, bright interfaces.

When Google releases a new version of Android, manufacturers with devices sporting heavily modified versions of the operating system can't just push an update. Those changes need to be adjusted to support the next version, which means additional software development hours need to be spent in order to make that happen. If a manufacturer determines a device isn't worth updating, that company can simply choose to never update your device to the most recent version of Android. Whats worse, when your child finally graduates to their own piece of hardware, the learning curve starts all over again. Kids are smart, there's no reason to rely on simple, bright interfaces when you can disable the stuff you don't want your kids to use and let them experience a proper, modern operating system from day one.

YouTube Kids

Perhaps more important than version updates and software familiarity is access to the Google Play Store and Google Play Services. Google's suite of apps — Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, etc. — are designed primarily for adults, but Google's recent push for ratings across the Play Store and child-friendly apps without offensive ads is a big deal. It means kids can take part in the ever-growing ecosystem of apps out there, educational and otherwise, and parents have the power to moderate and make decisions based on their rules.

It also means you can share music, movies, and TV shows from whatever services you want, from Play Movies and Disney Movies Anywhere to Plex and Netflix. Having controlled access to a larger environment is good for everyone involved, but it means you have to have the Google Play Store on the device in the first place.

Our top picks

Nexus 9

You've got the tools you need to get a quality device for your child, but if you're looking for something a little more specific there are a couple of options for both phones and tablets we can point you to.

Nabi DreamTab HD8

Nabi DreamTab

Nabi's 8-inch Android tablet is the exception that proves the rule when it comes to brightly-color kid-tablets. While it's sporting a "child-friendly" UI and is loaded with Nabi apps, these tools are optional and you have access to the Google Play Store. For the price, you're unlikely to find a better 1080p Android tablet for kids.

BUY: Nabi DreamTab HD8 ($140)

Asus ZenPad 8-inch

ZenPad 8

The folks at ASUS have a long history of making decent, inexpensive Android tablets that fly under the radar, and the latest ZenPad is a perfect example. It's a Intel-powered Android tablet running the latest version of the OS, and the 2048 x 1536 resolution display makes everything look fantastic. For $200, you're unlikely to find something better.

BUY: ASUS ZenPad 8-inch ($200)

HTC Nexus 9

Nexus 9

Google's current Nexus tablet is typically something we'd recommend as the best tablet for grownups, but with its front-facing speakers and killer 2048 x 1536 resolution display it's great for everyone. You just have to swallow that price tag associated with a higher quality device with instant access to the latest software from Google.

BUY: HTC Nexus 9 ($420)

Motorola Moto G

Moto G

Few companies have worked over the last two years to bring a quality experience to the budget phone market as Motorola, and the end result is a device that could just as easily be a starter phone as it could a portable Wifi device for a child. It's fast, looks nice, and Motorola has worked hard to ensure the device is regularly updated.

BUY: Motorola Moto G ($175)

Asus ZenFone 2

ZenFone2

Intel and ASUS have worked some magic on this 5.5-inch phone, and as a result it greatly exceeds expectations. There's a ton of extra, unnecessary software on this device for you to pare down if you're giving it to a child as a Wifi device, but the end result is a fun, capable gadget with 64GB of storage.

BUY: ASUS ZenFone 2 ($300)

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1 month ago

The Nexus 9 is finally a tablet you should buy

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Nexus 9

More than eight months after we first got our hands on the HTC-manufactured Nexus 9 tablet, we're finally ready to officially recommend it as an Android tablet that's worth buying.

We've reviewed a lot of devices here. More phones than I can remember. A whole bunch of tablets. But things got a little weird in the fall of 2014 with the release of the Motorola Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9 tablet. And the source of that weirdness was Android 5.x Lollipop.

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1 month ago

Nexus 7 gets updated factory image of Android 5.1.1 build LMY48G

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A new factory image has been released for the 2013 Nexus 7, which is Android 5.1.1_r6 build LMY48G. This maintenance release likely addresses some issues that users faced with previous builds, though no exact change log is available right now.

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1 month ago

32GB LTE Nexus 9 now available for just $379 from Expansys USA

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Expansys is selling the 32GB LTE-enabled variant of the Nexus 9 for just $379 for a limited time, $220 off the regular retail price of the tablet.

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1 month ago

Large Android tablets are finally becoming fun to use

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Nexus Dell

Hardware manufacturers are finally taking large Android tablets seriously, just in time for the software to complete the picture.

Android tablets have a long and storied history of not being very good. Despite dozens of options available to consumers, the overall experience — by which I mean third-party software, battery life, and hardware quality — has struggled. The combination of race to the bottom pricing and lacking software made the 7-inch tablet significantly more popular, and as a result the larger tablet market slowed for a while.

This year, things are on a noticeable upswing for Android tablets. Several manufacturers have released promising options, software has improved noticeably, and there's a roadmap for the future that makes owning a larger tablet something that makes sense.

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1 month ago

Choosing between a Chromebook and a large Android tablet

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Nexus 9 Acer C720

Google now has two platforms for desktop-class computing, but which experience is up to the task of being a standalone laptop?

While it may be easy to look at Chromebooks and mock them for being "just a browser" or look at an Android tablet and call it "just a big phone," it turns out there's not a lot of truth behind the derision. We've entered an era where the browser is the platform for a lot of work and play, and apps come in all shapes and sizes. That's not to say there's no need for high-end computing machines, especially for folks who need that hardware for games and resource-intensive tasks, but it does mean there are lots of options out there now for web-focused and casual users.

It also means Google has a pair of platforms for you to choose from, and we took a look at why you might consider one over the other.

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