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5 months ago

The Android launcher experience on tablets is still terrible

40

It's not quite a desktop, but it's not quite a normal home screen.

The Android tablet experience is often awkward and awful, and that goes double for the launchers, which are inconsistent, inconvenient, and often times ugly. From third-party launchers to manufacturer versions of tablet layouts, there's a lot to be desired, and while part of that blame falls on developers, it also falls to Google, which has still not quite figured out how tablets should behave.

And it falls on us. Because we just don't know what we want.

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5 months ago

What size microSD card should you buy for your Amazon Fire Tablet?

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It's not always as easy as just buying whatever you see on Amazon.

Sure, it sounds silly. But with the super-cheap Amazon Fire Tablet also comes an important decision on how best to expand the storage capacity. You can slot in a microSD card and make a small, cheap tablet have a lot more space to keep your apps and media.

So, let's try and help you make the buying process a little easier by covering some key points to consider.

READ: Best microSD Cards for Amazon Fire Tablet

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6 months ago

Best Cases For Pixel C

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Looking for an awesome case or sleeve for your Pixel C? We can help.

Google's Pixel C is a versatile and powerful tablet with a large, amazing display. And as such, you'll want to protect your investment by slipping it into some kind of case or sleeve. Here are the ones we like.

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6 months ago

Barnes & Noble removes malware from $50 Nook tablet, but you still shouldn't buy it

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The update may remove the part where your data goes back to China, but everything else is bad and unchanged.

About that $50 Barnes & Noble tablet. You might have heard that researchers working with Linux Journal found that the BNTV450 shipped from the factory with the same malware that phones from Blu and other companies that use a MediaTek processor had. It's called ADUPS and it was configured to literally harvest your personal data and send it back to a server in China.

Sometimes, data really does get sent back to China. This was one of those times.

Anyway, there's an update in the wild that "fixes" things. At least this one thing. Maybe.

The update brings a new version of ADUPS to the tablet. Supposedly, the "bad stuff" the ADUPS malware does is no longer present in versions newer than 5.5. The shipping version — 5.2.0.2.002 — was filled with data stealing goodness, but the version in the update file we received last night is 6.0. The worst part is that most of us can't check for this ourselves, as the ADUPS application needs to be completely decompiled to see the version number in the app manifest. To make a long story short, unless the folks behind ADUPS are doing something else that's shady, the update from B&N squares the malware issue away.

The "Maybe" part? Plenty of people consider any device with any version of the ADUPS software to be compromised and not fit for storing your personal information on. Personally, I'm with them but it's your $50.

But there are plenty of reasons to still not buy this tablet. Beginning with the fact that it's still 100% vulnerable to CVE-2015-6616. In human language, that means the Stagefright exploit. The Android version (6.0 in this case) should be at least partially patched, but there are security updates for the processor which have not been applied.

Don't buy this tablet. I'm telling you to not buy this tablet and our own Modern Dad looked at this one so you didn't have to.

Here's what he has to say about the update:

So it had malware in the program that serves ads. An update is removing the malware from the program that serves the ads. It's still not worth $50. Suck it up and buy an iPad or a Kindle Fire HD.

You know what tablet doesn't have malware, performs way better, and also costs $50? The Amazon Fire Tablet 7.

See at Amazon

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6 months ago

With the $50 Barnes & Noble Nook 7 Tablet, you get what you pay for

14

If all you're looking for is an e-reader, then maybe $50 isn't that bad. Maybe. Possibly.

The Nook 7 from Barnes & Noble is $50. That may be the best thing I have to say about it. It's not particularly fast. (Or fast at all.) The display isn't anything to write home about. The software is basically stock Android with BN apps added in.

But if all you're looking for is an e-reader, then maybe $50 isn't that bad, right?

Subscribe to Modern Dad!

I guess it really depends on what you're hoping to get out of this. I'd hoped this might be another option for the kids. And while it is, it's not really a good option. At least not without doing some work to it. There's no real kid support built into the Nook 7 out of the box. There's basic Android user switching, and even profile support for the Barnes & Noble content. It's password protected, even, so you can keep your Disney kids out of your Danielle Steel. But that's it. They still have full access to every single app on the tablet. And you're on your own for setting up any sort of screen time limitations. Point is, for not too much more money you can get a much better tablet for youngsters.

On the other hand, this one does have Google Play support from the moment you fire it up, so there's that.

See at Barnes & Noble

Modern Dad

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6 months ago

Amazon Fire HD 8: Finally, a tablet worthy of your kids

33

See at Amazon

Have kids? Have kids who are always "borrowing" your tablet? Maybe get them this instead!

Fun fact: Kids like stealing their parents' tablets. Maybe they're just watching videos. Maybe Pokémoning. (That's a verb, right?) Maybe they're just catching up on emails and building new slide decks. (My kids are weird. Don't ask.)

Thing is, I've never really found a tablet I actually want to let my kids use. High-end tablets like the Pixel are too big and too expensive. Same goes for iPads, really. At some point they're going to drop it. They're going to leave it on the floor to be stepped on. That's just the way it is.

And I've got a real aversion for cheap tablets. You know — those off-brand things that go for $50, never get updates and have zero in the way of support. But what if you could spend just a little bit more for something decent. And, as it turns out, something that has a little bit of kiddie controls already built in.

And that's why I've been pleasantly surprised with the latest from Amazon — the Fire HD 8. It starts at just $89 for the 16GB model, with "special offers." (That means ads, of course.) I ramped things up just a little bit though, going for the 32GB model and no ads, and came out at about $135. That's not nothing, but it's also not horrible for something that's really gotten a lot of use in my house. (Plus, having a range of options is great!)

Get more at Modern Dad!!!

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6 months ago

Lenovo Yoga Book: An Android tablet like none other

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The innovative display ... the gorgeous hinge ... the futuristic keyboard ... or the crazy cool pen input — there are loads of reasons to love the Lenovo Yoga Book.

I've seen lots of Android tablets in my day. Even the odd Android-powered laptop. I've seen Android tablets that sort-of try to become laptops. Today, though, we truly have the first one that's able to both — and then some. That beast, of course, is the Lenovo Yoga Book, which the company sent me to take a look at.

It's one part tablet. Another part laptop. Another part futuristic sketch pad. And it pulls off all three in a way that you almost don't expect, given the state of large-form Android devices. But it's pretty easy to nail down just exactly what Lenovo did to create such a unique product.

See at Lenovo

The hardware and that hinge ...

Start with the basics, of course. You've got a 10.1-inch tablet that's impossibly thin, with a gorgeous 1920x1200-resolution display. That's married to a keyboard unlike any that you've ever seen before — because there aren't any keys at all. Instead you get a flat surface on which the outline of keys will present themselves when it's time to type. The rest of the time that area is a high-tech sketchpad, using a souped-up pen to instantly digitize anything you write or draw. It's almost hard to believe how accurate it is, and it turns the worst of scribbles into something that can be stored and manipulated across all kinds of cloud-based ecosystems.

Keeping all that together is the innovative watch-band hinge that Lenovo has made itself famous for. Nothing else looks like that and provides the sort of range of movement. (Never mind that it looks ridiculously cool.) You can easily go from tablet mode to laptop mode to sketchpad mode, with very little effort at all, and without fear of breaking anything in the process. It's as simple as it is innovative.

There's plenty to like under the hood as well. The Yoga Book is powered by an Intel Atom processor, sports 4 gigabytes of RAM, and has 64 gigabytes of storage, with the option for a microSD card to add even more. And the 8500 mAh battery keeps everything powered up. All of this runs Android with aplomb, though there is also a Windows 10 version of the Yoga Book if that's more your thing.

That Real Pen — and that Any Pen ...

For as cool as the hinge is, and as futuristic as that keyboard looks, it's the pen input that's going to grab a lot of folks' attention. But it actually goes way beyond that.

The "Real Pen" is the main method of drawing, writing and digitizing. It's got a more typical stylus nub on it, but you might well want to go with the ballpoint tip so that you can actually put ink to paper while you're putting pixels to the screen.

But then there's "Any Pen" — a technology that lets you take any sort of conductive metal to the display and have it serve as a stylus. Only have a spork handy? So long as it's metal, that half-spoon, half fork will interact with the Yoga Book's display same as the Real Pen. Or a key. Or a knife. You'll obviously want to be a little careful about your writing weapon of choice, but the point is you've got myriad metal options.

The bottom line ...

It's not too often that you get a product that's worth more than the sum of its parts. The Lenovo Yoga Book appears to be one of those, however. You can't overstate the design — just how thin and light and innovative it is. The keyboard has to be seen to be believed. The options for Real Pen and Any Pen add the sort of extras that you won't find anywhere else.

Or boil it down to this — it's just cool. It looks cool. The metal body feels cool. You're going to pull it out of your bag and attract a gaze or two. And you're also going to get stuff done.

And that's truly what it's all about.

See at Lenovo

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6 months ago

Samsung's Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is just $249 until Christmas

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Get a great compact tablet for a solid price for the holidays.

Though it's getting a bit old (about a year at this point), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 is still a really solid tablet and it can be had for a full $150 off retail price from now until December 25. There's no discount link or coupon code to follow, as the price has already dropped at Amazon.

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6 months ago

With Windows 10 on ARM, Microsoft is coming for the Chromebook — and might win

161

Microsoft is taking on Chromebooks with a new ARM-based version of Windows 10, and everyone wins.

Microsoft is coming for your Chromebooks. No, they're not going to confiscate them like the TSA steals your water bottles, but more so in the competitive sense.

This week, Microsoft announced that it is launching an ARM-friendly version of Windows 10 in collaboration with Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon 835 SoC, which comes out next year. While most Android fans will know Qualcomm's work from such phones as nearly every product on the market, Snapdragon is increasingly capable, especially at the high-end, of powering tablets, 2-in-1s and traditional laptops.

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6 months ago

Android is not iOS, December 2016 edition

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Marshmallow rises while KitKat slowly melts.

December's Android distribution numbers are out, and they're boring. Android is still not iOS, and things don't change in large increments, so haters will still hate and defenders will still hate.

Impressively, Android 6.0 Marshmallow now holds the single version crown with 26.3% share. That takes over Android 4.4 KitKat, the previous leader, which dropped 1.2% to 24% even. Lollipop cumulatively holds the lead with 34%, divided between versions 5.0 and 5.1.

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6 months ago

Save $80 when buying an Amazon Tap and Fire tablet together

2

Best Buy is currently offering an $80 savings when you purchase the Amazon Tap and 7-inch Fire tablet together. To get the offer all you need to do is add both items to your cart, and then the $80 will be subtracted. With the savings, it is essentially like getting the Fire tablet (normally $69) for free and $10 off the Amazon Tap (normally $129). With the Tap, you'll be able to use your voice to order Amazon items, check the weather and much more with Alexa, and the tablet is great for browsing the web, watching videos and playing some games.

So, for $119 plus tax you can get both of these great items, which is a pretty awesome deal. This offer is only good for today, December 5, so don't wait long to place your order.

See at Best Buy

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6 months ago

Android 7.1.1 is here for the Pixel and some Nexus devices

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Sideload or wait for the update? That's the question.

Android 7.1.1 is slowly rolling out to the Google Pixel and select Nexus devices, with Google updating its factory images and over-the-air (OTA) pages to reflect the new builds.

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6 months ago

Why the $49 Amazon Fire tablet is a great buy

In the past we've steered people clear of really cheap Android tablets at holiday time. Not this year.

The Amazon Fire Tablet is both really cheap and Android, though perhaps not the Android you're used to. There's no Google to be found, which means no Play Store or Google Apps of any kind.

But if you go for the 7-inch Fire you're only going to be asked to part with $49 of your hard-earned cash. Or as is often the way, even less than that, thanks to frequent sales like Black Friday just gone. I've been using one for some time and people keep asking me if it's worth buying?

The answer is yes.

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6 months ago

Today only, Amazon will sell you a Fire Tablet for just $33

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Amazon Fire Tablet

Stop complaining about specifics, this is a tablet for $33.

Amazon has the 7-inch Fire tablet with 8GB storage (and "special offers" ads) on sale right now for just $33. If that's all you needed to hear, click right here and buy one before they run out of stock.

If you aren't convinced right away, for 33 bucks you're getting a quad-core 7-inch tablet that can run Android apps from the Amazon app store or ones you sideload from other places. Basically, anything that doesn't need Google's Play Services integration. If you like to tinker with things, you can monkey with the software and install "regular" Android and/or the Google Play Store with a little bit of effort.

Read:Why you should try the Amazon Fire tablet

If you're not the kind of person who hacks away at tablet software, this is the best tablet you can buy for $33. In fact, it's the only tablet you should buy for $33. It's perfect to sit on the living room table to control your lights or TV remote. It's perfect to give to the kids (without the password for app purchases!) so they can shoot angry birds out of a slingshot or watch a video or two. Or 90. For $33, you can buy one for each kid so they aren't fighting over it and stuff them in a stocking so you look like a superhero when they grab it.

It's no iPad or Pixel C. But it's the best damn tablet you can buy for $33.

See at Amazon

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8 months ago

Lenovo Yoga Book review: The future is (almost) here

2

It's easy to say that using the Lenovo Yoga Book feels like living in the future, but with its inclusion of (literal) pen-and-ink technology and an all-touch keyboard reminiscent of the first Microsoft Surface, it's just as accurate to call it a leap into the past. The result is an intriguing contradiction that only gets more interesting as you delve deeper into the custom Android software on this tiny tablet/notebook crossover.

Join MrMobile for the Lenovo Yoga Book review!

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