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Geek Guru Tablet

The Tablet Conundrum – Part 5

Posted on December 19th, 2013 by Emily

 

Durability might not be top of your priority list if you’re looking for a tablet, but we’ll take a look at all its facets and explain why we think it’s so important!

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Frankly, we think it’s important that when you suffer an attack of “butterfingers” (as we all inevitably do), you know your tablet SHOULD survive the fall. We think that it’s vital that it still works and charges after you accidentally trip over or snag the cable and pull it out of its power socket while it’s charging. Of course, no piece of technology is completely accident-proof, but there are some things to check if you are (like our design geek) rather accident prone at times, if you’ll be working in a hazardous or dangerous environment, or if the tablet you are buying will be used by children.

If you’re buying a tablet to use in a hazardous environment, such as on a workshop floor or in a kitchen area, there are some things you should consider. Build quality is one. Casing and ports is another. Some tablets on the market such as Sony’s Xperia Tablet S are designed to be splash-proof, which makes them ideal for use in a kitchen or even outside. Close attention is paid to areas such as ports and external sockets, where water, dust and dirt may get in, to make sure they can be covered or sealed as tightly as possible when not in use. Open ports can be a major problem if the tablet is carried around a lot, dust, fluff and dirt from moving it into and out of a bag, for example, can mount up over time and cause problems.

Even the feel and shape of the casing itself can be a contributing factor when it comes to durability. Tesco’s budget tablet model, the Hudl, shows this in action. Its more rounded corners, chunkiness and rubberised finish make it friendlier for small hands; it’s even marketed as a family tablet and there’s a range of accessories to make it suitable for kids such as additional rubber cases and volume limited headphones. In a similar vein, the iPad Air has an aluminium backing, which, while remaining thin and light, provides good protection for the internal hardware of the tablet as it can’t break or crack in the same way plastic can.

If you choose a tablet that’s a bit more fragile, though, there are things you can do to improve its resilience. There are ‘armour’ and ‘shell’ style cases for many of the popular brands of tablet, especially the iPad, which has cases designed to block all the buttons and make the tablet shockproof so that you can give it to a young child without (much) worry. It even has complete enclosures like the “LifeJacket” (made from polycarbonate) that make it waterproof and buoyant for use in the water.

Even the most basic of cases can protect the tablet from knocks and scrapes, and we suggest that if you carry the tablet around regularly inside a bag or pocket, that you invest in a cover that prevents the screen from getting damaged too, such as a lightweight neoprene case (or if you want a sturdier one, they also come in plastic, rubber or leather varieties.)

Next post we’ll be having a look at charging options, stay tuned!

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If you’d like more help, advice or information on choosing a tablet, if you’d like to discuss joining one of our support packages, or if you’d like to talk about anything else IT-related with us, give us a call or drop us an email!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Geek Guru Tablet

The Tablet Conundrum – Part 4

Posted on December 17th, 2013 by Emily

 

In this continuation of our blog series exploring tablets, we take a look at screen size and covering, and why it’s important to choose one that suits your needs.

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One of the most important factors in the success of the tablet as a whole has been portability. Even the most powerful one can be slipped into a protective case, and then into a backpack or handbag and transported around with minimal fuss. Of course, a larger tablet will be more expensive and heavier than a smaller one, so it’s important to choose one that will meet your needs. From the smallest ones dubbed “Phablets” (cross between a phone and a tablet, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone) to a 10” Android tablet or Microsoft’s Surface Pro, there are lots of sizes to choose from.

For Android tablets, the most popular sizes are 7” and 10”, although some manufacturers do make 8” versions. For iPads, there’s two choices – the standard size iPad or the iPad Mini. When you’re choosing a size, it’s first advisable to consider the tablet’s main purpose. If you need something lightweight and highly portable, but with a screen large enough to read and type emails or watch movies on, or browse the internet, then you’re probably going to be looking for something around the 7” or Mini category. If it’s photo editing, composing long emails, editing complex documents, or watching HD video content, you’re probably going to want a larger screen to make things easier or nicer to look at.

Many people are using tablets to accomplish the tasks they used to use laptops for, such as note taking, portable presentations, checking emails or watching movies on the go, or just for some entertainment. As such, the larger tablets are much more suited to this task than the smaller ones. 7” tablets and “Phablets” are, however, still great as super portable devices, for taking notes, reading, browsing, watching movies and perhaps the odd game of Angry Birds. Dependent on your style, the precision you need, and even your hand size, we’re sure that you’ll find a good size tablet. We recommend going into shops to try them out first-hand (while trying not to get caught by their sales pitches), or trying a friend or colleague’s device out before you consider buying anything – you may be surprised at what feels the most suitable or the most comfortable up-close.

Most tablets are covered by toughened or strengthened glass, the two most common types are Gorilla Glass and Dragontrail glass. These are specially toughened types of glass that resist scratches, cracks and chips whilst remaining thin and light. Generally, the higher the price of the tablet, the better quality the glass will be – which means a more expensive tablet may have a clearer, more scratch resistant or thinner and lighter screen covering – or even a more responsive touchscreen. The type, thickness and durability of the glass used can be important if you’re going to be transporting the tablet around a lot or using it in potentially hazardous situations.

If durability is something on your mind, worry not, we will be covering that in the next blog post!

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If you’d like more help, advice or information on choosing a tablet, if you’d like to discuss joining one of our support packages, or if you’d like to talk about anything else IT-related with us, give us a call or drop us an email!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Geek Guru Tablet

The Tablet Conundrum - Part 3

Posted on December 08th, 2013 by Emily

 

In this instalment of the Geek Guru blog, we take a look at the various types and resolutions of screens available on tablets.

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Most tablets now come with an IPS panel display, which is a type of LCD. This type of display has been in development now since the late 90s and had advanced quite far, it offers improved viewing angles and better contrast than a standard LCD screen, and also no “trailing”, which is what happens when you touch a regular TFT LCD display. Super AMOLED, OLED and Apple’s Retina (which is based on IPS) are other similar quality types of competing technology, all offering something slightly different.

IPS panels, including Apple’s Retina displays, offer better longevity, which is often paramount for tablet users. These types of LCD display can withstand many thousands of hours of use without degrading. They offer accurate colour reproduction, but this can be “tuned down” in order to increase power efficiency.

OLED and Super AMOLED screens are more often used in smartphones than tablets (Super AMOLED is just the name of Samsung’s iteration of OLED technology). This is because they have better power efficiency, only requiring power to display white and colours – the default state for them is black, so to display a black area requires no energy. They are often brighter than LCD / IPS displays, although their colour accuracy is lower, and they sometimes suffer from overly saturated green levels.

You’ll likely be looking at tablets between 7” – 10”, and while the resolution of 7” tablets at the budget end can be as low as 800×480, most decent 7” tablets will now come with 1280×800 resolution displays. Resolution determines how crisp and clear things are on a given size screen, but with different sizes of screen available, a better measure of clarity and image quality is pixel density, often known as “PPI” or Pixels Per Inch. The greater this number, the better quality the image will be (as images are displayed using pixels, the greater the number of pixels in an inch of screen space, the better quality the image will be). Because of the varying sizes of screen, resolution has become a confusing way to compare tablets, and most mainstream manufacturers now include the pixel density of their screens to allow people to compare with other manufacturers and models.

200+ is a good PPI number to aim for on budget tablets (with many 7” models coming in at around 216 PPI), whereas with mid-range and high-end tablets, you’ll be looking more around the mid or high 200s, with the iPad Air sitting at 264 PPI and the new Nexus 10 coming in at 300 PPI.

The display is often the most expensive single component in a tablet, so you really get what you pay for. There are some good deals from various manufacturers, but generally speaking – the higher the cost, the better the screen will be.

Next time we’ll be looking at different screen sizes and the various types of covering material they have to protect them – and what may best suit your tablet usage type.

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If you’d like more help, advice or information on choosing a tablet, if you’d like to discuss joining one of our support packages, or if you’d like to talk about anything else IT-related with us, give us a call or drop us an email!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Geek Guru Tablet

The Tablet Conundrum - Part 2

Posted on November 07th, 2013 by Emily

 

This instalment of the Geek Guru blog looks at a few things that you should consider when purchasing a new tablet: budget and features.

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One of the most important factors to a lot of people choosing a new tablet is how much it will cost. Not only the upfront cost but the costs of any accessories and subscriptions should also be taken into account, such as Netflix, Spotify or Dropbox if required.

There are really four price ranges to consider:

 

£50 – £170 – Entry-Level

Most entry level tablets will be Android-based tablets, suitable for casual use, browsing the web, checking email, listening to music and playing basic games. At this price range, the largest screen you’ll see is 7”. Some budget models have a camera on both sides, others have only a front-facing one. Battery life can vary greatly, there are some models with 3-4 hours constant use on a full charge, and others with 10+ hours. Expandable storage via a MicroSD slot is also included on some models.

 

£170-£370 – Mid-Range

Usually quite a bit faster than the budget models mid-range devices, will often perform better on complex tasks such as playing high definition videos, opening many applications at once, dealing with large data files and allowing more demanding 3D gaming. They vary in size from 7” all the way up to 10”.  Because tablet technology is evolving so quickly, a lot of tablets that were high-end a few months ago may fit into the mid-range category now. In this price range there’s likely to be a decent quality camera on both sides of the device, and things like design, weight, screen type and battery life are often more heavily considered by manufacturers for their mid-range models. Both Android and iOS devices are found within this price range.

 

£370 – £550 – High End

For this price you’re likely to get some cutting edge technology, with all the bells and whistles you can imagine. Most tablets in this price bracket are from 8” to 10”+ and come with some nice features like super crisp screens, good quality cameras and ultra-thin body designs. If you’re looking for a tablet that you could actually use in place of a laptop, the chances are you’re going to be aiming for one of these. Some of them also come with keyboard docks to make them into a hybrid tablet-laptop.

 

£550+ – Specialist High-End

The chances are if you’re looking at a tablet in this range, you’re looking for the best of the best, or you’re looking at them for a specific task or feature. Most hybrid tablet-laptops come into this range, along with others with high end feature sets like pressure sensitivity for drawing and writing, super crisp and clear screens for viewing true HD photos and videos, or even waterproofing.

 

In our next article, we’ll look at screens and the different types and sizes on the market right now – and what they all have to offer.

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If you’d like more help, advice or information on choosing a tablet, if you’d like to discuss joining one of our support packages, or if you’d like to talk about anything else IT-related with us, give us a call or drop us an email!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Geek Guru Tablet

The Tablet Conundrum - Part 1

Posted on November 03rd, 2013 by Emily

 

Over the next few posts, we’ll be taking a look at the features of, uses for and benefits of one of the most popular and evolving forms of computer technology at present – the tablet.

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Some of us love it, some of us hate it. Whatever your feelings towards it, we are rapidly approaching the gift-giving holiday season.

At the top of many lists this year will be one device – a tablet. Whether you’re buying for yourself, your family, friends, or for your business, we hope our short guides will assist you in choosing a suitable device. Since there’s a good possibility that thousands of tablets will be purchased as gifts, we’ll look at some factors for personal use as well as those for business.

The tablet market is really quite a minefield at present. There are so many makes and models of tablet out there that it’s difficult to know what’s good and what’s not. Fear not, however, as the Geeks have done some trawling through reviews and tech specs (and have done some of their own internal testing, too).

Whether you want to go for Apple’s iPad series, Android, or Microsoft’s Surface Pro, we’ll have the lowdown on the current devices available and how they are faring at the moment.

There’s something to suit everyone, from age 3 to 103, and because of their simple, often quite intuitive touch-screen controls, they’re usually suitable even for those who aren’t so technologically minded – although we can’t guarantee you won’t be asked to give a few lessons first!

Whatever your budget is, there’s likely a tablet to suit. Through entry-level, mid-range and high-end tablets, we’ll give you our pick of the bunch in terms of price, features, usability and performance.

We’ll also take a look at some of the available accessories such as keyboards, headsets and some of the cases available to protect your new device.

There are a few things that should be considered before choosing a tablet:

  • Who will it be primarily used by?
  • How will it be used?
  • What will it be used for?

For instance, we would not recommend getting a super high-end tablet with the best possible processor and tons of RAM and other features if it’s just going to be used to watch Netflix or play Angry Birds.

In the same vein, trying to use a 7” entry-level tablet to play demanding 3D games, perform many simultaneous complex tasks, or write/draw with any great accuracy may be quite a challenge.

Our next post will focus on budget and features – two things that are obviously linked closely together!

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If you’d like more help, advice or information on choosing a tablet, if you’d like to discuss joining one of our support packages, or if you’d like to talk about anything else IT-related with us, give us a call or drop us an email!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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