Help selecting a 7" tablet.

This topic was created by I ain't Spartacus .

  1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Help selecting a 7" tablet.

    Dear Commentards,

    Please could you fix it for me to be a bit more clued up on the 7" tablet market. My Mum has decided she wants the shiny. So she's after a new 7" tablet. I've suggested a trip to John Lewis to have a play with a Nexus 7 and an iPad Mini. However, comments on another thread have reminded me of the Blackberry Playbook.

    So I've decided to consult the hive-mind. She has an iPad 1. Which so far as I can see perfectly suits her needs. Although I'm in no position to comment, as I upgraded to an iPad 3... Also iOS 5 did run a bit slow on the original iPad, so I can understand that. Really though, I don't think it's a specific reason, but a new-found, healthy dose of gadget lust.

    As far as I can tell it's used for: TV in bed, a bit of web browsing, a bit of email, games for the grand-children, games for Mum, showing photos, a bit of music and possibly Skype. I don't think she reads on it - as that was the first question I asked about why the upgrade, why 7".

    So I'm interested in some useful opinions. Mum's not very tech savvy, although she's capable of learning to use computers, it's just she's totally uninterested in them. So unless she uses something a lot, it'll get forgotten. Although touch interfaces do seem to be more intuitive for some reason. More interactive and less threatening perhaps?

    The easy option is the iPad Mini with an OS she knows. But I think it's way over-priced. Once she's spending £350, she may as well just up it a bit and get an iPad 4. It's only my inheritance she's spending after all... [insert smiley here]

    So the choice seems to be the Nexus 7, Playbook, Samsung Galaxy 7 or Kindle Fire HD. I discount the Kindle as it's so locked to Amazon, but am open to persuasion. So what, dear readers, do you suggest?

    1. HKmk23

      Re: Help selecting a 7" tablet.

      I own and use an IPad 2 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7. I use the Tab in bed for Kindle books and the iPad in front of the tv, a Lenovo laptop for anything serious (64bit, 8gig ram, 2 x 256GB SSD drives).

      Tell mom to get an iPad is a no brainer.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. HKmk23

        Re: Help selecting a 7" tablet.

        In addition the Playbook mentioned elsewhere has now proved to be obsolete....

  2. DrXym Silver badge

    I own a Playbook and think they're pretty good but I wouldn't recommend you buy one unless your mum is not interested in apps. Skype doesn't exist on it, and nor do a lot of other well known apps. It's probably better to get a Nexus.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Thumb Up


      Cheers. That's more or less what I thought. She uses BBC iPlayer, 4oD and ITV Player. I believe the web portals of the last 2 use Silverlight, so no native player means no-go. I think both are on the Android Play store, but probably not the BB one.

      Still I thought it was worth asking, because I've seen a few nice comments about the Playbook, and I'd forgotten it.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        She has an iPad 1. Which so far as I can see perfectly suits her needs.

        Much as I hate to say it, I reckon it has to be an iPad Mini then. The alternative is interminable phone calls with themes like; "How do I do XYZ on this one?", "Why doesn't it do ABC like my old one?" and "Why is app 123 different on here?".

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          I don't like the price of the iPad Mini. Although to be fair to Apple, they're apparently making lower margins on it than normal iPads, so maybe it's not the rip-off it looks at first. It's just that it's not that much cheaper, for a much worse screen.

          I'm hoping that Android won't be too hard. We'll have to see in the shop. Being able to touch the UI seems to be a bit more 'friendly' for some people than the old mouse interface. Maybe it's just that with limited screen space and fat fingers, devs are more obvious with where the buttons are. Children who can't read can find the right icon to press on apps they've never seen before. I also think people are less scared of 'breaking' tablets, whereas they won't just try all the options on a PC program until they get the right one, unless something goes wrong...

          Admittedly her grandchildren use iPads faster than Mum does, but she's getting there. My memory of Android was that it was easy enough to use, once set up. Here's hoping for a working model to play with in the shops.

  3. Spudders
    Thumb Up

    All of the ones you mention work on the PB - (BBC Iplayer, ITV, 4OD,) there is no app just go to the website and it will stream :)

    Plus any apps missing from Blackberry Appworld can be sideloaded to the playbook from the Android app if there is one and most work perfectly.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


      Thanks for the answer. How easy is it to sideload? Is it a question of just going to the Play Store? Or do you have to find a binary somewhere, and install it onto the tablet from a computer?

      I'll probably set the tablet up for her. So I can find a bunch of useful Android apps and bung them on, so long as they work as expected. However, if they're going to have a different UI and be a bit on the buggy side, then that's a solution for a techy, but not one to hand over to a normal user.

      1. Tequila Joe
        Big Brother

        Very nice build quality but...

        It's one for the techies and BB phone users - just search on the number of on-line videos for sorting out Playbook issues, take a look at the vids and form your own opinion.

        Despite what some enthusiasts may say there are issues bringing over Android apps (sideloading, supply and performance), though this must be improving as BB make the effort to bring in more apps and experince/info spreads.

        Playbook was also heavy-handed on the DRM when I checked it - no storing of BBC progs and difficulties with film transfers - so for me it made a mockery of the idea of watching programmes while commuting (I'm not really keen on watching just Canadian films, and I don't support the unquestioning and inappropriate application of North American DRM rules in the UK).

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      "Plus any apps missing from Blackberry Appworld can be sideloaded to the playbook from the Android app if there is one and most work perfectly."

      Not true. Some apps work. Apps which have background services, or expect certain privileges, or which ship with native code, or which use Googles Licence Validation Service, or which are encrypted probably won't work. You'd have to source apks from warez sites where god knows what you'll end up with.

      And sideloading is an enormous pain in the arse.

  4. bazza Silver badge


    You've not mentioned a Kindle reading app. In my experience Mums always eventually end up wanting a Kindle, or a Kindle reading app. There's currently no official app for the PB, but the Android version can be side loaded. Works very well too.

    A word of caution on side loading. When it was first done (quite some time ago) RIM were rather peeved and publicly said that they'd make changes to the OS to stop it happening. So far they've not done it; good thing too. Kindle is kinda one of those essential apps, and with Amazon clearly playing hardball on supporting the PB it was in RIM's interest to allow side loading to continue.

    So with BB10 imminent (hooray!) will side loading still work on the PB? Who knows? Eeek!

    Amazon do officially provide a Kindle reader for BB phones. With new BB phones being QNX based perhaps this will stoke Amazon into doing the job properly.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Kindle

      Oh and I forgot to add - PB is fab (I've got 2). With side loading Kindle and the properly sorted web browser it does all I need a tablet to do very well indeed.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Kindle


      That's interesting. I thought RIM were promoting the fact that you could sideload Android apps, because they wanted the extra apps. Or was their idea of compatibility that Android devs would be able to easily port their apps into the BB app store and make it bigger?

      I specifically asked Mum about reading, because I know she read a few books when she first got the iPad. She said that wasn't the reason for wanting a smaller one, and that she didn't really read on it, and preferred a real book. But I'll show her the Gutenberg Press site, and see if there's any books on there that are interesting.

      Thanks to everyone for the useful information.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Kindle

        Sideloading is meant for development only. Basically to port an Android app to Playbook, you use RIM's tools to bundle up the .apk as a .bar file which you sign with a development key and upload to your attached device.

        It works (sometimes) but it's non trivial. I tried sideloading lots of apks and only had success with a few of them. Too many variables to know if it'll work or not without trial and error. e.g. I couldn't get FBReader to sideload but Aldiko did so I was at least able to read EPUBs.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Kindle


          Cheers. That pretty much does in the BB. As you said earlier, great for techies, maybe not for all. When I looked she'd got 50-odd apps on her iPad, so she's using them, and finding them on her own without my help.

          I'm waiting for someone to praise the Kindle to the heavens, and persuade me to look at that again. I'm partly put off by how bad the original Kindle Fire was. But I don't think they've got the apps either. Which is odd, surely any Android app could be on there as well, with little/no modification. All they'd need to do was support a bunch of the devs to port across.

          1. TeeCee Gold badge

            Re: Kindle

            I'm waiting for someone to praise the Kindle to the heavens....

            If I remember the review it got here correctly, you're probably waiting in the wrong place.....

  5. JMcL

    I'd favour the Nexus 7

    I'm going to echo what seems to be the consensus in the replies so far.

    The Playbook is a really nice piece of kit, solid construction, nice velvety finish on the back so that it never feels like it's going to slip out of your hand, very nice screen, good sound, and the UI is very nice to use.

    That's the plus side. App support is somewhat wanting. My main bugbears are no Skype (and it looks like no possibility of it coming), a lack of anything to connect to a media server (I point it at a web server I've installed on my NAS), and an inability to play video with anything other than AAC audio.

    I can't say about the iPlayer, 4oD etc as I've never tried.

    Android apps can be sideloaded as has been pointed out, but there are some restrictions on what will work (camera access is out for one thing). Another problem I've found is that the sideloaded Greader app I use to read blog posts is a bit unstable and when it goes down, the only way to recover involves rebooting the tablet, which is a lengthy process.

    There are a few other little niggly issues as well, but you'll get that with any device.

    Now, having said all that, I got mine for free via a RIM developer program last year, so I can't complain about being hard done by, Despite what looks like a list of woes, I like it a lot as a simple convenient net access device (I used it almost exclusively while in France for 3 weeks last year). If I had to part with my cash however, I'd go the Nexus route, and I don't think I'd recommend it for your mum with regard to the issues above.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: I'd favour the Nexus 7


      Thanks very much for the post. It confirms what others are saying I think. If I can get to grips with the Nexus in a 2 minute play, and demo it to her successfully it's that. If she doesn't get on with Android, then I guess it's iPad time. Although, I do resent the cost. But then I like computers, and am happy to change software and learn something new.

      Or perhaps I should saw her iPad in half, and say it's now a 7-incher...

  6. RomanFerdman

    Would you consider try before you buy sercice?

    If you could rent a device for 2-4 weeks and in case it does not meet your expectations return it would you use such a service?

  7. Cogitarius

    'Pay as you go' SIM fraud at Heathrow dispensing machines

    On arrival at Heathrow Terminal 4 a few days back I bought a Vodafone 'Pay as you go' SIM for GBP20 from the dispensing machine at the exit. It carries a yellow sticker claiming "Preloaded with GBP10 talktime", which was the prime reason for my buying it as I needed to make several local and international calls. On activating it, however, I kept getting error messages saying it had no balance for either voice calls or text messages.

    From Heathrow I took it to Vodafone's Paddington Station store, where the sales lady promptly told me this was a common fraud being perpetrated on unsuspecting users of Heathrow dispensing machines. She refused to do anything about the GBP 20 I had just wasted, so I was forced to pay for another GBP 15 topup to be able to use the SIM. What's worse, she also said the SIM itself would have been free if I'd bought it from her store!

    I tried complaining to Vodafone on their UK website, and after filling in myriad details, the complaint disappeared into a black hole with only this cryptic error message to show for my pains:

    "Sorry, there seems to be a problem

    We’re working as hard as we can to fix the issue. In the meantime, if you need to get in contact please send us an email using this link."

    Having done so, they're now putting me through even more hoops, demanding I create an online account and provide even more details just so they can verify my bonafides!!

    What's intriguing is that they haven't yet tried to deny either the existence of such fraud, or their knowledge of it .

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: 'Pay as you go' SIM fraud at Heathrow dispensing machines

      Perhaps you should complain to Heathrow. As that's where the vending machine was. It would be perfectly possible for some company to buy in a shedload of Vodafone SIMs, not bother to load any credit on them, then stick up that sign. Although Vodafone might just be morally responsible, they certainly wouldn't be legally responsible for that particular breach of contract.

      Anyway, Vodafone can only stop selling them SIMs if they buy direct. Heathrow can close down their vending machines.

      1. Cogitarius

        Re: 'Pay as you go' SIM fraud at Heathrow dispensing machines

        Good point -- thanks :)

  8. as$ort3dIn

    I'd go for iPad mini since she already has an iPad 1 right? That way she knows how to navigate the thing without your help. Also, I think all she needs are already on the iPad. Of all the products of Apple, iPad mini is my best bet as it's very handy.

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