Tablets comparison

As I digged through the available 8-10″ tablets starting from 200 and above, I compiled this list of the main features I was interested in. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of models.

For some reason, very few of them, if any, can do phone calls (which is bad, because I really hoped to use it as a backup in case my phone goes haywire).
LTE or 4G option costs about 100€.
Prices are in euros.
Also, see my other post about why a tablet isn’t a computer.

Model Price Screen size Screen type Resolution RAM Notes
Amazon Fire HD 8 110 8 IPS 1280 x 800 1,5
Apple iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular 519 9.7 Retina 1536 x 2048 2
Not available on Amazon
Apple iPad Mini 4 409 7.9 Retina 2048 x 1536 2 Not available on Amazon
Asus Z300M-6B050A ZenPad 168 10 IPS 1280 x 800 2
Asus Zenpad 3S 317 9.7 IPS 1536 x 2048 4
Asus ZenPad 3S 10 LTE 419 9.7 IPS 2048 x 1536 4 No phone
Asus ZenPad 3S Z500M-1J006A 425 9.7 IPS 2048 x 1536 4 No phone
Asus Zenpad S 8.0 Z580C 289 8 IPS 2048 x 1536 2 No phone
Huawei MediaPad M3 324 8.4 IPS 2,560×1,600 4 Frontal speakers
Lenovo TAB 2 A10-70L 259 10.1 IPS 1900 x 1200 2
Lenovo TB2-X30L 175 10.1 IPS 1280 x 800 2 No phone
Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Plus ZA1R0020DE 407 10.1 IPS 2560 x 1600 3
Lenovo ZA090058SE Yoga Tab 3 224 8 1280 x 800 2
Nexus 7 165 7 1920 x 1200 2 No phone
Nvidia SHIELD 16GB Black 333 8 1920 x 1200 2
NVIDIA Shield K1 200 8 1920 x 1200 2
Discontinued – no phone
Samsung Galaxy S3 632 9.7 Super AMOLED 2048 x 1536 4
Samsung Galaxy Tab A T585N 267 10.1 TFT 1920 x 1200 2
Samsung Galaxy Tab A6 194 10.1 IPS 1920 x 1200 2 No phone
Samsung Galaxy Tab E SM-T561N 202 9.7 TFT 1280 x 800 1,5 No phone
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 T713N 329 8 Super AMOLED 2048 x 1536 3
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7″ SM-T810NZWEDBT 343 9.7 Super AMOLED 2048 x 1536 3 4:3 display
Samsung SM-T585 Galaxy Tab A 254 10.1 TFT 1.920 x 1.200 2
Sony Xperia Z 380 10.1 TFT 1920 x 1200 2 Waterproof
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet SGP712 407 10.1 IPS 2560 x 1600 3 Waterproof
DELL Venue 8 Pro 205 8 IPS 1280 x 800 1 Windows


In 2018, a tablet still isn’t a computer

What is a computer? That’s the title of one of the latests commercials about the iPad Pro.

In a nutshell, the designers show that the tablet has nothing to lose when compared to a computer.

I beg to differ. I was recently searching for a replacement for a laptop, and the tablet was an interesting candidate; but after research and first-hand testing, I’m confident to say a tablet is not a computer. They are two different products for two different use cases. Sure, a 1000€ Microsoft Surface can get close enough to a laptop, and also the iPad has some niceties that make it above average in many areas, but things get worse if we look at the much more widespread Android tablet, which is the worst offender here, even for devices with a 600€ price tag.

There are many things a Android tablet cannot do well or at all.

  • You cannot have two apps running at the same time reliably, as Android likes to kill them randomly. This is especially problematic if you’re using tools such as IRC or SSH which happen to use connection-oriented protocols.
  • Physical keyboards aren’t remappable without rooting. For example the Escape key closes all applications and there is no way to disable it. (90% of keyboard shortcuts do work though.)
  • Support for external peripherals is almost non existing. While all Android devices have a USB port, this can’t be used for USB devices such as USB-to-ethernet adapters or USB-to-HDMI. So, no wired networks and no external monitors are allowed. If you need those, you’ll have to do some research, as support is extremely spotty (Samsung and Apple are among the best here).
  • Drawing is impossible as the latency is huge, especially on bigger screens. The only possibility here is to get a tablet that has support for an active pen (that currently is available only on the top tier ones). Also the pen itself is, again, expensive.
  • Filesystem support is cumbersome. Try to download a file in a new directory and then move it somewhere else. Or try to forward an email with an attachment on the iPhone.
  • Gaming on a tablet is a sub-par experience, as mobile games are not at the same level as mediocre PC indie games.

On the other hand, I don’t mean tablets are useless; they are fit for different purposes. Even many laptops have disadvantages with respect to a tablet:

  • Few laptops support SIM cards.
  • Laptop cameras aren’t as advanced as mobile ones, and a laptop anyway can’t easily take a picture of what it’s behind it.
  • Few laptops are touch-enabled.
  • “Flip” or “Transformer” designs are rare. The keyboard is a burden if you just want to watch YouTube. This basically makes a laptop much less portable.
  • Laptops just aren’t socially fit sometimes, you’ll look weird if you bring one at the beach.
  • Many mobile apps are designed around portability: maps, touristic informations, public transports, and so on. Unfortunately many of them aren’t available for all platforms; if you’re used to a certain app on your phone, you might need something different on your laptop.
  • Mobile apps often offer background services which are less resource-intensive than keeping tens of Chrome tabs open.

So, there are pro and cons on both sides, as they’re basically two different products with a slight overlap in functionality. Tablets still excel at entertainment, but laptops are still the most versatile and productive.
You should understand your use case before deciding for the one or the other. I hope this list helps!


My experience with Soylent alternatives in Europe so far

Unfortunately in Europe there are no Soylent resellers. There are, however, quite a bunch of less famous alternatives. I’ve been asked about them a couple of times so I felt it was worth a blog entry.

I’ve been trying Soylent alternatives since November 2015, replacing about 30-40% of my meals. I had the chance to try Jimmi Joy (formerly Joylent), Huel, Mana, Nano, Jake and Futricio (formerly SoylentLife) and here are some of the differences between them.

Jimmi Joy: it is the one I’ve been recommending to everyone wanting to try out Soylent alternatives. Jimmi Joy is probably the one with the less barriers to entry. It is one of the cheapest, it comes with a handy bottle, it leaves a good fullness sensation and has a good variety of the best flavors. Cons: it tastes really better if you either blend it or leave it to rest for 8 hours or more, and variety is limited to its 5/6 flavors as there is no “unflavoured” option. Jimmi Joy also offers a “sports” version, and their bars are legit.


xboxdrv 0.8.8 for the Raspberry Pi Zero

If you, like me, have just found out that GameStop xbox360 controllers, even when they have the same BB070-B-EU model, from the same shop, same look, same everything, … but they happen to have different chipsets, and not all of them work properly with xboxdrv 0.8.5; you might appreciate an update from the version which is offered in the Raspbian repositories.

In my case, the incompatible model was showing up with magic numbers 0e6f:0401 in `lsusb`. The GameStop xbox360 controllers which works with xboxdrv 0.8.5 shows up as 0e6f:0301.

Compiling it took quite a long time (about two hours), so here’s a precompiled package. You can get xboxdrv 0.8.8 in a .deb package for ARM here.

The online replacement vs repair decision helper

I wrote this tool to help decision-making when you have have to repair or replace something.
It uses a pair of jeans as an example, but it’s meant to be generic. Just replace its parameters and let it calculate.

(I’m assuming onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" /> as a currency and one onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" /> as a time unit.
I also assume a onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />%/year growth rate of your assets.)

You are thinking about replacing a: onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />
You have owned pair of jeans for: onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" /> year(s)
Replacing the pair of jeans would cost you: onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" /> $
Your pair of jeans is costing you in repairs: onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" /> $ / year
While the pair of jeans is undergoing repairs, you have a backup plan which costs you: onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" /> $ / year
Do you feel the pair of jeans at risk of a major, catastrophic, sudden failure?
onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />Not really.
onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />Possibly… but maybe an ice cream would cheer me up again. (+5 $ / year)
onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />I think I’ll have to pay a couple of fine dinners if that happens. (+50 $ / year)
onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />Well, that would cost me about onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" /> $.
Would a new pair of jeans have significant advantages, or technological advancements, over the old one?
onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />Not really. I’m kind of emotionally bonded to the old one.
onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />For starters, it wouldn’t look old. (+15% value over the old one.)
onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />It has an improvement or two. (+30% value over the old one.)
onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />The new one is way better! (+ onChange="updateAll();" onKeyUp="updateAll();" />% value over the old one.)
onClick="updateAll(); document.getElementById('response').style.display = '';" />