Inking, sketching and general consumption. Device advice needed.

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by Rebeljuice, Mar 17, 2014.

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  1. Rebeljuice

    Rebeljuice Pen Pal - Newbie

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    1. What is your budget?
    Ball park $500

    2. Would you consider purchasing used/refurbished?

    3. Do you prefer a media/mobile tablet like the iPad, Windows tablet PC, or notebook convertible?
    Tablet on its own or with a detachable keyboard. Do not want a fixed keyboard

    4. What size Tablet PC would you prefer?
    8 to 10-inches

    5. Which country do you intent to purchase from [where do you live]?
    I live in Zambia but have to purchase in the US or UK.

    6. Do you have any preferences to brand loyalty or dislikes?
    Do not want Apple.

    7. How many hours battery life do you require?
    5 minimum, 8 preferably, 10+ would be fantastic.

    8. What will be the primary usage scenario of this tablet? (Email/Web Surfing/Drawing/Word Processing/Entertainment/Notetaking etc)
    Notetaking, Sketching, movies in flight, general media consumption

    9. Do you have an OS preference? For example, do you own an iPhone and a Mac, or are you a Windows fan? Do you own an Android device and use Google services frequently?
    Preferably Windows 8 but Android may suffice if it has pen input.

    10. What software and tasks do you intend to run? (Microsoft Office or other Word Processing Suite/Photoshop/3D Studio Max/Autocad etc)
    OneNote (Or EverNote), Sketching apps, Browser and maybe Outlook if available but not crucial. Nothing too extensive or resource hungry. I may end up doing a little work on it if it has Office installed, but will not fret if it doesnt.

    11. Do you intend on playing Games? If so please list.
    Perhaps, but only app store games, nothing processor intensive

    12. Would you like to stream content through your home theater system?

    Screen Specifics

    1. Any preference on screen resolution?
    1080p or above preferably but not crucial. Would settle for less if everything else was worth it like a Wacom digitiser.

    2. Will you be using the tablet outdoors? Do you need to be able to see it through glare from the sun?
    Sometimes probably but not a key requirement

    3. Do you require a pen? With or without pressure sensitivity? Do you prefer Wacom or N-trig?
    Yes. Anything that works well. Wacom preferred but as long as it writes and can sketch it doesnt matter. Not interested in a capacative stylus unless there is one which gives palm rejection and a small tip like some for the iPad (but I do not want an iPad)

    Component Specifics

    1. What size Hard Drive and Memory do you require? Would you like expandable memory?
    Expandable - not important. Minimum HD - 64gb. Minimum memory - 2gb

    2. What sort of inputs do you require, if any? Would you like full-sized USB and SD card slots? Are microUSB and microSD ok? Do you require HDMI inputs?
    Micro USB is fine. Preferably powered to run external hard drive. Also would prefer USB 3. Would also be nice to charge and use USB at the same time but I know in some cases that just isnt possible for some strange reason that escapes me. MicroSD or full SD for expanded memory is a must.

    A quick background:
    I am currently in the middle of Africa where the only tablets on sale here are the cheapest of the cheap unknown branded Android tablets. I have no option to go to a store and try something out. So I have to purchase any tablet I want either from the UK or US unseen. The way it works is Fedex and DHL have offices here in Lusaka. In order to purchase something online I have to ship it to a DHL or Fedex local address in the US or UK stating my name, phone number, city and country in the first line of the address. It then gets sorted at the local office and shipped to me here in Zambia. They then phone me when it gets here and I go and collect it after paying for the courier service. All in all it takes about 2 weeks once the item is dispatched to the local office.

    There are several problems that this poses. Firstly, if I happen to get a faulty device, sending it back within the return window will prove a problem. So whilst there is always a risk of getting a faulty device, I do need something that in general has a pretty good build reputation. Second issue is obviously cost. The heavier the device, the more I have to pay for the courier service. 3rd issue is not all online stores will ship to this strange address. Amazon in the UK and US do however. So it will probably be an Amazon purchase.

    I do not need a tablet to do my work. I have my rather average i5 HP Pavillion G6 for that and see no need to replace it with anything other than another laptop when the need arises. The only reason I need a tablet is for note taking. My desk is cluttered with notes, memos, post it notes and more and being able to take notes digitally would improve my life no end. I wouldnt mind doing some sketching too and whilst not crucial to my life, if I am going to get a tablet for taking notes, it may as well be good enough for sketching too.

    Ideally I would like a 10 inch device but 8 inch is fine. 64gb is fine in the storage department. I would also prefer a Bay Trail processor as a core processor would just be overkill really and Clover Trail is too slow especially when the prices are not really that much cheaper than the current Bay Trail offerings. I also dont really want to spend more than 5 or 6 hundred dollars.

    So these are the devices I have found that I am considering:

    Surface Pro 1 - Yes it is overkill in the processor department, it is heavy and the battery is poor. But it does offer a great digitiser and with the new power cover it could be pretty ok with battery too. It is currently on sale in the UK for the 64gb with free touch cover at £439 and for what you get for the money it is hard not to want it, despite its downsides.
    Asus Vivotab Note 8 - Almost perfect but it does seem to have a bit of a QC issue from what I have been reading. Also the build quality doesnt sound great so perhaps a life in Africa may not be its forte. But it does have a Wacom digitiser.
    Dell Venue Pro 11 (Bay Trail) or 8 - Both seem like good tablets reasonably built, although the 11 has had a few issues from what I have read but nothing a few updates couldnt solve (unlike its core variants). But the stylus looks like a very hit and miss affair. Maybe I would get lucky with a new A01 revision stylus, but maybe I wont. The price of the 8 is great value!
    HP Propad 600 - Sounds like this could be a winner for me but when is it out? What is the digitiser like? How is the build quality and how much will it cost? Its a lot of unknowables so is it really worth putting off buying any of the above just in case it is better?
    Galaxy Note 10 (2014 edition) - I know it is Android, but seeing as the pen input is my primary desire, could this not be a good device to have? Isnt Evernote pretty good these days and isnt there an abundance of sketching apps?

    Things I have ruled out:

    Fujitsu Stylistic Q584 - Too expensive and ugly
    Fujitsu Stylistic Q572 - Too expensive and slow
    All intel core processors (other than the SP1) - too expensive and not what I am looking for
    All fixed keyboard solutions - I am not looking for a laptop replacement
    All Clover Trails - the minimal cost saving for old technology doesnt really justify the purchase considering the price of Bay Trail devices. And even then, they can be more expensive too (looking at you Thinkpad Tablet 2).

    So which one of my choices would you suggest? A great value SP1 which really is overkill for my needs but for that price...? An Asus Wacom enabled 8 inch Bay Trail that has questionable QC and a relatively poor build? A Venue Pro which is almost perfect but for the potentially useless stylus? An unreleased and relatively unknown Propad 600? Or the curve ball that is the Android driven GN10?

    Are there any I have missed?

    Also, buying in the US is a lot cheaper than the UK but here in Zambia we have 240 volts coming through our wall sockets. Is it not 110 volts in the US? If so will the charger be useless over here?

    If I was running Microsoft I would come out with a Surface 3 (and 8 inch surface mini) tablet with Windows RT (Im ok with that), Office RT incl. Outlook and an active digitiser with pen and a silo to store it in. Built with the same materials as the current Surface and the same quality.

    And if I was running Lenovo I would fire whoever omitted a digitiser from the Thinkpad 8, pull the T8 from production and add Wacom. I would then release the Thinpad Tablet 3 with Bay Trail, 64 bit Windows, powered usb3, separate charge socket, Wacom and 16:10 format with HD 1080p.

    The world wouldn't need any other Windows tablets!

    Thanks for your patience and apologies for the loooooooong post.
  2. agraham

    agraham Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I have an SP1 and it is a great machine but if you already have a laptop then I would suggest that the SP1 is just that bit too big and a bit too heavy to use as purely a note-taker. It is really an Utrabook from which you can detatch the keyboard and use as a tablet when necessary.

    I also have a Asus Vivotab Note 8 and do not recognise any QC issues with it. It is nicely designed and well built, all the joints fit well and are flush with no gaps, including the stylus when housed, and to me it seems superior to the Dell, although that may be partly subjective as I dislike the concentric ring design on the back of the Dell.

    All tablet/notebook power supplies are 100v to 240v capable so that should not be a problem. The SP1 PSU has the main plug on a flying lead so could be cut off and easily replaced with your local equivalent. The Note 8 PSU has an adaptor that slides onto the actual PSU and is probably a proprietary adaptor so you would need a separate adaptor that plugs into your local style socket and accepts whatever style of plug that comes with your Note 8.

    The Note 8 appears to not be able to supply the quite the same amount of USB current as the SP1 which can power all the devices following. The Note 8 with an OTG cable can power my portable USB 2.5" HDDs and of course USB memory sticks. It struggles with directly powering a USB powered DoubleSight Displaylink-based 9" external display, sometimes it works other times it doesn't and it totally fails to power an external USB powered DVD drive. In these cases it needs an externally powered USB hub. I have an OTG cable "Y" adaptor with an additional male USB connecter intended to give additional power to such devices but it doesn't work for some reason, it needs the separate hub.

    The killer feature on both these machines is the Wacom active digitiser and the Note 8 further wins as it can house the stylus internally. A Wacom CS-300 Bamboo Feel pen is a great accessory and makes for a better writing experience on both machines, but of course needs to be carried separately.

    The screen of the Note 8 is too small to be able to comfortably use the on screen keyboard and something like Word or Excel. A Bluetooth mouse and keyboard work well here and I use a Microsoft Wedge Mouse and Wedge Keyboard as they are the best portable mouse and keyboard that I have found so far.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
  3. Rebeljuice

    Rebeljuice Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I think I should also add the Vaio Tap 11 (Pentium version) to the list...
  4. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    For around $500, your only real options are:
    - Asus Vivotab Note 8
    - Dell Venue Pro 8
    - Dell Venue Pro 11 Baytrail
    - Samsung Galaxy Note 8
    - Samsung Galaxy Note 10
    - Refurb Surface Pro

    Out of those, I'd go with the Asus for W8, and Sammy Galaxy Notes for Android.
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