Tablet testing for humans.

Today i am little short on time, so I think this article is perfect. I recently got three high-end tablets devices for testing purposes and I want to share my thought on them with you guys. The tablets I was testing were all Android-based and since you can check out plain technical specs nearly anywhere on the web, I am going to focus on the usability parts.

For testing I had a Google Nexus 9 (built by HTC), a Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 and a Sony Xperia Tablet Z4. My criteria for a good tablet are straight forward:

  • A high DPI display with at least Full-HD resolution
  • Some possibility to connect an external display (should support at least Full-HD, too)
  • A decent battery life time
  • At least 64GB storage either internal or by extension
  • Should not suck in terms of design, weight and “performance” (CPU/memory)

As you might already know from the common tech websites, all of the three devices cover more or less the requirements above. Let’s not waste time, here we go with my personal opinion on the devices. My test cases were always the same and to make it easy for the kind reader to follow, I will always start with the pros followed by the negatives.

Google Nexus 9

The packaging of the Nexus 9 already looks very promising. It’s a nice robust white box and its weight makes you already think that it might contain something worthy. The device’s design is definitely the best one of the three: Its clean and timeless while the rubber back feels awesome and not too slippery. There are no hardware keys (beside the power switch and the volume controls) so you can rotate the device in any direction. Further the device comes with a stock Android ROM free of bloat and adware. In addition, you will get latest updates directly from Google as soon the are available and won’t need to wait for months to get it. Another nice feature to mention is that its a really widely used device. Getting a custom ROM for this device will be no problem. The display is crisp and sharp while the colors are bright (if you want them to) so you can use the device even on a bright summer day.

On the other hand, the device just comes with 32GB non-extensible storage. Actually for me this is a problem. I want to use the device while traveling to watch a movie and stuff, so 32GB would really be too few for my purposes. Sure this fits in Googles strategy of “be always online” and it’s meant to stream content to the device, but sadly my cell phone provider does not share this strategy. With a quota of 1GB (which is around the maximum what you can get at a payable monthly fee) and a sad to terribly network coverage, this is just not possible. If you plan to use your device mainly at home or somewhere you can get WiFi, this might not be a big downside for you.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

This tablet comes with nearly all features I expected: nice display, long battery life and fast charging, slot for a memory card, MHL support, etc. There is really nothing this devices lags.

But actually that’s it already I can say is good about it. It’s just like the McDonalds of tablets. It’s OK, if you really want it. You get it everywhere, it’s wide spread, and it does what it tells you that it does. But as for McDonalds it lags everything else. The design is boring and it feels like really cheap plastic. The OS is completely stuffed with Adware and stupid system applications by Samsung. No, I DO NOT WANT TO REGISTER FOR YOU FUCKING CLOUD-SYNC-WHATEVER-SERVICE. And yes, I know one can uninstall most of the stuff and get rid of it by changing the launcher and/or ROM, but should this really be necessary if I pay 500+ bugs on a device? Not in my eyes…

Oh and the worst thing: it got hardware keys and speakers on the short side. So this device is meant to be used in portrait mode. Not to big of a deal, but if you want to watch a movie in landscape mode, you will get annoyed that the sound just comes from one direction.

So, do not expect this device to do anything extraordinarily well that is not explicitly mentioned as a feature. If you are OK with that, and don’t mind being Samsung’s software bitch, go ahead and grab one.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z4

First up, this is the tablet I picked. Let me explain why: You get a device with decent technical specs — nice display, well designed, good handling. Even features I didn’t necessarily need are given: I can connect the tablet with my Playstation 4 and mount it on my controller. The tablet then acts as a screen extension and is used to display additional game-specific information like a world map in your favorite RPG for example. All the other basics are also given: MHL3 (up to 4k at 30fps!), storage card slot, LTE , etc etc. You name it.

I didn’t like the price though. Around 600€ for the LTE-version is really high. Oh and I never liked the Sony-typical round power button. The tablet is just around 6mm thick so the power button looks like an alien due to it being nearly as big as the table it thick. But I just think I can live with that.


So let me sum this up for you tl;dr-guys:

Google Nexus 9 is a decent device but lags some important features (like display sharing and just comes with 32GB fixed storage). Everything else is really decent and if you look at the price (~450€) this is really worth a look. Personal ranking: Rank 2.

I can recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 to anyone who looks out for good technical specs and doesn’t want to pay for design. This is exactly what you get. Power and performance ad the cost of design and feeling. Oh and in my opinion the Adware is a no go. Personal ranking: Rank 3.

Finally my personal favorite and go-to device: Sony Xperia Tablet Z4. Good technical specs and mediocre design make this my winner. You have to pay for it though. I personally prefer to pay a bit more on a device if I plan to use it a few years if I get a better quality then. This is the case here, so personal ranking: Rank 1





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