The MeMO Pad HD 7 was arguably the sleeper hit among small tablets in 2013. ASUS' device didn't have the speed of the Nexus 7 or the interface tricks of Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 line, but it was superbly balanced. It ran smoothly, packed smart software and (most importantly) carried a sub-$200 price. For that reason, this year's MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are potentially exciting; they stick to that familiar formula while bringing in faster processors and a fresher interface. What's not to like? As you'll find out in our review, there are a few aspects that definitely need improvement, or even take steps backward -- but it's also clear that ASUS has budget-tablet design down to a science. %Gallery-slideshow210612%%Gallery-slideshow210615%
It's becoming more and more common to find mobile devices with wireless charging capability, either as a built-in feature or integrated into third-party cases. Progress has been somewhat hampered, however, by the fact that no universally adopted standard is available. Of the three major groups trying to corner the market, Qi -- a standard created by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) -- has arguably been the most successful at courting manufacturers and carriers (over 200 have signed up so far). The problem is, its abilities have been limited because it only uses a method called inductive charging; in other words, you can power up your smartphone as long as it's sitting on a charging pad. Wireless, sure, but it's still only marginally more convenient than simply plugging the handset in. Fortunately, Qi's adding some crucial functionality later this year that will allow you to charge your device from nearly two inches away.
Another month, another batch of 30 free Android apps courtesy of Amazon. Like the bookseller's last Appstore promotion, the "Summer Self-Improvement Bundle" features $100/£100's worth of complimentary apps, as long as you download them within the next two days (so don't leave it 'til the weekend, basically). On-theme apps include exercise, nutrition, sleep, budgeting and learning aids, while games such as Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and Carcassonne should provide a little entertainment. Other notable freebies include Kayak Pro for travel planning and management, and popular read-it-later app Instapaper. Remember, Amazon's Appstore is available to any Android device (some side-loading required), not that we're saying you could use a little self-improving. You're perfect just the way you are.
When Samsung took the time to update investors ahead of its upcoming quarterly earnings report, it warned 'weak demand' for phones and an increased marketing spend could hit the company hard. That report hit today, and it's as bleak as the company expected. In its second quarter, Samsung posted profit of 6.25 trillion won ($6.1 billion), down from 7.77 trillion won ($6.96 billion) last year, its lowest quarterly profit in two years. Smartphone sales contributed the majority of its revenue, but the Samsung's flagship phone, the Galaxy S5, languished as the iPhone continues to fly of shelves and Chinese brands cut directly into its low-end business.
FreedomPop on Wednesday announced plans to sell discounted LTE tablets that come with a free data plus connectivity capable of offering tablet buyers phone features. In addition to browsing the web with their tablets, FreedomPop tablet buyers will also be able to send and receive text messages and make voice calls for free.
Many people can't really justify buying a cellular-equipped tablet -- why pay for more data when your phone probably does the trick? FreedomPop is undoubtedly aware of that thriftiness, as it just started offering its namesake free service on tablets. Whether you buy one of the carrier's pre-supplied tablets or bring your own, you'll get the same gratis 500MB of LTE data, 500 messages and 200 voice minutes as a phone customer. That may not make sense at first, but FreedomPop reckons that it's important for apps that ask for a phone number. It's much easier to hail an Uber car when you can supply some digits, for example. It could also serve as a backup if your phone's battery dies, or if you're nearing your limits on a capped phone plan.
Microsoft reportedly had plans to unveil a new Surface mini tablet alongside the Surface Pro 3 earlier this year, but the company supposedly cancelled those plans when it realized the mini tablet didn't offer much in the way of compelling differentiation. Some reports suggest the Surface mini is back in the mix and could launch later this summer, while others state that tablet has been shelved indefinitely. Whatever the case may be, it looks like Microsoft has another new Surface tablet in store for us this fall.
Microsoft reported its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday afternoon. While the company missed Wall Street's consensus mainly due to poor performance out of its newly acquired Nokia smartphone division, all in all it was a fairly solid quarter with operating income coming in at $6.48 billion on revenue that beat analysts' estimates at $23.38 billion. While we still don't know how well the company's Surface tablets are selling — in fact, the odds are very good that we'll never know — Microsoft CFO Amy Hood did share a bit of good news during the company's earnings conference call on Tuesday evening.
Whether you're looking to replace your laptop or just find something to keep you entertained, there's a tablet out there to suit you. But with an ever-increasing array of slates crowding the market, narrowing down the list can be a chore. So we've sorted through the pile and picked out some of our favorites for both power users and media consumers. Our complete buyer's guide is always just a few clicks away, but feel free to cruise through the gallery below for a quick rundown of the best tablets you can buy today.%Gallery-slideshow208733%