Holiday Tablet Report

Fixya Holiday Tablet Report

Microsoft Surface 2

Microsoft Surface 2 Scores

Synopsis:

It's ability to successfully implement the full range of Microsoft Office features into a smaller and more lightweight device is something that should appeal to business professionals on the go, especially when carrying around a laptop is out of the question or too cumbersome to pull off. The Surface 2 is great for work productivity in this regard but still retains enough fun and polish to make it a reasonable purchase for users who want to explore entertainment as well.

The Problems:

App Support - Outside of the essential (and truly well-designed) suite of Microsoft Office that comes pre-packaged with the Surface 2, the Surface 2 struggles with extensive app support that tablets from Apple, Android, and Google are privy to. This is unfortunate because the Surface 2 is really a device that could use a well-rounded offering of applications. However, with a relatively small market share (as well as lukewarm sales figures with the original Surface), the Microsoft Store has had some issues getting companies to develop apps for the device. This leaves users a little out of luck if they're looking for a well-rounded experience.

Speaker Quality - Another common thread with the Surface is that in attempting to bridge the gap between a laptop and a tablet, the upsides of both devices sometimes get left behind and you end up with a murky middle ground that doesn't quite excel in one area. That presents itself with the Surface 2 in its speaker quality, which does very little to make it usable on its own. The speakers are quiet, lack crispness in sound quality, and don't do enough to warrant using them when showing a friend a video or using it to play music in a room with you in it.

Touch Cover keyboard - Again we reach an issue that was bound to crop up when Microsoft was attempting to balance a laptop and tablet into one device. The Touch Cover keyboard, which is the most common and popular option that you can purchase to work with the Surface 2, is difficult to type on and doesn't lend itself to the sturdiness and response of a normal laptop keyboard. This is an issue that hampers the performance of the Surface 2 as a true business option, especially for people who will be typing a lot on the device — the standard keyboard just isn't good enough to keep you happy for an extended period of time.

The Fixes:

App support is an issue with the device that is going to be something that users can't fix on their own outside of purchasing the device and increasing the user base who is buying apps from the Microsoft store; until Microsoft grows their user base it's going to be difficult to convince third-parties to develop their apps for the ecosystem. The speaker quality is another hardware-based issue, which users won't be able to fix on their own. Your best option here is going to be almost exclusively use headphones with the device in order to generate the sound you need when listening to music or consuming media.

If you're having issues with the Touch Cover, upgrading to the Type cover option is going to be the best bet. The Type Cover is a little more expensive than the Touch as of this posting, but the increased reliability you receive when typing as well as the comfort that comes with the Type Cover is well worth the price.

iPad Air

iPad Air Scores

Synopsis:

Like much of what Apple puts out on the market, the iPad Air is a cohesive device that pays a lot of attention to the user experience. Apple always does its best to ensure everything is tightly packaged together for optimal usage right out of the box, and the iPad Air is no different. Reviews for the device have been extremely positive and sales figures have also been strong.

However, there are some issues that have cropped up with the device and caused issues for users. Let's dive into those problems and get you a fix.

The Problems:

Browser crashes - A relatively common issue with mobile Apple devices, especially those using Safari (the browser that comes pre-packaged with the device), is a crashing browser. Fixya users report that opening certain web pages (most likely those that use flash) and opening multiple tabs on the browser can cause the browser to crash and kicks users onto the home page. This issue presents the obvious difficulties for users who are trying to browse the Internet, but also takes away from the sleek experience that Apple prides itself on. Upon rebooting, the browser is typically unable to recover the web pages the user was on, making an extended browsing session frustrating.

Screen Issues - Although the iPad Air screen is beautiful to look at in the aggregate, some users have reported that half of their screen has a yellow tint to it or some faint gray lines that cut across the screen. It doesn't appear to affect every user who owns the device, but this clearly poses an issue for users who paid a premium for the device and want to take advantage of the gorgeous screen. The yellow tint and gray lines do not change your interaction with the device by making it harder to type or touch the screen—it's purely an aesthetic issue, but one that users should pay attention to before purchasing the device.

Keyboard responsiveness - The iPad Air utilizes a screen-based keyboard like nearly every other tablet on the market (Surface 2 notwithstanding), which means that responsiveness and ease of typing can be an issue. Users report that the screen-based keyboard has varying response times that can lead to slight delays when typing and can cause the iPad to not register keystrokes if users are quickly entering characters.

The Fixes:

For crashing browsers, the first step should always to be to go into the settings section and clear your browser history as well as clear your cookies and data. Cookies can cause issues for even the most stable of web browsers, and ensuring that you clear them regularly (especially when the browser is acting up) usually does the trick. Another option is to switch from Safari to a myriad of other available browsers on the app store—although Safari is a decent browser, it does seem to have more issues on the iPad Air than other browsers.

If your iPad is experiencing yellow screen tint, there is a fix you can attempt before calling an Apple representative and asking for a replacement device. Going into settings, turning off sleep mode, and turning your screen brightness onto full overnight before letting the Air's battery life die down has the potential to reduce yellow tint and gray lines, sometimes even removing them completely. If that does not work immediately, use the Air as normal for a week as the screen issues may resolve themselves on their own. If that does not work either, contact Apple and explain your issue.

To reduce the keyboard responsiveness issues, heading into settings and reducing motion via the accessibility option helps to improve the responsiveness of your keyboard. Another option is to type less quickly on the device to help improve your ability to input what you need.

Kindle HDX 8.9 inches

Kindle HDX 8.9 Scores

Synopsis:

The Amazon Kindle HDX is a tablet made for users who utilize Amazon's online store frequently to purchase goods. If you're an Amazon addict, this tablet is made for your needs with seamless integration with the store and convenient one-click purchasing. Amazon Prime members have the added bonus of being able to stream their entertainment content quickly and efficiently onto the tablet, making the experience of watching your favorite TV show or movie a fun and easy one. E-book aficionados also need not fret, as Amazon's digital library is an excellent one for you to utilize with great integration in the device as well.

Furthermore, with customer support provided almost instantaneously via a video chat program called Mayday, Amazon has upped the ante with their tech support and really provided consumers with a great way to ensure they're getting the most bang for their buck from the device.

Although the Kindle HDX has a lot of upside, there are still issues with the device, especially in relation to Android and iOS tablets. Read on for common problems and how to fix them.

The Problems:

Silk Browser - Amazon's pre-installed Silk browser has a variety of issues with it, most notably its choppy performance and tendency to crash when a user is browsing the Internet. Fixya users have reported instances where the browser will lock up when opening a new tab and/or navigating to a new web page, forcing you to quit the browser and head back to home page. Other issues with the browser include slow browsing speeds and web pages loading in spurts with periods of inactivity. Amazon designed the Kindle HDX to sync well with Amazon (as we mentioned before, it does that extremely well), but general web browsing with this device isn't a seamless experience.

App Support - Similar to the Microsoft Surface 2, the app support for the Amazon Kindle HDX is poor when it comes to third-party developers. This is admittedly less of a problem with the Kindle due to the fact that when compared to the Surface 2, the Kindle is more of an entertainment and shopping device while the Surface 2 is attempting to jump into the business market where apps are going to be crucial to the success of its platform. However, if Amazon wants to branch out and expand their tablets to something other than a convenient platform to sell goods off their main website, they're going to have to do a better job of selling third-party developers on bringing their apps over to Amazon marketplace.

Battery - The Kindle HDX has some minor quibbles with battery life, as well as with its ability to charge quickly for users. The fact that the device takes a long time to charge for users is a hindrance for a tablet, especially for one where Amazon wants users to make purchases from as often as possible.

In order to ensure your Silk browser doesn't freeze up on you as often, go into your Application settings and clear all your data for your Silk browser. Similar to the iPad Air, issues with cookies and a large browser history can present issues for users if not cleared regularly. We recommend clearing it once every week or so. Another option is to head to the Silk settings and reset everything to default. This will do the usual trick of clearing all of your browser passwords and bookmarks, so try to clear your data first to avoid the inconvenience of having to add everything back.

The limited app support is an issue that, much like the Microsoft Surface 2, is unable to be fixed besides patiently waiting for third-party developers to migrate over to the device. If apps are a big part of your experience, tablets that run iOS or Android are going to be your best bet.

For battery issues, turn down your browser screen brightness in settings, and ensure that the device automatically goes to sleep after a set period of inactivity (we recommend five minutes). If your tablet is taking too long to charge, make sure that you're using the Amazon cable that is provided with the device and it is plugged into a wall outlet—using a third-party charger or charging the device via your computer will take longer than simply plugging it into an outlet. Other options are to shut down the device when you charge and ensure that the cable you're using to charge snugly fits into the Kindle—if there's a loose connection, your device may lose connection with the charge and go through periods where it doesn't get enough juice to repower the battery.

iPad Mini with retina

iPad Mini Scores

Synopsis:

Besides the size of the screen, users may think that the iPad Mini with retina display is a very similar product to the iPad Air. And for the most part, they'll be correct. The iOS is the same, apps are all a part of the homogenous App Store that Apple has caringly built, and the device contains all of the sleekness people typically associate with Apple products.

Similar to the iPad, the Mini is a solid purchase for users who want to have an entertainment device that can also perform as a business device. Although it arguably falls short of the Surface 2 in this regard, the iPad line of tablets is a solid offering that consistently delivers a mix of functionality that users love. Apple has also transitioned to a 4:3 screen display with the iPad Mini with retina (compared to the 16:9 in most other tablets and the previous iPad Mini), which makes the device easier to read in many use cases and addresses a common user complaint found in our previous reports.

However, the iPad Mini has some issues that are unique to the device itself and differ from issues of the iPad Air. Read on to see the iPad Mini's issues and how to fix them.

The Problems:

Screen issues - Although users have reported the iPad Air having issues with its screen displaying a yellow tint and/or blurred gray lines, the issues with the iPad Mini's screen is different. When flipping between apps or interacting with any part of the screen that causes the displayed image to change to something else, the previous image will still be lightly visible on the screen for a short period of time. Known as "ghosting", this issue presents some significant user experience for users, especially since the selling point of the iPad Mini with a retina display is that the screen is so wonderful to look at. There doesn't appear to be any other downsides outside of aesthetic issues however, meaning that your interactions with the device aren't going to be effected.

Storage Space - Apple devices have good cloud support with iCloud, but some users still want native storage to be as large as possible to store music, apps, and video files like movies and TV shows which are accessed on the go. In this regard, users complain that the storage size for the iPad Mini is too small at its lowest price point (16 GB for the base version). However, it should be noted here that the Mini has similar storage size to the Kindle HDX and iPad Air—the only tablet in this report which has a higher amount of storage is the Microsoft Surface 2, which comes with a microSD card reader that allows you to add additional storage on top of your device.

Browser Crashes - Although the iPad Air and Mini had different types of screen issues, the browser issues for the iPad Mini is identical to its Air counterpart. As we mentioned beforehand: Fixya users report that opening certain web pages (most likely those that use flash) and opening multiple tabs on the browser can cause the browser to crash and will kick users back to the homepage. This issue presents the obvious difficulties for users who are trying to browse the Internet, but also takes away from the sleek experience that Apple prides itself on. Furthermore, upon rebooting, the browser is typically unable to recover the web pages the user was on, making an extended browsing session frustrating.

The Fixes:

In order to solve a screen with "ghosting" issues, users should play with their contrast and screen brightness settings to find a mix that reduces the screen issues as much as possible. Another option is to play with the accessibility settings and see if reducing motion helps to alleviate the problems. If that doesn't work, users have a few other options to pursue—a hard reset of the device will sometimes remove the issues (although they occasionally come back) or users can contact Apple to see if there is a patch in the works or if they can replace the device if the issue is providing a poor user experience.

Storage issues for the iPad Mini are unable to be fixed after purchasing the device—users should make sure they have a good idea of how much storage is right for their needs before purchasing their device and make a decision accordingly.

For browser issues, following the steps we outlined for the iPad Air is ideal: For crashing browsers, the first step should always to be to go into the settings section and clear your browser history as well as clear your cookies and data. Cookies can cause issues for even the most stable of web browsers, and ensuring that you clear them regularly (especially when the browser is acting up) usually does the trick. Another option is to switch from Safari to a myriad of other available browsers on the app store—although Safari is a decent browser, it does seem to have more issues on the iPad Mini than other browsers.

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