Archive for January, 2013

How CNET tests tablets

Just look at all those wires. Obviously some deep, in-depth testing just happened.

(Credit: Xiomara Blanco/CNET)

Much thought goes into evaluating the quality of a given tablet here at CNET. From the way it feels in your hands, to the speed in which you can access your favorite Web site, to the framerates you can expect when playing games, in the end, all the pieces matter. And while it's difficult to empirically evaluate the feel of a tablet, gauging its performance is a different story altogether.

What follows is our current tablet testing procedure, which consists of a battery life test, and display performance evaluations, plus a few anecdotal speed tests. Expect these tests to continually change and evolve as we're currently looking at a few other benchmarks like 3DMark to add to our benchmarking methodology. 3DMark will be compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows RT, making it a very exciting prospect for evaluating 3D games performance. Look for an update whenever the new benchmark gets released.

Anecdotal evaluation
We evaluate each tablet's build quality, taking into account many attributes. These include, but aren't limited to, the following: its weight, how durable it feels, and whether it's too malleable. Does it feel overly plastic-y or does its metal backside weigh it down too much? We also launch plenty of apps to get a feeling for how fast the tablet is at performing obviously important tasks. We give the Web a spin through the tablet's native browser, taking into account how fast our favorite sites load.

(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET) One of our favorite anecdotal tests also is one of the most useful. Riptide GP is a polygonal watercraft game that's ideal for testing tablet GPU performance. Not only does the its performance scales, but also depending on the speed of the tablet's processor, the game's frame rate will be noticeably smoother or choppier. On the Android and iOS versions of the game, the resolution is also scalable to the tablet screen's native size. Unfortunately, there's no framerate counter built into the game, so its smoothness and clarity must be determined subjectively.

Contrast ratio and brightness
We test the maximum brightness, default brightness, and contrast ratio for each tablet. We conduct these tests using the Minolta CA-210 display color analyzer.

(Credit: Eric Franklin/CNET) We use a completely white screen to test the brightness and a completely black screen to test the black level. With each screen at full luminosity, we place the sensor in the middle of the screen to gather a reading. We then divide the maximum brightness by the maximum black level to get the contrast ratio.

Battery life
We evaluate battery life by continually running a movie file on the tablet until its battery dies. We set each tablet to Airplane mode and adjust its respective brightnesses to 150 candelas per square meter (cd/M2) or as close to that number as possible.

For iPads, we run the iPad version of "Toy Story 3." On Android tablets, we run a 720p version of "Toy Story 3." The reason we chose 720p for Android was that not every tablet can run 1080p video just yet, and we wanted to make sure we tested all Android tablets under the same methodology. Look for this to change soon as more and more 1080p-capable tablets get released. For Windows RT tablets we run a 720p version of "Toy Story 3" as well.

(Credit: Eric Franklin/CNET) On the iPads, we run the movie through an app simple called Video app; for Android, we used the movie player apps mVideoPlayer or DicePlayer, as they provide a much-needed repeat video function that not all native Android movie players include. Also, thanks to its repeat function, we use the app Multimedia 8 on Windows RT tablets.

We're currently unable to sideload apps onto the Nook HD or HD+. As such, Nook tablets cannot currently use video player apps with repeat functions. Instead we use the Nooks' native video player and run the HD version of "The Avengers", restarting the movie each time it gets close to the end. We do this until each tablet's battery dies.

As I said before, look for tablet testing to continually evolve over the next few months.

Nook vs Kindle
Nook vs Kindle . Info
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4.2 5.0
9 9 Let me start out my review of the kindle 4 by saying I own the Kindle 3 keyboard as well as the nook 1st gen and the nook color (more on those later). I gave there kindle 4, 4 o

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Archos 70 Titanium

The 70 Titanium is the smallest in the Archos Elements series of tablet.

(Credit: CNET)

Archos will release a 7-inch model as part of its Element series of tablets, called the 70 Titanium. The tablet is available for sale now and will ship in February for $119. Its pricing suggests it is set to compete with other already competitively priced 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD.

The Archos 70 Titanium runs Android 4.1, has a 1,024x600-pixel-resolution IPS display, and 8GB of internal storage with a microSD slot. It also houses a 1.6GHz dual-core CPU, a quad-core GPU, and 1GB of RAM. Other features include a front camera and Mini-HDMI and Micro-USB ports.

With 7-inch tablets consistently raising the bar on what it means to have a high-definition screen -- like the Barnes Noble Nook HD sporting a 1,440x900-pixel resolution -- the Archos 70 Titanium's doesn't impress with its 1,024x600-pixel-resolution screen. The upside is that the tablet costs less than most competitors at $119.

Check back to CNET once the Archos 70 Titanium is released for a full review.

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Tablet computers with the best screens

Barnes Noble Nook HD

Cnet rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The good: The Nook HD has a light, comfortable design with a sharp screen and a well-implemented user profiles feature. Books, videos and magazines look great and the microSD slot takes some of the sting out of the lack of internal storage.

The bad: App, movie, TV show and game options are thin, and there's no native music service. It's missing some typical tablet features and 8 GB is low for $199. Fingerprints easily sully the screen.

The cost: $199

The bottom line: The Barnes Noble Nook HD can't match competing tablets in media library breadth, but as long as you're not looking for bells and whistles, its sharp screen and comfortable body make it an ideal tablet choice for books and magazines.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: The Transformer Pad Infinity TF700's high-resolution screen rivals the new iPad's display in sharpness and clarity. Also, apps launch quickly, GPS works well, and its rear camera is the best we've seen on any Android tablet. The tablet's body has the same great thin and light design as the Prime.

The bad: Not enough Android apps take advantage of the TF700's higher pixel count. Also, its battery life isn't as good as the Prime's.

The cost: $480 to $590

The bottom line: The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 is one of the fastest Android tablets out there, combining an already proven design with a better camera, a faster processor and a beautiful screen.

Google Nexus 10

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: The Nexus 10 has a beautifully sharp screen. It's light, durable and has the fastest processor of any Android tablet. Photo Sphere is an incredibly cool concept. Google's content offerings are only getting better.

The bad: The included charger isn't fast enough to power the battery while playing a game; even while idle, it charges painfully slowly. There's no storage expansion option, and apps that take full advantage of the screen are few and far between. Navigation isn't quite as smooth as on the Nexus 7.

The cost: $399

The bottom line: The Nexus 10's superior design and swift performance make it one of the best Android tablets to date. We expect updates from Google to make it even better.

Apple iPad (Gen. 4)

Cnet rating: : 4.5 stars out of 5

The good: The newest iPad's faster A6X processor adds extra system speed and graphics power. Improved worldwide cellular compatibility makes the LTE model a more appealing proposition. And the iOS App Store remains best in class, with the widest selection.

The bad: The fourth-generation iPad is otherwise identical to its recent predecessor - same size, weight and Retina Display screen. It's heavy to hold in one hand, and most older accessories won't work without investing in a pricey Lightning adapter.

The cost: $499 to $540

The bottom line: The latest iPad adds several tweaks and improvements to secure its position at the top of the tablet heap. It's better all around, but owners of third-generation iPads don't need to upgrade.

The following Cnet staff members contributed to this report: senior editors Eric Franklin, Scott Stein and Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit

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Rugged Polaroid tablet for kids available today

Last Friday we explained to you how the rugged Polaroid tablet for kids would be on show during CES 2013, and that we would offer you a hands-on video once one became available. Well we have that video for you below, and you’ll also be happy to know that the Polaroid Kids Tablet is already available to purchase from their online store.

Rugged Polaroid tablet for kids available today

We already told you about some of the main features of this new tablet, but being able to see video footage rather than images really makes you understand why such a tablet is so important. Having an iPad, my face is always filled with fear every time a child goes near it, but there will be no such worries with Polaroid’s child friendly tablet as it can withstand a drop from waste height with no fear of damage to the tablet, or your bank account.

Okay, so we know that this device is not going to blow your mind when it comes to specs or screen quality, but it’s not about that because young children do not care about things like that, they just love to play games while learning at the same time. While we’re all for kids having fun, one of the features we like the most is what comes preloaded onto the tablet, which is Dr. Seuss books and Smithsonian kids books, along with Nook as well.

As we said above the device is now available and the Polaroid tablet for kids price is $149.99, which is not that expensive when you take into consideration the educational value. We also love how parents can stay in control of what the child can view on the custom web browser thanks to parental controls, which offers a safe mode allowing you peace of mind.

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