We wish you a tablet christmas. Shopping around for a Nexus 7 replacement







By Peter Covino

A&E Editor

All I want for Christmas is a new tablet, so I bought one.

Actually, I had planned on waiting another six months (probably less) for a new tablet purchase, but the Nexus 7 (2013) model unexpectedly died, leaving me only a feebly slow Nexus 7 from 2012 to play with.

I really loved that Nexus 7 too. It was quick, had good resolution and was a pretty good price too, so I really thought I would follow it up with the latest Google tablet, the Nexus 9, even though it had a much heftier price tag ($399 for the 16 GB model). But the reviews have been pretty much mixed, and I really felt burned by the gimmicky sales that the tablet maker HTC was playing with consumers offering, $200 off the tablet, only to offer a small amount of tablets at that price.

HTC is still offering a deal of the day on Tuesdays at its website (there is a different deal each Tuesday), and even though I was at the site early for the Nexus 9 deal, I got nothing but error codes from a site that couldn’t keep up with the volume of customers. And their customer service also proved to be a major letdown.

So after reading and believing the negative leaning reviews, it was time to shop elsewhere and bought a new android tablet competitor, the Lenovo S8-50 tablet.

Slightly smaller than the Nexus 9, but also slightly larger than the Nexus 7, this tablet, introduced to consumers in September, has been a pleasant surprise for $199, $200 less than the overpriced Google 9.

The 8-inch high definition display (1900 x1200 resolution) has a much better picture than the Nexus 7 and offers the same 16 GB storage as the Nexus 9, but it has a microSD slot for expansion, something none of the Nexus models offer.

The two front-facing speakers have a pretty good sound quality, better than the Nexus 7, and better, from what I have read, than the sound offered on the Nexus 9. The sound exceeds anything I  expected, given the past experience with smartphone and tablet  sound quality.

The Lenovo has a  8.0MP rear-facing camera (along with a 1.6MP  high-definition front-facing camera) but I haven’t used either yet, preferring the superior quality of my Nexus 5 cellphone for photos.

The Quad-core Intel Atom processor (with a 1.33GHz processor speed up to 1.86GHZ, 2GB LPDDR3 memory) isn’t the fastest processor out there, but game response has been quite good and movie viewing is quite good as well.

It comes pre-installed with Android 4.4 Kitkat, and eventually, will hopefully, get the newest Android 5.0 version, Lollipop.

I downloaded the Google Launcher (free install) from the Google Play store because I really didn’t like the Lenovo display, which seemed to have abnormally large-sized application icons. I also added Google Now and easily synched everything with my phone so it the display looks just like the Google 7, only it is a Lenovo.

My only negative: the glass surface gets fingerprints easily, much more so than the Nexus. It isn’t a big thing and really is only noticeable when the screen is dark.

You can check out all of the Lenovo tablet models (there are many and there are some discounted specials) at the Lenovo website, Lenovo.com, but I wound up ordering mine online through Best Buy, which had the same $199 discounted price and free shipping. You can also have it shipped right to the store or just order and pick up the same day (if they have one in stock).

I highly advise getting a case for any new tablet. I purchased  my case at Amazon.com  at a really good price of $4.99 plus shipping (FYY Ultra Slim Fit Magnetic Smartcover Folio Case for Lenovo Tab S8-50). Last time I checked, the price was $8.88, but it is still a good deal even at the higher price.

I had been using the Lenovo tablet for about a week, when the anticipated Lollipop upgrade notice arrived on my Nexus 5 phone.

There has been much buzz amongst the android fanboy crowd about the arrival of Lollipop, which is slowly being phased in on some late model android devices, but it is arriving on Google devices first.

This is a big release, not only in what it does, but in sheer size as well. The 500 MB  installation required me to do some navigating to fit it onto the limited storage available on my phone.

And the installation itself took awhile.

Some of the highlights:

The update is supposed to increase battery life. So far, all I can say is maybe. If it has increased it, it hasn’t been that noticeable.

My favorite part of the update is the new multitasking view. You can scroll through pages and applications through a series of multiple cards. It sort of works like an old Rolodex card system, as you flip through literally dozens of websites you have previously looked at.

Part of the battery saving is supposed to come via Ambient Display, a nice,  new feature with Lollipop 5.0. When your phone is on initially, it just shows some of the latest things that happened since you used it last, as well as weather alerts, new voice mails etc. It should give more battery time with the limited display.

Update: Not that I have used up all of the 16 GB internal storage on the tablet yet, the time is probably near, so I went ahead and ordered online the 64 GB microSD. It took a bit of manuvering to get it in place, but it looks like it will really do the job. It shows up as just additional storage under settings and it was only about $22 plus tax. That is a lot of storage for the money in such a tiny package.