Vodafone Smart Tab 4G review

Android tablets come in all shapes and sizes and at all price points. When deciding which one to choose, the models available can cause confusion and because of the minor variations between each, price starts to play an important factor.

In response to this, Vodafone has released the Smart Tab 4G which boasts an 8" IPS WXGA (1280 x 800 pixels) display, Rear 5MP, Front Facing: 2MP cameras, Android KK 4.4, 1GB RAM /8GB ROM, microSD support up to 64GB and a decently sized 4060 mAh battery. The specifications are somewhat mid-range and the amount of RAM may be troubling to some power users, but the PAYG price of only £125 is interesting to say the least. You can buy the tablet on a monthly plan with prices staring at just £9 for the tablet, but it seems to me that the outright cost offers the most for your money.

The box the tablet is packaged within is highly unusual. At barely an inch high, it does not feel like a tablet at all, but it is nice to see a different take on what is usually a mundane part of the product.  Picking the tablet up revealed another surprised which is a well-built device that feels completely solid throughout; no creaks, no rattles and a sense that quality materials have been used throughout. The buttons are logically placed and nothing moves at all apart from the slots for the SIM and microSD cards. It is all obviously designed, but there is a feeling of a device that should cost much more than the asking price.

Turning it on revealed a slightly different level of completeness because the screen is acceptable rather than overwhelming. It works well for general usage, but if you are going to be working on zooming deeply into images, you may notice the pixels a little too much. Then again, if that's the work you want to do on a tablet you should be looking at a higher range anyway. What I did notice, however, was that there was no lagging or artefacts on display when playing games and scrolling through web pages so the performance side is good. Indeed, the overall performance is impressive with zero lag when browsing and the ability to open app after app without issue.

Performance is comparable to an iPad mini 2 when I used them side by side and it doesn't take a lot of research to compare the pricing of the two and to realise that this is more than should reasonably be expected.

The inclusion of two 5MP cameras is generous and a couple of sample shots are below which highlight what can be captured. As you may know, I am not a fan of taking photos with a tablet and put little time into trying to hold such a large device to capture a photo, but it seems as though millions of people disagree. And because of that tablet manufacturers are making real efforts in this area. Overall, the cameras are, once again, but than should be expected for the price, but they will not replace a standalone camera or most high-end phones.

As I played with the Smart Tab over the period of a week, it started to grow on me and I could quite easily compare it to my favourite Android phone, the Moto G. It is inexpensive, very well built and the design is considered. Battery performance is slightly above average and it does everything it needs to without causing any stress at all.

There is little attempt to build a product that stands out from the crowd, but care has obviously been put into creating something that is financially accessible to the majority and which will also fulfil their needs completely.

It would be easy for a geek like me to look down upon a budget tablet, but with time came the realisation that this is a decent product in all of the most important areas, and to top it all the price is fantastic.


Product: Vodafone Smart Tab 4G

More info / where to buy: Vodafone

Price: £125

Description: Watch movies and catch-up TV. Play games and listen to music wherever you go with the Smart Tab 4 4G. Check your email and social media, and choose from thousands of apps available from Google Play. A quad-core processor and 8GB memory (up to 64GB with expandable micro SD slot) means it's fast and powerful, with plenty of storage. So you can be sure there's always something on the Smart Tab 4 4G to keep everyone happy.

Effectiveness 9.1 / 10

Value for money 9.6 /10

Build Quality 8.9 / 10

Overall 27.6 / 30

Wunderlist Discover

Here is an excellent idea from Wunderlist which lets you add user-created lists to your workflow. I'm surprised this has not been implemented widely in similar solutions.

Since the launch of Public Lists, many of you asked for a central place where everyone could find them. Say hello to Discover, the home of the world’s lists. It’s a place that makes it super easy for others to discover Public Lists and add them to their own Wunderlist. To celebrate the arrival of Discover, we’re giving you, our awesome Public List creators, the chance to win an iPhone 6. You read it right, a brand new bigger than big iPhone 6! How to win Everyone has at least one list that’s worth sharing with the world. Whether it’s something to make, see or do, the simplest way to share...

Switch to Android

Google has put up a useful page for those of you considering the switch from iPhone to Android. The detail is not great, but it covers all of the main areas.

Google+ Photos is a great way to have all your pics - past and future - in one place, with unlimited private storage* and accessible from any internet connected device. There are always lots more choices on Google Play to find the photo app that works perfectly for you.

The lack of dedicated inputs

I do know that with my still-in-bed, internet catch up this morning, I grabbed my iPad to do "Draw Something", switched over to Facebook, then sighed and grabbed the MacBook Air when I saw a link I wanted to copy and repost as a comment. I still think the label as pure consumption machine is misguided, but they ain't great typers / copy-paste-ers, and the type of creation they facilitate is stuff that leverages the screen.
Besides the competition with laptops, their competition with traditional console and handhelds game systems is huge. In both cases, it's the lack of dedicated inputs that might be the Achilles Heel; touch screens open up new worlds of interaction but leave certain traditional but effecting things behind, and the app store was a wonder that the other systems try to emulate. (Plus consoles have kind of levelled off in terms of what they can do, I think it's so odd that I hear casual buyers more interested in their potential as media centres, when much cheaper devices do that streaming too... like how the included DVD player was a big mover for PS2). Kirk.

Some logical thoughts from Kirk regarding tablet usage.

A fad I tell you!

Apple's at odds with itself, though. On one end, it's trying to push people up to the iPad Air 2, and on the other, it's trying to compete with low cost Android tablets. This plan leaves nerdy consumers in the middle; people who would happily have upgraded to a new iPad mini now won't, making the update cycle problem worse.
While the iPad Air 2 looks like a great upgrade from the iPad 3 or 4, upgrading is not tempting, speaking as iPad Air owner. With TouchID being the only feature separating the iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3, I don't see why any iPad mini 2 owners would upgrade this year, either... More at 512 Pixels.

I still maintain that tablets will not be commonplace within 5 years, but nobody agrees. Just maybe the recent trend is starting to back this up.

All of your music for $5 / month

If the jungle drums are to believed, Apple is about to go bargain basement with its Beats streaming service and drop the price (in the US at least) to $5 a month - undercutting every other music service out there.
It's so unlike Apple to compete on price that it's worth reviewing what potential benefits Apple could realise from such a land grab... More at Random Dumber Generator.

There is something about the current £9.99 / month music offerings that feels too expensive to me. I would pay that for Netflix, but not for music. However, £5 / month and I am all in.

iOS sharing to one email address?

I have a question which is not exactly important and which I believe is not currently possible. I often send web links to my email address to catch up on later, usually links that I will use on Lost In Mobile, but would like to avoid having to input my email address every single time. I do use a shortcut which helps a little, but it would be nice to find a sharing mechanism that allows me to simply click an icon in the sharing feature and have it send automatically.

I have tried Pinboard and various other services, but it is only in email that I am alerted to what I have sent to myself. I always forget about the other services I use. So, it what I want possible?

Not holding my breath for Apple Pay

Apple Pay has of course been launched in the US and this makes sense given the crazy payment situation over there. I remember well swiping my credit card this time last year and the bewilderment at not having to type in a PIN number. Nothing at all, just swipe the card and walk off. Anyone's card, it doesn't matter. So, a US launch makes sense.

My reason for doubting a quick European release is not because of payment methods, however, but because of iTunes Radio. It has been more than a year since the original launch and still nothing in so many countries? It could be down to licensing, but it can enhance the sense that Apple is truly an American company to outsiders.

Choose your hardware wisely

If you are thinking of buying an Apple computer, choose your hardware wisely. You won’t be able to upgrade at a later date.2 All of your computer’s repairs will be performed by an Apple Certified Macintosh Technician. Your computer will be either be glued shut, or screwed up tight. None of the hardware will be user serviceable anyway... More at Egg Freckles.

I really do not like that Apple is still selling the original iPad mini, a Mac mini with fixed RAM and 16GB iPhones. These devices lessen the overall experience and appear to be designed to increase the average selling price at the expense of user satisfaction. It just isn't the Apple way.

The Dark Side of App Stores

Again and again, Apple rejects apps not on the basis of malicious activity, but on the basis of pure capital gain.
We are willingly giving Apple and Google full control over our digital lives
The app stores are fun, endless, constantly updating and truly quite amazing. I love discovering new apps every Thursday when the Featured list is updated. The best part about it is the ease with which the app store works in enabling users to discover, purchase and install new apps. Just place your thumb on the screen and it’s already on its way... More at Medium.

Some good points raised in the above article.

Jean-Claude Biver and the smart watch

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SAMC.FR +1.17% said on Friday it is considering teaming with a technology company to launch a smartwatch launch for one of its brands.  
“There are some talks taking place about a partnership,” said Jean-Claude Biver, president of LVMH’s watch division. “Maybe in nine months, we will have a smartwatch.”
Apple Inc.AAPL +1.46%’s recently launched iWatch, which enables mobile payments among other functions, has shaken the traditional watch industry. Even the most elite of watchmakers feel pressure to respond... More at WSJ.

I am very surprised by this potential move because it surely goes against everything the likes of Jean-Claude Biver have worked towards their whole lives. If you don't know who he is, check out the video below.

Don't tell me a Mac is expensive

I own a mid-2011 21" iMac and have done so since November 2011. In that time I have used it almost every day, some days for many hours at a time, and I have restarted it twice outside of OS updates. It is always on and it is always working.

There was a blip with RAM usage which turned out to be the quite awful LogMeIn software which was close to impossible to remove, but now it is gone I am back to using my Mac without any problems every day. That surely is a problem for Apple.

Or is it?

I paid £1,000 for my iMac and could reasonably expect to be using it in 2017 which gives me roughly 6 years of use. That is £166 per year. To be fair I have added 8GB of RAM, a Microsoft mouse and the Apple extended keyboard, but asides from those, that is it.

A friend of mine recently stopped using his MacBook because it had become too slow even for his children to use to browse the internet. He has been more than impressed with the longevity and decided to buy a new MacBook which he intends to get as much use out of.

Oh sorry, my mistake, it was an 'iBook' that he has just replaced. It was used every day for 8 years and despite him not being a power user, that kind of longevity is wonderful. The only purchase during that time was a new battery half way through, and that was it.

My daughter uses an iPhone 3GS every day and it is working fine, my wife's iPhone 4 is working well and she uses it a lot. I am also sure that if I wasn't so obsessed with having the latest iPhone, my 6 would last for a good few years as well.

My point is that there is a lot of criticism levelled at Apple for the cost of new products, but for 95% of people these products represent long term investments which they can use for many years. When I compare the iMac to my recent Windows laptop experience, where HP takes little income on the product and has to fill it with crapware to make a measly profit, the difference is stark. That laptop will likely be unusable in 2 years time and the iMac will almost certainly continue to run as it does today.

This longevity means that I will replace my iMac with a new iMac one day and I will replace my iPhone with a new iPhone, and so on. In the long run I am saving money, doing productive things and Apple is also reaping the rewards. Apple isn't perfect, no company is, but my word the products are built incredibly well.

The new iTunes: first impressions

Initial gripes - Home videos are now separate, but also have a different layout that lags excessively when browsing it.  Home video “List view” is not like the old list view or movie list view.  When you add a home video which is a TV program, you used to select it, tick TV program, and fill in the details (show, series number, etc).  Now you have to set TV program, accept, go to TV programs, reselect it, and then fill in details as the fields don’t exist until TV program type is set.
Not liking the way it’s all going with Apple at the moment, it seems to be a lot of style for the sake of style, and not much consideration to ergonomics and ease of use. 
Abstractly, the changes make sense (why show TV program fields unnecessarily), but they’re not thinking of existing user impact.  It’s like them suddenly shipping macs with a Dvorak keyboard rather than qwerty.
Maybe it’s just me, I’m not convinced by Yosemite either.  Reminds me more of Windows now. Peter.

I rarely disagree with Peter.