Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Top of the tablets revealed

Consumer NZ review of 28 devices highlights best brands for users' different needs.

Apple's iPad Air is considered the best out of the 28 tablet computers tested by Consumer NZ.
Apple's iPad Air is considered the best out of the 28 tablet computers tested by Consumer NZ.

Apple's iPad Air has come out on top of a review of 28 tablet computers by Consumer NZ, which recommends the lighter, smaller, higher-resolution portable computer as the best buy.

Despite its hefty price tag of $1049, the iPad Air - both the roaming-capable 4G and the cheaper WiFi version ($899) - top the list in a comparison with other models such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Microsoft Surface 2.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the tablet computer market was nearing saturation level with most people replacing tablets rather than buying their first one.

"There is a bit more variety but you can see from our scores Apple holds the top position. If you've got Apple products you're unlikely to buy anything other than that."

The tests found Apple was easy to use, lightweight and continually developing applications. It also had good battery life.

"But if you've got some other products like Microsoft or PC it's worth looking at some of the android-based products."

The review said Microsoft's new Surface 2 has "lots to like" including its Windows 8 environment with an ability to open multiple apps beside each other on screen.

Although it had some games and could play movies, the review found Surface 2 was more of a business tablet than an entertainment platform with a lack of apps, including music application Spotify.

Samsung's large phone, the Galaxy Note 3, came in at No5 on the list, scoring an eight out of 10 for design and functionality.

Consumer said the tablet/phone ranked No1 on their best mobile phones review and possibly offered an ideal mix of the two products. Other brands canvassed included Acer, Amazon, Asus, Toshiba and HP.

Technology expert Jithen Singh said the popularity of Apple iPads came down to brand awareness but different tablets were suited to different tasks..

Mr Singh, a senior technical evangelist for Eagle Technology in Wellington, said for business Surface 2 was becoming more popular because it ran traditional Microsoft Windows.

"You can get a snap-on keyboard. And you can use your mouse in it. You can basically use it as a replacement for your desktop PC."

For those who find typing on a tablet difficult, Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 has a digital pen which can be used to write on the screen.

For mums, dads and kids who are using tablets for recreation, iPads and Galaxies won out, he said.

"It's just ease of use. You can give iPads and Samsung Galaxies to kids and they love to use them. It's easy for people to access applications compared to traditional laptops where you have to install software".

Go to www.consumer.org.nz for the full tablet review.

Harry Arden uses his father's tablet three or more times a week. Photo / Christine Cornege
Harry Arden uses his father's tablet three or more times a week. Photo / Christine Cornege

Father's tablet is child's play to Harry

Harry Arden is just 7 but he can already navigate his way round a tablet computer with ease.

The Hamilton schoolboy began using his father Shane's Samsung tablet when the family bought it in September 2012 graduating from his mother Karen's iPhone.

"He just got it. We showed him once and that was it," Mrs Arden said.

Harry, who is interested in nature documentaries and geography, uses the tablet to Google information such as the height of New York's Statue of Liberty, or the length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

The Year 4 pupil at Horsham Downs School also plays Minecraft. "He loves it. So we have to monitor his use of it because otherwise he'd sit all day on Minecraft," Mrs Arden said.

Harry must finish his homework before he's allowed on the tablet and is permitted only an hour at a time, three or four days a week.

- NZ Herald

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