WARNING: Severe, probably slightly boring, geeky tech talk ahead..
Most people who know me, know I do love a bit of technology. Recently, since getting my beloved Samsung Galaxy Note 2 stolen, I have had a bit of journey with the phablet market and thought I’d cover my thoughts on recent purchases here.
FYI, a phablet is a phone-tablet hybrid – my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was one, and since using it there was no way I could go back to a regular smartphone. I realised I needed/liked something I can actually compose emails properly on, perhaps even work on if needs be. A productivity capable machine, and thus a tiny 4″ screen just doesn’t cut it for me, anymore!
I bought this as a temp product to tide me over until I bought my ‘proper phone’ (all the major phone releases weren’t being announced till a month later, so needed something to use until they were – the timing of my robbery was terrible! Haha). At £179, I consider this incredibly budget for what it is – but it was good!
Yes it’s basically just a 7″ tablet with phone capabilities, and bulky like one too, but being my first time with an ASUS product, I really enjoyed their intuitive interface.
It was basic, but efficient. You could edit notes, images, screenshots, etc., so easily with the handwriting/drawing function (just like with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but minus the S Pen), compile easy To-Do lists, browse the net (and very comfortably due to its larger screen size!), and actually write proper emails with the ability to format them accordingly. However the thing that really stood out for me over the Samsung equivalent was the ‘floating apps’. Samsung has split screen, but I’d take a floating app anyday. A floating app means I have access to my main apps such a Calculator, Browser, Notepad, To-Do, Dictionary, etc, on any screen I’m viewing ready to pop up as a smaller second screen instantly – and you can control the size of the second screen, and also where abouts on the main screen it will pop up. I found this much more practical than the Samsung split screen function.
Sadly, the thing that let the ASUS Fonepad down were the budget, unnecessarily old specs, and ‘old tablet’ style, bulky design (such as the inch thick bezel all the way around – such a waste of space!). I honestly think with a few design tweaks, a better processor – a hefty spec upgrade in general, actually – and this phablet could be a huge contender for the market leaders. I would have happily paid triple if the specs and design was better – and obviously would have invested in a headset, too (walking around with a tablet against your ear will probably always look odd!)!
SONY XPERIA Z ULTRA
So this is what I decided would be my real phone replacement, a monster 6.5″ super slim phablet. It is definitely a thing of beauty, and now after the learning curve of using it, I really like it. Viewing media on this is a dream! With a good pair of headphones plugged in, you get an amazing cinematic experience. The Triluminous display (coupled with Sony’s own Xreality engine for enhanced media consumption) makes everything jump out from the screen, and the Snapdragonn 800 quad core processor gives super fast performance.
However, it has a terrible camera with NO FLASH. And the really atrocious calendar app is a big bugbear of mine (you can’t really colour code, organise or customise it – the Samsung calendar is by far the most superior of all three phablets). But despite these quite major flaws, I love it. Typing on it is the most comfortable typing experience I have ever had on any phone/tablet/phablet. It’s so slick! It does everything, effortlessly. And just like ASUS had the much loved floating apps, Sony have their own ‘small apps’, which to my delight is exactly the same thing!! You can also edit screenshots with handwritten edits in the drawing function, but I hasten to add not quite as easily as with the ASUS and Samsung, but you can do it. Also, whilst there may not be a stylus, any pencil will work just as well in its place!
My old Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Am I happy with my decision? Before purchasing my Sony Xperia Z Ultra, I was really torn between it or ‘upgrading’ to a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Technically, the Note 3 has slightly better specs (3 GB RAM to the Sony’s 2GB, much better camera, an S pen, etc), but the screen size was only increased oh so slightly from the Note 2, and that really played a big part in my decision making (phablet manufacturers, take note). Had it had the bigger screen and same specs, I would have hands down chosen the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. But it didn’t, and whilst the Sony has its faults, it suits my large screen but compact phablet needs pretty much perfectly, and is a pleasure to use. I just wish it had a better camera.
DISCLAIMER: Contains a monetised link, although all items featured have been bought by myself.