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Buy or Boo -- Tablet Edition August 2014

Updated on August 5, 2014

A Tablet Conundrum

It took me all of five years to finally throw my hat in the tablet game. I'm a hardcore user and so I stuck with my trusty laptop through thick and thin. And then I bought a phablet (big smartphone) specifically so I wouldn't have to buy a tablet and thus I wouldn't have to spend anywhere from $100 to $500 for a bigger screened smartphone.

As much as I'm a personal finance person, I'm also a big admirer of tech and gadgets. And I did not expect to have as much trouble as I did finding the right tablet for me. So I want to share what I've learned, what you should do, and how much everything costs right now.

The One Pound Gorilla - Ipad Air

The latest and greatest Ipad is the Ipad Air. For the sake of this article, the Ipad Air, and the Ipad Mini Retina are interchangeable (you can decide whether the extra screen real estate is worth $100).

Here's the deal:

$499 w/ $50 Target Gift Card

As a deal, it ranks just OK. With the chances of an updated Ipad around the corner in September or October, how is it that people are expected to basically pay full price for an Ipad Air? I've seen discounted models on Ebay and refurbished models but unfortunately you're still looking at a +-$20 difference so if you're thinking Ipad Air, you may want to wait until next month.

But will you be happy with it

Oh yeah, the Ipad Air is still the gold standard for tablets. It's got a great screen, unmatched app store, light and slim body shape, awesome battery life, and as it's biggest negative, the price tag to go with it. If you're in the Apple ecosystem it's tough to recommend anything other than an Ipad, but if you're on the fence, continue reading and you'll be able to pick a good Android or Windows option.

Boo - Wait until Black Friday

The Surprise Option - LG G Pad 8.3

LG is still working their ways into the hearts and minds of US consumers, but after establishing themselves with decent TVs and the LG G3 smartphone, it's time to take a closer look at their flagship tablet.

Here's the deal

$225 at Expansys or Free with a 2 year contract on certain Verizon FIOS plans

If you're new to tablets and you don't need the fastest tech, then you should take a long look at the deals above. $225 is still a good chunk of change, but you get a nice 8.3 inch screen which makes it easy for travel and yet still a significant improvement over a typical 4-5 inch smartphone screen. The Verizon FIOS deal is especially compelling since you'll be able to get a 4G capable tablet as long as you have a Verizon Wireless deal to go with it. So if you were planning on surfing the internet on your tablet outside the home anyway, then this is a good deal.

But will you be happy with it

Well, maybe, ummm... I have my hesitations. You're getting mid-level performance for a mid-level price and for most people, that's good enough. If it's your first tablet, you'll probably be satisfied with the occasional stuttering when you try to do too many things at once, or the semi-smooth gaming framerates. If you're coming from an Android device and you already have apps that you're invested in, then that'll be a big plus too. The fact of the matter is, the G Pad is not the best Android option out there, it just happens to be the best deal right now.

Buy - If you were going to sign up for Verizon FIOS anyway

You're An Amazon Kind of Guy - Kindle Fire HDX

Yes, the first few generations of Amazon tablets were no good, so why is the Kindle Fire worth your time now? Well, first of all, it's at all-time lows in pricing and it's got very good if not great hardware. But it also still has the same nagging issues and limitations that drive power users crazy.

Here's the deal:

$299 for the 8.9 inch HDX on Amazon

$149 for the 7 inch HDX on Newegg

Both of these price points are all time lows for Amazon, and truthfully they set off some warning bells in my head. Is there a new version around the corner? But then you realize that Amazon isn't Apple. In truth, the hardware within these HDX tablets is 90% of what you'll get in a more cutting edge tablet right now, so even if a new tablet was coming out, why pay for that extra 10%? Both of these price points are tax free, and include free shipping so it is very tempting to grab one of these.

But will you be happy with it?

Yes, if you already consume Amazon and spend an inordinate time reading Kindle titles or shopping on Amazon. Or if you are not just new to tablets but you're also new to electronics for the most part, then you'll love the Mayday live customer service that's available.

For the other 90% in the room, I just don't think this will work for you. It's fast, it's smooth, it's slim enough with a great screen. But the app store is seriously lacking, and you have to be very comfortable with sacrificing those app experiences to want to get an HDX.

Boo - Unless you are already buying and consuming a lot of Amazon media and the lack of apps won't bother you.

Can't Write About Tech Without Samsung - Galaxy Note 10

Samsung is the everyman of technology, and they have products for every man, not that all of them are very good or even good. But among their many iterations the 2014 Galaxy Note is competitive for a few different reasons and very much worth a closer look.

Here's the deal

$300 with free shipping for a refurbished model on Ebay

So if you are willing to take a chance on a refurbished model, then you have to ask yourself if this is worth $75 more than the G Pad 8.3. MOST DEFINITELY. Now, you can also get this new for $350 but the deal is not as compelling. For a current year flagship 10 inch tablet, the $300 is much more enticing than the equally priced 8.9 inch HDX.

But will you be happy with it?

Yes, it's not an Ipad but I bet you'll find that owners of the 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1 would take their tablet over an Ipad any day. You get serious power with the Exynos process, 3 GB of Ram, and a stylus (more importantly the tablet is designed with apps to maximize your use of the tablet). It's got everything you would want in an Android tablet, unless you hate Samsung, and it's good enough to recommend to pretty much anyone.

Buy - Tough to beat in terms of value and it's a very good device


Which is the best value this month?

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About DealForALiving

I believe that being frugal and making smart money choices is like any other exercise. As we continue to practice good habits in saving money where possible, finding deals for what we want, and having a good time at it, then we become better at dealing for a living.

I'm committed to sharing my experiences with getting the most out of using credit cards, saving and spending tips, and I might even add a slice of perspective without trying to be a psychoanalyst like some other personal finance folks out there.

Please let me know what you think and if you'd like to hear my take on a specific topic.

Most Sincerely,



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