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Featured: Top 5 — 7″ Android tablets

January 31, 2012 - Written By Randy Arrowood

I bought a 7″ Acer Iconia A100 as an inexpensive hold-me-over device while I waited for the coming wave of new, Ice Cream Sandwich powered 10″ Android tablets that would be introduced in 2012. The problem for me? I fell in love with the size.

Now, instead of looking out for a new 10″ tablet to replace my iPad and Acer A100, I’ll be looking for something in the 7″ to 8″ range. While Mobile World Congress will likely bring some additional tablet announcements, here’s my top 5 list of the newly announced devices.

5. Viewsonic ViewPad E70 7″ – Viewsonic isn’t exactly known for building must have Android tablets, and the ViewPad E70 isn’t going to do a lot to change that. This little guy is aimed squarely at the budget tablet market and it’s $169 price tag should make it appealing.

It’s spec’s are less than impressive by today’s standards, but it is going to ship with ICS so it’s not one to ignore. Funnily, the Viewsonic reps that spoke with the Verge seemed to embrace the fact that this tablet is a bit underpowered and slow. Another reason why it comes in at the bottom of my list.

  • 1GHz processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4GB Storage
  • 7″, 800 x 600 display
  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0
  • $169

4. ZTE Optik 7″Here’s another budget minded 7″ tablet, but you wouldn’t know it looking at the price. The Optik is headed to Sprint next month at the low, low price of $99 on a two year contract, but a head scratching $349 off contract.

I do like the 4,000mAh battery that this tablet will ship with, but other than that is wholly unimpressive. ZTE is another OEM that isn’t known for it’s stellar image quality, and they chose to continue their past lack of success by only putting a 5MP camera in a larger 7″ device.

I do like the looks of the tablet, but committing to a 2 year agreement on the slowest 3G network with horrible coverage just doesn’t appeal to me. And at $349 off contract, you’re a lot better off looking a little further up the list if a 7″ tablet appeals to you.

  • 1.2GHz dual-core processor
  • 7″, 1280×800 display
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 5MP rear / 2MP front camera
  • 4000mAh battery
  • Android Honeycomb 3.2
  • $99 (2 year Contract)/$349 (Off Contract)

3. Motorola Xyboard 8.2″ – Having spent well over an hour playing with the Droid Xyboard 8.2 at my local VZW store, I would love to love this tablet. I’m just not sure that I can. The tablet felt great in my hand, and the display was beautiful and responsive. There was a lot to like about it.

I get that the Droid Xyboard name was chosen by Big Red, but why in the hell Moto couldn’t call it the Xoom 2 in the USA like they are in the rest of the world is well beyond me. The 5MP camera is less than impressive and the battery is smaller than those in other tablets that are smaller in size.

My VZW bill is already sky high, so having the WiFi only model available now is a gigantic plus. At a starting price of $400 it’s pretty clear that the failure of the Xoom 1 isn’t fully understood by Motorola. I think this model of the Xoom will be a better seller, but Moto will need to go back to the drawing board and hope that their next tablet will be their first big hit.

  • 1.2 GHz dual core1GB Ram
  • 16GB Storage ($399 version)
  • 8.2″, 1280×720
  • 5MP rear / 2MP front camera
  • 3,900 mAh battery
  • Android Honeycomb 3.2
  • $399 (16GB)/$499 (32GB)

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7″ – This tablet could have easily earned the top spot on my list of 5, but a WiFi only version isn’t available and hasn’t even been announced yet. The gimped up camera and Honeycomb OS choice would have been enough to have dropped this tablet out of the top spot, but my #1 choice is a real zinger.

I’m liking the potential 10 hour battery life out of a tablet in the 7″ range, but the 3MP camera isn’t going to do anything to help Samsung’s reputation in image quality.

VZW is going to get this tablet, and if the rumored $599 off contract price holds up this is a flop waiting to happen. Given what Verizon has done with subsidies in the past, that would likely put this device at $399 with a 2 year contract. Way too rich for my blood, and I’m guessing way to rich for most.

  • 1.4GHz dual core
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB Storage
  • 7.7″, 1280×800 Super AMOLED Plus display
  • 32GB MicroSD card support
  • 3MP Rear / 2MP Front camera
  • 5,100mAh battery
  • Android Honeycomb 3.2
  • Rumored $399 (2 year)/$599 (Off Contract)

1. ASUS Eee Pad MeMO 370T  – THIS! I counted out $249 and set aside as soon as I saw news of this tablet from CES. Quad core Tegra 3, 7″ and ICS. All for under $250.

The original ASUS Transformer, and now the Transformer Prime have lead the way in 10″ tablets, and ASUS is poised to own the tweener tablet market with the MeMO 370T. I’m hoping that this device is released as the Transformer 7″, Transformer Jr or even the Transformer Infant. Whatever they choose to call it, this is the 7″ tablet that all other 7″ tablets will be compared to.

  • Tegra 3 quad-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB Storage
  • 7 inch 1280—800
  • 5MP Rear / 1.2MP Front camera
  • 4400 mAh battery
  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0
  • $249
Honorable Mention – Rumored Google Nexus Tablet. There’s nothing to say about this tablet because it’s nowhere near announced, and all we have to support it’s existence is a very vague statement by Eric Schmidt that it might be coming. It may be a 10″ tablet to compete with the iPad, or it may be a 7″ tablet to try to fend off the Amazon Kindle Fire. Either way, it will be a head turner.
The really surprising thing to me about this list of mostly unreleased tablets is that only two will ship with ICS out of the box, and that’s my #1 choice of the ASUS Eee Pad MeMO 370T and surprisingly #5 Viewsonic ViewPad.The fact that Viewsonic can put out a new tablet with ICS should send a signal to companies like Samsung and Motorola. Samsung is the top Android OEM and Motorola is damn near owned by Google. To still be shipping new devices with Honeycomb, while a lesser company like Viewsonic is shipping ICS is an embarrassment.

Did I miss one? Is there a device that you would have ranked higher? Leave a comment here, send me your comment on Twitter or message me on Google+ and let me know what you think.