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Special Feature: A Look Ahead at Android Tablets in 2014

January 1, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

2013 has been a pretty good year for Android tablets, we’re still struggling on the apps front but, the hardware got a lot better and we showed the folks at Cupertino that manufacturers like ASUS and Samsung can out do the iPad. Last year, we had tablets like the Lenovo Yoga duo showing us that more can be done with the general design of the slate. As this year comes to a close though, it’s time to look ahead to 2014 and what we should expect from Android tablets in the next 12 months. We’ve already heard so much – as we often do this time of year – but there are few things that you don’t need a crystal ball to see happening in 2014. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for Android tablets in 2014 and who we think will shape the next year when it comes to slates running our favorite Mobile OS.

Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Devices Note, S4, Glaxy Gear, Tablet, Note 10.1, Galaxy Zoom

Let’s face it, Samsung are pretty much ruling the roost when it comes to Android, whether you like it or not. Where they’re not doing so overwhelmingly well however is in the Tablet department. 2014 already looks set to change all that, or at least, it’s going to see Samsung having a good go at things. We’ve been hearing whispers of Samsung releasing four or more Android tablets in the first half of 2014 alone. That we don’t doubt, Samsung’s strategy, for a long time now, has been to cater to everyone and every price point.

What we’re more interested in however, are these whispers of a Galaxy Tab Pro and Galaxy Note Pro, which according to rumor will feature 12.2-inch displays. That alone doesn’t sound very “pro” but, love or hate TouchWiz it offers a whole lot more on top of Stock Android. If Samsung can someone tweak and tame TouchWiz to make use of the extra screen space and the S-Pen, other manufacturers might be in trouble. The S-Pen has already proven itself to be a successful asset of Samsung’s in tablets and we’re sure that they’re going to keep pushing things in 2014.

Samsung was almost asleep in 2013 when it comes to tablets, aside from the Galaxy Note 8.0 and Note 10.1 – 2014 Edition. In the next 12 months however, we expect Samsung to really up the ante with their tablet offerings, if not to beat out Apple but quash the uprising of low-cost tablets such as the Nexus 7.

More Nexus Tablets

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In 2012, Google changed the Android tablet game by offering something brilliant at an incredibly affordable price. Last year, they upped the price but still kept its great value for money alive, offering a 1920 x 1200 7-inch display in a refined casing with much improved performance. We’re only going to go through all of that again this year, at least for the Nexus 7, anyway. Not only is the Nexus 7 affordable enough to release a model every year but, Google have had their hand forced by the likes of Amazon and Apple. Both of whom release new tablet offerings every year and you know what they say; if you want to compete, you need to keep up with that same competition. We’re pretty sure that the next Nexus 7 won’t be a revolutionary jump, especially if it wants to keep that great value for money but, it’s still going to be something to look forward to.

What we’re all more interested in seeing however, is another Nexus 10 after the deafening silence its absence left last year. The lack of a new Nexus 10 was less to do with the fact that the Android community wanted “MOAR” but more to do with a lack of confidence in 10-inch Android tablets from Google themselves. After all, why should anyone else try that hard if Google can’t be bothered themselves? We’re sure they had their reasons but, as excellent as the Nexus 7 is for watching YouTube and reading magazines is, Google need to up the ante with 10-inchers if they want Android tablets to be taken seriously as a whole.

Lenovo

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2013 saw the arrival of two pretty great Android tablets from Lenovo in the form of the Yoga 8 and 10. Certainly, their innards weren’t anywhere near as inspiring as we’d have liked but, they finally offered us something different in the tablet arena. In fact, Lenovo have been offering decent, if not a little shakey, tablet experiences for some time now. 2014 is likely to see Lenovo release more of the same and hopefully enter the mainstream market once and for all. Little is known about what they’re up to but, if the Yogas are anything to go by, we should expect good things from them in 2014.

Attack of the Hybrids

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Love it or hate it, Windows 8 is coming to Android tablets, and vice versa. The fact is that Android tablets are much more fun to consume content on, such as movies and games (ironic considering Microsoft have that whole “Xbox” thing) but, similarly Android tablets are pretty poor for getting anything done. So, this give manufacturers a whole new product to sell: hybrids. Devices that run both Android and Windows 8.1 on the same device, making it easy to “get your Office on” while you flick between Angry Birds on Android and other such apps. Honestly, it’s not an awful idea but, it doesn’t say much for Windows if manufacturers are having to bring Android a long for the ride to deliver enticing experiences. These things will no doubt be everywhere come CES 2014, so keep an eye for tablets that promise to “do everything”.

ASUS

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Speaking of Hybrids, ASUS is going to be leading pack with these devices in 2014. They’ve shown that they can produce devices that straddle laptop and tablet, with their successful Transformer line of Android tablets. Now, it looks like they’re going to kick off CES 2014 announcing tablets that run both Green and Blue operating systems of the day. Which means Android tablets that can run Windows and vice versa. Ironically for both Google and Microsoft, such tablets could become the best Android and Windows tablets on the market, thanks to long-lasting and powerful Haswell chips from Intel and a massive app selection from Android and Windows combined. ASUS aren’t known for doing things in half measures, so it’ll be certainly exciting to see what they get up to in 2014.