The Dell Venue 8 7000 (pictured above) has been one of the few decent Android tablets to launch from a big name Android manufacturer in 2015. Today also marks the launch of the Galaxy Tab A line from Samsung, available in 8-inch and 9.7-inch sizes with 4:3 aspect ratios and low resolutions of 1024 x 768. While great budget offerings, they are extremely safe options, and that’s the problem with Android tablets right now, everybody is playing it safe, if they’re playing at all that is. It’s May now, and so far we’ve seen Samsung launch the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, LG have just launched the G4. There’s a lot happening in the smartphone space, and while these devices are still mostly displays you smear your finger over, the specs are becoming less about Gigahertz and Megapixels and more about what that means for the overall experience. None of that is happening in the Android tablet space right now, no Android tablet is cool right now, and that’s a problem.
It’s been an interesting time for Android tablets over the past year or so, the Nexus 9 marks a new direction for Android tablets, changing to a 4:3 aspect ratio, but even that is a fairly safe tablet. I personally enjoy the Nexus 9 and use mine quite often, however I can agree with those that say it’s not for them; after all there are time I wish for more. The only companies right now that I see doing anything different with Android tablets right now are Dell, Lenovo and NVIDIA. The SHIELD tablet offers users great flexibility with little hassle, and the controller is a pretty decent gamepad as well. Meanwhile Lenovo ships the giant Yoga Tablet 2 Pro that has a projector and JBL sound inside of it, making it a true entertainment system for anywhere. Dell have only recently gotten into the tablet game, and the 8-inch Venue 8 7000 has a unique design, it’s super-slim and looks premium. It, like the newly launched Venue 10 tablet offer Intel’s RealSense software making it able to estimate measurements using cameras found on the rear of the device. Which a littler nerdy, at least feature is actually, you know, different.
I’m not quite sure what can be done with Android tablets to make them interesting and exciting again, but I think that focusing on gaming and integrating into the living room are good places to start. I use a PlayStation Vita to play games on the go because I detest touchscreen controls, I own a PS4 and because the SHIELD portable is both hard to get hold of and very expensive here in the UK. Other companies have tried like Archos with their Gamepad tablet, but I would love a 7-inch tablet with a controller dock or something similar and there’s a lot of potential for that. So too, is there potential for say a docking system to leverage Android or even output Android TV via HDMI. Chromecast is great and all, but it can grow tiresome using a tablet or smartphone in place of a proper remote control. Making the Android tablet a big part of our lives is the key, and pushing out devices with displays, some mediocre cameras and lackluster design just won’t do that.
I don’t have the answers, but it’s about time we saw someone – how about Google?! – offer up some fresh designs, new hardware ideas and generally just pay attention to the Android tablet again. Hopefully, the second half of 2015 has more to offer than the first half, because so far it seems like an off-year for the Android tablet.