Tap That’s Vision

In the past week I’ve given a bit of thought to Tap That’s vision as a company. I found, still, that what is considered “Mid-range” or affordable in the tablet market costs upwards of 400 dollars. Usually more like 500+. Which when you consider that the trashy throw away cheap tablets cost around 100 dollars, and the premium around 600+ dollars, that isn’t really a mid point.

And cheaper alternatives like Nextbook? They just don’t have the specs. They are more like last generation models. Old chipsets, lower RAM and so on. I wouldn’t buy those for anyone but kids.

I can see that the middle market is still very much emerging, and its not easily accessible to the public in New Zealand.

So, in keeping with my vision that quality tablets should be easily accessible and affordable I settled an argument in my mind – I would stick to high quality but affordable tablets, with the most reliable affordable brands – Teclast, Cube and Xiaomi – priced if I can at or under 300.

Stuff that I would have no question in wanting to use my self, the cream of that market, but that sits well under the current 400 dollar+ price line that defines supposedly mid range tablets. Basically – I would select my products with greater care – make sure they are top notch in the affordable category.

I will bring you guys more of the affordable but higher spec’d 9.7 inch and 8 inch tablets you guys have been loving, and perhaps only bring the hybrids later when Windows ARM emulator makes laptops, tablets and hybrid from china more affordable (Which should happen this year). Those have sold, but have been too pricey.

And should I be able to source cheap ASUS tablets at any point, I will consider them too. Although at this point it looks like Xiaomi has a better quality proposition, and have a better products.

I look forward to bringing New Zealand a lot more in the way of cheap tablets with decent build quality, and good specs over the year. With a big focus on selecting the highest quality products from the western and eastern markets.

Down but not out!

Firstly I’d like to apologize to all my customers, for the long period of inactivity here on the web store.

I broke my wrist, had to move regions, and had a variety of difficulties I won’t go into here, that caused me to have to focus on other issues. We are still small, and in the start up phase, but I am committed to providing New Zealand with a much needed niche – midrange tablets that are affordable and decent quality.

There is some good news on that front. I will very soon be getting in a few more models, including some Teclast or Chuwi hybrids, the solid Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 and a few others, including likely the Teclast x98 plus II. I’ve really enjoyed the plus II myself, it has nice speed to it, decent storage, works okay as a desktop too if you plug it in.

As well, we have manufacturers moving to the Apollo chipset, which is a lot faster, and the 8350 chipset which has less heat problems has been released, a tad faster, with quite a few models being upgraded there.

Lastly, and most exciting of all, we finally have a tablet chipset with thunderbolt coming, the next gen of Kaby Lake. This will be a game changer, mark my words, with external graphics, and hard drives making the 3 in 1 hybrid finally a very real possibility in the next year or so.

I hope to make a lot more people happy with decent, quality affordable tablets that undercut those pricey premium models, without the risks of the bargain basement.

I’ll let you know when the new models arrive. I’m prepared for a busy year. If you have any product suggestions or requests let me know – I have been looking at cheap laptops, and also mini-pcs.

New models New Prices

Okay so we are really being true to the concept of affordable computing now, these cheap windows and cheap android tablets are generally a class above those you’ll find at chain stores.

The highlight is the Teclast x98 Plus II – It features 4GB of RAM, Cherry Trail Chipset, 64GB Storage and Dual Boot Android 5.1/Windows 10. Long battery life. Pretty tidy IMO, I’d be happy as a kid with one of those.

And then we have some popular sellers, the x98 Air, and the Chuwi Vi10 – Both worth more for sure that their low prices. The x98 Air is a well proportioned 9.7 with solid 2 GB/32 GB and a lush screen. The Chuwi an almost premium quality build with the still competitive 3736F Chipset, 2/64GB, Dual Boot.

And if your in for a really underpriced Cherry Trail 8 inch Windows tablet – and I like these things, they are are a handy level of portable, we have you covered with the x80 Plus.

Next stock order – Xiaomi Mi Pad 2.

Next Blog I’ll talk about some tablet related technologies.

The peaceful computer

Nothing could be closer to a book, as a computing device, than a tablet. As a device that travels with you, fits in your bag or purse and yet has a generous screen for viewing lazily, by touch, whatever media your heart is set on consuming – the modern tablet is a lower stress computing experience.

You can sit anywhere, outside, inside, in any posture without worry of RSI from typing. The modus operandi is easy – content that doesn’t require your micro-management, fun content or work content that is display oriented. Play a game in bed, read magazines on the bus, catch some quick online shopping between wrangling the kids and share a movie, in a tent. The tablet is what your mobile phone wants to be, easy, casual.

Difference is when you read that magazine or book on your tablet, you actually enjoy doing it because you aren’t holding it a very specific distance from your eyeball and zooming in and out. Where the phone is a functional device, that sits as a perpetual connection between us and the online world – even in a work capacity, there’s something more fun about a tablet. Something in the way we use the devices, then again, perhaps just because it is so much like a book.

Price drop and New models

Okay so this is more pertaining to the business. I’ve dropped the price of the two current models I have in stock, both of them under $200 now. They are both great machines, so it’s kinda a steal – those are some seriously good deals right there.

And I’ll be getting in two more models. It’s just a little stock order, we will be having a bigger one later on. But the fun part for you guys of that is new models.

The first model is the Chuwi Hi8 pro. It’s running a Cherry Trail x8300 chipset, 2 GB of RAM and has a nice high resolution screen. But what stands out about these newer models is the USB 3 port, and also the higher USB 3 internal speeds (for things like microSD). All that means faster transfers on your internal spaces, and the potential to use a lot of peripherals, like high speed external drives, graphics and network cards. Which pairs well with the micro HDMI. The cherry trails are supposed to push graphics pretty well too, so another plus. The Hi8 pro, is solid in its class.

The other model is the Teclast x98 plus 2. Now this is an interesting creature. It’s dual boot, so both Android and Windows. It’s a 9.7 inch, so iPad sized. It has the same Cherry Trail as above, but with 4 GB single channel RAM. It also has the same benefits of faster USB/SD bus speeds and faster graphics as with the Hi8 Pro, and features USB 3. The Plus has been praised for it’s extensive battery life, and the RAM boosts multi-tasking, making this a great versatile tablet workhorse – good for either extended casual use, or heavier users.

So that’s it for now. I considered getting in Xiaomi, but despite being more premium they are expensive for what you get. And I definitely will be getting something like the Hi10, a cherry trail hybrid later.

The Hybrid Mindset: Tablet Connectivity

Hybrids make these redundant

I’ve spoken a bit in the past about device redundancy. As you can see from the picture above, it’s possible to have a lot of machines that do the same thing. And they may not talk well, or sync entirely. It costs more money, and is wasteful – as well as less convenient. So recently I started to play with using my tablet as more than a tablet.

I got a powered Belkin four port hub and plugged in all sorts of external devices as a sort of docking. 2 TB external mechanical hard drive, Linksys Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, printer, wireless mouse, keyboard, display.

It’s been an interesting experience. I’ve found even with USB 2.0, and just using one port, that there are no real bottlenecks other than the hard drive speed. I expect one might add to that with an external video card. The reduced power consumption from wireless connectivity, definitely adds to the life of the battery, especially on charge.

Fast enough of a tablet, and you can happily use it as a desktop.

Slimline laptop space

The other potential of course with tablets is in the netbook, Chromebook, slimline laptop area. Of course many can be paired with keyboard docks, if not at least a Bluetooth keyboard case. The tablet I am using is the Chuwi vi10, which is a 10.1-inch tablet with two full sized USB 2.0 ports, one micro-USB, and a magnetic keyboard dock with trackpad.

So what I did was added to the 64GB internal space, with a 64GB microSD, and an external Lexar 128 GB USB nub (One of those micro USB flash drives). It’s USB 3.0, but still runs a bit quicker than other USB 2.0 drives when plugged directly into one of the ports.

The 3736F chipset is a tad faster than the old 3735 and comparable to the newer cherry trail 8300, with less heat. With that driving only a lower resolution screen, you get a pretty fluid experience, and with the added space, holding extra programs and increased media storage, it does start to feel more like a slimline or similar, even when using it in tablet mode – It feels more like a computer, mobile.

Potentials

The other little gem I found was using the tablet on a tablet stand. With the extra space, and just a wireless mouse and keyboard, it could be turned into a sort of decent couch, or bedside computer that swings round when you want to use it.

So what things can you actually use such a set-up for? Well, with the increased storage on the device, I could set up some VMware virtual computers, and essentially store several machines with different OS’s, setups, on the tablet. They wouldn’t run fast, but it would enable me to emulate networks, or other environments.

What I have currently, is a series of video games that run without heat – that I wouldn’t have so many installed of, if I had less space. All full desktop games. I have Office of course, and as well I have Fruity Loops installed. With storage for sample memory, I can actually write music on the go, professional quality, using just the tablet, and/or a midi keyboard if I plugged one in. Higher CPU power might be more ideal for that, especially gigging, but I can still do it.

One could install something heavier than usual, full software, like say Adobe Illustrator, or Photoshop on a sufficiently powerful tablet, and create art on the go, using only the tablet and a stylus. Touch apps available on conventional touch devices don’t have this kind of power.

And if they did, without the storage, you couldn’t install a lot of them.

The other thing I have on my tablet right now, is Gigabytes worth of media. Enough to more than keep me entertained, where ever I go. And that is nice to also be able to share with friends what you have collected.

The Future of Computing

Bringing the power of the desktop, and the slimline to a more portable and flexible device like a tablet, really is kind of exciting. The potential will only be truly unlocked when USB 3.1 or thunderbolt is included, to allow fast hard drives and fast video cards to dock into the tablet, making it truly run like a desktop when used as one, but in the meantime, this 3736F chipset shows the potential to me, and there are chips available affordably that are even faster.

In a year or so, I think we will see small tablets with the power of a slimline, with ram and chipsets that stand on par. If we can see 3.1 or thunderbolt on some of these models, we will see the first next gen hybrids. When that happens you can expect Windows 10, as the only viable Hybrid OS, to go huge. I think we are close to the future of computing. The meeting point of fixed computing and mobile computing.

Exciting things coming for tablets in 2016

Cherry Trail 8500 Xiaomi

Okay, so I wanted to talk about the rest of this year in tablets. What the near future is like, particularly in regard to the mid range market I deal in. I think there are some really exciting things coming up.

Christmas and New Year are always exciting times in this market. You can bet on new chipsets, new RAM levels, different screen or battery technology – there is usually at least something new every time. But this year there is also a wider range of chip speeds, both in the SSD capable M-cores and in the cheaper and more common Cherry Trail chipsets. So the smaller devices and more mainstream devices may now be getting perhaps sometimes 4 GB of RAM, but still the lower clock speed cherry trail; the 8300. I think we can expect to see more 4 GB models with faster 8500s and 8700s very soon.

Graphics in Midrange Tablets

The other thing I wonder about is either usb 3.1 or thunderbolt. There are some core-m mini PCs with thunderbolt and that opens up the capacity to use your device as a mid range gaming rig when at home, a true hybrid device. USB 3.1 should also open this up when someone develops an external graphics card for the protocol.

It seems using high end iPad screens has become the norm. We rarely see many devices with low resolutions now, and sound quality and screen brightness have been improving, so at least in the mid market, with reputable brands I think at minimum screen quality is becoming more standard.

Which also means there is less area to compete here- 4k isn’t visible on such small screens, even retina is only technically visible at limited ranges. That leaves drive speed, battery, lightness, CPU, RAM, storage, ports and other features as more central to product differentiation- standing out of the pack and being competitive.

Budget Tablet Variety and Surprises

So while there are some things that I might expect, I also expect some pleasant surprises. The Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 features a nice 8500 processor. It lacks micro SD card and only has the conventional 2 GB of RAM, but still comes in both Android and Windows, the windows has more storage is a premium style device in terms of build. I shall be getting a few of these in with my next stock order.

I expect this signals a wide release we will see coming soon of devices with more RAM, bigger CPU, larger battery etc. But these could be quite varied. I could imagine for example a 8700 with 2 GB of RAM, versus a 8500 with 4 GB being presented as options. Perhaps even m-cores with 2gb of ram as budget variations. One might be tuned for long battery life, another for maximum processing power. With screens becoming standard, and battery levels being similar, we can already see more of this diversification emerging in the market; compare the Mi Pad 2 with the Teclast Plus 2 versus the Pro.

All more or less in the same market. The Plus is solid, fast enough, fluid but geared for battery life. The Pro is so performance driven its prone to overheat without DIY mods or software hacks when gaming. And the Mi Pad is high CPU like the Pro, but lower ram than the other two, giving it good gaming and speed capabilities but not as good for multi-tasking.

More and more I suspect it will become a situation when the users needs will need to well matched to the device.

Hybrid Devices and Hybrid OS

And with the popularity of larger hybrid laptop style devices, increased ports and such, as well as the release of Windows 10, as I predicted we are seeing a slow steady rise in Windows devices and dual boot devices. Full desktop apps start to shine on screens big enough to handle the smaller windows icons (probably about 8.9 inches and above, although in a pinch eight can work, especially in tablet mode, or with much enlarged icons). I can do things on my device such as write music. Write articles (like this one). I’ve got my system set up with both an applications/RAM cache, and a drive caches both running through the eMMC. The other day when I was writing to my usb 2.0 speed microSD card reader in this tablet, I was getting a 180 mb/s speed for the transfer. Which might not mean much to techy people, but its more like the speed of the cache drive the actual drive – you can’t do half the things you can in windows on Android.  And that’s particular significant when tablets are speed wise catching up with laptops – it creates a world where you really can have one device (or two devices) to rule them all, a world that is literally just around the corner.

That said, touch designed apps, games and social apps are still king within Android – if those things are your ‘jam’, then Android is a fine system that is very touch friendly, a big app market and it has evolved a lot in recent years in terms of finally getting gestures in there.

I only mention Windows 10 because the touch, tablet, hybrid, mini PC, ultrabook marketplace is where they still look to grow the most, given the benefits of the OS. So that is a part of our future, and I think with device overlap, a big one.

To me it all looks very exciting, and there are some models right now that looks exciting, like the Chuwi Hi10, the Cube i7, and the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 – and I am going to get in some of these models soon, stock the store up again.

Let us know what exciting things you are looking forward to in the comments. Or anything you’d like to see me stock in my next order too. Have a good one!

The Chuwi vi10

So, I’ve been using the Chuwi Vi10.

It’s last years model, but it’s material design is a little more deluxe than the majority of releases and the 3736 chipset that it employs, especially given the modest resolution gives the slower cherry trails a run for their money. So overall it still stands up.

The full sized USB ports seem honestly like a dream coming from tablets with only micro ports. I’ve been using them for remote mice, hotplugging usb sticks, and for an external hard drive set up that converts the tablet into a desktop like experience.

The magnetic keyboard attachment works very well. The keys are pretty soft touch, and the magnetic connector basically connects the two for you. It has pretty generous internal space, and with the full ports, plenty of room for expansion if you add a micro flash drive (these come pretty cheaply up to 128gb, and I hope to stock these a little later on).

For video and general use, the resolution is perfectly capable, and the screen is very bright. I only feel it could be better when reading magazines or books where sharp images or text shine.

Overall this is a very solid tablet I think. I have just one other vi10 left in stock, and because I am really looking to get in some more tablets, I am going to give the last one away for a steal $259.99 NZ dollars for the tablet and the attachment – a more than 30% saving. Someone else should be enjoying this.

Website outtage

We got attacked with some malware, and it took awhile to correct the issue. We are back on board now, and better protected and apologize to any customers who were left short!

Fortunately exciting times lay ahead. I’m looking forward to particularly the new edition of the Chuwi Hi10, which is a hybrid with a swivel keyboard that stacks up very nicely. I think coming towards the end of the year, especially Christmas, over winter we will see progressive variants with faster chips, especially the new cooler intel revisions coming out soon.

There are already plenty of models that run like a laptop in essence, providing that true 2 in 1, 3 in 1 type of experience that Windows 10 can afford – a single device to rule them all – but I think we will see greater power, in smaller sizes very soon, and at this lower price point, that will really open up the possibilities for everyone.

An update at last

It’s been too long since I last updated everyone about the store. Some financial issues have stalled new stock intake for a month or so, but things are going well, and the store has a bright future 🙂

I wanted to talk briefly about some of the newer models that I will be getting in next, when it happens.

The first up is the Xiaomi MiPad 2. This is solid Android tablet, with a lot of premium style features, like wireless AC, laminated display and a higher end x8500 chipset. It’s iPad mini sized, and I think will be a solid option for a lot of people.

I’ll definately be getting in also the Chuwi Hi10 or similar. This has 4gb of RAM, usb 3 port, and has a transformer style docking system for the keyboard (It’s a hybrid) that allows some swivel. Very nice. There is a new model coming out soon, that has either 3g or 4g, and I think it’ll be pretty exciting.

The Teclast x98 plus is also on the list. It has 4gb of Ram, and a USB port, but it also has one of the most impressive practical battery life levels in the market. I’ll be looking for a dual boot version.

If there’s anything else anyone is interested in, including cheaper western models like Toshiba, mini PCs, anything in the ballpark, hit contact on the bottom right of our main page, and let me know.