D on Droid: Size does matter

  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 07 Apr 2015

KNOW YOUR NEEDS: If you use a tablet to browse at home, having a larger sized tablet will be the better choice.

The reason for this week's topic is I have been approached by many of my friends and family for tablet recommendations lately.

They were planning to make a last minute scramble to purchase anything and everything before the prices went up with the implementation of GST, and tablet devices was one of the popular items in the list of my circle of connections. As many of them did not know much about tablets to begin with, I became the go-to guy for their tablet queries.

Even though GST has already been implemented and prices have indeed already gone up, I do find this following piece of information important for those who are planning to get your first Android tablet.

Deciding on an Android tablet for yourself is obviously going to depend on a variety of factors. For me, the first and most important question that you should ask yourself (besides whether you are financially prepared for one) is what will the main use of the tablet be for? Unlike smartphones where they are mostly in the similar size range, tablets have varying sizes that are better suited for different purposes.

Choosing the right tablet for yourself

The size of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are defined by the size of their screens. Meaning to say, if a tablet is said to be 7in big, it is NOT 7in from one end of the device to the other, but the screen that is 7in big from one end diagonally to the other. There are generally two size ranges, with the smaller, more portable tablets at around 7-8in, while the bigger sized ones can go from 9in up to even 12in.

If it is meant for browsing or media consumption at home, having a larger sized tablet will be the better choice. For such purposes, you can't go wrong with as big a screen as possible.

If the tablet is meant to accompany you wherever you go, then a big tablet may not make as much sense as it will be less portable. Granted, most tablets now have gotten impressively thin and lightweight as the years have gone by, but the size will still become a hassle if you are a road warrior.

The line between smartphone sizes and tablet sizes are slowly fading away. I consider devices that are 7in and above as tablets, although more and more devices that fall in that range are coming with telephony features. I have seen people use their 7in and 8in tablets as their mobile phone. The devices come with earpieces so that you can bring the tablet to your head and talk, but that will just make you look ridiculous. If you really want to use your tablet as your phone, please do the world a favour and get yourself a Bluetooth headset.

For me personally, I carry around an 8in tablet for work purposes. I find that 8in is the perfect size for practicality and portability purposes. 7in feels a little too small while 10in is cumbersome to carry around. I am blessed enough to also own a 10.5in tablet to satisfy my media consumption and gaming needs.

Once you decide on the size that is suitable for your needs, making a decision will be that much easier. Finding the right tablet size is the first step to a happy tablet life. Speaking of a happy life, you can now make free calls over WhatsApp.

Hello, WhatsApp?

If you didn't already know, WhatsApp has been rolling out another new cool function to their already popular app. You can now use the app to make voice calls for free over a data connection.

WhatsApp started off as just a simple instant messaging (IM) app that made use of the contacts in your phonebook to find users, at a time when other IM services still required you to add your contacts manually.

Throughout the years, a good deal of other IM apps have popped up, many of them offering more forms of communication besides just text messaging. One thing lacking from WhatsApp when I was still new to Android was the option to make voice calls, so I had other apps such as Vibe and Skype for that purpose.

Which is why it was great news when I first heard about WhatsApp's new call feature, as I have way more contacts who are using WhatsApp compared to other IM apps.

WhatsApp Call was previously rolled out on an invite-only basis, requiring users to be called by someone who already had the feature activated.

I am grateful that there were some kind souls on a local forum that were offering to call anyone who wanted the function activated. As a condition for receiving the call from a total stranger, all that was required of me was to spread the feature to my friends and family, which I did with great pleasure.

If you have yet to receive the activation call from any of your friends, fret not as WhatsApp is now rolling out the feature to all their Android users. If you have not received yet, try updating your WhatsApp to the latest version.

The WhatsApp interface will change, now featuring three tabs when you open the app, mainly calls, chats, and contacts.

Making a call to a contact is as easy as clicking on the phone icon that will be present on top of each individual chat.

The calls are made using a data connection, so it will be reliant on how good your connection is, as well as the connection of your call recipient. Poor connection by either party will cause the calls to lag, stutter, or have echoes.

The receiver of your calls should also have a compatible version of the app and operating system for the call to get through.

The obvious advantage now is that you can have long conversations if you and your friends and family have unlimited data plans or are connected to the WiFi network. Keeping in touch with those who are overseas is also easier now.

Just like how SMS has been pushed to the brink of extinction thanks to IM services like WhatsApp, this kind of online call services may soon significantly change the way telcos offer their services.

Donovan is a full-time auditor and big-time gadget lover who discovered the wonders of the Android world back in October 2010. He never understood the logic of owning a tablet, until he was gifted with his first tablet back in 2014. He can't live without one now.
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