Best Tablet for a new user




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    Keith McQuait

    Hi John,

    So with just a few words, you opened a lot of debatable topics here.

    I have some time to kill, so here it goes..

    First and foremost, any answer you get here (including mine) will definitely be swayed by opinion. The age-old Ford vs. Chevy, Microsoft vs. Apple, iOS vs. Android, etc. etc.

    Things to consider: Operating system, camera quality, expandable storage, screen size, display type/material, battery life, charging speed, water resistance, device protection, safety requirements, and repairability.

    Operating system: Great topic to get started. This is sure to draw the ire of some folks. Windows, iOS, or Android? There are a lot of very powerful and absolutely amazing devices available that run the Windows Operating System. Windows is still the undisputed champion in almost every category except mobile phones. Surface tablets are extremely powerful, versatile, and take and absolute pounding. Unfortunately, GoCanvas is not offering much in the way of Windows support these days and the current GoCanvas Windows version has a lot of problems. Self-admitted, they have no plans to fix it any time soon. So, Windows is not even in the running. Both iOS and Android run GoCanvas equally well. There are some little differences here and there but for the most part it is a tie. GoCanvas continues to trend towards making things look and act more like iOS. So ultimately which operating system you choose really comes down to personal preference and the available hardware.  

    Camera Quality: You are going to want a good camera not a great one. Tablets, for whatever reason, all seem to have pretty lousy cameras compared to their phone counterparts. Some tablets don't even have a flash. So, if you are planning to take pictures at night or in dark places, you'll definitely want one with a flash. Optical zoom and stabilization are also important. Megapixel wise, no point splurging on the best quality camera. GoCanvas compresses the pictures and makes them look awful anyway. Yes, I'm still bitter about this. LOL. 5 to 8 megapixels is about the range you want to be in for optimal GoCanvas photo appearance. If your device has a higher megapixel count (12 or 16), don't bother using it. It will only make your pictures look worse. Stick to a 1:1 or 4:3 ratio. If you are a life-long Apple user, those things are probably all gibberish to you. Apple doesn't want their users making complicated decisions like this.

    Expandable storage: Every one of the inspectors here likes/wants to keep the photos they take within the app on their devices/cloud drives (which is a setting in the app). Photos will fill up a 16 or 32 gb tablet pretty quickly. So, having an expandable SD card slot is kind of important. On that note, most Apple devices do not offer an expandable SD card slot. In addition to the SD card slot, I recommend using Google photo cloud backup also. It's free and GoCanvas does give you the option to insert photos from google photos from within the app on android mobile devices (and I'm pretty sure Apple too). OneDrive, Box, and Dropbox don’t work (for inserting photos) with GoCanvas on mobile. Apple iCloud is just ridiculously expensive and last I checked you can't insert photos from it either. 

    Screen Size: When it comes to GoCanvas, I've done user experiments with tablets versus phones. Everyone who used big tablets didn't like it. Phones were 100% the preferred device size. Having large display phones was the most optimal user experience. Everyone already has a phone and a way to carry it around hands free. In a pocket, holster, purse, or whatever. If you are out and about and have to climb a ladder for example, having a big tablet is just a pain in the neck. Besides, having extra things flopping around while you are climbing is also a safety issue. Always Safety First! However, depending on what you are doing with it, there is just no substitute for a huge display. If you're in an office environment and your tablet sits on a desk or mounted to a wall, then a big display is probably what you'll want.

    Display Material/Type: Most manufacturers have come a long way in this department. However, certain manufacturers relaunch the same old garbage with a new fancy name (Retina display for example) and promote it as the newest latest greatest. When in fact, it's actually the same display they were putting in their devices 8 years ago. Screens come in plastic, glass, gorilla glass, and sapphire. Durability wise, plastic is absolute crap, so I would stay far far away from anything with a plastic display. Glass is glass, and glass will scratch and break. Gorilla glass is a little better but at the end of the day, it's still glass. Sapphire is the hardest and best material but at an extreme cost and has very limited availability. Apple says their camera lenses are sapphire but amazingly they still scratch at the same hardness as glass. How's that possible? Anyway... As far as display types, most manufacturers are selling super bright / high efficiency O-LED screens these days. O-LED's do have some draw backs (burn in) but they are the best thing going at the moment. Beware, some manufacturers are still using LCD's that are almost impossible to see in bright sun. They look good in the office but fall flat in the field.  

    Battery life and charging speed: If you are out and about knocking out apps with lots of photos and GPS, it is super hard on the battery. Especially when you synchronize often. Hot weather compounds the problems. My phone has a 4500 mah battery, which is impressive for a phone. GoCanvas will kill my battery in about 4-6 hours of continuous use. So, you will need as big a battery as possible. Reducing your display brightness and resolution definitely helps save battery life. If/when you actually kill your battery, you are going to need to get it back up and running in the shortest time possible. Certain android device manufacturers are blowing Apple away in this department. So, you definitely need to look at charger wattage/recharge time. If you have a device that only gets to rest and recharge during lunch and between shift changes, this will be a critical factor.       

    Water resistance / device protection / safety requirements: I lumped these things together for a reason. A device that is waterproof or has a case that makes it waterproof is crucial. IP67 (splash resistant) rating is good, IP68 (submersible) is even better. If you cheap out on the device and spend on the case to achieve it, so be it. Nothing's worse than ruining hundreds of dollar because you spilled your coffee or dropped it in a puddle. A good case to protect your device from drops and water is worth it's weight in gold. Be sure to review your case options and expense for whatever device you are considering. Good cases can be very expensive too. Alternatively, there are some phones on the market that have super scratch resistant sapphire displays, are water proof, and are also intrinsically safe. These devices will take an absolute pounding without any case at all. I am not aware of any tablets featuring these amenities yet. The YouTube channel "Jerry Rig Everything" has a lot of great insight on all types of phone and tablets. Here's a review on the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2. This thing is an absolute beast. The DuraForce 2 as I mentioned is also intrinsically safe which leads us into safety. Is an intrinsically safe device a requirement for where you will work? Where I work there's always a potential for a flammable atmosphere in the work area, so intrinsically safe devices are a must. The DuraForce Pro 2 is one of the only devices that I am aware of that achieves this without a case. There are several case manufacturer's out there (I believe GoCanvas can help you with this) that will wrap certain tablets or phones in an intrinsically safe case and certify it for big $$. An iPad with an intrinsically safe case costed around $2500 last time I checked. The bareback DuraForce 2 comes out of the box already certified and is only in the $450 range.

    I personally have a Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It has a huge almost tablet size display with an S pen tucked inside which makes using GoCanvas fantastic. Having that S pen readily available without being an 'extra' thing to carry around is super convenient. The 4500 mah battery is great and with the fast charging it recovers very quickly (charging during lunch will get me through the day). The camera can be dialed down to help improve GoCanvas picture quality. It has 2x optical zoom and mechanical image stabilization. It also has a DEX (desktop experience feature) that is really cool. It is really a fantastic device for using GoCanvas. However, it's super expensive and it is not intrinsically safe. So, I can't take it in a lot of places where I work. For that, we have intrinsically safe ($2500) iPad's that have LCD displays that are hard to see, no flash on the camera, and no expandable storage. We are always climbing ladders. They are bulky and hard to deal with and the batteries don’t last very long. These are just about the pinnacle of everything you don't want in a device. 

    So, at the end of the day, it comes down to a lot of factors. Preference, hardware capabilities, durability, and replacement cost. Nothing lasts forever and you don't always get what you pay for. Apple are by far some of the the most expensive devices out there but have mediocre capabilities, poor durability, and worst of all they cannot be repaired. Despite that, if someone really likes Apple, then maybe that's the right fit for them. There are lots and lots of wonderful, relatively inexpensive Android offerings out there and more come out just about every day. A lot of android devices are also repairable for not a lot of money. After considering all the above, if you have the budget, buy some devices and let people try them out. Ask the users their opinions. There’s no silver bullet here either. Nothing says you can't have more than one type. Good luck in your hunt for the perfect device!

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    Chip Phillips, Community Manager

    Big thanks to Keith for this detailed comparison and analysis! That is some great advice and wisdom.

    As an additional reference, here is a Help Center topic that lists the device systems that GoCanvas currently supports.

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    John Dolza


    Thanks so much !  That's an awesome overview.  Of course we bought tablets that don't have a flash, but I'll figure out something,  Long story short, they're Android Samsung Tab A cel capable 8" tablets with a  5 Mp camera, adequate memory and processor.  We'll be putting them in Water Resistant IP67 (I hope) cases.  

    Again, thanks for the wonderful, detailed post.  We're working on our app development now, I may reach out to you with development questions.  


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    Keith McQuait

    I have a 3 or 4 year old Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8" with an Otterbox case. The Otterbox comes with a hard plastic cover that doubles as a stand to keep it upright during use on a tabletop. It's used for GoCanvas in a bar business that I manage. They are very nice little tablets and very reasonably priced. Too big to be put in a pocket if you have to move around and have your hands free (for my day job). In the bar though, it's the perfect size for the exact same reason (because you can't put it in your pocket). The camera is a bit of a disappointment though. I don't believe it has any kind of image stabilization, so you end up snapping two or three photos to get one that is usable.    

    For a flash on our iPad cases, our intrinsically safe cases have some straps on the back side that you can tuck a Big Larry flashlight into. I suppose you could probably use sticky velcro to attach them too. It's far from the best but it gets the job done.

    I'd be glad to help with app development. You'll find lots of folks who are willing to give advice on the forum here. There's lots of discussion about a lot of topics already on here. GoCanvas has come a long way over the years. 

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