Budget Tablet: HP 10 G2 (Android 5)

May 26, 2016
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I recently decided to buy a tablet.  I’ve thought about it in the past, but recently received a financial award at work and decided to spend a (small) chunk of it on myself and save the rest.

We do already have some tablets in the house:

  • A Kindle Fire 1st generation – Fewer and fewer apps have retained support for this device.  It’s 4 1/2 years old and uses a non-standard version of Android.  It no longer works with MLB.TV, which is a problem.  We bought it secondhand, and it was a nice starter tablet, but it’s time to move on.
  • The kids each have the low-end  version of the new Kindle Fire.  They have a six inch display (1280 X 800) and 8 GB of storage.  No card slot.  These are OK for reading, Netflix, and MineCraft, but not really suitable for use as a full fledged tablet.
  • My wife has an iPad Mini 2.  8 inch display, with a resolution of 2048 X 1536 and 16 GB of storage (no card slot).  If money was no object, this would be a great option.  But money IS an object.  The WiFi-only model starts at $269 and the WiFi+Cellular model is $399.  I’m not spending that much on a tablet for myself.

So, what am I looking for in a tablet?

  • First of all, it absolutely must run MLB.TV smoothly.  This is non-negotiable.  I’ll run a lot of other apps, but baseball comes first.
  • It must run a stock or nearly stock version of Android 5+.  There are many things I like about Amazon, but I’m not a fan of the way they’ve modified Android on the Kindle Fire.  Also, a stock version likely means the device will retain support longer.  It’s much easier to drop support for an Android variant that has a relatively small user base than to drop it for a stock version that has a much longer base.
  • A reputable manufacturer.  There are many manufacturers that I’ve never heard of, and I’m not willing to take the risk.
  • 8″ or larger display
  • $100-$125 price range

I quickly narrowed down my options to a refurb model of the HP 10 G2 tablet.  It shipped with Android 5.01 and had a 10″ display.  The price for the HP-certified refurb was $114.99.  HP, of course, is a well-established hardware  manufacturer.  It has 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, with an SD card slot that can handle up to 64 GB cards.

Was in the perfect choice?  Not exactly.  Although I’ve general had good luck with refurbs, it’s not exactly the same as a new.  The resolution is 1280 X 800, a fraction of the iPad’s resolution.  HD content won’t look as nice.

At this point, a friend suggested that I look at the 2013 model of the Google Nexus 7.  As a Google-branded device, by definition it runs a stock version of Android.  Although it’s a 7 inch display, HD content will look nice with the 1920 X 1200 resolution.  It is two years older than the HP, which is a slightly negative in my mind.  However, it as twice as much RAM – 2 GB.

At this point, it’s pretty much a tossup.  I value my friend’s insights, and if I can get the Nexus for the same price, I probably will.

If I want a Nexus 7 in “very good” condition, it’ll cost $170.  A refurb model is $205.  As nice as the Nexus 7 sounds, I’m not going to pay that much.  I buy the HP.

What do I think so far?

  • Seems to be well constructed
  • It does a great job running MLB.TV
  • The relatively low resolution isn’t really an issue.  This isn’t a huge surprise – I’m not a huge videophile
  • Battery drains at a rate of 25% per hour while watching baseball, suggesting a four hour battery life for baseball watching

This is the first time I’ve used a stock Android device.  The Kindle OS is pretty similar, and over the past couple of decades, I’ve used pretty much every publicly available OS, so it’s a pretty easy transition  – and when I’m not sure how to do something, I can just ask Google.

Overall, for $115, the HP 10 G2 is a good deal.

 

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