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Tablet talkDonald Bell sits down with Senior Editor Eric Franklin to discuss the best tablets announced at CES 2014.
All right, welcome to the CNET Stage at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. I'm Donald Bell, he's Eric Franklin and we're here to talk about tablets. It's tablet talk with Donald and Eric. -It's a new show. We just-- first episode, right here. -Right here. No more episodes after this though. -CNET Tablet Talk. -Yeah. -You know-- -Iou can say that over and over. -Yeah, just keep saying tablet talk. -I'm just, you know, I haven't talked to all week. -I know. That's actually why I booked this show, to catch up-- -Yeah. So we could catch up? -Yeah. -I hope you guys don't mind-- -Yeah. -cause we like, I've talked to you for a little, like 5 minutes 'cause I don't get to talk tablets with you that much anymore. Like I usually talk tablets with you and like you would-- TV's, you know, TV's so you don't-- you don't-- you don't really get to do this that much. -No. This is good, not everyone can see it. So tell me about the tablets of CES. -What do you wanna know, what do you wanna know? -I know you've got a roundup here, I'm gonna go off the roundup. -Okay. -First off, the Snakebyte Vyper, a 3-in-1 home gaming console and tablet in your hands. -Right, right. That's basically a 7-inch tablet. It has kind of a customized interface. It has a [unk] that you connect the tablet to and then you can hook it to your TV. It comes with a remote control. You can control it with your remote control, like you can watch Netflix movies an stuff like that-- -All right. -It's $200 and for an extra $50 you can get this Bluetooth gaming controller and it's Android-based so it plays Android games but you know the problem with this and a lot of these kind of gimmicky tablets like this, is that it's too expensive. You know it's $200 for, you know, a kind of streaming box. It's portable, yeah, but it's kind of a streaming box, gaming device. You know, if I'm gonna play games in my TV, I'm gonna play XBOX 360, I'm gonna play PS3, those are both $200-- -I feel like the especially, if they're going for the gaming thing there's already systems that are dedicated towards Android gaming content, like the Ouya-- -The Ouya. -or even-- Nvidia's like the SHIELD-- -The SHIELD, which can connect to your TV via HDMI. -I feel like also, the fact that you can use, like a Bluetooth controller with your tablet and connect your tablet up over HDMI, that's feature that has been in every Android tablet in the last year-- -Yes. -not that I'm putting that up front as something that you go by to do. -It's not really doing anything new, I mean, it's-- it gives you the remote control and the-- you know, for the extra 50 bucks like I said, then you get the Bluetooth controller but like you said, it's-- it's-- there's nothing novel here. -Is it the dock-- is it the dock make it kind of cool? -I don't know, I mean you-- maybe. You know, the dock has an IR Blaster on it, you can control it with a dock [unk], you control it with a remote controller. You know, I mean, it's on the list. So that's why we're talking about it. -Well, I have to give it to them. At least they came up with a really bad ass name. -Yeah. The Snakebyte Vyper. -Yeah, it's like a new Cobra character-- -Right. -it's like a new, like, G.I. Joe toy-- -Right. -Coming this summer, the Snakebyte Vyper or something. -All right, the next one's got a pretty great name too but not quite, you know, as macho. -It's kind of an ironical name, for sure. The Toshiba-- Toshiba-- the Toshiba Excite-- -Yes, 7-- -Yes. -7. -Yeah. -'cause there's many Excites before-- -Yeah. -that we've been more or less excited about. -Yeah. You have to be excited about one of them to be honest. -That's always the first thing-- that's like the first rule of product naming, name it the opposite of what it is, right? -Yeah, exactly. -[unk] That's subjective I guess, right. I mean, I'm sure they're excited-- excited about it. It's $99, it's Android-based, you know it has, you know, modest specs and if you want a functional Android tablet from Toshiba, this is one that you can buy. -Says Eric Franklin from back of the box-- -on the box-- -right there. -If you want a functional tablet-- -You can buy this tablet -if you want a functional, forgettable device that no one will [unk] you for-- -If you have money, you can spend money on this. -On this. All right. Excite 7, hands on, go check it out. -Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300. Now, we've put a few of these 2-in-1 tablet, laptoppy devices on our must-see list-- -Sure. -I think this might have been one of them. This a dual-- not just a dual-boot but like a switchable-- -Yeah. -OS. So you can go from Windows 8.1 to Android. -Back to Android. Yeah, really quickly, like there you go, it's happening in like 2-3 seconds. So that's cool. It has Windows-based specs, you know it has [unk] inside, 128 gigs of storage. You know, it's-- it's kind of a neat idea. In that, you know, you get the dual-boot Windows and Android and you're getting the -- the powerful specs of a Windows machine on Android-- -Sure. -so you know, if you like-- if you like [unk] -but the tablet itself, I mean, a lot of the Windows tablets I've seen, they're chunky, they haven't quite-- got quite as thin as-- -Android tablets, yeah, yeah -an Android tablet. I'm imagining it's still suffering from that bulk -It has still suffered 'cause it has those Windows, that Intel-based architecture so it's always gonna be a little thicker than your NVIDIA or Qualcomm-based architecture. -Do you feel like this is one of the-- the big tablet stories of CES, this guy? -I think it's-- I think it's a start of a big tablet story for 2014. I think you're probably gonna see a lot dual-boot, dual, you know, easily switchable Android Windows tablets. This is probably, you know, this is the first one, so. -All right. Next up the Acer Iconia B1-720. -Right. -Now the naming people have clearly phoned it in-- -Yeah. -at this point. -Yeah, yeah, it's like a router name, almost. No, so yeah, this is another, like, one of those cheap, modestly speced tablets that you just want-- just pure function, you don't wanna do anything special, you just want a tablet that you can-- I guess stream movies on, surf the web, check email. It's pretty cheap, I think it's $129, I believe. You know, it's one of those things 'cause I'm such a hardware guy, I get excited about, you know, high-resolution screens, bright screens, this one, it feels like, almost like, specs-wise, it feels like a tablet from 2012-- -Right. -you know it has a 1024 by-- by 600 resolution screen. That's not exciting-- you know, that's not exciting to me, you know, but for someone who doesn't care about that kind of stuff and doesn't wanna pay that kind of money-- -I do feel like there's a whole segment of Android tablets that's been here for a while but it's-- it's rare that I see names of, like, Acer, Toshiba even bother with it. I was like, the tablets that you just fall into-- [unk] the person who buys it, like, I'm at, you know, electronics store X and there's a bin of these tablets here-- -Right. -on sale, that, you know 200 bucks, whatever the name is, it works, I'll buy, I'll pick it up. -Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's for that person, like [unk] -Like a flagship device where I'm really, like, you're going to that specific store to buy this-- -Exactly. -Snakebyte. -That's who that's for-- -Right. -you know, that's for who that's for. That's for those bargain bin shoppers who just want a tablet, just want an Android tablet, doesn't wanna-- doesn't care about specs and stuff like that. It'll probably work. Another back of the box quote from Eric Franklin. -Right. Eric Franklin. CNET's Eric Franklin. -It'll probably work. -All right. Asus. -Yes. Again. This is-- -Vivo Tab Note 8. -this is them starting with an actual Stylus-oriented tablet, kind of getting into the Samsung Note realm. -Yeah, yeah. It's kind of taken into Samsung although this one is running Windows 8.1, not Android; and you know, people are interested in using their tablets with a Stylus, this one is using Windows so there's not really that much, like, native functionality for the Stylus built in, like the Samsung Note. You know, the Samsung Note, you can search by just, you know, writing, you don't have to type anything in. -Yeah. -This one, I'm not sure if it has that, you know, when we used it this week, it didn't really have that kind of functionality. There it is right there. -Yeah, answer me this question. -All right. -[unk] said we're gonna go away with the branding is very specifically in one orientation? -You know-- you don't wanna-- I'm wondering when's this ever gonna go away, the Nexus 7 2012 from Asus, you know, I feel like they've been leveraging that-- they've been leveraging that for a year and a half now, that's what I'm wondering. -I know. I mean, I know there's not a lot to be done about making a tablet that much sexier at this point. It's a-- it's a slab of plastic-- -It is. -you know, that all the-- all the content really-- -Black Bezel -basically, you know, screen quality-- -Usually -black Bezel-- -Yeah. -I really feel like the branding annoys me. My Type A-- -Right. -I mean, if I wanna use it this way and have Asus running up and down, you know, it just feels-- -Yeah, you just wanna throw it across the room when you see that Asus upside down. -Exactly. You know how I get all hateful. -I do. -Acer, the A1A30, another tablet from CES 2014-- -That one, yes. -What makes this one memorable? -Well, it-- basically, [unk] it's a slight upgrade from the A1A20 which came out last summer. It has a-- seems like it has a thinner design and it has this, but again, it has this low-resolution screen, it's one of those "Hey, it's functional, it works," it's 150 bucks, you don't want a lot of, you know, high-specs, you don't want a lot features, you just want a tablet that works, it has a, you know, larger than usual screen for such a small tablet, 7.9 instead of 7 inch but again it has that 1024 by 600 resolution which is always disappointing to me. -Yeah. -You know, I'm just that kind of a, you know, kind of a graphics snob when it comes to that kind of stuff. -All right. I got another question for you. -All right. Shoot. -You got to answer this honestly. -All right. -Are some of these designs to be used as a cheap tablet for the bathroom? You know? -I would imagine so. -You think I wouldn't care what the resolution is as long as it's $200. -[unk] Right, right. -I just need to-- you know, I just need it for 5 minutes at a time, pretty much. And it needs to be portable, you know, so yeah, I think you're on to something. -I think they should have made-- make the naming more suggestive of that, you know. -The Asus-- it is called? What is it called? The B-- -The A1. -Yeah. The B1, maybe, for bathrooms. -Maybe different tablets for different users. -Yeah. -All right. Samsung. Finally we're kinda getting into-- I mean let's be honest-- -Yeah. -Samsung kind of owns the high-end-- -Android. -you know, not iPad-- -Yeah. -tablet category. -For sure, for sure. -What are they showing off here at CES? -Yeah, they're showing off something pretty exciting, they're showing off the-- the new PRO Line, the Note PRO and the Tab PRO. The Tab PRO comes in 8.4, 10.1, 12.2 inch sizes and-- -Is that the first time they're going for this 12.2? -That's the first time they've gone. Yeah, yeah. I think Toshiba had like a 13 inch a couple of years ago. -That's right. -But yeah, the Note PRO which is a, you know, Stylus-based tablet goes up to 12.2 inches and you know, its high-end specs, 2560 by 6000 resolution on all of them, even the low-- smaller 8.4. You know, using, you know, high-end Exynos processor, 3 gigs of RAM, you know, you can do multi-window, you can have 4 apps running concurrently on the-- the 12.2 inch screen-- -So that's probably part of the story here, the update is also the-- the interface [unk] has been updated. -so yeah. It's widget-based. It's all widget-based now. It's-- I mean, you can still go back and you can look at app icons if you want to but most of it is just widget-based. You can have-- basically you can have weather on your left side, you can have news, you know, on the right, you can have it below that, you can have, like, your recent apps and stuff like that. It's just a very-- much more graphical, hopefully much more, for most people, intuitive interface. For me, it was a little hard to get used to but for someone just starting their tablet career, whatever-- -Where do you fall in that debate though-- -Yeah. -about pure Android versus like the skinned Android? I mean, Samsung is really big on their particular version skin of Android and you know, HTC-- -I have a question for you, actually. How do you feel about TouchWiz? -I think TouchWiz is what they should call the bathroom tablets. Right? -Right? -But no, I know it's a big-- it's a big debate-- -Well done, well done, sir. -you know? -But-- you know-- because the more Samsung invests on making the Android experience on the tablet their specific flavor of it-- -Yeah. -they're alienating some people but they're also, hopefully, chasing after--A new market, yeah. -a person who's only gonna seek out only a Samsung tablet because of that experience, right? -Right. A person that has-- people that are fans of the Samsung interface, people who, maybe, haven't used tablets before, I think that honestly the TouchWiz has come along a way since you were reviewing tablets, it's much more customizable, it's much more useful, it has, like, a lot more features than than even, you know, stock, pure Android 4.3, 4.4. I've-- like, in the last couple of months, I've really come to like TouchWiz and this is kind of like an evolution of that that's much more graphical but still just as customizable. I'm kind of excited about it, you know, I've got a few moments to use it this week with Samsung but you know, it has a lot of potential, so. -All right. And also in that Samsung family was the Note PRO, this was the like, the 12.2 inch-- -Yeah. -mega-tablet. -So yeah, there's a Tab PRO that's a 12.2 inch, a Note PRO that's 12.2 inch. This is just a Stylus version of that same tablet, the exact same specs of that 12.2 Tab PRO, it just uses a Stylus if you want a Stylus. -Right. -If you're so inclined to use a Stylus. -Yes. -[unk] -I never got the Stylus bug. -Yeah. -It never did something for me. -Yeah. -I need take an art class. -Alcatel One Touch Pop 7 and Pop 8. -Yes, yes. -I think the-- you know, kind of like, defining feature about this tablet is that they're gonna offer-- if they come out here, Alcatel tells me they'll be released in North America this year-- -Sure. -they didn't really say the U.S. but I pushed it and they were like oh-- -Canadians get ready. -Yeah, they're just silent but so, like-- the-- it's-- 7 inch will be under $200 and will offer LTE, the 8 inch will be under $300 and offer LTE as well, that's pretty cheap for cellular LTE-based-- based tablets. Usually, if you're gonna go that, you know the LTE, cellular-- cellular small tablet value, you're gonna pay-- -Right. -upwards of 350 bucks, so. -Now, I remember back in the day-- -Back in the day, back in the good old days. -that was like-- -2 years ago. -that was the first strike against the iPad, it was like a wave of tablets that were all carrier-attached, they all came with 3G, data-- -Right. -and there was no way you could get around it. Like, if you're gonna buy that first wave of, like, Galaxy Tabs-- -Right. -they were all carrier-subsidized-- -if you're gonna buy that, you're gonna be stuck with it for 2 years pretty much, yeah. -but then I felt like everyone came to their senses and all the Android tablets you were gonna buy were WiFi only and maybe you would buy a-- -like a month to month kind of plan-- -Right -or you could just, you know, attach it to your current plan. You have a cellphone plan, you could attach it like that. They-- they-- a lot of them are offering that kind of stuff. -Right, so-- -None of them are trying to lock you in anymore-- -Okay. -which is just great. -It's still a thing though, to go out and buy your tablet at a Verizon store or something and come with, like, a month by month, like 4G plan or something-- -Yeah, yeah. That's still a thing, that still happens, yeah. I mean, luckily they're not trying to, like I said, they're not trying to lock you in for 2 years it's a little bit more freeing these days. -Yeah, all right so what's on this list is , do you think, if you're-- you're [unk], the one you have to write about or actually, you know, be excited about? -I have to write about all of them. -Well, I know but like, you know, as like the-- the takeaway tablet of CES 2014. -I mean, probably the PRO Line from Samsung-- -Samsung. -the Galaxy PRO Line. I just think that, you know, CES, I wanna see something that's exciting, I wanna see vendors doing something risky, I wanna see them doing something that's, you know, kind of off the beaten paths of tablet like "Oh, here's another tablet with, you know, app icons" or whatever-- -Right. -and that's fine, that works, it's functional but at CES, I wanna be excited so I'm being kind of selfish here-- -Right. -you know, so those things excite me 'cause they're doing something really different. -Now, these are not all the tablets we're seeing this year, right-- -Right. -I mean CES is not historically the place where the-- the big tablets, aside from maybe the Samsung-- -Yeah-- -crop will come out. -yeah, yeah. I think-- I think over the last couple of years Mobile World Congress has kind of been, more of a-- kind of a seeding ground for tablet debuts. I think we're gonna probably see-- I think it's a good-- it's kind of a good in-between, you know, it's still early in the year so they kind of get that-- that quarter one-- quarter one buzz but it's a little bit later than January so they have a little bit more time to work on it. -So, if you had to project about what we're gonna be seeing in Mobile World Congress, what we didn't see here, who are the players that you think are gonna be showing something off worth getting excited about? -Well, I'm really excited about-- NVIDIA announced the NVIDIA Tegra K1 this week. It's a new processor, it's supposed to be as powerful-- -Like super-computer processor, right? -Yeah, well, they say that but then they go "well it's as powerful as a 360 or PS3, you know, graphically" which is not really a super-- I don't know is that a super-computer? I need to find a super-computer these days. Does that that change, like, every year, is it like-- is it like Morris Law? -They're all super-computers there. -I'm getting really geeky right here, I'm sorry. I guess this is the place to get geeky, though, right? -This is, this is-- you're in the right place, good audience for you. -What was your question? No, I'm just playing, I'm just messing with you, I'm messing with you. -Tablets to get excited about. K1 Tablets, K1 Tablets. -No I know, I'm following you, I'm following you. Yeah, I'm really excited about tablets announced with that processor. I'm excited to see what that can actually do but the thing about that is-- is yeah, you have the 360, you have the PS3, those are really capable devices but those are also-- those are also the best game developers in the world working on those-- those 2 devices and you know, making their engines and you know, fine-tuning their engines, they're really getting to know the hardware. You don't really see that that much on Android-- -Right. -you don't see-- you might get some good developers on there but you don't see that many [unk], you don't get that. -See, you're talking about Android gaming specifically right-- -Yeah. -to like maximize that gaming performance from and Android tablet to an Android box like-- -Yeah -Wii or something like that. -Right, exactly. You don't really get to see that kind of stuff and, you know, a lot of these developers don't have that-- -'Cause that was the claim from the NVIDIA conference right was that Android gaming was gonna be the future of where things are going. -Yeah, they were saying that. I'm not buying it. You know, I'm gonna still choose to do my gaming on, like, my console game-- my console boxes, my dedicated console boxes, my Nintendos, my-- I almost said Sega. Man, how old am I? My Sonys, my Microsofts, I'm gonna do it on my PC, high-end PC-- -Yeah. -so, like Project Christine, that kind of stuff. I'm getting of the subject here. -No, no, no. -That's what I really wanna talk about. -That's what you really wanted to-- -I wanna talk about Project Christine. Project Christine is really amazing. Probably never come out. -It still sounds like Weird Science to me. You start naming your-- your super-computers after women-- -After women, yeah. Things get weird. -that sounds a lonely. -Yeah, exactly. -Lots of lonely time in that lab. -Weird Science is great movie, though. -Yeah, let's talk about that. -Can we talk about Weird Science? -Yeah, one of my favorite movies of all time. -Okay, so-- but no. Talking about the projection for this year, beyond CES-- -Right. -K1 tablet's interesting-- -Yeah. -Anything else, any other-- Nokias? A Nokia coming out with-- I'm trying to think of-- people that aren't-- people that aren't represented here at CES. -I mean, hopefully you'll see a new version of Surface tablets. Hopefully they'll probably go on a more refined direction. You know, Surface 2 was fine, it was a fine upgrade from the first Surface. I'm hoping to see a new design from that, I'm hoping to see, you know, a little bit more powerful specs, a little bit more thoughtfulness from Microsoft's part-- Microsoft's part in designing that, you know. I mean it's pretty good but it didn't push it far enough above the first Surface. You'll probably see new, you know, new Nexus tablets-- -I still feel like-- isn't there, like a stockpile of Surfaces, like, buried in, like, the Nevada desert here somewhere-- -I think-- right-- -like here somewhere [unk]-- -yeah, exactly. -Like I'm glad they're reiterating on it-- -Yeah. -but I also don't really have a sense that it's-- -That it's doing well-- -it's doing what they wanted it to, right? -Yeah, I don't think it did. I mean, I think you're touching on something that's-- I think you're right about that. I think-- I think it's-- it's kind of a weird thing 'cause it's a productivity tablet but it's also, it's not that powerful so it's-- and you know, it has like the kickstand, so it's not-- it-- you know, you have it on your lap or something like that, it's not really that comfortable, you always do the lap test-- -It turns into a wearable [unk] at that point-- -Exactly. -bouncing on your-- the lap test. I don't what that means. -All right, well thanks so much Eric for talking to me, for doing some Tablet Talk-- -You're welcome, Donald. -with Donald Bell and Eric Franklin. We are going to have more coverage here at CES and you can stay tuned for all of it at ces.cnet.com. We've got Bill Detwiler heading to the States shortly to break apart another expensive device in Cracking Open so stay tuned.