Gadget Bag: Time For A Tablet

Incredible high-resolution screens, an ever-growing number of photography apps and an undeniable cool factor make a tablet a must-have accessory for every nature photographer
Outdoor Photographer may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. Outdoor Photographer does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting Outdoor Photographer.
This Article Features Photo Zoom

Acer 16 GB Iconia Tab A Series 10.1-Inch A200-10g16u Tablet; Sony 32GB 9.4-Inch Tablet S

The tablet has changed the way the world uses photos. The high-resolution backlit screens make your images look rich and luminous, and a bevy of apps give you all sorts of control over the photographs. There also are a lot of apps that will help you get to the right place, calculate time-lapse sequences and share photos with the world. In short, the tablet is revolutionizing photography.


Apple 16 GB New iPad With Wi-Fi

When it comes to tablets, the Apple iPad leaps to mind as the 500-pound gorilla in the Apple Store. The iPad set the standard by which all other tablets are judged, but it’s not the only über-cool tablet in the marketplace. To find the best option for you, consider differentiators like operating systems, connectivity, screen size and resolution, storage capacity and, of course, price. Some offer front- and/or rear-facing cameras, but as an OP reader and photographer, you’re unlikely to think of the tablet’s camera as your primary capture device. Still, the onboard cameras are getting quite good, and they give you a chance to do some fun things.

The OS (operating system) is a predictor of the number of apps that can be downloaded. It’s also a matter of personal taste that can be influenced by the OS that runs on your smartphone or notebook PC. Connectivity is the choice between simple Wi-Fi (your access to the Internet depends on your proximity to a wireless network) and an essentially boundless nationwide 3G or 4G network.

Screen resolution varies by model, so check the specs. The yardstick of comparison for outstanding performance is currently the Apple Retina display, which features 2048×1536 resolution and an amazing 3.1 million pixels arranged in a just-right 9.7-inch space. Display size also influences weight and portability, of course.

Cost is another factor and depends partially on area and retailer, but most tablets are quite affordable. Some older models can be found at downright bargain prices. Apple still dominates the market, but several competitors offer outstanding products. Many are available with and without nationwide carrier service.

The Apple iPad was the first to appear and met meteoric success. It singlehandedly created the tablet category. Offering a generously large display and tipping the scales at just a pound and a half, it was available in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB storage configurations, each with or without 3G connectivity. Screen resolution of 1024×768 made it ideal for reviewing photos in the field. The original iPad was equipped with a 1 GHz A4 CPU and 256 MB of RAM, and could run for up to 10 hours between charges. Starting at just $499, it may prove to have been the most successful electronic device of all time.


This Article Features Photo Zoom

Asus 64 GB Eee Pad Transformer Prime 10.1-Inch Tablet

Acer 16 GB Iconia Tab A Series 10.1-Inch A200-10g16u Tablet
Packed with everything except a high price tag, the sub-$500 Acer Iconia as configured above features a 10.1-inch, 1280×800 wide-screen display, 1 GB of operating RAM and 16 GB of storage, NVIDIA GeForce graphics and an NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core 1 GHz processor. It runs on Android Honeycomb OS, which can be upgraded to version 4.0 Android Ice Cream Sandwich. User experience is enhanced by dual speakers and a front-facing webcam. There’s also a built-in USB port and a slot for MicroSD memory cards, features that are extra-cost options with some brands. It’s Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n- and Bluetooth-enabled.

Apple 16 GB New iPad With Wi-Fi
Apple’s $499 entry-level model is built on a dual-core A5x processor and provides 10 hours of battery life under normal use. The multi-touch Retina display is 9.7 inches and delivers 2048×1536 resolution. The five-megapixel iSight rear camera and front-facing camera support FaceTime, a proprietary Apple communications program that converts the iPad into a video telephone. Owners of Mac computers and/or iPhones will appreciate seamless, synchronized file sharing and other compatibility features thanks to the legendary Apple iOS. While it’s always great to have the latest model, careful shoppers will find some good deals on older Apple iPad 2 tablets.


Archos 32 GB 9 PCtablet With 8.9-Inch Resistive Touch Screen

Archos 32 GB 9 PCtablet With 8.9-Inch Resistive Touch Screen
Following the beat of a different drummer—and staying below the $399 price point—the Archos 9 PCtablet with 32 GB of SSD storage is a Windows 7 machine and includes a software suite with Windows Live and Lotus Symphony, plus Antivirus/Antispyware, Office Productivity, Web TV, Radio Player and email programs. It features an Intel Atom Z515 1.2 GHz CPU, Intel Poulsbo US15W and Realtek ALC269 support chipsets and other high-tech hardware. The 8.9-inch resistive backlit display supports 1024×600-pixel resolution. You’ll find multiple USB ports and a built-in Ethernet connection.

Asus 64 GB Eee Pad Transformer Prime 10.1-Inch Tablet
The Transformer from Asus ($599) offers a comparatively huge 10.1-inch, 1280×800 LCD display that has an enhanced viewing angle and is protected by a layer of scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass. Powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core mobile CPU, it runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb (upgradeable to Android 4.0) and features micro HDMI, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity. You’ll also find an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, dynamic 3D stereo speakers and other advanced features. For those of us who prefer not to type on glass, there’s even an optional keyboard docking station.


Samsung 128 GB Series 7 Slate 11.6-Inch Tablet PC

Panasonic 64 GB Toughbook 10.4-Inch H1 Field Tablet PC
Built for use under extreme conditions, the Panasonic Toughbook Field Tablet is built on a magnesium-alloy internal frame that has been military-tested and -certified. The tablet ships with Windows 7 Professional OS, which is powered by an Intel Atom Z540 1.86 GHz processor. It comes complete with 2 GB of RAM and features 64 GB of storage space on a specially protected solid-state drive. Powered by a pair of hot-swappable battery packs, this Toughbook can operate in the field for up to 12 hours between charges. Although the price will turn away some buyers (over $3,000), the 3.4-pound Toughbook offers protective features that allow it to be used in places where other tablets dare not go.

Samsung 128 GB Series 7 Slate 11.6-Inch Tablet PC
Stretching the limits of specifications in all directions, the Samsung Series 7 Slate ($1,579) features an 11.6-inch multitouch backlit LCD display that supports 1366×768 HD resolution, 4 GB of DDR3 operating memory and a whopping 128 GB SSD storage drive. Built on an Intel Core i5-2467M 1.6 GHz processor, it runs Windows 7 Professional (64-bit) and provides Intel HD Graphics 3000 and stereo speakers. Also built-in are front- and rear-facing cameras, HDMI and USB ports, and a slot for MicroSD memory cards.


This Article Features Photo Zoom

ViewSonic ViewPad 10pi 10.1-Inch Windows Tablet

Samsung 8 GB Galaxy Tab 2 7-Inch Tablet
Coming to market at a much lower price ($249) than its big brother, the Samsung 8 GB Galaxy Tab 2 runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS and includes a MicroSD slot for memory expansion. It also features front- and rear-facing cameras, a 1024×600 display and is optimized for Adobe Flash, Gmail and Google Maps.

Sony 32 GB 9.4-Inch Tablet S
Equipped with a convenient full-sized SDHC memory card slot, the Sony Tablet S ($449) is the first PlayStation-certified tablet that provides out-of-the-box gaming with PlayStation titles and compatibility with classic PS1 and PSP games. It features a TruBlack 9.4-inch backlit display with 1280×800 resolution, front and rear cameras, and an ergonomic grip. Powered by an NVIDIA 1.0 GHz Tegra 250S Dual-Cortex A9 processor, the Tablet S includes 1 GB of RAM and 32 GB storage capacity. When you’re not using the Tablet S to show off your digital images, you can select from more than two million book and magazine titles downloadable from Sony’s Reader Store.


Toshiba 32 GB Excite 10 LE Tablet

Toshiba 32 GB Excite 10 LE Tablet
Adventurers, take note: The Toshiba Excite ($599) comes standard with an onboard group of sensors that includes an accelerometer, a compass and a GPS. Built on a Texas Instruments CPU (1.2 GHz TI OMAP 4430 dual-core Mobile), the Excite 10 runs Android 3.2. It features TI integrated graphics, a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel camera with integrated microphone in front. It also has a MicroSD card slot, plus micro HDMI and USB ports. The capacitive multitouch 10.1-inch display delivers 1280×800 resolution.

ViewSonic ViewPad 10pi 10.1-Inch Windows Tablet
A major player in the computer display market, ViewSonic has adopted Android 3.2 OS (upgradeable to version 4.0 when available) and Windows 7 in the ViewPad ($815). It features an Intel Atom Z670 1.5 GHz Oak Trail CPU, 2 GB of RAM and a 64 GB solid-state drive. The 10.1-inch multitouch screen supports 1280×800 graphics resolution, with a 1300:1 contrast ratio, a G-sensor and an ambient light sensor. It offers a full-sized SD card slot, front and rear cameras, and integrated microphone and speakers.

Lytro, Tablets And Thinking Differently

One of the ways tablets will help drive new thinking about photography can be seen in the Lytro light field camera. The Lytro camera allows you to alter the point of focus after you take the photograph, but that’s not the coolest aspect of the technology. The camera can capture parallax to render a 3D image, and by linking with a tablet’s internal accelerometer, you actually can get the effect of being immersed in a scene as you tilt the tablet from side to side. The experience is seamless and natural, and you don’t have to tap or drag to see the effect. This is poised to change the way we think about and shoot photographs for tablet display.