Whenever I search for product reviews, I find a deluge of sites which parrot the manufacturers press releases and are filled with statistics and specifications but no context: information arrives from data + context and usually all you get is data. It is therefore my desire to write honest reviews about the products I use based on what I use them for. Some of these uses and applications might be highly individual to me, others more common; but I am a power user of some technical ability and this review should provide you with some insight into the key question “will this product do what I want it to do?”
I managed to get hold of this 10.1 inch Fujitsu tablet secondhand, although it was a recent tablet; thus saving a considerable amount of money. It is billed as a business level tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. I can only guess that it wasn’t suitable for the first owner, as the box was complete so it clearly wasn’t stolen! It originally came with 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich but the upgrade via a PC was very straightforward and pretty much the first thing I did with it. It wasn’t an OTA (over the air) upgrade so you had to restart it pressing the volume and power buttons which can be fiddly and then select the upgrade option. This doesn’t faze me at all, but I couldn’t imagine my mother doing it.
I can’t really tell the difference between Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean to be honest, but maybe that is because my other (and main use tablet) is the 7 inch Google Nexus 7 which now runs 4.2 KitKat and has possibly the best user interface available (far nicer than any fruit-based products that might be available). Jelly Bean lags behind this curve but is functional. As a 10.1 inch tablet, this machine is slightly smaller than an A4 sheet of paper but is large enough to make pleasant reading. The screen is quite clear, although not as high definition as the Nexus 7, which boasts a Retina-level display and a ludicrous amount of pixels per inch. This is adequate and movies, text and images are very clear.
The weight of the tablet is very fair, and holding it in my left hand for extended periods of time as I preach or lead worship was not a problem.
Battery life appears good, but the very worst feature of the tablet is the charger: although there is a mini-USB port on the side, you cannot charge from it – there is a dedicated charger using a nonstandard connector. This is a pain and means that the charger has to come away with me on day trips to London as I cannot just rely on charging from the same charger that I am forced to carry for my phone. Why on earth should they do this? Everything is micro-USB these days! The position of this interface on the bottom is a pain as well, as I am not going to shell out £70 on a custom docking station (even if it does provide an HDMI port) so to charge it I put the tablet on my (poundland) tablet stand (and how much did that cost you, I hear you ask..) upside down.
Built into this quad-core tablet is 32gb of memory, and it has a micro-SHDC card slot, so you can stick plenty of distracting movies on the card for the journey home. Performance is great, although slightly lower than the outstanding Nexus 7. I can play both simple and graphically complex games (Carmageddon is an old-skool favourite) and it performs well using core (for me) applications: Kingsoft Office, Twitter, Facebook and the like.
My workflow involves extensive use of Evernote, and Dropbox: liturgies and homilies are created on a PC, sometimes collaboratively and saved to common Dropbox folders. I pick these up on my tablet and lead worship from them. In my part of Plymouth, internet connectivity is intermittent and so I often save these to a local folder before use, but occasionally, other texts and the like need to be accessed live and this is both efficient and effective using this tablet.
The M532 comes with 3G capabilities, although I don’t really need this as I have an unlimited data contract and can tether on my phone. I have tried my full size SIM in the tablet and have got speeds of up to HSDPA which is as fast as you can get before 4G becomes realistic. If this was a key factor for you, then a payg sim with GiffGaff would sort you out: £7.50 for 1Gb which is very good. You can text from the tablet, although I have not found a way for the dialler to work so you cannot use it as a phone, which is a pity. Skype works pretty well on it, but I worry that providers like GiffGaff would get shirty if you bought one of their £12 goody bags which provide unlimited data and don’t use the phone part – I wonder if they could tell?
The Camera is good: this is the rear camera (excuse the reflection from the train window)
And this is the front one – lower resolution but you only really want it for Skype as I don’t want to do (many) Selfies…
There is no case supplied, and as it isn’t as popular as those fruit-based tablets, there isn’t many cases designed just for the M532. I tried a generic one and didn’t like it, but as it only cost me a fiver from eBay, i wasn’t that upset. Currently I am using a Poundland neoprene case which works very well and using the tablet naked. It has a Gorilla Glass screen and apparently has some Military grade rating so it would appear to be quite tough. Fingermarks are however, very visible.
I like the red edging to the tablet and it matches my red Fujitsu laptop, so for once I have something stylish and integrated. It is a quality build and feels professional.
One of the main things I needed a 10 inch tablet for was as an altar monitor: to be able to see what was on the projector screen which is usually behind me. For this, I use Splashtop: a remote control app which streams a PC (or Mac) screen to your tablet or other PC – it is great for dialling into my Mum’s to remotely fix her problems and also to show the second screen of an easy worship presentation. This means that wirelessly, I can put this on the altar and see what is being me. I can also run a Prezi directly from the tablet and control the laptop (usually at the back of the assembly) from my hand. Its not quite so good as a proper remote but you get to see what is on screen and don’t have to keep turning round, which looks less professional. The performance of the tablet in this is excellent and I have even connected to a PC at home over 3G, put a file into Dropbox and picked it up on my tablet for almost immediate use! Brilliant!
So, is it a good tablet – yes: it meets my needs and might meet yours.
What’s good about it – performance, storage, 3G, quality build.
What isn’t so good – charger and connector, no KitKat yet so OS needs improvement