Remember that Acer Iconia Tab 10 A3-A30 made me all happy about having finally found a good 10” Android tablet? Well, I’m returning it. The search for a mythical good 10” Android tablet maybe will continue and possibly is ending.

All the positive things in my review of the Iconia Tab 10 A3-A30 still apply, but its battery life is total crap so I’m sending it back. This is because:

  1. The battery capacity is only 5910 mAh which is on the small side for a tablet with a large screen. The iPad Air 2, for example, has an 8820 mAh battery. I knew about the battery capacity before I bought it and thought I’d be able to manage, except...
  2. The screen is dim. Depending on lighting, I tended to use it at or near maximum brightness. Maximum brightness kills your battery.

I’m now at the point where I may be giving up on the idea of a 10” Android tablet, even if a mythical good (and affordable) one actually existed. Why?

Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video on Android is a fucking joke.

Amazon refuses to put Amazon Instant Video in the Google Play Store. You can only install it through the Amazon Appstore. Here is the process for installing Amazon Instant Video:

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  1. Open your device’s security settings and check the box to allow installing apps from unknown sources (i.e. outside the Google Play Store).
  2. Go to the Amazon Appstore Getting Started page and download the .apk file for Amazon Appstore.
  3. Install the Amazon Appstore.
  4. Using the Amazon Appstore, search for Amazon Instant Video and install it.
  5. Go back to your security settings and un-check the box for allowing apps from unknown sources. This breaks automatic updates of Amazon Appstore apps but at least it doesn’t leave you as vulnerable to malware.

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Ok, so the app’s installed, let’s watch some video! What do I want to watch? Hell if I know. But the Amazon Instant Video app doesn’t have an interface for browsing through content. When you open the app it opens the desktop version of the Amazon Instant Video website in Chrome. When you click a ‘watch now’ link, it kicks you back over to the Instant Video app for video playing.

This is stupid. Just put an interface for browsing content in the Instant Video app. I could live with this kludge, if it actually, you know, was good at streaming video. It is not. Video quality is garbage.

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On every Android device I’ve tried to use this stupid nonsense Amazon Instant Video app, there’s a shitload of downgrading the streaming quality to buffer, and there’s random pausing and hiccups. On the rare occasion the app manages to stream at “full quality,” that’s 720p. It is, frankly, unwatchable.

The only way to get it to hold a steady stream is to enable developer options for your device, then go in to developer options and select “Force GPU rendering.”

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There’s no excuse for this, because Amazon Instant Video works just fine on my PS3, Roku, and iPad 2 that I’ve been trying to replace with a 10” Android tablet. Essentially, Amazon Instant Video on Android is such a giant steaming pile of worthless shit, it might as well not exist at all.

Amazon waited a good 2+ years after they put out their iOS Instant Video app before they got around to supporting Android (outside of the Kindle Fire) and they might as well not have even bothered. They’re still not putting out a usable Android app, because they think having a shitty Instant Video experience will drive Android users to buy Kindle Fires. There’s no way in hell I would buy a Kindle Fire, so the only thing having a shitty Instant Video experience on Android will drive me to do is buy an iPad. Hey Amazon, Apple thanks you!

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So, what to do?

My gf is totally happy with her 8” Acer Android tablet. It’s got a fine enough screen, minimal bloatware, the battery lasts, and at that size the lack of tablet-specific websites and apps is less of an issue. She likes Amazon Instant Video more than me, but she doesn’t care much about watching it on a tablet. She mostly uses it on our TVs with the aforementioned PS3 and Roku, which work fine.

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As for myself, I’m pretty much down to deciding between:

  1. Nexus 9 - It’s got a 4:3 aspect ratio screen like an iPad, which honestly I prefer over 16:10 for a tablet. It has powerful hardware and runs stock Android. Really the only downsides are the screen is a bit smaller than I’d like, and Amazon Instant Video will probably still suck on it.
  2. iPad Air 1 or 2 - It has what is really the ideal tablet screen size IMHO. No worries about stutter/lag or bloatware. Amazon Instant Video should work just fine because hell, it works just fine on my old iPad 2. While I’m not opposed to iOS, I generally prefer Android if given the choice.