Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: West Malling, Kent
Thanked 52 Times in 36 Posts
I really am no expert - I'm still using an 8" Galaxy Tab 3 (not S3!), which must be at least 3 years old (Google tells me it was released in 2013) but it still does everything I need, and runs Osmand+ just fine. I chose an 8" tablet deliberately as it seemed a nice compromise size between legibility and being able to mount it where I could see it but it wasn't blocking any of my field of view.
Your point about remaining charged whilst in use with GPS is a very good one, and incredibly important if you're using it as a navigation aid.
Mine will maintain its charge level whilst using it for navigation provided I have it connected to a USB charger that provides at least 2.1 Amps. I have one of those dual USB adapters in the van, which plugs into the cigarette lighter socket.
One of the sockets provides 1 Amp, and the other Provides 2.1 - a lot of these chargers are the same, 3.1A overall, but 2.1 is only available through one of the two sockets.
I find that if I have the tablet plugged into the 2.1A side and my phone plugged into the 1A, my phone will charge, and the tablet won't lose any charge, but will only gain charge if I turn the screen or GPS off.
If I was buying a new tablet, the main features I would be looking for are:
- Built in GPS receiver
Note, we call it GPS, but that is one specific (US) standard. I would look for a tablet that is capable of also picking up the Galileo Global Positioning System signals - Galileo is being rolled out by the EU and the European Space Agency. It is currently being tested, and more satellites are being deployed - it'll be 2019 before it reaches full operational capability, but the signals are well understood and a lot of tablet manufacturers are building Galileo receiving capability into their devices even though they may require a future firmware upgrade to actually make use of them.
The Galaxy S3 is one such device, and it'll also pick up the Russian GLONASS and Chinese BeiDou standards.
I don't believe the current generation iPads and iPhones have Galileo capable receivers - just GPS and GLONASS, though I could be wrong about that and, of course, they are very shiny.
- Decent amount of built-in memory
Lots of apps still refuse to utilise additional memory on an SD card. On my tablet the two notable ones are: BBC iPlayer and the Sony Play Memories app (which I use to back up photos from my camera to my tablet). 16Gb of internal memory can fill up surprisingly quickly, go for at least 32Gb.
- A Micro-SD card slot
It's absolutely essential that you can carry lots of data with you. I currently have around 23Gb of Maps, though I tend to just keep these on my PC and transfer specific countries onto the tablet for a particular trip.
I wouldn't buy a tablet with anything less than the ability to take a 64Gb MicroSD card.
- Wifi / Bluetooth
Pretty much goes without saying - you need to be able to connect to the outside world.
- a 'proper' 3.5mm stereo headphone socket.
- a decent protective case, and a secure way of mounting it so I can see it whilst driving, yet it doesn't obscure my field of view.
Things that aren't particularly important to me:
- SIM Card. If I need to connect to a 4G network, I just turn my phone into a hotspot and connect to that.
- Processor speed. Might seem odd, but my 3+ year old dual core Galaxy Tab 3 will re-draw maps quite fast enough. I have been in aeroplanes travelling at 450knots, and I can zoom into street level and Osmand will keep up. Video playback from things like the BBC iPlayer work just fine too.
- Camera. Rarely, if ever, would I take a photo on a tablet - I have a camera for that. I really don't need a 30 Gazillion mega-pixel front, back and upwards-facing camera
- Weight. Thin looks very nice, but I'd much rather have a larger-capacity battery.
I do keep wondering whether I ought to get a new tablet and, if I did, the Galaxy S3 would be high on my list. At the cheaper end of the market, the Asus ZenPad may be worth a look, but it doesn't seem to score very highly on battery life.
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