I’ll save the Android versus Apple debate for another day. In the mean time, for those of you who are in the market for an android tablet, I thought I’d share my thoughts on your best bet if you’re in Thailand. Currently the options, availability, and pricing on brand name Android tablets aren’t great in Thailand. Google’s Nexus tablet is basically impossible to get here, at least for now, and the other brands seem to be a few months behind and sometimes nearly double the price compared to other countries. It’s why my recommendation to you is to buy a no-name Android tablet if you insist on buying one anywhere in Thailand. Here is a breakdown of your options.
Full disclosure: I have had a Galaxy tablet, an Acer tablet, an Ipad, and an OEM (non brand name) Chinese tablet within the past 18 months. I purchased the brand name tablets online in the U.S. and I purchased the Chinese tablet from a vendor at MBK mall in Bangkok. I sold the Ipad and the Galaxy tablet on Ebay after using them for a few months each.
Samsung Galaxy tablets- I love Galaxy phones, but I can’t give high grades to the Galaxy tablets, especially given the ridiculous sticker prices in Thailand. It seems like a newer model Galaxy tablet goes for about the same price as a new 16 gb Ipad and that hardly seems right. With the Ipad, you’re getting superior components; all Galaxy tablets do is give you a presentable version of Google Android operating system. Don’t get me wrong, I personally prefer having an Android with Google Play Apps over Apple and ITunes, but that doesn’t mean I need to pay the same price for an inferior machine. Galaxy tablets are half the price if you’re shopping online in the U.S., and at that price there’s a use for them, but spending 18,000+ Baht on a new Galaxy tablet model in Thailand is a waste of money. There’s just nothing special about them outside of being fairly sturdy.
Various other brand name tablets- I was able to get an Acer at a good price and I actually think it’s better than the Galaxy tab I had. It’s less glitch, and videos and pictures pop off the screen better. Asus and Sony have tablets you can find in Thailand as well and from what I understand they’re solid and at least as good as the Samsung. The problem with all of these models, even in Bangkok, once again comes down to price. I can get a new model on Amazon or Ebay for 40-50% cheaper than they go for in just about any shop in Thailand, just like the Galaxy’s. So if you’re in the market for a brand name tablet, my recommendation is to find a vendor on Ebay or Amazon who is willing to ship to Thailand or to have a friend or family member receive and ship out to you.
No-Name Chinese tablet- So just to be clear, my recommendation is to get a brand name Android tablet online from a repeatable vendor outside of Thailand. But that might not be an option for everyone. If you absolutely have to purchase one in Thailand, you might want to consider going bargain basement and getting a cheap Chinese no name model. I purchased one (shown in the picture) from MBK in Bangkok for 3,000 Baht including a very basic case/ stand. This was after playing a few vendors in the same general location off of each other and negotiating down from asking prices of around 3,500 with no case. The vendors are paying about 2,000 Baht for the tablets FOB China, so 3,000 baht is more than enough for them and they should be willing to throw in the cheapest case/stand they have as well, since they pay about 90 baht for those. You can find them in electronics malls throughout Thailand, but you can figure a 10-15% markup as you get further away from Bangkok. Make sure you’re getting one with a recent Android operating system; no worse than Android 4.03, but preferably Android 4.04. The one I purchased a few months ago has been flawless. If you plan on buying it for your wife or girlfriend, you can toggle between Thai and English through the settings, but the stock Thai keyboard isn’t as good as others you can download in Google Play. I can actually make a real comparison between the 3,000 baht no name tab to the 18,00 Baht Galaxy. Sure the Galaxy is built better; I can feel the differences in the volume button and the on/off button, which are a bit flimsy on the no-name. I would fully expect the Galaxy to last considerably longer as well. The touch screen sensitivity, to my surprise, is very similar. I never thought the Galaxy was all that great in this area anyhow, especially compared to an IPad, so I guess it doesn’t take much to compete there. The Chinese tablet I bought came with 8 less GB of memory, but it has fully expandable flash drive up to 64 GB, so no real loss there. One of the best features of the Galaxy is that it has a Sim card slot; making it possible to use mobile internet at the same cheap rates you get from providers such as True and 1-2 Call for your phone. The Chinese tablet I purchased does not have the Sim card slot, but it does have a USB dongle port so I can use the little internet sticks that are available in Thailand, but those aren’t as cheap as using a Sim. They had another model with a Sim card for an additional 1,000 baht and would not budge on the price, but I know I’m able to pick up WiFi in most places I’d use the tablet so I went with the cheaper one. Most importantly, Android 4.04 is great; and it works just as well on my 3,000 baht tablet as it would on a brand name tab. That’s the beauty of Android anyhow, so as long as a machine is put together well enough to run a newer version of Android you’re good to go. The cheap tab runs all apps I have on my Acer beautifully, and skype video chat is perfect. Youtube, the web browser, and the video apps I downloaded all work perfectly fine.
Will the Chinese model eventually break down? Yes; it’s cheap. Do I have to be a bit more careful when I plug the charger in or turn it on or off, to make sure I don’t break something? Yes…. it’s cheap. But I think it has a good shot of lasting as long as I’d need it to before considerably more impressive Android versions come out and out-date any model I could have bought at the time. Considering I can buy six of them for the same price as one Galaxy tablet in Thailand, I’ll still consider myself a winner even if it breaks and I have to replace it, which might not even happen. It’s not like they can’t be fixed if there was an issue anyway.