I love my Android tablet, but wouldn't recommend buying one

Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I'm not entirely sure what inspired me to buy an Android tablet. When it comes to tech, I tend to be pretty conservative in what I buy. I want the best tool for the job, and I want it to last as long as humanly possible. 

You wouldn't apply that description to an Android tablet, which occupies a functional no-man's-land between smartphones and laptops. An Android tablet does essentially the same thing as those two devices, but it does them much worse. 

And yet, I picked up my Android tablet early on during the recent holiday break — and I haven't put it down since.

Two reasons to get an Android tablet

While I've never written about them much, I've owned Android tablets for more than a decade. I started with the Google Nexus 10 back in 2012, and ran the battery completely into the ground. When it was time to upgrade, I bought a cheap Samsung Galaxy Tab A (SM-T510) in a Cyber Monday sale. Both times, I knew that I would use the device for precisely two things:

1) Watching videos

2) Reading comics

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8

(Image credit: Samsung)

The first use is purely a luxury, as smartphones are perfectly good video players, too. But tablet cases almost always have a built-in stand to prop up the device. As such, I watch videos on my tablet all the time, especially while doing chores. It's especially helpful for cooking tutorials — and on airplanes, where a tray table essentially gives you a small personal theater. But this is a pretty trivial reason to spend $200 or more on a single device.

However, the second application is worth discussing. I stopped reading physical comics in the early 2010s, when my local shop sadly closed up for good. A 10-inch Android tablet (or bigger) turned out to be an excellent substitute, as it's about the same size as a comic book page. This was also right around the time that Comixology was getting big, which let me continue reading all of my favorites from month to month.

But ever since Amazon acquired Comixology, the company seems to be doing its damndest to torpedo the whole experience. Without going into grisly details, it's now basically impossible to read, organize or buy comics in the app, and no other company has stepped up to fill the niche in the market. (Marvel Unlimited is quite good, but only if you're in the mood for back issues of Marvel comics.)

I assumed I was done with electronic comics until the Comixology app improved or something else arrived to take its place. But then I found a title that I couldn't put down.

How a tablet fit into my holiday plans 


(Image credit: ComiXology)

Like many of you, I had a short break for the December holidays, and I traveled around to visit family during that time. When you're on the go, your options for watching movies, binging TV and playing games are limited. Those activities require significant time investments, and aren't easy to suspend when you're in the middle of something. Plus, you might have to share a TV with a whole bunch of relatives — or sequester yourself in another room and miss the point of going to see them entirely.

While I was on break, however, a friend of mine recommended The Boys, a Garth Ennis comics series that deconstructs beloved superhero tropes, often in the most gory and over-the-top ways imaginable. (There's an Amazon Prime series, too, if that's more your speed.) While Comixology is mostly a wasteland these days, it does at least tie in with Amazon Prime fairly easily, and the first volume of the series is free for subscribers. I downloaded it, and blew through the whole thing in a single morning. I picked up the second volume, and the third, and the fourth — and I'm still going, even now that the break is done.

While Android tablets are a niche device, at best, my Galaxy Tab A turned out to be exactly the right tool for the job. I was traveling around, so paper graphic novels would have been a pain to carry compared to a tablet. And the iPad, while dominating our best tablet rankings, is an unbelievably expensive tool, if all you want to do is read comic books. A smartphone is too small; a laptop is too big.

Android tablet outlook

Over the years, I've gone back and forth on whether I needed a tablet at all. While it wasn't that expensive, I also don't get that much use out of it. But when it comes to comic books and graphic novels, it's probably one of the best investments you can make. As such, I think my fellow comic-readers should give Android tablets a second look — and, by the same token, I think that everyone else should probably steer clear.

Part of reviewing tech is recommending a product to the right audience. But an equally important part is making sure that the wrong audience doesn't waste its money. After 10 years of owning Android tablets, I can't think of anything that they do exceptionally well, apart from "reading comics" and "watching videos when you're not near another big screen."

It's a niche use-case, to be sure. But the beautiful thing about consumer tech is that sometimes, you can find the exact product you want —  even if most people would never need one.

More from Tom's Guide

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • RedHagar
    Speak for yourself! My whole family has them and we use them more than any other device in the house! They are very useful for reading and streaming but they make amazing Tik Tok devices, browsing works great, I sometimes remote control Windows machines with it, play music, browse forums, online shopping, etc, etc. The most important device next to my phone!
  • Kimschulzdk
    We used to have ipads but never really used them for anything but netflix and YouTube. Then we switched to Samsung tablets and now we use them constantly. They are actual useful tools, having Google assistant makes it easy to remote control by voice, the DeX experience is fenominal when I need to use it for work, the kids play a lot of 3d games and it just works when controlling all our smart home devices.
    The screens and cameras are just a lovely experience to use compared to the ipads.
  • caromero1965
    And this is why ai opted for a Chromebook tablet. HP, granted it is refurbished but with 8gb RAM it can actually run most Android apps just fine and because it runs full Chrome you have all the web based apps as well . So Google Drive and associated apps like Slides work fine. Can take the place of my Windows laptop for most of what I use that for
  • Atlanticboy
    Completely disagree, but I also think that's the beauty of tech today, it can be all things to all people.
    The two tasks that Marshall uses a tablet for I would never dream of using mine for. I use mine for surfing the net, emails, social media and games. My current tablet is a Lenovo Tab4 8 plus which I've owned since 2017, the battery is starting to go and was thinking of upgrading but 8" tablets are now being replaced with 10" models, which I don't want. So I think I'll try replace the battery on this Lenovo (£20) and hope the rest of the hardware keeps going.
  • AG2
    As someone who is using Android tablets since their introduction, i strongly disagree with you. Also I switched to a Chromebook tablet a year ago as it gives me opportunity to do serious coding, I still believe that Android tablets could be very useful for definitely more than these two reasons. It does not seem that you discover full potential of these devices
  • Auspex
    I bought a tablet years ago and practically never used it, but my 94 year old mother uses one exclusively. It's much more convenient for her than the laptop she used to use, and she'll never have a smart phone.

    Otoh, i completely disagree that a phone is in any way adequate for watching videos, so if i did that I'd use a tablet. Generally, i avoid videos, though
  • Johnnyretro
    The thing about android tablets is.. they don't quite make it... I bought a Chinese Android tablet many years back, for its time it was more advanced than the top model here in the UK, but cost a lot less, I used it once or twice until I discovered the Windows Tablets, my first was an Asus which got used daily but was not as powerful as I needed, but then I saw the microsoft surface pro range and migrated to the Surface Pro immediately, these are a full blown windows PC, they do everything that a PC does and everything an android tablet does, and are faster and better than the ipad. And now with the new Windows 11 it can run all the apps you find in googles play store. It can run all the full software packages as well as apps and games, in reality its 3 systems in one, its a tablet, a PC and a large phone and it runs everything blazingly fast. Don't buy Android tablets get a Surface pro, even the second user ones are a quality item. My first surface I bought in 2014, since then I have never needed a laptop, PC , Android tablet or games console, the surface pro 's can do the lot I went for the top model because its the ultimate machine and they are built to last, oh they are perfect for drawing sketching, designing , and editing photos too.. they work best when using the surface pen but can take a bit of getting used to, but once you've mastered the pen everything becomes much easier... BTW there are 3rd party compatible pens available if you don't like Microsoft's version....
  • Sven Katkosilt
    I use Android tablets daily. My current Tablet is Lenovo YT-X705L. Using it for control my Smarthome, as additional portable media center, watching Youtube, Twitch, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest ... , Watching e-books, comics, news, listening podcast and music, Online Shopping. Sometimes playing games. As a weather station, monitoring webcams. I prefer not using my smartphone as possible. I even consider buying additional tablet for kitchen.
  • MysticHDX
    If you can't think of a single reason for anyone -- anyone! -- to use a certain device, you're not thinking hard enough. My Android tablet is an absolutely essential piece of my home music studio. It pairs with audio workstation apps like ProTools and Cubase so that I can work away from my desktop to record vocals and instruments. During mixing, it serves as a mini-mixing board and controller, keeping essential functions within a single touch. I have a DJ mixing app to do web broadcasts (e.g. IG/Facebook/YouTube live). And oh yea, it's a great companion in the kitchen when cooking or washing dishes.

    But it would literally take me two and three times as long to work on music without my Lenovo tablet, and certain things I wouldn't be able to do at all. I am 100% certain people in other creative professions find similar uses. You should really expand your imagination if all you can think of to use a tablet is to watch videos.