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Which tablet device to use for offline CAPI surveys?

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Android tablets come in all sizes and features. From very cheap low end devices to full featured expensive high end devices. The following will detail some possible options for low, mid & high end devices. Tablets vary mainly in the following:

  • Size (3.5″, 7″, 10″ and sizes in between)
  • Screen quality
  • GPS (yes/no)
  • Cameras (No camera, forward facing or both forward and back facing)
  • Battery power
  • Storage
  • CPU power

Tablet sizes

There is a big distinction between the smaller 3.5″ mini tablets and the other 7″+ tablets. The mini tablets while being less expensive usually come equipped with both GPS and 2 cameras almost as a standard. However, for the larger tablets the availability of GPS and cameras is very dependent on price. It’s therefore that if the project requirements can endure smaller 3.5″ tablets, it will provide for better cost/benefits. For obvious reasons, smaller tablets will have smaller screens.

Screen quality

When showing videos & photos, screen size and quality can make a big difference. 10″ high-end devices will obviously provide the best combination of screen sizes and quality. However, smaller 7″ devices are also adequate in size to display images and videos. As a rule of thumb, the lower end devices tend to have screens of less quality so if displaying media is a high priority screen quality should be given attention.


There are 2 types of cameras. Forward facing and backward facing. The forward facing camera is used in video conferencing to shoot the face of the person using the tablet. The backward facing camera is the one you use to take pictures of places. Usually, on the lower end tablets, either no camera is present or a forward facing camera only is present. If you need to take pictures of places/people on a regular basis, it is advised to choose a device with a backward facing camera.

Battery power

Battery power in tablets is affected from 3 main components:

  • The battery size – the bigger the better
  • CPU strength – the slower the better
  • Screen size/usage – the smaller the better, the less time the screen is on, the better.

Battery power is as far as we know not directly related to the cost of the device. There are high end devices with small batteries and lower end ones with big batteries.

CPU & Storage

While CPU & storage plays a big role when choosing a tablet for consumer use, when choosing a tablet for tablet surveys this has almost no implications. Any CPU will run SurveyToGo surveys fine. As for storage, for surveys with no videos this has no implication at all and for surveys where you need to capture/display videos it might be a consideration but with careful planning most devices should suffice.

Semi Rugged device (3.7″)

Device name Price Features Comment
Motorola Defy Mini XT320 ~$200

Possible low-end devices

Device name Price Features Comments
Archos 70 Internet Tablet 8 GB – Android 2.2 1 GHz $170
Lenovo Ideapad A1 22282MU 7-Inch Tablet $199
ViewSonic ViewPad 7e 4 GB $170
ViewSonic ViewPad 10s 16 GB

Possible Mid-High range devices

Device name Price Features Comment
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus WiFi 16 GB $350
ViewSonic ViewPad 10s 16 GB $250
Motorola XOOM With Wi-Fi 32 GB $350
Acer ICONIA Tab A500-10S16u 16 GB $300-$400
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101 16 GB $350
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 WiFi 16 GB $350-$400

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