How the Sylvania Tablet Works


Better known as a producer of lightbulbs, Sylvania also makes a line of tablets.
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The name Sylvania may not ring a bell unless you're a NASCAR fan (the company sponsors the Sylvania 300), but you'd probably recognize the company's logo if you saw it: a white light bulb on a bright orange background. That's right, Sylvania (Osram Sylvania) has been a lighting company since 1901, but today it lends its name to a host of other product lines, including tablet computers [source: Sylvania].

The Sylvania tablet made its debut in 2010 just before Christmas, and it was priced much lower than other tablets on the market [source: Murph]. Apple had just released the first iPad a few months earlier, and tech companies were scrambling to get into the market as consumers snatched up tablets faster than Michael Phelps picks up medals. Selling at less than $200, Sylvania's device was a viable option for those who wanted the tablet experience, but didn't want to fork over the hefty $500 the iPad then commanded. Since that time, six versions of the Sylvania tablet have been available, and they're all still priced well below most other tablets on the market.

First things first -- the Sylvania tablet isn't a computer, it doesn't have all of the functionalities of a computer and it certainly doesn't pretend to. The company dubs it a "Wireless Mobile Internet Device." That means it's got a beautiful touch-screen display and you can use it to surf the Web, check your e-mail and use some apps and games. But it won't help you if you need to type up a term paper, and you can't play World of Warcraft on it.

While some people would be satisfied with that level of functionality for the cost, others would have a problem. For instance, the device is not equipped with 3G, so you can only access the Internet with WiFi or Ethernet. And the storage space is considerably less than, say, an iPad. But it fits easily into a purse or backpack, and at less than $200 what do you expect?

Want to know more about what you can do with a Sylvania tablet? Keep reading to find out.

Sylvania Tablet Specs

The Sylvania tablet comes in three screen sizes: 7-inches (17.78 centimeters), 8.4-inches (21.3 centimeters) and 10-inches (25.4 centimeters). The 7-inch and the 10-inch models are nearly identical except for two things: the screen size and the fact that the 10-inch allows picture-taking with its 2.1 megapixel camera.

Both the 7-inch "Mini" tablet and the 10-inch "Magni" tablet have a full-color, touch-screen LCD display. They have either 2 or 4 GB of flash memory, 256 MB of RAM and a pre-installed 2 or 4GB SD card for additional storage, depending on the model. They run the Android 2.2 operating system, so the interface will be familiar if you already have an Android-based smartphone (as many people do). In addition, you get two USB ports, a mini HDMI output for connecting to a TV or other screen, and a headphone or stereo jack. Oh, and the device is Wi-Fi enabled [source: Sylvania].

One thing to note is that the earliest version of the 7-inch Sylvania tablet had an operating system based on Android 2.1, but wasn't actually Android.

The 8.4-inch tablet is quite a bit different than the 7-inch and 10-inch models, and it's not just the screen size that sets it apart. First, it features a multi-touch screen, which means it recognizes when you touch the screen with more than one finger at the same time. This enables things like pinching your fingers together to zoom out. The 8.4-inch model also has a bigger storage capacity: 8 GB of memory, 512 MB of RAM and an SD card slot if you need it. It runs on Android 2.3, and like the smaller versions it features two USB ports, a mini HDMI output, a headphone or stereo jack and Wi-Fi capability [source: Sylvania].

Ok, enough of the tech talk. What can this device actually do? Next we'll look at some of the more playful features of the Sylvania tablet.

Sylvania Tablet Features

The Sylvania tablet has some basic features that make it suitable for on-the-go planning and fun. Pre-installed applications include e-mail, a file manager, an alarm clock, a calculator, YouTube, a PDF reader, Kobo (an e-reader) and voice memos. You also get several pre-installed widgets, like a calendar, a music player, a photo gallery and a weather program [source: Sylvania 7" User Guide; Sylvania 10" User Guide].

Since the Sylvania uses the Android operating system, you can choose from thousands of great Android-based apps to download from the Web and use on the tablet. Apps are just cool applications -- tools, games and other software that give your device more functionality. Not all apps work on tablets, especially if they're meant to be used solely with smartphones, but you still have a huge number to choose from, like Angry Birds, a budget calculator and even Facebook Messenger (these three alone account for hours of entertainment).

All three sizes of the Sylvania tablet have a sensor in them to rotate the display from portrait to landscape view as you turn the device. This is a great feature for playing games because some games only work in one orientation or the other, and a few games even use this sensor as part of the game-playing experience.

And of course there's the Internet -- and what's more entertaining than a few hours surfing the Web? With the Sylvania tablet, you can use WiFi or Ethernet to get connected. Once you're connected you can download a new Texas hold 'em poker game, check out the latest Brandon Sanderson title on e-book, catch up with friends through e-mail and watch a trailer for the latest movie blockbuster on YouTube. Not bad for a $200 tablet, don't you think?

If you're looking for more tablet talk, you'll find it on the next page.

Author's Note

I've always been a bit of a tablet naysayer, so to speak. I need a computer to function, and tablets just don't offer all that a computer can do. "Plus," I thought, "Isn't a tablet just a big smartphone that doesn't make phone calls?"

Then a few weeks ago I spent some time with my 3- and 4-year-old niece and nephew and got to see first hand how awesome tablets can be. The games were engaging and exciting, and the ability to literally touch the things on the screen they wanted to move completely made sense to them. Not only did a tablet keep them entertained for hours (pfew!), they interacted with it so naturally and intuitively you'd almost think that society never developed such archaic devices as a mouse or a video game controller. I finally got it -- this is how we connect with things now. This is how we access the Internet, play games and communicate with one another, isn't it? My young niece and nephew sure think so, and they probably always will.

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Sources

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