Hands on with the $149.99 Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 11.6-inch Tablet with Removable Keyboard

I had a chance this week to use a new (to me) low-cost Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 tablet computer. I thought I would write about it here as many people are looking for potential Christmas presents or perhaps a tablet to add to one’s own “Christmas wish list.”

I selected the Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 tablet primarily because it is cheap. While it has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $199, BestBuy is selling it for $149.99. That is ridiculously cheap for an Android tablet with an 11.6” screen and a keyboard. After reading all the specifications, I visited a nearby BestBuy store and purchased one.

I plan to use the new tablet computer to run genealogy apps as well as dozens of other uses. It can surf the web, read and write email, run any of several word processing programs and spreadsheets, do everything on Facebook, and run all sorts of other applications for many different uses (see https://play.google.com/store/search?q=Android%20apps for information about the thousands of Android apps available). It even has dozens of genealogy apps available; most of them are available free of charge. (See https://play.google.com/store/search?q=genealogy&c=apps). I am primarily using it with MyHeritage’s genealogy app as well as BillionGraves.

In many ways, the Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 is much like an Apple iPad but with the following major differences:

1. The Insignia tablet runs the Android 7.0 (Nougat) operating system, not Apple’s iOS.

2. It includes a detachable keyboard at no extra charge. Many other tablet computers require an extra $30 to as much as $169 for the optional keyboards. This entire tablet computer, complete with keyboard, costs less than what some other companies charge for a keyboard alone!!

3. The 11.6” screen is bigger than the screens on most iPads although not as big as the iPad Pro’s largest model with the 12.9″ screen. (That’s the one that costs $700 for the iPad Pro tablet plus another $169 for the keyboard!) Even so, the 1.3-inch difference doesn’t strike me as a major limitation.

4. The screen resolution of the Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 11.6-inch tablet is good at 1366-by-768 pixels but not nearly as sharp as the iPad Pro’s Retina screen with 2732-by-2048 resolution. (The iPad’s screen is the best in the tablet business.)

5. While all tablet computers will access the Internet via wi-fi networking, the Insignia tablet also offers Bluetooth but no cellular data connectivity. In contrast, an iPad offers optional cellular connections for an extra price and extra monthly fees. When I need to access the Internet when outside of wi-fi coverage, I plan to use the “tethering” capability in my cell phone to work as a wireless modem and then connect to the tablet computer via wi-fi.

NOTE: For an explanation of tethering cell phones, see my earlier article, How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Wi-Fi Hotspot, at: http://bit.ly/2nm6z4T.

6. The Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 tablet contains 32 gigabytes of storage space while the iPad contains 64 to 512 gigabytes at ever-increasing prices. However, the Insignia tablet has a slot to plug in a microSD or microSDHC memory expansion card, offering expansion up to as much as your wallet allows. In fact, you can even purchase multiple microSD cards to add huge amounts of storage although only one card may be inserted at a time. In contrast, the iPads have no capability to expand the memory. What’s more, microSD memory cards are cheap these days.

7. The Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 tablet contains a built-in GPS, great for Waze and other navigation apps. For some reason, the iPads only contain GPS capabilities in the more-expensive versions when the optional cellular networking is purchased.

8. The Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 tablet uses a USB-C connector in place of the more common micro USB connectors used on most other Android tablets. (iPads use still another connector: Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector.) I prefer the new USB-C connector although I suspect other, experienced Android owners would prefer the older USB connectors. I already own a new Android cell phone and a Chromebook computer, both of which use the newer USB-C connections. Therefore, I already own several cables and charger with USB-C connectors, so I am all set to use the new tablet in a number of different environments. However, anyone using older devices might need to buy an adapter cable or two in order to use older peripherals with the new Insignia tablet. As technology continues to improve, all of us will probably need to do the same thing sooner or later. The older USB connectors are going to slowly disappear as they are replaced with USB-C on most newer devices. I do find it interesting that Insignia uses an older USB connector on the side of the keyboard, used only for plugging in an external mouse.

There are other differences as well, but the above list strikes me as the major items. Oh yes, let me repeat the one big difference: the Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 with the removable keyboard costs $149.99 at BestBuy while the iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch screen and the matching keyboard costs a total of $968!

 

Insignia NS-P11A8100 with keyboard attached

Perhaps a better comparison is the next smaller iPad Pro with a 10.5-inch screen, slightly smaller than the Insignia™ NS-P11A8100’s 11.6-inch screen. The smaller iPad Pro with keyboard costs $649 for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro plus $169 for the keyboard for a total of $818. Compare that to the Insignia’s price of $149.99, including removable keyboard. I can find other uses for the “extra” $688!

I am not suggesting that the Insignia tablet is just as good as the Apple iPad Pro. The fact is that Apple produces excellent, high-quality hardware and software. In contrast, the Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 tablet is a cheap Chinese import. I have used both and can tell you that the iPad has a better screen, the better operating system, and a more rugged metal case than the Insignia’s plastic case. However, for the difference in price, I am willing to live with the differences! If the Insignia tablet dies after the one-year warranty expires, I can buy up to five replacement Insignia tablets and still have some change left over!

I would never send the Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 back for repair. At these prices, it is a disposable computer. It is probably cheaper to purchase a new replacement tablet than to pay for the repairs to a failed or damaged tablet.

Insignia NS-P11A8100 with keyboard detached

The Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 also has all the usual tablet features, including front and rear cameras, 802.11a/b/g/n wi-fi networking, Bluetooth, a touchscreen (it can also use an external mouse, not included), stereo speakers, an included power adapter, and a 1-year warranty.

Unboxing and Setup

Unboxing the Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 tablet and configuring it was simple. The menus asked simple questions and almost all answers were obvious. The most “techie” item was entering the wi-fi network’s password. I was up and running within 3 or 4 minutes after unboxing the tablet.

Then I hit my first disappointment: when I went to install my first app, the new tablet computer abruptly powered off. Apparently, there wasn’t much of a charge in the batteries. I plugged in the external charger and continued to use the tablet. Once the batteries were fully charged, I disconnected the charger and used the new tablet without difficulties. The tablet has stayed powered up and running for as long as I have used it at any one time.

The Insignia’s specifications claim that a fully charged battery in this tablet computer will last up to 8 hours with normal continuous use. I didn’t verify that claim, however. All I can say is that the only time it ever powered off abruptly on me was when the new tablet had only been out of the box for only a few minutes. Then again, I never tried to use it non-stop for 8 hours.

Installing Apps

Installing new apps on any Android tablet is simple: touch the icon for Play Store and either browse the apps or search for a keyword of interest, such as “genealogy. When you find an app you want, touch the icon to install it, wait a minute or two” while the app is downloaded and installed, and then start using it. Simple! I was up and running with each new app quickly.

I was soon accessing MyHeritage, Gmail, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Zoho Writer, Microsoft Excel, Google News & Weather, Billion Graves, Google Voice (to make telephone calls without a cell phone or an old-fashioned telephone), Zello (a walkie-talkie app), Mint (a budgeting application), my bank’s app, the Kindle ebook reading app, a backgammon game, and several other apps. No problem. Everything installed easily and worked on the first attempt.

In short, this inexpensive $149.99 tablet seemed to run all the apps that run in more expensive Android devices. When compared to the Apple iPad, the Google Play Store seems to have either the same apps or similar apps to the Apple App Store used by iPads. It is quite possible that an iPad owner might not find the exact same favorite apps in the Google Play Store; but, in most cases, equivalent apps will be found.

Summation

After several days of use, I am more than pleased with the low-cost Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 11.6-inch tablet. I find the 11.6-inch screen is much better than that of the usual 7-inch or 8-inch screens used in most other tablet computers. The resolution of the screen is more than good enough for my eyes although not as sharp looking as Apple’s Retina displays. The downside of the large screen plus the keyboard results in a heavier tablet at about 2 pounds. It is a bit large to slip into an overcoat pocket, but it fits easily into my backpack.

The inclusion of the removable keyboard is a nice feature not usually found in tablet computers. Finally, the plastic case doesn’t feel as nice as the metal case of the iPads. Still, at $149.99, I feel the Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 11.6-inch tablet with removable keyboard is by far the more cost-effective device.

I purchased my Insignia™ NS-P11A8100 11.6-inch tablet at BestBuy for $149.99 US, but I know it is available at many other computer retailers as well, perhaps at the same or higher prices.

12 Comments

Interesting. Thanks for the review, Dick.

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Which bluetooth does the tablet have? Thanks…

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    I have looked at the specifications but cannot find any reference to a Bluetooth version number. All I can tell you that it seems to work well when I use Bluetooth to connect to my cell phone and to the stereo system in my automobiles.

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You can get basically the same tablet (same processor) with a 10.1″ screen for $99.99 at Best Buy. https://www.bestbuy.com/site/insignia-10-1-tablet-32gb-with-keyboard-black/5855903.p?skuId=5855903

If you read the reviews people are leaving for the Insignia tablets is that they do not have enough RAM for many applications and have a tendency to freeze. Also quite a few are having quality issues with the tablets.

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today it is $129 at best buy

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Question about its GPS: The GPS, since it’s a passive radio receiver, presumably doesn’t need WiFi or tethering to the internet to determine your position. But, if so, how can it display, because Google maps, WAZE, & maybe other mapping need internet connection? Does it have a native map itself or maybe just print out a lat-long like the original non-mapping GPS’s? Or do you need to store some Google maps?

It’s all kind of unlikely but might be useful someplace there’s no internet access.

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    —> presumably doesn’t need WiFi or tethering to the internet to determine your position.

    Not exactly. I think the answer is “Maybe”

    All GPS devices include rather simple radio receivers that simply receive and decode signals, converting them into a string of numbers. Then some software is needed to convert those numbers into longitude and latitude.

    In the case of a GPS receiver for an automobile, that software is included within the GPS you purchase. The GPS receivers you can purchase from Garmin, TomTom, and other companies include microcomputers and software to convert and display those numbers as longitude and latitude. and, in many cases, as maps.

    In the case of a cell phone, tablet, or computer, that software is usually provided by an app installed by the owner, such as Waze or any of a dozen or so other apps.

    Like most other cell phones, tablets, or computers, this tablet does not include any GPS software. However, it is a simple matter to install Waze or any of the other GPS apps to add the capability to display longitude and latitude, display maps, or to perform the functions we normally expect of GPS applications. Some of those apps require an Internet connection (such as Waze) while others contain all the needed information within the app itself.

    So, depending upon which app the owner installs, an Internet connection may or may not be needed.

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Hi. I had one question you might be able to help me with. What kind of anti virus did you use?
Thanks.

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Thanks for the pointer. I got a $99 smaller version for Christmas and it’s turning out nicely as you noted. It doesn’t look like it has a native “Notepad” type writer and I see you downloaded some. Any reason you downloaded three – Word, Google Docs, & Zoho? Obviously you’re a proessional writer and I’m not.

Only one apparent glitch. It seems hard to boot from cold and not want to snooze. I may be handling the start button wrong, though.

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    —> I see you downloaded some. Any reason you downloaded three – Word, Google Docs, & Zoho?

    Mostly for curiosity. I normally use Zoho Writer so I downloaded that. Google Drive is popular and Google Docs is closely integrated for use with Google Drive so I also downloaded that to see how well it worked.

    I never use Microsoft Word but I was curious to see how well it worked on a very cheap computer. In fact, this computer costs less than the normal versions of Microsoft Word software. However, the Android version of Word is available free of charge. So I downloaded it and used it for a few minutes. Word seemed to work well. However, if I ever need the storage space, I will delete Microsoft Word. I simply never use it.

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Nice article, I just purchased one of these recently and have had a similar experience. Only problem is that there have not been any software updates since July 17. Long time with no security updates.

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