Buyer's Guide to Tablets: How to Choose the Tablet That Is Right for You

October 28, 2013


Via Wikimedia Commons

These days there are a lot of options when it comes to tablets, and each product has its pros and cons. You have the Apple iPad Air, Apple iPad 4, the Apple iPad mini with retina display, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, the Google Nexus 7, the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch, the Lenovo Miix2, the ASUS Transformer Book T100, Microsoft Surface Pro 2, as well as older and other versions of most of these. With so many options and a real range in price, how can you know which is going to be the best option for you? The following is a buyer’s guide to choosing the tablet that is right for you:


1. Planned use. What are you planning to use your tablet for? There is no definitive answer as to which is the best tablet because there is no definitive answer to why you want a tablet, or what you will use it for. Are you planning to use it in place of a PC, or just for gaming and entertainment? Do you need it to always have internet access? Do you need expandable storage capacity? Do you need an HDMI connection? What you plan to use your tablet for will help you narrow down which tablet will serve those needs. For example, do you need IR blasters? GPS? Is weight a factor?


2.Price.  In a perfect world cost wouldn’t matter, but it does. The Kindle Fire, for example, can start as low as $139, whereas an iPad 4 will run you closer to $500. But don’t let the price fool you. It may be worth it to Amazon to have a lower up-front cost, and make up their money by offering an affordable product through which people purchase books, music and other things. Just be sure that whatever price you pay, you get the features you want, and that there is good customer support. You will also want to make sure that you can get the content you want after making the purchase, like apps and peripherals.


3. The manufacturer. The manufacturer matters. If you hate Apple products and love Android, consider Google tablets as they get fast updates. Samsung is not as quick to update their tablets, and may be more of a headache. Look for a reliable manufacturer that fixes glitches with updates, and offers great customer support.


4. Processor matters. The processor is going to affect the speed of app loading, game speed, and just about everything else you use the tablet for. Common processors include the Apple A6X, which is the fastest processor available on any tablet. The Nvidia Tegra is a great processor for gaming and is found in the HP Slatebook, Toshiba tablet and more. Samsung uses Exynos processors, which are fast and have a decent battery life. The Nexus 7 and Sony tablets use the Qualcomm Snapdragon, which is an Android processor. They are fast but don’t offer the best battery life.


5. Screen resolution and screen size. Size matters. When selecting a tablet consider the screen quality and size based on how portable you want it to be, balanced against the best visual experience. The most popular smaller tablets have about 7 inch screens. Larger tablets tend to be about 10 inches, and then there are a number in between. If you want the best images, great viewing angles, and the like, consider the screen resolution. Among smaller tablets, for example, the Nexus 7 has great resolution, as does the iPad. Pixels matter, and it may be worth paying more up front to enjoy your viewing experience more, especially for entertainment.


6. Operating system or software. Next, look at the software. You have two basic options, iOS or Android. iOS allows sharing across devices, tons of app, and a simple, user-friendly interface. Android also has a similar number of apps. The Android platform is more customizable, and while it has been lagging behind, it is making strides in usability and gaining a loyal following.

There are other options available, such as Windows 8, and Amazon’s version of Android, which the Kindle Fire uses. It has the best support and options for books when it comes to tablets, and offers memberships for streaming videos and borrowing books, though its app store is much more limited than Android and iOS selections.


7. Storage. How much storage do you need? If you plan to store a lot of files, particularly movies and music, you will want a tablet that offers a lot. Popular tablets generally start with about 16 gb in storage, with some offering 32 gb or more. That’s enough to store a few thousand songs, or a dozen or so movies, with enough left for space needed by apps. Some tablets also offer expansion options like microSD slots. Another popular option that is increasingly popular is cloud-based storage, which provides access to files on demand over the internet. Some tablet vendors provide a period of free cloud service with purchase.


8. Design. Lastly, you might want to consider how it looks. The weight and dimensions might matter if you’re going to be carrying it around all day. The best way to know what you like it to look at the options, touch them, hold them, and determine which works best for you.

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