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Why You Should Buy a Tablet (And How to Choose the Right One)

Aug 21, 2013

Hard to believe, but there was a time before tablets, and now it's already been three years since the first Apple iPad hit the scene, and the current tablet market was born. 

The choice is wide, there are plenty of products in the market and they may all look similar to each other, but actually, they’re not.

So, how do you decide which tablet is the right one for you?

If you’re thinking about getting a tablet and you don’t know where to start to make your decision, here’s what you should consider first.

First Off: Do You Even Need One?

Some people keep wondering about what the real purpose of having a tablet is, these devices aren’t really filling any need, in most cases they won’t replace neither your computer or your smartphone but still, their hybrid nature can be considered as an advantage over both laptops and phones.

A tablet is sort of like a more portable notebook built on a mobile operating system platform, is a great way to check emails, browse the Web, watch movies, video chat, listen to music and, why not, play games. 

In short, what makes a tablet a good purchase can be summarised in 4 main reasons:

  • Portability
  • Functionality
  • Battery life
  • Flexibility

Ok, so now you have decided that you want to buy a tablet. Here are our tips for what to consider when buying a tablet:

Choose Your Operating System

Needless to say that the top two contenders are Apple with its iPads and iPad mini and Android with its many devices such as AcerAsusSamsungAmazon and many others. Also, Microsoft has entered the race with its Surface tablet, running Windows RT, a slimmed-down version of Windows 8.

Generally speaking, if you need to get a lot of work done on your tablet, creating or manipulating documents and spreadsheets, a Windows tablet might be your pick.

While you can easily read Word documents on an iPad, to edit them, you may need a paid app like Quicktime. The existing Office app does not have a custom user interface for the iPad (it’s the same for Android tablets) even if it’s worth mentioning that the iPhone version of Microsoft’s Mobile App can be installed and run on the iPad with 2x video scaling but it could get somewhat clunky.

Tablets running Android 3.0 can handle Office files with the help of a paid app like Documents To Go 3.0, which allows users to create, view, and edit Word docs, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

Storage and Screen Size

Many tablets have the Cloud storage option (iCloud for iPads, Amazon Cloud Storage for Kindle Fires, and SkyDrive for the MS Surface tablet, just to mention a few), but when it comes to on-board storage, more is always better. It’s highly likely that your tablets will be filled up in no time: all those apps, an average music collection, combined with some videos and the usual photo library, can take up a lot of space. 

You may already have an idea about the tablet size you prefer, as to whether you want  the biggest, the smallest or something in between. 7-inch tablets are considered small screen, while 8.9- to 10-inch tablets are considered large screen. Apple iPads, Google Nexus tablets, Amazon Kindle Fires, and B&N Nook HD tablets all come in both small and large screen while Samsung offers its Android tablets in multiple screen sizes.

Remember that even if you’re planning to buy it online, consider to head out to the electronic retailer just to get a better idea of its size and weight and see if it can be right for you.

Wi-Fi-Only vs. Cellular Models

In most cases you’ll be asked to choose between the Wi-Fi only model and the option of always-on cellular service.

Well, if you want to get online anywhere, you should pick a model with a cell radio, this way you should subscribe a plan with a wireless provider, otherwise a Wi-Fi model will be the one that best matches your needs.

Another way to get your tablet online is to use your 3G or 4G phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot for your tablet.

What about apps?

What's the point of a tablet without quality apps? Generally speaking, the best in this area is still the Apple iPad. The App Store is well-curated and monitored, offers a deep selection, and includes every popular app you can think of.

Android has made some strides on app selection in the past year and it keeps growing.

Price                                   

As mentioned before, the tablets market is quite big, so there are plenty of models, some of them not even so expensive. The hardest part comes when you’ve set a budget and your favourite tablet doesn’t fall within that range, so you’ll be “struggling” in order to choose if it’s better to go for a more affordable tablet instead of chasing the dreamed one.

Before any decision, a good a idea could be to make a careful comparison between the models, especially in terms of storage, resolution, processing speed or internet access since even tablets of the same manufacturer often come in different models and performance levels.

Another thing to consider should be to think about any apps or software you might need to buy, or to find out more about the warranty you’ll get with your tablet (period, coverage, etc.)

Once you have your own personal review you’ll be ready to make your decision and pick the right tablet for you.

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