What To Keep In Mind When Buying A Tablet
Tips for Buying a Tablet
When tablets first hit the market, Apple’s iPad became the instant “one to have.” It was easy to see why — it was a breeze to operate and no other company had as many apps available.
Now, there are hundreds to choose from in every price range, starting, the last time I checked, at just $42.
Tablets have become “the” electronic to have. They’re portable, you can watch movies, read and write emails, catch up with what’s happening in the world, have a book and audio library of thousands of titles, take photographs, work, talk to friends and family around the world… it’s almost endless.
I’m sure you’ve seen the ads fighting for your dollars. They all look great, don’t they? And they sound great. But walking into a store to buy one is like walking through a corn maze.
There are so many choices — almost too many! This article is going to try to help you through the weeds.
What Do You Want It For?
The question that needs to be at the top of your list is: “How do I intend to use my tablet?”
Do you want a tablet to use for reading, watching TV shows and movies while you’re traveling, or do you want your tablet to be the only device you use? Do you want to connect to the Internet constantly? Do you want to be able to add to the device’s storage size? Do you want to watch movies in high definition? Do you want it to have navigation capabilities? Do you want high resolution?
The answers to these questions will dictate in which direction you should head.
Next, consider which operating system you’re familiar with. I’ve always found that going with what I know is a lot easier than trying to learn something new. There are basically three operating system choices for tablets: Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s iOS. If your Smartphone and/or computer uses one of these systems, you might want to consider buying a tablet that runs the same system. It’ll be easier to navigate and it makes connecting across your devices and sharing things a whole lot easier — although the caveat to this is that now that there are online storage systems like iCloud, Google Drive and 1Drive, storing and sharing across platforms has become a lot easier.
The old adage, reputation matters, is true in the case of tablets. Who built the device is very important. You’ll want to research the manufacturer before you buy, and because no machine comes without the inevitable problems you want to make sure the manufacturer is reputable, will be there when you need help, and will provide patches as needed. For example, you’ll want a manufacturer who will offer the latest updates to your operating system as soon as they become available.
If you’re considering an Android tablet, there could be a huge difference between manufacturers in the tablet’s processor speed, etc. If you’re choosing between two different Apple iPads it won’t make a difference since the iPads all have the same processor.
Another consideration is price. Just as the expensive tablet may not be worth the money, an inexpensive tablet may be perfect for your particular needs.
Josh Miller of CNET says: “There’s usually a good reason behind the price of each tablet. By taking a loss up front, Amazon can offer its powerful Kindle Fire HDX tablets at affordable prices. Also, despite the fact that the iPad Air 2 has no native HDMI or storage expansion support, Apple’s flagship can justify its starting price, thanks to its fast performance, incredible app support, refined interface and robust ecosystem.”
Then there’s the size of the tablet’s screen, its weight, screen resolution, camera pixels, etc., to consider.
If you’re using the tablet for business, you’ll want to spend more to buy one with a larger screen, more memory, and an external or hard keyboard. You may even want to consider a two in one tablet/PC combo. Most machines in this category are hybrids, a cross between a tablet with a touch screen, and a PC, with its faster processor.
If you’re into gaming, Apple’s iPad is still the go to if for no other reason than their App Store probably has the widest variety of top quality games. Although Google Play is improving, it’s still not up to par with Apple.
For a lightweight, really small tablet to take anywhere, small enough to fit in a purse or pocket, try either of these listed on Amazon: a used Kindle Fire as low as $49; or the Chromo Inc® 7″ Tablet, which runs Goodle’s Android, for an amazingly low price of $42.45.
For people wanting a great experience using the tablet for watching TV shows and movies, the Fire HDX, the 3rd generation of the Kindle Fire, is a great choice. Amazon, as stated above, takes a loss on the hardware upfront with the thought that you’ll buy an annual Amazon Prime Membership, which provides unlimited streaming of Amazon’s Prime Instant Video and Prime Music content, as well as access to the Amazon e-book lending library, etc. For the full list of what a membership includes go to Amazon.
Reviewing Your Options
The one site I go to for basically anything I want to buy, because of its unbiased reviewing, is Consumer Reports. Experts at their National Testing and Research Center tested 142 models for the site’s tablet section, to see which ones performed best in a variety of categories, from ease of use, screen size, portability, performance, camera, etc.
I like to buy online, without the pressure of a salesperson, but I do like to “kick the tires.” Once you’ve done your research online, go to a retail store and try the ones you’ve narrowed it down to. That will give you a good sense of how it performs, how fast the processor is, how bright the screen is, how good the camera is, etc.
If you’re anything like me, and you like toys as much as I do, you’ll have more than one tablet. I have an old Kindle Fire that I still use for reading while traveling. It’s small, and at last count I had about 2,300 titles on it. I also have a Microsoft Surface 3 that I use for “pleasure” travel and watching movies and a MacBook Air that I use for work. Together they’re the weight and size of the laptop I used to haul everywhere.
Technology just keeps getting better and better and I can’t wait to keep adding to my toy collection!
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