Tablet Buying Guide 2012 – Tips Before You Buy a Tablet PC
Tablet PC Buying Guide 2012
With the ever-increasing number of portable devices on the market these days, it can be a difficult task to differentiate between devices, let alone decide which one is best suited to your needs. This is not a ‘how to buy’ guide, designed to sway you into purchasing a particular device. There are too many great options out there for anyone to be able to say that a single device is better than all of the others. This guide is intended to aid you in determining what is what in the realm of portable tablets, e-readers, and laptops, and to help anyone planning to buy a new tablet make a properly informed decision.
Tablet Buying Guide – Tablet vs. Laptop
The battle of tablet vs. laptop is in full motion, with proponents on either side claiming superiority. The truth is both devices are similar in more ways than not, with only one major difference: laptops make use of a keyboard and mouse, whereas tablets operate via touchscreen. As someone whose work involves a lot of typing, a laptop is most suited to my needs much of the time; however, the portability and ease of functionality of the tablet make it an ideal device to read and surf the net on, particularly when on the move.
Tablet Buying Guide – Tablet vs. eReader
As for tablet vs. ereader, the differences are a bit subtler. Physically they are much the same, with the main difference being versatility. E-readers are solely for reading ebooks and documents, whereas tablets are more multipurpose but may sacrifice battery life as a result.
Let’s review a few tablet pros and cons and take a look at some of the things to consider before buying one of these gizmos.
Tablet Buying Guide – Screen Size and Weight
Apple’s original iPad, the first proper tablet device marketed as such, set many standards which manufacturers still adhere to today. The 9-10 inch screen was one such standard, which is considered large, albeit typical, for tablets these days. Tablets also commonly come in a range of smaller sizes, so it is important to decide how much work and display space you require. For instance, Samsung produces the Galaxy in 4 different sizes – 7, 7.7, 8.9, and 10.1 inches. Naturally, the larger the screen, the easier it is to multitask, as well as use the touchscreen keyboard which may be required for some applications. Large screen size may result in a heavier tablet, however, so it is key to find a balance that works for you.
Tablet Buying Guide – Operating System and Compatibility
There are various operating systems used by different tablets, which have their own individual pros and cons. The iPad runs iOS which is by far the most stable tablet operating system thus far. It supports a range of applications, filetypes, and can be used with both PC and Mac computers. Variations of the Android operating system, common to most other tablet devices, are also very versatile; however, functionality is not quite on par with the iPad in terms of smoothness and compatibility. That’s not to say that Android does not provide a plethora of features and useful options, because these tablets certainly have a lot to offer. Filetype compatibility wise, Android also rates up there with the best of them.
Tablet Buying Guide – 3G and/or Wi-Fi?
Most, if not all, 3G enabled devices will also offer Wi-Fi support, but not all Wi-Fi devices are 3G capable. Many people will have no real need for the roaming benefits of 3G, as convenient as they may be, and people living in countries without 3G technology will have no other option but to go for a Wi-Fi only device. With home Wi-Fi networks and numerous hotspots, including every café and McDonalds in the city, connecting to the internet with a Wi-Fi only device is never too difficult. However, if you absolutely need to be connected at all times, perhaps for work related reasons, or you at least prefer to have the option, a 3G enabled tablet would be the way to go.
Tablet Buying Guide – Storage Space
If you decide that an e-reader is more your style, storage space is not quite so crucial as ebooks and documents are generally quite small in size. For those who want to listen to music, watch videos and even download things online, a tablet would be the ideal way to go, with hard disk space to store files then becoming an issue. There are tablets out there with hard drives ranging from 1GB to 500GB, but one shouldn’t get too caught up in the ‘space wars’, as it is incredibly easy to transfer files to and from most tablets via computer. Typically, you would load your tablet with any music, videos, and documents you might need before leaving home.
Tablet Buying Guide – Battery Life
One of the most crucial things to consider when purchasing any sort of portable device is, of course, battery life; the longer, the better. E-readers are excellent in this regard, particularly the virtual-ink Amazon kindles, which remain operable on a single charge for weeks. As for tablets, the multimedia enhancements sacrifice a lot of battery life to give you that vivid HD picture and sound. It needs to be mentioned that the iPad is a clear winner in this respect, with a very good power rating and efficient sleep and hibernation options.
Tablet Buying Guide – Miscellaneous Features
Other features like USB and SD Card capability, something the Motorola XOOM and Samsung Galaxy provide which the Apple iPad does not, as well as HDMI and TV and external monitor output options may also weigh into your decision. Again, too many of these additional features can have a compromising effect on battery life, so be weary of devices that cram in every single little component.The price of a device does not necessarily reflect its quality, but it will, however, play an important role in most people’s choice. Those wondering where to buy cheap tablets should keep in mind things like warranty, especially when ordering from abroad, as without a guarantee or means to repair, a faulty device becomes nothing more than a paperweight. For those with the patience who don’t require the very latest toys, a good time to pick up tablets on sale is just before the release of next generation devices.
Ultimately, the device which best suits you depends entirely on what you will be using it for. Laptops are more productive, in a sense, and are perhaps better machines to work on. Pure e-readers are perfect for reading books, comics, and various documents but little else. In the end, tablets are not particularly serious devices and seem to be more about having a bit of fun. You can read with them, watch videos, listen to music, surf the net, as well as play games and run a host of downloadable applications. It is the convenience factor which makes the tablet appealing, as well as growing societal norms revolving around its use; a way to use a computer anytime and anywhere, without giving people the impression that you’re using a computer.