It’s hard to believe that it has only been 5 short years since Apple introduced the original iPad and ushered in a new era of mobile computing like we have never seen before. With the introduction of the iPad, an entirely new market was born. Since that time, many different manufacturers began developing and releasing their own tablets to try to get a slice of the very valuable tablet pie.
There is no denying that tablets are most definitely here to stay. But with so many choices today, how do you know which one of the best tablets on the market is right for you. Whether you are considering the sleek styling and the “it just works” approach of Apple’s iPad line, an Android tablet with impressive customization with a mobile focus, or if you prefer something closer to how your laptop and desktop works like you will find in a Windows tablet, there are many key factors you must consider before placing your order and rushing to the store to make your purchase.
This list will cover everything you need to consider before making your final decision and shelling out your hard earned money for one of these mobile technology wonders.
What Do You Want To Do with Your Tablet
Tablets have yet to offer users an experience that can truly replace a laptop or desktop computer. But, they have come a long way and with each generation, they move closer and closer to providing a full laptop experience. Currently, the Microsoft Surface 3 comes the closest, but others are sure to follow.
Before you decide which tablet you buy, take a look at how you use your computer and figure out how you want to use it. Do you need something just to surf the Internet and maybe check email from time to time? If so, a basic iPad would work for you or even an Android tablet. For users that want something to provide them with true productivity in tablet form, a Windows based tablet with a keyboard may be the right choice.
Your usage habits and your plans for your tablet must be examined before you buy otherwise you could end up with a tablet that sits on a table collecting dust as it simply doesn’t do what you want it to do or you could end up spending way too much money for features that you simply will never use.
What Operating System Do You Need
Just like when you are purchasing a computer, you have to choose the operating system for your tablet. Currently, there are three main tablet operating systems available:
- Windows 8
Just like the first time you chose a Mac or PC for your computer, your choice will most likely come down to your gut and which one feels right to you assuming you go and give the tablets a test drive.
Apple’s iOS is probably the most polished of all of the operating systems, but in true Apple style it severely limits your ability to customize it to your liking. Android, on the other hand, offers impressive customization that is perfect for anyone that likes to tinker with their electronics. If you are seeking a more traditional Windows experience that will be more familiar to you and offer you the best compatibility with your PC, a tablet running Windows 8 would be the best choice.
A Look At Apps
All of the major players have pretty impressive app stores today. Apple led the pack for quite some time with the most apps and the most choice, but recently the Google Play store for Android has surpassed the App Store in the amount of apps available. Microsoft lags a distant third as their Microsoft Store is the youngest of all of them, but it is steadily growing and all the major app players maintain a presence on all three stores.
However, from time to time, you will find an app that is simply not available on every platform and if it is an app you simply MUST have, you will have to alter your tablet search to include only tablets that use the store that has your app of choice.
Are you looking for a tablet just for mobile gaming? Apple’s iOS or Android would be the best choices for you as mobile games for Windows still lags far behind the other two platforms.
Screen Size and Storage
In the beginning, there was only one screen size that came in just under 10 inches. Today, there is a huge assortment of screen sizes including phablets that are around 6-inches and are both phones and tablets, 7-inch tablets that are easily held in one hand, 8-inch tablets that provide a good balance between the very portable 7-inch versions and the much larger versions, and then the big boys which are 10-inch tablets with screens greater than 9 inches. Remember, the larger you go the heavier your tablet will get so if weight is a factor, you may want to choose one of the smaller screen tablets.
Screen resolution is also very important. Different tablets come with different resolutions. Remember, the higher the resolution, the better the picture will look on your screen. The higher it goes, the more clearer your text will look and you will be able to view images and videos in much more detail.
Every tablet comes with built in storage usually starting at 16 GB although you will see less storage of around 8 GB on some budget models. The more space you have, the more apps, movies, images, music and files you can store on your tablet. The more storage you choose to buy, the greater the price. Some tablets also come with microSD ports that allow you to expand the amount you have by adding a small SD card. If you think you may need more storage later, you may want to consider a tablet that includes this port.
While you may not think this is really important, the color of your device can be one of the biggest decisions you will make. In most cases, tablets come in either white or black but you will find the occasional extra color here and there on some tablets. You will be staring at your tablet day in and day out making how it looks almost as important as how well it works for you. Try out all the available colors before you pick up your new tablet and be sure you choose the tablet color that you like the best.
Wi-Fi or Cellular
Some tablets come in both a Wi-Fi only model or another option that is always online by using the cellular data service from a wireless provider. The Wi-Fi only models are almost always cheaper than the always on versions but can only be used when you have access to a wireless network such as your network in your house or some of the many free Wi-Fi hotspots you can find around town. The cellular data option is always on allowing you to connect anywhere whether there is Wi-Fi or not. However, the tablets themselves are often much more expensive and you will have to pay your wireless carrier a monthly fee in order to use the service.
What Accessories Would You Like
One of the most interested things about the tablet market are the staggering numbers of accessories you can buy for your tablet. However, different tablets come with different accessories. While some accessories such as Bluetooth headphones may be platform and tablet independent, other accessories can be specific.
For example, some ASUS tablets come with an impressive keyboard dock with an added battery. If this is something you believe you must have, you will have to limit your search to ASUS and other manufacturers who make similar products.
When looking at the tablet, take a few minutes to browse the various accessories available for it. Some of the most common are:
- Tablet Case
Not all accessories on the market will be compatible with the tablet of your choice. If you see an accessory that you feel you must have in order for your tablet to be useful to you, be sure it will work with your chosen tablet before you invest hundreds of dollars into it. After checking, you could find that you need to make a different tablet choice in order for you to truly be satisfied.
In the end, it almost always comes down to your budget. Tablet prices vary greatly from the budget devices that can cost from under $100 all the up to $1,000 or more for the highest end tablets such as the top of the line Apple iPads and the Microsoft Surface 3. While you may love that high end Apple iPad, in the end it may not be in your budget and you may have to opt for one with less storage or a smaller screen in order to meet the demands of your budget.
One thing you definitely do NOT want to do is overspend. Spending too much on your tablet will only serve to stress you out as you work to make ends meet just because you caught the bug for a new tablet. Examine your budget closely and know how much you prefer and are willing to spend on a tablet before you start shopping.
What tablet you choose can be one of the most important technology decisions you make. Depending on what you choose, your future accessories and other devices such as smartwatches could all be determined by the type of tablet you decided to purchase. Before you shell out your hard earned money, be sure to consider all the factors above.
Finally, head to your local electronics store and give all of your favorite choices a little test drive. This time could be very valuable to you when you are making your decision as you will quickly get a feel for how they work and feel while you use them. For more information, be sure to browse the various tablet lists found right here at TabletNinja to find the best tablets for your needs and price.