How to Choose the Best Tablet?Updated on: August 4, 2018
If you are shopping for a tablet you came to the right place. In this guide we will explain you everything you need to know about tablets. After reading it, you will have complete understanding about these gadgets, and you will know exactly what to look for, and what are the things you should be careful about.
It is a good time to buy a tablet too. First, more and more brands are appearing on the market, almost daily. This creates a lot of competition, so there is a variety to choose from. And this healthy competition made prices drop too, so tablets are not as expensive as they used to be. Also, tablets improved performance significantly, and even the cheaper models are quite good.
So join us on our fun little journey through the world of tablets.
Can a tablet replace a laptop?
This is one of those hard, ungrateful questions to answer to, similar to “Can a laptop replace a desktop PC?”As you may have already guessed, there is no YES or NO answer here; it depends on the circumstances.
It is true that today’s tablets pack more horsepower than most of yesterday’s laptops. But that is also true for mobile phones and some other gadgets. However, tablets are intended to serve a little bit different purposes.
Tablets cover that middle ground, “no man’s land” between smartphones and laptops. They are smaller, more practical and mobile than laptops, but they are also much bigger and more powerful than most smartphones (since you can’t really carry a tablet in your pocket).
Laptops were firstly invented for getting work done remotely, away from home or on the road. Tablets on the other hand are mainly made for entertainment and casual use. It’s true, you can use a laptop for entertainment (most netbooks and chromebooks are for casual use), and you can use a tablet to get some work done, but it is far from ideal.
Tablets are great because they are handy. They weigh far less than laptops and are easier to move around. They are silent, always on and ready for a casual surf, checking weather, reading the news. And their bigger screens offer more comfort than smartphones, as it is much easier (and better for your eyes) to read a book before bed from a tablet than from your cell phone. They are a perfect, middle-ground solution.
So, if a tablet can completely replace a laptop for you, then you probably don’t need a laptop at all. But, if you are still confused, there is an ideal option for you. The latest trend in laptops is convertible (also known as hybrid) laptops. These have touch screens that can be rotated, flipped or even completely detached. So you get the full functionality and mobility of a tablet, combined with the power and a full keyboard of a regular laptop.
What to consider when buying a tablet?
Tablets come in many shapes and forms, and have different functionality, so it is good to know what you want before buying. There are some common things that you should look for, and take into consideration. This chapter will explain you all the key features every good tablet needs to have.
Size & Display
This is the obvious one, how big should your tablet be? Big screens are better for watching movies, YouTube or streams, or if you need to do some delicate work, like editing pictures and writing. But, increased size decreases mobility, bigger tablets are much less practical. So if you need a tablet strictly for home use, you should go big. And, if you plan to carry it with you all the time, get something more convenient. Not only that it will take up less space, but it will also be much lighter. Also, smaller tablets cost far less, so if you are on a tight budget, 7 inches is for you.
Most tablets come with either 7 inch or 10 inch screen sizes. There are options in-between, and there are also larger options, such as 12 inch. First, consider why you are buying your tablet, and buy accordingly. Bigger is not always better when it comes to tablets.
Display and image quality situation improved drastically over the recent years. Most tablets have excellent displays, but there are few that stand out. First, Apple (of course) with their Retina display technology. Retina displays are so good, that it is impossible to spot any pixels, since their density is much greater than other, non-retina displays. Other manufacturers responded to this, introducing OLED (AMOLED) screens, which have much better image quality than most LCD screens.
When it comes to connections, Wi-Fi is a must have option. You only need to connect to a stable hotspot, and you are good. There are tablets that have only Wi-Fi, and those that can use mobile networks, such as 3G and 4G. If you plan to use your tablet mostly at home, Wi-Fi-only tablets should be good, but if you intend to move around, get one that has access to mobile networks. There are some workaround solutions for tablets that have Wi-Fi only, such as enabling a Wi-Fi hotspot on your mobile phone, so even those can indirectly use mobile data. But be careful about your data plan, overusing it can result in some unpleasant surprises at the end of the month, when your bills arrive.
Power & performance
Naturally you want the most bang for your buck. You want to get the strongest CPU, the most RAM, and the best battery life available for your budget. Tablets are pretty straightforward when it comes to performance, the more you pay, the more you get.
Tablet CPU’s have some unique names, but if you are looking for good performance, try to get quad-core. Dual-core could work if you are not a demanding user, and octa-core is a bit of overkill. Quad-core is optimal, and it is not that expensive at all.
About RAM- aim for 2 GB or more. RAM has a great effect on performance, and it is a good investment to make.
When it comes to battery, you should play it smart. If you are looking to carry your tablet around a lot, or travel, strong battery should be your priority. Aim for 8 hours or better. There are some premium options, like iPad, which hold more than 10 hours (even 12) but they are expensive. But hey, if your tablet is dead because it has no battery, who cares how good it’s processor, display is, or how much RAM it has?
If you plan to use your tablet mostly for multimedia, to play music, watch movies and play video games, you will want to have enough storage to support all that.
If that is the case, 32 GB should be good enough. Also, look for tablets that have SD card slots, this can give you much more flexibility, if you decide to upgrade later (be aware, iPad does not have this option). Some (bigger) tablets can even read USB flash drives.
Remember, not all of the space is available to you, operating systems take some too, so having only 8 GB of memory will not be that smart. But, low memory problems can be worked around by using Cloud storage.
First, tablets are vulnerable, so get a decent case. It will protect your tablet from falling, and will prevent those screen scratches when you move it around. Cases are not expensive, and it is better to be safe than sorry.
Bluetooth can be useful, especially if you like using wireless headphones, or speakers. It comes handy for file transferring too, so you should consider getting a tablet that has Bluetooth.
We don’t need to mention why camera can be important, but still, don’t overlook it. If you have some relatives abroad or you just like video chatting, pay attention to the front camera quality too.
Getting a mini-USB keyboard can be very practical, if your desired tablet supports it. It will speed up your typing, so if you use your tablets for work, it can be a life-saver. There are some nice cases that have mini-keyboards, look them up in your nearest computer gadgets store.
We mentioned SD cards before, ideal solutions for storage problems. Cheap too!
What OS to choose?
Tablet operating systems fall under three main categories:
- Apple IOS– if you like Apple’s other devices you know how great IOS is. It’s easy to use, and its sleek design is its biggest strength. It also has a huge database of games and apps, and it works flawlessly. Also, the iTunes store will give you all in one access to an enormous amount of books, music and movies. IOS has some great apps preinstalled too, such as Siri, FaceTime, and iCloud. But, there is a downside; IOS is only available on iPad, and this is a premium option. So if you are on a tight budget, IOS is not for you. But if you can afford it, it is well worth the money invested.
- Google Android– open-source and total customization are key traits of Android OS. Also versatility, since many different brands use this platform. This means you can get an Android tablet for very cheap, making it ideal for those with a shallow pocket. Google Play Store has endless amounts of apps and games, designed by thousands of different developers. However, because Android is found on tablets made by different manufacturers, with different display sizes, horsepower, etc. not all apps and games work with all tablets. This can be annoying, but since the Play Store is huge, you will definitely find what you are looking for; you only need to dig a bit deeper. Also, and this is very important, you need to check if your tablet’s Android OS is upgradable, as you want only the latest security, apps and games on your device.
- Windows– if you plan to use your tablet mostly for office software, and getting work done, and you don’t mind using a keyboard (or even a mouse!), go for Windows OS. Windows tablets are quite powerful too; many are as strong as some laptops. Windows OS is the closest to that “feel” that a regular computer has. This is especially true if you buy a Windows 10 tablet, and you are already using Windows 10 on your PC, you will feel right at home. Although Windows app store is very weak, compared to the Apple or Android store, Windows being Windows means that you can install software from almost anywhere. Windows 10 tablets allow you to use the full version of MS Office package, which is great.
The tablet market is very rich. It has options for every pocket. No matter if you are buying your tablet for kids, casual web surfing, video-chatting, watching movies, reading ebooks, listening music, or even for doing some work, you can find an ideal tablet to meet your needs.
These great devices filled that empty spot between laptops and smartphones seamlessly, and they became a valuable part of our day-to-day lives. They are always near, available when needed, non-demanding, but so useful.
The choice is yours, take your time and pick slowly. First, think about the main function and the main reason why you want to buy a tablet. Then look at your budget, it will tell you what you can, and what you can’t afford. After that, choose your OS, display size, connectivity options. And save room for some useful extras, like a tablet case. And don’t forget about battery life!
We hope that we helped, and that after reading this guide, your decision will be much easier. Good luck finding your perfect tablet!