The great thing about tablets is that they really are something of a missing link – they’re smaller and more portable than even a laptop computer but are also larger and more powerful than a mobile phone.
Do you want to be able to read a book or watch your favorite movie while you’re traveling? A tablet is great for that. Do you also need to be able to work from home and edit those important documents or spreadsheets as quickly as possible? A tablet is great for that, too.
Though the iPad was undoubtedly the first tablet to permeate the culture in a big way, Apple is no longer the only game in town. These days, there are a huge number of different manufacturers that are all producing high quality tablets for you to choose from depending on your needs.
When it comes to buying a tablet, however, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re not looking for the BEST tablet because such a thing does not exist. You’re looking for the best tablet for YOU based on how you actually plan on using it and what you need it to be able to do.
As a result, the process of buying a tablet will always require you to consider a few important factors.
Which Brand is the Best For Me?
One of the most important decisions regarding your tablet that you can make has to do with the brand, but not necessarily in the way you may think.
While it’s true that certain manufacturers are morepopular than others (and Apple certainly leads the pack in that regard), the brand actually has a great deal to do with the other devices you already have in your home.
By and large, tablets don’t exist in a silo. They’re not really standalone devices because they’re designed to communicate with other electronics that you already own. Consider the benefits that the following brands bring to the table in that regard:
- Apple. Do you already on an iPhone, an iMac or a MacBook laptop? Your iPad would fit right in. You can wirelessly transfer files between your iPad and other Apple devices instantly. Because iCloud also works on all Apple devices, you can instantly access things like your contacts and calendar, along with iTunes Store purchases, on your iPad right out of the box if you’re already firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem.
- Samsung. Do you own a Samsung Smart TV with Smart Hub capabilities? Your Samsung tablet would basically act as an extension of that. You could easily use your Samsung tablet as a second remote control for your TV because they’re designed to work with one another from the get-go.
- Microsoft. These days, Microsoft’s tablets are essentially designed to be smaller, more portable versions of their desktop and laptop computers. If you already own a Microsoft desktop computer, you’ll find that a lot of the same software you’re already using works in a full form on the tablet side of things. The tablet is built to interact with your Windows computer, your Windows phone and more.
- Amazon. Are you an Amazon Prime subscriber, or do you have other Amazon equipment like an Echo? All of your content will be instantly available on your tablet from the moment you turn it on for the first time and log into your account.
The operating system is the heart of any tablet you buy. This decision will be directly related to the brand you pick, as for the most part you’re limited to one option for an operating system and that is whichever one comes installed on the tablet you bought.
- iOS. If you buy an Apple iPad, you’re locked into the iOS operating system for better or worse. If you already own an iPhone, you’ll be immediately familiar with your iPad as the operating system is identical. The only major drawback of this (as iPhone owners will attest to) is that iOS isn’t nearly as customizable as certain other options that are available.
- Android. If you buy a Samsung Galaxy or an Amazon Fire, you’ll be using a variation of the Android operating system designed by Google. The major benefit of this is that it natively works with your existing Google account. Once you log in your contacts, calendars, Gmail email account and more are all immediately available on your tablet without going to additional effort.
- Windows. Microsoft has actually made a number of efforts in recent years to make sure that the experience you get on a tablet is as close to the experience you get on any other device as possible. Part of this comes down to the fact that the operating system is the same – most modern day Windows tablets like the Microsoft Surface aren’t running a mobile operating system at all, but are instead running a fully powered version of Windows 10. This means that, for the most part, literally anything you could do on your desktop you can also do on your tablet and vice versa.
Standard or Convertible?
In terms of the actual design of the tablet itself, you have two interesting options to choose from depending on your needs.
An example of a standard tablet would be something like an iPad – it’s a large, touch-screen device that you pick up and hold like a book.
In recent years, however, a number of manufacturers like Microsoft have been experimenting with convertible tablets to varying degrees of success. A convertible tablet essentially looks like a laptop computer, complete with a full keyboard.
The only difference is that in times where extreme portability is required, you can actually separate the keyboard from the screen and use the tablet with the same touch-screen interface you’re used to.
So with a convertible tablet, you basically get the best of both worlds – a laptop computer when you need it and a tablet when you don’t.
Depending on how you plan on using the device, though, this may not actually be worth the increase in price you’ll also have to pay for the luxury.
Because tablets are designed to be as portable as possible, screen size will obviously play an important role in which model is right for you.
A “small” tablet would be something with a size of around 7 or 8 inches – most manufacturers have something in this range for you to take a look at.
They’re great for reading books on the go, situations where you may be traveling and more.
If you’re only planning on using your tablet at home, however, you’ll likely be comfortable with something a bit larger. A “standard” tablet size would be something like the original iPad – approximately 7.9 inches in size.
These are great for immersive entertainment (like watching for favorite film) but are still portable when you need them to be.
Larger screens, which would be anything over 10 inches, are ideal for situations where you’re going to be using your tablet for business every bit as much as you are for pleasure.
If you’re a graphic designer and need a tablet to be able to work on complicated drawings and schematics from any location, you’ll need the extra screen size that only something like a larger iPad Pro can provide.
Finally, one of the most important deciding factors you’ll want to consider has to do with how much available storage you need.
Most providers offer a wide range of storage, so generally you’re covered regardless of which brand you choose. You can get an iPad with a storage capacity as small as 16GB or as large as 256GB, for example.
So while this isn’t the most important decision you’ll make, it is something you have to address before you make your final purchase.
Think about how you’re going to be using your tablet. If you’re only going to be reading books, sending emails and doing some basic Web browsing, you can absolutely get away with 16GB or 32GB of storage.
If you want to be able to take your entire digital movie collection with you wherever you go, however, you’ll need to think bigger. HD video takes up a lot of space and a single film can be as large as 5GB or more depending on length.
If you’re a professional user or a serious media consumer, try for at least 64GB and adjust upwards from there.
We hope that this guide has been helpful and Cyber Monday tablet deals for 2016 are right around the corner – make sure to check out the page for all of the latest tablet deals from a variety of retailers for Cyber Monday 2016!