Buying a Tablet Computer
I'm interested in a tablet, but a little confused by all the options. Should I get an iPad, one of those Android tablets, or a Windows-based tablet? I'd appreciate a little advice on which platform is best, and what features to look for.
Which Tablet Should I Buy?
A lot of people are buying tablet devices these days. You may wonder why. Also, the number of tablets on the market is mushrooming, so choosing a tablet is a bit confusing. Here's the down-and-dirty on tablets.
Tablet PCs are not replacements for desktop or laptop computers. Tablets lack a keyboard, for one thing, making them unsuitable for writing a business plan or Ph.D. dissertation. Some low-end tablets even lack local storage; instead, they rely on "the cloud" to store movies, photos, documents, etc. So what are tablets good for?
Tablets are best at mobile communications. They're small, lightweight, and easy to use. They're mainly used to check email on the go; look up things on the Web; watch streaming video; and play games. That may not sound like much, but tablets are the fastest-growing part of the personal computing market.
When shopping for a tablet the first choice you will make is the tablet's operating system. Apple's iOS runs only on iPads and other devices made by Apple. But iOS was designed from scratch for the tablet platform, so it is intuitive and a joy to use on a tablet.
Microsoft Windows is not optimized for tablets, although rumor has it that Windows 8 will feature tablet-friendly options. We'll have to wait and see. Another one I'll leave in that category is the Blackberry Playbook, which is not yet released. If you own and love a Blackberry smartphone, this may be worth waiting for, as the two devices are said to work well together. The Playbook will be able to connect wirelessly to your Blackberry phone for access to the Internet, email, your calendar, and address book.
iPad or Android Tablet?
That leaves Google Android, which was designed for smartphones. It's closer to a tablet-friendly OS than Windows, but not quite ideal. There are quite a few Android-based tablets on the market, but you should watch out for those that run outdated versions of the Android OS. My advice would be to stay away from tablets running Android 2.1 or lower.
The next generation of Android, dubbed Honeycomb, was designed with tablets in mind. Motorola's Xoom tablet, featuring the Google Android 3.0 tablet-ready OS, recently hit the market and the device is getting good reviews. Another worthy contender is the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The availability of apps that run on a tablet is a key factor in most purchases. Apple has a commanding lead in its App Store, which features hundreds of thousands of apps. But the open source Android platform has a legion of app developers writing apps for Android, so it may catch up very quickly.
Tablets aren't much use without connectivity. While some tablets come with WiFi connectivity built in, many people opt for the more expensive and restrictive option of a cellular voice/data plan. An unlimited-use plan can cost you up to $100 a month. If you will be using your tablet in an area where wifi is available, you can save money on the device, and forego the expensive data plan.
The sizes and weight of a tablet are always a compromise between usability and portability. The current ideal trade-off seems to be around 1.5 pounds with a 9 to 10 inch (diagonally measured) screen. Test-drive tablets in which you are interested to see how bright their screens are; how responsive the screen is to touch commands; and how vivid the colors are.
Video and still cameras are a big feature of tablets. Cameras enable those "precious moments" shots that you can post to YouTube or social networking sites to show everyone the latest weird thing that happened to you. Two cameras, on front and back of the tablet, enable video chat sessions and point-and-shoot picture taking.
You get what you pay for in tablets, as in everything else. There are tablets advertised at under $200, but these low-end models tend to lack desired features such as multi-touch, accelerometer, GPS and adequate storage. Issues such as screen size, resolution and quality may also make buyers regret their purchases. The iPad gold standard sells for around $600 these days, and you can expect to pay about that much for state-of-the-art Android tablets as well. But if you can wait, prices will surely drop as the competition heats up.
Do you have a tablet computer? Post a comment and tell me why you like (or dislike) it.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 13 Apr 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Buying a Tablet Computer (Posted: 13 Apr 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved