Choosing Your Tablet: How to Decide Which Tablet to Buy

tabletsThe tablet market is in full swing and many of you may finally be ready to jump in. If you are like me, you have scoured the internet for YouTube videos, product reviews from editors and users, and read many comments at the bottoms of blog posts. What you end up buying will depend on price and what you plan to use it for.

Different tablets have different features and the prices vary accordingly. When choosing a tablet you should ask yourself:

  1. Do I want a tablet or ereader?
  2. Do I need a 7 in or a 10 in?
  3. Will I be using this mostly to read and take notes, or will I be playing games and watching videos?

Tablet vs Ereader

I will talk about the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet because they are currently the only ereaders worth having a serious conversation about. The Kindle Fire is $199 (8GB only) and the Nook Tablet is $199 for the 8GB and $249 for the 16GB. Both are great devices for what they are. They are referred to as “tablets”, but really they’re souped-up ereaders.

What does that mean? These two devices are set-up to make consuming material from their respective stores easier. You buy one of these if you want something to read on while having the ability to check email, do some light web-surfing, and a few extra features. Note that while both devices are running Android deep under the hood, neither has full access to the Google Play Store. Some apps can be side loaded, but not nearly as many as you may want. If this feature set is satisfactory, great, but for many tablet shoppers its not. Some people buy these and then jail break (root) them to make them fully functional. I suggest you just buy a full-fledged Android tablet if thats what you really want.

7 in vs 10 in

The size of the tablet you choose determines price, portability, and what you can do on it comfortably. Tablets hover somewhere around 7 in or 10 in, maybe a little larger or smaller. A 7 in tablet can fit in a purse or pocket, will get you somewhat fewer looks from curious passersby, and is just fine for watching videos. If you want to read long documents, do less zooming, and get closer to the idea of a laptop replacement, the 10 in option may be the way to go.

Right behind price, size is where the question of operating system comes up. Android or iOS (iPad)? As of now, the iPad only comes in one size, 9.7 in. You have more options in the Android camp.

What will I be Doing on This

There are many tablet options and different ones are in the spotlight depending on where you’re looking, so you need to think about this before you buy anything. Of course you have a return window, but depending on where you buy it, there may be reshelving fees or the cost of return shipping. If you buy the extended warranty and then decide you don’t want the tablet, the warranty may not be returnable.

If this is your reading tablet, you want to determine how you want to get your reading material. For instance, Barnes & Noble (B & N) customers have access to many books, newspapers, and magazines. If you just want to read and are comfortable buying all your material from B & N, get a Nook Tablet. If you buy from B & N, Amazon, Google Books, iBooks, etc., you will want to pick a tablet that will allow you access to the different stores. Android has fully functional apps for all of the major stores except iBooks (meaning you can sync your stuff and purchase from within the app). On the iPad, you can get the apps for the major stores, but are unable to purchase in app from anywhere other than iBooks. You also want to consider format. Fully functional tablets can handle most formats either natively or through apps.

If your tablet will be used for streaming and downloading movies, you again have to consider where you will get your material. For example, you can stream and download movies from Amazon very easily on the Kindle Fire, this is what it is made for. Amazon Video on Demand (streaming) is not available on the iPad in app or browser. On Android tablets, you have to stream through the browser.

These are just two scenarios, there are other considerations based on what your usage will be. Think about how you will actually use the tablet before you make a purchase.

What This Blog Post Does Not Address

Android vs iPad: That is an entire conversation that deserves it’s own post. I will get to that in a later post.

Do you need a tablet?: I assume that if you took the time to read this whole post, you have decided to buy a tablet and don’t need to be sold on the idea. Besides, tablets don’t fulfill a need, we buy them because we want them. You know what, I am totally comfortable with that.

Best bang for your buck: In another post, I will share my recommendations.

I hope that this helps you think about what you want out of a tablet purchase, happy shopping!