If you’ve ever considered buying a tablet for yourself or a loved one, you’ve probably come to realize that tablets have a lot going for them: convenience, portability, the awesomeness of touchscreens without the drawbacks of tiny smartphone screens. But you might also be wondering where to begin.
What is the right model for you? How much storage do you need? What kind of operating system is best? If you’ve thought about buying a tablet or have asked yourself any of these questions, here are some criteria to help you choose a tablet you’ll use and love for a long time to come.
1. Why Do You Want It?
This is not an idle question, but one that will inform many of your later decisions. Do you want a tablet to compliment your current laptop? Something to browse social media while you watch television? Something for lightweight game-playing? Simple web browsing or reading? Your primary needs will determine how big a screen you need, which operating system will work best for you, and more. If you haven’t already thought about what you’ll do with your tablet beyond “shiny!” (not that there’s anything wrong with that), consider this question before you move on.
2. Choose Your Operating System
The next thing to think about when buying a tablet is what platform you want to run. The iPad will run Apple’s iOS, and the Galaxy will use Google’s Android OS. Surface tablets use Microsoft’s Windows OS, and the Kindles run a mostly-compatible version of Android.
Choosing your operating system really comes down to personal preference. You don’t need to be consistent in your choice of device OS. Some users like all their devices to run the same OS for maximum compatibility between all devices. Similarly, some users feel intense and unswerving brand loyalty (just ask them). For most users, however, this decision usually comes down to using what you’re already familiar and comfortable with.
3. Tablet or 2-in-1?
2-in-1 PCs, like the Microsoft Surface, act as both laptops and tablets. Essentially, they’re tablet PCs with an attachable full-size keyboard, so they can offer the best features of both. This may seem like an unbeatable combination at first, but again, think about how you’ll be using the tablet. Convertible PCs have some great advantages since they combine the functionality of a laptop and the portability and touchscreen of a tablet. If you’ll be buying a tablet for work, a 2-in-1 may be a better choice since you’ll have the option of a full keyboard, and a larger screen size. However keep in mind that 2-in-1s tend to be a bit heavier, and have a higher price point than dedicated tablets. So if you’ll be mainly using your tablet for reading, or watching movies when you travel, a dedicated tablet is likely your best bet.
4. Price Point
Now we come to price. If you love comparison shopping, this will be a fun step! Even if you’re not a fan, it’s still an important step to make sure you choose a tablet with your desired features that’s also within your price point.
Once you’ve set your intent and chosen your OS, the extra features you get will be determined by how much you’re willing to spend. The good news is, many great tablets come in at $100 or less. They may not have as much horsepower, but if you want something for light game-playing or web-browsing (like a Kindle), you can spend as little as $50. If you want a bigger and higher-resolution screen, you can expect to pay closer to $200 to $300. At $300 and up, you’re looking at the high-end tablets with either large screens, massive storage space, fast processors, or all of the above.
5. Storage Space
Most tablets come with 16, 32, or even 64 GB of internal storage. The amount of storage you need depends on your answer to question #1. (See? I told you it was important.) For example, if you choose a Kindle Fire for a couple of games and some late-night reading, you won’t need much memory. And that iPad won’t require a lot of storage if you’ll be using it for web browsing and tweeting during your favorite show. But keeping tons of apps, photos and videos on your tablet can eat up storage fast. If you plan to use your tablet for anything memory-intensive, anticipate your storage needs and proceed accordingly.
6. Battery Life
Finally, it’s always a good idea to consider battery life when buying a tablet. After all, when the battery runs out, the fun’s over. Android and Apple tend to do fairly well in this department, offering ten to twelve hours of battery life from a full charge. Windows tablets don’t always do quite as well, but are comparable. What you’re doing with your tablet is actually a much bigger factor in battery life than brand name — that graphics-intensive shooter will kill the battery much faster than cruising IMDb to find the name of the actor who was in that one movie. Still, if you’re down to to two or three choices and just can’t decide, battery life is a good tiebreaker.
And that’s it! Ready to start looking for the perfect device? Check out BLINQ’s selection of tablets and start putting your newfound tablet-buying skills to work!