Apple certainly brought tablets back into the mainstream, but iPad offers little variety. You have the option of either an 8-inch iPad Mini or a 10-inch iPad Air, and the only difference is the size. With Android tablets there are many options, and we are here to help you choose.
What do you want you tablet for?
Tablets usually cost around $200 or more, so you want to ensure that you are getting your money’s worth when you make a purchase. Decide what it is you want to do with your tablet first.
Most people who regret choosing the tablet they bought, didn’t clearly know how they were going to use it, and so they did not purchase the device that was right for them. Ask yourself these questions before you begin shopping for your Android tablet:
- Do you want a tablet for work or play?
- How much work will you actually do on your tablet? Will you need a keyboard?
- What is the biggest reason you want to purchase a tablet?
- Will you carry your tablet with you everywhere, or are you just going to use it at home or when you go on long trips?
- Will you mainly browse the web, watch movies, read books, use social networking, or participate in gaming?
Answer these questions as honestly as possible to make the best purchase decision. Have the answers handy to reference when shopping.
Hardware & software
Your answer to “what is the biggest reason you want to buy a tablet?” is what will determine what hardware and software you will need as well. For example, if you answered that your main reason for purchasing a tablet is to play games on a larger screen, you will need to ensure the table you buy has a good GPU.
Size & aspect ratio
Your display is the most important part of your tablet, so you need to pick the screen that will work best for you. Android tablets come in a number of screen sizes. The most common are 7”, 8”, 10”, 11”, and 13”. There are two aspect ratios: 4:3 and 16:9. The 4:3 aspect ratio is slightly square and is similar to what the iPad screen looks like. A 16:9 aspect ratio is a widescreen and looks more like your laptop monitor.
There isn’t a size that’s “ideal” as a general rule of thumb. You probably have at least a few friends with tablets. You can ask them to try their tablet and use this to help you discover what’s comfortable for you. You can also go to the store to check out the various sizes and aspect ratios. These devices weigh differently so check that out as well.
Where you want to be able to use your tablet will determine the connectivity options that you need. Have a look at what your answer was to the question “will I carry the tablet with me everywhere or will I mostly use the device at home and on long trips?”
If you are mostly going to use your tablet at home and occasionally on a long trip, your tablet doesn’t have to have 3G/4G connectivity. As long as you have Wi-Fi, you should be good. If you are going to be taking your tablet with you all the time, then you want to have 3G/4G connectivity as it will significantly increase your usage.
Keyboard & stylus
How much work will you actually do on your tablet? Do you need a keyboard so that you can increase your work load? If you answered that you will mainly use it as a work device, then you will need a keyboard for your tablet. If you’re going to carry your laptop with you because you can’t ditch a desktop OS like Windows or Mac yet, then no, your tablet does not need a keyboard. It’s that simple.
It can get really interesting when you bring the stylus into the picture. You think you don’t really need it until you actually start using it and then you turn to it more and more. It’s perfect for drawing and taking notes.
Unique features to watch for
To differentiate from the competition, Android tablet manufacturers continue to try new things. Some are okay, some are ridiculous, and some are great, but most of them do cater to a niche.
The Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 tablet comes with a built-in projector that allows to project your display onto any flat surface. It may seem like a useless thing until you go into a meeting, and you can actually put your tablet on the conference room table, and project your presentation on the whiteboard. Then it becomes pretty cool.
Mini HDMI port
If you are looking for a tablet for gaming, make sure you buy one with a Mini HDMI so that you can connect your tablet to your TV using a regular HDMI cable and use a Bluetooth controller. It works great and is plenty of fun.
If your tablet will be your primary computing device, then in addition to the 3G/4G connectivity, make sure you get voice calling so you can use apps like WhatsApp, which requires you to have an active phone connection, and it can also act as an emergency line.
The biggest thing you need to keep in mind is finding the right device for the right price. Usually, your choice will come down to whether you to buy a recognized brand (i.e. Sony, Google, etc.) or an unknown Chinese brand.
For the most part, you should save your money from unknown Chinese brands, but there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. For example, both Xiaomi and Huawei make tablets that are brilliant and far cheaper. Asus is a big name brand that has been able to provide superior value in their tablets, especially because it uses the Intel processor.
If you are already an Android tablet user, we would love to hear from you. Which tablet do you own, what do you like or love about it, and what do you hate? What recommendations would you give to someone in the market to buy a tablet?
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