Buying a tablet guide

Tablets let you keep up with your digital world wherever you are – they’re the definition of portable, connected technology, great for e-mail, entertainment and web surfing.

The main issue that users have when they are looking to buy a tablet is which one they should buy. There are so many tablets on the market and with different price tags. Why are some tablets more expensive than others? Is it worth to buy the more expansive one or a cheap one will do? In this section we will discuss some tips that can help you to choose the right tablet for you and for your needs.

Operating System

Operating systems are designed to be easy to learn and determine how fast, smooth and intuitive your tablet is. They allow the user to navigate the device with a multitude of gestures including tap, pinch, and swipe. An OS will let the user customise his tablet with colours and icons, so he/her can create a completely tailored interface that you love to use. The operating system also provides a place where users can choose a comprehensive range of free and paid applications.

There are three types of OS for tablets, Android, iOS and Windows.

Android

Android is a mobile operating system or OS, based on the Linux kernel and currently developed by Google. With a user interface based on direct manipulation, Android is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, with specialized user interfaces for televisions (Android TV), cars (Android Auto), and wrist watches (Android Wear). The OS uses touch inputs that loosely correspond to real-world actions, like swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching to manipulate on-screen objects, and a virtual keyboard. Android is famous for being an open-source OS, gives freedom to users to modify and design according to the user needs.

If you want to learn how to download apps or how to set up the device for the first time please click here.

iOS

iOS (originally iPhone OS) is a mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc. and distributed exclusively for Apple hardware. It is the operating system that presently powers all of the company's iDevices. The user interface of iOS is based on the concept of direct manipulation, using multi-touch gestures. Interface control elements consist of sliders, switches, and buttons. Interaction with the OS includes gestures such as swipe, tap, pinch, and reverse pinch, all of which have specific definitions within the context of the iOS operating system and its multi-touch interface. Internal accelerometers are used by some applications to respond to shaking the device (one common result is the undo command) or rotating it in three dimensions (one common result is switching from portrait to landscape mode). iOS is famous for being secure, because Apple does not allow users to make any changes on the OS. However, there are some ways to unlock the restrictions so users can install third party applications, extensions and themes that are not available in the official Apple App Store, this process is called Jailbreak.

If you want to learn how to download apps or how to set up the device for the first time please click here.

 

Windows

Windows Mobile is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft, based on Windows CE and is the successor to Pocket PC 2002 and predecessor of Windows Phone. Most tablets will run Windows 8.1. Some Windows 8 tablets run the full operating system (like the one you use on your computer) and will allow you to run pretty much everything. The other tablets come with Windows 8 RT, which is a more limited edition of Windows 8. It will only allow you to install software from the app store.

Features

While some users want a tablet that is portable and easy to care around, others use them for storing important files and preparing documents. In the tablet world there is a range for everyone needs.

Whether you’re buying a tablet with a purpose, are a complete newcomer, or just want to keep up with the latest technology, we’ve prepared a guide to the key features you will need to consider before buying.

Screen

This is where some users get very picky. Many users use their tablets to watch movies, live sports so they want a screen with a good resolution. There are three main aspects for you to think about in terms of your tablet’s screen and these are size, resolution and touch.

Size

Tablets come in a range of screen sizes, the most common being 7 and 10 inches. If you are looking for a tablet to use social networking, surfing the web or downloading e-books, a 7” screen will fit your needs. However, if you want a tablet to watch movies, playing games and work with documents you should use a 10”. I have owned both sizes and I can say a 7” is more practical to carry around, and for most tasks you do not need a larger screen. I also enjoyed playing games on a 10” tablet and the same goes to watch movies.

Resolution

Screen resolution determines the crispness of your photos, videos and games, and is measured in Pixels Per Inch (PPI). PPI is an indicator of overall clarity, measuring how closely pixels are packed together on screen. As PPI increases, the screen is able to show more detail. PPI should be a key consideration for those who are looking for a tablet with entertainment in mind.

Multi-touch

All tablets are touch-enabled which makes them fun and convenient to use. Multi-touch screens allow you to use several fingers to swipe, resize and zoom. 5-point touchscreens are perfect for all your tablet needs, however if you’re striving advanced control, a 10-point touchscreen will give you the option to use 10 fingers. This is very important on a tablet, because you do not have a mouse or keyboard so you will need to be able to perform multi tasks with your fingers. I have noticed that on cheaper tablets the touch screen is not great, most of times you have to touch to many times on an icon before it responds. I have found this so annoying, so I suggest that you spend a little more cash but buy a tablet that will respond quick to your touch.

Memory Capacity

Internal storage varies from device to device, with a range of capacities from 4 GB to 124 GB. Storage also comes in other forms such as memory cards and web-based cloud storage. The memory capacity will determine how much information (data) you will be able to hold on the device. Some devices only have internal memory; there is no way to expand memory (externally) on the device.

Internal

The amount of memory you choose will determine how many songs, photos and videos you can store on your tablet. It is important to remember that your operating system will use capacity too, so the overall memory you choose will in fact be slightly less than what’s you first thought. If you plan to use your tablet for demanding applications as well as storing lots of multimedia look at 32 GB and 64 GB devices. There are some tablets that only have internal memory, there is no option to add external memory so please keep that in mind when looking to buy a tablet. Please keep in mind that if you buy a tablet with 16GB of internal memory that does not mean that you have 16GB of free space to store data. The operating system takes some memory plus the OS updates that will be needed in the future. If you are buying a tablet that has only internal memory I would suggest you to buy the 32GB version, so you can extra space if you need to.

External

Some tablets boast a microSD slot which is a great way to expand storage. For example, a tablet may only have 8 GB of memory but by purchasing a microSD card you can increase this to 32 GB - ideal for those who have a large music collection or those who want to store movies. SD cards on these days are very cheap and easy to get.

 

Cloud

The Cloud is everywhere. All of my personal devices can see the cloud and the cloud routinely pulls and pushes data between all my devices. In short it’s amazing what the cloud can do and if the term “the cloud” doesn’t mean much to you, think of what services you use from major cloud service providers like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.

Cloud storage grants you wireless access to your files, even when you’re away from home. By using cloud storage you can free up more room on your tablet which is especially important for those who like to download content. Android and iOS users can use Google Drive, however Apple has their own cloud service called iCloud. Another famous cloud service is Dropbox.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that most free services don’t generally come with too many guarantees attached. Cloud services fail, shut down, get hacked and lose data. Do make sure you keep a replicated copy of your really important pictures, music and documents somewhere offline, and out of the cloud, just in case. That way if the worst comes to the worst, you know that you can recover what’s been lost without too much grief.

Performance

Processor

At the heart of a tablet you’ll find its processor. This is where you get your money worth, the more powerful the processor the quicker the applications will run on the device. Single-core processors support basic tasks such as browsing the web, writing emails and playing games. Dual-core processors enable extremely fluid multitasking, smooth streaming and rapid navigation. Quad-core processors suit high-end applications such as photo editing, design work and 3D gaming. Please look on the processor before buying a tablet, check what you will expect the tablet to do and then you can make a decision.

Battery Life

Most people will pick up their device throughout the day, but there is nothing worse than when you’re out and about and your battery dies. This is why it is important to consider how many hours of battery life a tablet has. Some tablets feature an extra core dedicated to battery power, making even basic tablets hugely efficient. The battery life of a tablet will also depend on the usage that you give to the tablet. If you are playing games the battery will drain quicker than if you are just using the tablet to read e-mails or surf the web. 

 

Camera

Most tablets host a rear-facing camera for shooting photo and video. Some devices also feature a front-facing camera, or webcam, which is designed for video chat. The quality of the cameras in tablets is not the same as professional cameras but you can take decent pictures with them.

Rear-facing

Nearly all tablets feature a rear-facing camera, for taking quick snapshots or shooting video. The higher the megapixel resolution of the camera, the more clarity your photos and videos will have.

Front-facing

Social media is becoming a vital portal for keeping in touch with loved ones, so if you want to video chat with friends and family using programmes such as Skype and Face Time look for a tablet with a front-facing camera.

 

Design

Tablets are extremely tactile devices, and you want to make sure yours feels great in your hands. Weight and dimensions play a large part in this, but also balance. Two different tablets can share the same weight, yet one somehow feels lighter. I would suggest visiting a shop before buying a tablet so you can view and hold the tablet and make the best purchase possible for you needs and desires. Please make sure there are no jagged edges or sharp corners that tend to dig into your palm while holding the tablet. For smaller tablets, you may want to confirm that the tablet will fit into your pocket or purse, or that it's light enough for your kids to handle without fear of them dropping it.

 

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