So you’re thinking of buying a tablet, or perhaps you aren’t even sure what a tablet actually is. Well in this article we’ll be starting from the very basics, we’ll talk about what a tablet is, what you can do with them, how to choose the right one for you and more.
Firstly – What is a tablet? Well when I describe a tablet I like to say it’s basically a halfway point between a laptop and a mobile phone. It has some of the portability of a phone, being very thin and lightweight as well as having a touch screen. But like a laptop it has a larger screen and usually more computing power than a phone. Tablets are generally considered to be more simple and intuitive than a computer, the touch screen is easy to use and you don’t need a mouse or keyboard (although some tablets will let you connect a mouse and keyboard to them if you choose to).
Like smartphones, tablets rely on apps in order to provide more functionality to users. Apps are downloadable programs created by companies or individuals, some are available for free and some cost money. A new tablet will come with many apps pre installed such as a clock, a calculator or an email app. You can then customize your tablet by downloading apps that suit you. Anything from games and social media to banking or shopping apps and lots more, there are literally over a million apps available for download so there is something for everyone.
So now let’s actually get into some of the choices you’re going to have to make when deciding which tablet to buy. We’re going to go over the Operating System, apps, screen size, child friendliness, storage and battery.
Android vs iOS vs Windows
Choosing an Operating System between Android, iOS and Windows is one of the biggest decisions you need to make when buying a tablet. Now don’t worry if you have no idea what any of these words mean, we will go over them together.
So an Operating System is essentially the brain of your device, it’s what makes everything run. If you have a computer you’re likely running it on Windows, that is the Operating System of the computer. It just keeps everything together and makes the device tick.
If you happen to already have a smartphone which you like then this choice can be made easier for you as i’d simply recommend choosing the same Operating System for your tablet as your phone. This is just due to the simplicity of already having an understanding of the layout and features. However that is not mandatory and you can choose whichever you like.
iOS which is made by the company Apple who make iPads and iPhones is generally considered to be the most user friendly and intuitive. The drawbacks are that it’s a closed system which means you can only install apps approved by Apple, this likely won’t be a problem for most people. Keep in mind Apple products do tend to be more expensive than others so if you’re on a budget this might not be the choice for you and the available selection of tablets is a lot smaller than the amount of Android tablets available.
Windows is made by Microsoft and is used by the vast majority of computers and laptops but recently they’ve also branched out into tablets. Windows tablets are great if you plan on doing a lot of work on them with things like documents and spreadsheets. If you already use a Windows computer and you enjoy the look and feel of it then you should consider getting a Windows tablet.
Android is the most popular Operating System and is considered to be more flexible and customisable than iOS or Windows so you can really make it your own. If you have a favourite brand such as Samsung or Lenovo you’ll usually find these brands use the Android Operating System. Generally also you’ll find the widest range of choice when it comes to the device you want as well as the best budget options.
All three have their own app store where you can download free or purchase apps. Most of the popular apps such as Netflix or Facebook will be on all three however if there happens to be a specific app you want then it might be worth checking that it’s available to the Operating System. You can use a computer or any internet device to browse the app stores online before purchasing.
Android – https://play.google.com/store?gl=GB
If this all sounds a bit complicated don’t worry too much about it, no matter which you choose your tablet will be able to do pretty much everything the others can. The look and layout will vary but you’ll still be able to do all the basic tasks you’d expect from a tablet.
Screen size is another important factor to consider. One of the major advantages of tablets is their portability and the size of the screen is going to determine if you’re buying what is essentially a big phone or a small laptop. Tablet screens tend to range from around 7 to 12 inches although you can go bigger if you wish. Think about where you’re going to use your tablet, if it’s just at home then a larger screen would improve your viewing quality. If you’re going to be taking the tablet out and about then make sure it’s going to fit in whatever you’re going to be using to transport it and i’d also strongly recommend getting a protective case to give you some more peace of mind.
If you’re buying a tablet for a child then you need to take the tablets durability and cost into account. Amazon as well as other brands offer tablets specially designed for children’s use. These tablets are extra robust and harder to break, they also feature more advanced parental controls and restrictions on what the child can view.
Storage is another important choice, this will determine how much you can actually fit on your tablet. Apps, pictures, videos, documents etc. will all take up space on your tablets harddrive and you don’t want to be in that situation where you can’t download anymore apps or take more pictures because your device is full. When searching for a tablet to buy you’ll see the letters ‘GB’ preceded by a number. This indicates how many ‘gigabytes’ of storage the tablet comes with. This isn’t as big of a worry for Android and Windows tablets as most of them can have their storage expanded by inserting a micro SD card. Apple iOS tablets do not allow you to expand your storage this way so it’s something to keep in mind.
16GB will likely be enough for light users but if you’re planning on taking a lot of pictures and videos then you might want to look at 32GB tablets or purchase a microSD card. The benefits of saving things to a microSD card are that you can remove it from the tablet and insert it into other devices such as a computer if you want to transfer files easily that way.
16GB = Approx 5,000 photos 4,000 songs
32 GB = Approx 10,000 photos or 8,000 songs
64 GB = Approx 20,000 photos or 16,000 songs
Keep in mind photos and songs won’t be the only thing taking up storage, this is just to give you a rough idea of how much you can keep on the device.
Battery life should be taken into consideration when purchasing a tablet. I’d recommend looking for at least 8 hours of battery life. If you need more then perhaps think about buying a power bank, you can charge these portable batteries and take them out with you then just plug your tablet into it and you have an emergency recharge. Good power banks can give a full battery charge to a tablet and maybe even have some left over. The last thing you want is it running out when you’re away from a charger.
We’re coming to the end of our tablet buyer’s guide now, I hope this has helped make your choice a little bit easier. Tablets are a fantastic bit of tech and they really bridge the gap between computers and phones. They’re great for all ages and once you get the hang of them they’re quite simple and intuitive to use.
Thank you for reading and have fun with your new tablet!