If you're in the market for a new tablet, you've come to the right place. Whether you've already owned a few or you're looking for your first one, this guide is here to make your shopping journey that little bit easier and more informed. We're home to a vast array of tablets for every whim, need, and preference, but with so many options to choose from, which is best for you? In this quick guide, we cover some of the key factors and specifications to pay attention to so you can make an informed decision on your next tablet purchase!
How will you be using it?
The first thing to do is to find out what you are going to be using your tablet for. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:
- What do you need to do on your tablet?
- Do you want to watch movies?
- Do you want to type documents?
- Do you want to browse the web / read articles?
- Do you want to use resource-intensive applications like Photoshop?
- Do you need a keyboard?
There is a huge range of different tablets all with varying capabilities on offer. Everyone may have different needs and certain tablets or specifications are more well-suited to some needs than others. It's a good idea to begin by finding out exactly what you're wanting to do on your tablet as ultimately, this will influence the model you buy. Keep this in mind as you read over the rest of the buying guide so you know what factors you should pay the most attention to.
Choose your Operating System (OS)
Once you know what you're going to use it for, you need to decide which OS (operating system) will be the best fit. iOS (iPad) and Android have dominated the tablet market recently, however Windows are now also offering some great tablets.
Apple iPads run on iOS. The iPad is the current market leader as the quality and variety of impressive apps and accessories is hard to beat. If you are familiar with other Apple devices, such as iPhone and Mac, then the iPad could be a good option for you. iOS doesn't support multi-users so there is a possibility you may need to re-purchase apps if you want to use them across all of your devices. Certain apps may work on both, iPhone and iPad devices, while others don't.
Android, being developed by Google is incorporated into the Google Play market. This provides a large suite of Google services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Photos and more. If you are familiar with and enjoy Google services, Android could be a good option for you, and the integration of apps is smoothest on this platform. Android also supports multi-user login which is useful if you are planning to share your tablet with multiple people such as family members and is highly customizable. The selection of apps on Android is reasonable and the quality of your tablet experience may be dependent on whether the app developer has optimized for tablet displays.
If you're wanting a tablet that resembles a traditional computing experience you will want to consider Windows. Full versions of the Microsoft Office suite, Word, Excel etc. will be available on your tablet, ideal for work purposes. There are a full range of apps to choose from which are touch friendly and support multiple user accounts but the overall selection is weaker in comparison to iOS and Android.
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Choose Your Screen Size
There are many different sizes of tablets to choose from ranging from 7-13 inches. Determining your screen size is completely up to you, however, if you are looking for a compact device that you can easily carry around and aren't concerned with the highest quality display, a 7-inch tablet may be the way to go. An 8-10 inch tablet provides a higher quality display, offering an enhanced experience for engaging with apps, games and movies, while still being relatively portable. If you are want a more immersive experience on your tablet and/or will be using it for work or study, a larger 10-13 inch tablet might be more suitable.
Resolution is another essential element to consider in a tablet as it determines the sharpness of the images and text displayed. It refers to the number of pixels that the screen can display and a higher resolution signifies more pixels, which translates to clearer and sharper display quality. If you're into digital art or photo editing, a tablet with high resolution, say 2048 x 1536 or above, will provide better details for your work. For general web browsing, streaming, or e-reading, a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels should suffice.
Remember that a higher resolution might consume more power, potentially reducing your battery life. Therefore, consider the device's resolution along with the battery capacity for a more balanced choice. Similarly, be aware that the physical screen size also impacts how sharp the display appears; a high resolution on a larger screen won't appear as sharp as the same resolution on a smaller screen. If you're opting for a larger screen, make sure it's got a high resolution to match.
Storage capacity is another factor to consider when buying a tablet as it determines how much data, like apps, documents, videos and photos you can store on the device. Tablets storage capacities often range from 8GB-1TB depending on what model you choose. If you're a light user who primarily uses the cloud for storage, or only plans to use the tablet for browsing, streaming content, and using a few apps, then a tablet with 32GB or 64GB should suffice. However, if you plan to download a lot of apps, store movies, photos, games or use the tablet for work like graphic design, video editing or large presentations, a higher storage option, ideally 128GB or more, would be more suitable.
Some tablets offer expandable storage options through SD or microSD cards, which can significantly increase the tablet's storage capacity. This option is particularly useful if you want flexibility to increase storage space in the future or frequently work with large files. However, the added cost of purchasing these cards may add to your overall investment, though generally not more than buying a high storage capacity tablet to begin with. Additionally, this is generally only available on Android or Windows tablets and not iPads.
Wi-Fi and Cellular Connectivity is important to consider as these determine how your device will connect to the internet, and as a result, influence the functionality and portability of your device. Most tablets come with built-in Wi-Fi which is suitable for using the tablet at home if you have a stable Wi-Fi connection. If you are planning to use your tablet outside of your home, however, where you may not have a Wi-Fi connection, you may want to take into consideration whether the tablet has cellular capabilities. This will allow you to connect ot the internet through a mobile data plan, much like a cellphone. this means you can access online content anywhere that has cellular service. This is especially useful for people who travel frequently or work remotely. However, these models are typically more expensive and also require an additional monthly fee for data usage.
You also want to consider the type and number of Ports on a tablet. The most common port is the charging port, which in most modern tablets could also double as a data transfer port; the latest ones have a USB-C type which supports faster charging and data transfers. Some tablets may also have a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio needs, though this may be omitted in slimmer models favoring wireless Bluetooth headphones. Additionally, a microSD or SD card slot can be seen as a bonus as it allows you to expand available storage, a useful feature for people who work with large files or want flexibility to increase storage space without relying on the cloud.
If running the latest apps and games smoothly is important to your needs, a high spec processor is recommended. In general, the higher the GHz, the better, although there are exceptions. If you are wanting to use your tablet as a laptop replacement and intend to run resource intensive applications, you might want to consider those tablets with the latest Intel processors such as the i5 or i7. For typical users, iPads have a particularly good reputation for providing decent performance. In terms of RAM, at least 4GB is recommended although some entry level models will have less than this. The more RAM a tablet has the more responsive the tablet's performance will be when using multiple apps or multitasking. If you will be using the talet for business or creative purposes, we recommend at least 8GB of RAM.
Check out the wide variety of tablets available today.