Tablet PC Buyer's Guide
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Tablet PC Buyer's Guide Tablet PC Buyer's Guide Document Transcript

  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net Tablet Computer Buyer’s GuideWhat Is A Tablet Computer? ............................................................................................. 2 Typical Uses For A Tablet PC ............................................................................................................................................ 2Key Features Of The Tablet Computer ............................................................................... 3 Design .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 3 Touch Interface....................................................................................................................................................................... 3 Tablet App Stores................................................................................................................................................................... 3Tablet PC Operating Systems ............................................................................................ 4 iOS - Apple iPad ...................................................................................................................................................................... 4 Android Operating Systems .............................................................................................................................................. 4 Rival OS: Blackberry Tablets, Web OS2 & Windows 7 .......................................................................................... 5What Are The Most Common Specs To Look Out For In A Tablet PC? ................................. 5 Size & Weight........................................................................................................................................................................... 5 Price ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 6 Memory....................................................................................................................................................................................... 6 Apps .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 Connectivity Options ............................................................................................................................................................ 8 Cameras...................................................................................................................................................................................... 8 Music & Video .......................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Battery Life ............................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Connections .............................................................................................................................................................................. 9 Accessories ............................................................................................................................................................................. 10Tablets Vs. Smartphones, Laptops and Netbooks ............................................................ 10 Tablet Vs. Laptop ................................................................................................................................................................ 10 Tablet Vs. Netbook ............................................................................................................................................................. 11 Tablet Vs. Smartphone ..................................................................................................................................................... 12What Do You Pick? ......................................................................................................... 12Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.netWhat Is A Tablet Computer?A tablet computer is much like a laptop - a portable computer that can play music, videos, games,and perform many other functions of a computer.The most notable difference is the fact that it lacks a keyboard and makes use of a touch screeninstead of a mouse. Today, tablet computers also generally use a range of operating systemsspecifically designed for this kind of device. These operating systems support hundreds of apps tohelp you perform the exact task you want on your tablet.Some other names for tablet computers: Slates, Tablet PCs, Tablets, Tablet personal computers.Although the iPad is largely responsible for the surge in popularity of tablet computers - and may bethe only tablet youve heard of - there are a huge range of tablets available to buy today.It may surprise you to learn that tablets are nothing new - theyve been around for decades. Whenthey were first released, however, they never gained the momentum and popularity that they havetoday. They had fundamental flaws that made them far more difficult to use, and they didntbecome a part of everyday life.Apple redefined tablets by creating an easy-to-use device that has been embraced by millions.Thanks to this popularity, tablets now come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, which is why its soimportant to learn as much as you can before you make your buying decision. This is what this guidewill help you to do!Typical Uses For A Tablet PCSo, you know that tablets are like very compact laptops, but what do you actually use them for?Here are a few of the most popular uses for tablet computers:1) Portable ComputerThe most obvious reason for buying a tablet is that you need a computer with you on the go. Smallerthan laptops, tablets can easily be slipped into a bag or even a large suit pocket so that youre neverfar from your most essential files, emails and apps.2) Simple At-Home DeviceIts important to realize that tablets are also commonly used within the home. Recent research fromAdMob shows that a high percentage of iPad users primarily use the device at home, for simplertasks, to help avoid the need to boot up the main computer.3) EntertainmentBrought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.netTablets are hugely popular as entertainment devices. Gadgets like the iPod already meant you couldwatch movies and listen to music on the go. Tablets make this just as portable, but the bigger screenmakes everything look better! Even more impressive, tablets can connect to the internet forwatching YouTube videos and online news reports.4) GamingTablets are becoming some of the most popular portable games consoles! Whether youre a casualor hardcore gamer, theres a game to suit you for tablet computers.5) Browsing The WebThe beauty of the tablet is that you can simply pick it up and browse the web, without long loadtimes, to find that bit of information you need. People use their tablets to search for things quicklyboth at home and on the go.6) BusinessiPads are now becoming a common sight in meetings or at presentations. They can store importantnotes, display stats, graphics and multimedia - all without the need to carry a laptop computeraround!Key Features Of The Tablet ComputerDesignYoull find that tablet computers are generally small in size - smaller than a laptop computer, butbigger than a smartphone. They make use of LCD screens of around 7 - 12 inches in size.Tablets usually feature an accelerometer in their design. This detects the way youre moving thegadget as well as its orientation. This means that you can use it either in portrait or landscape mode,making them as comfortable to use and read from as possible.Touch InterfaceTablets dont come with a keyboard. Instead, youll use the touch screen to control apps and entertext. This can be done with your fingers or with a stylus. If necessary, you can buy external keyboardand input accessories.Multi-touch screens allow users to make use of controls featuring multiple fingers, helping to createa more intuitive tablet system. For example, the Apple iPad makes use of "gestures" such as thepinch to zoom in on what youre viewing.Palm recognition in tablet computers help prevent accidental contact from the palm fromcontrolling the devices features.Some tablets even make use of pressure sensitivity, especially graphics tablets.Tablet App StoresBrought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.netYou need to remember that a tablet computer doesnt work like a standard PC. Its far morestructured, though you can download a wide range of apps within the framework of the tablet youchoose to buy.All of the main tablets of today can be customized with the use of apps. For example: The iPad connects to the Apple App Store. Android connects to the Android Market.Youll need to use apps to perform different functions on your tablet. In essence, these are the sameas programs or applications on your PC, though youre limited to the choice available in the tabletsspecific app store.Apple is currently the leader when it comes to choice of apps, with Android a close second.Tablet PC Operating SystemsiOS - Apple iPadThe iPad runs on the same operating system as the iPhone: iOS. This provides an easy to use andintuitive interface. One early complaint of iOS was the fact that it didnt include multitasking (theability to run multiple apps at the same time) but this has now been rectified. iOS also gives accessto the Apple App Store - the biggest app store available in the world of tablet computers.Pros of iOS: Its easy to use (especially if youve already used an iPhone or iPod Touch), You have access to hundreds of thousands of apps, It was designed to work seamlessly with the hardware, Everything feels great on the iOS system - Apple has a high attention to detail.Cons: iOS famously doesnt include support for Flash videos or games, Theres currently only one tablet using this OS - the iPad, Apple controls all of the apps that go into its store, Apple controls all of the hardware, meaning theres far less choice and no true budget option available.Android Operating SystemsAndroid is rapidly growing in popularity. This operating system from Google was first featured on anumber of smartphones, and many users will already be familiar with the way it works. Because itsopen-source, it means it can be customized and tweaked by manufacturers. This means youll see alarge range of manufacturers using Android, compared to just one using iOS.Pros of Android: Theres far more choice when it comes to available tablet models, meaning you can choose budget as well as high end, The app store is rapidly growing and offers huge choice, Integrates seamlessly with Google accounts, It is an open platform that many developers are now choosing to work with - some manufacturers have tweaked it very well,Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) is now optimized specifically for tablets.Cons of Android: The app store still isnt as big as Apples, and there arent as many tablet apps, Older versions of Android (which some tablets still use) were originally designed for smartphones, not tablets (though 3.0 is now optimized for tablets), Some cheaper Android tablets are poorly designed, It isnt as intuitive as iOS (though many Android smartphone users will already be familiar), Tablets run different versions of Android - some apps may not be available for the version your tablet uses.Rival OS: Blackberry Tablets, Web OS2 & Windows 7BlackBerryThe BlackBerry PlayBook makes use of Blackberrys own operating system, the RIM Blackberry TabletOS. Its not as widespread as the other operating systems, and some users have complained that itlacks the choice of apps theyre looking for. However, it does support Flash (unlike Apples iOS) - andit does this very well. If youre used to the Blackberry smartphone interface then this could be theright OS for you, but bear in mind that there have been many changes for the latest tablet offering.webOSwebOS is the offering from Palm/ HP, and will feature in a range of tablet computers such as HP’sTouchPad. One benefit of this operating system is the fact that social networking is built right in (noneed to download apps right off the bat). You can view all of your various accounts (LinkedIn,Facebook, Microsoft Exchange and Google Information) in one place. It also makes multitasking a loteasier. However, once again the main problem is a lack of apps. This could change as more peoplechoose webOS based tablets.WindowsDont forget Windows, who have also made it into the world of tablet computers. A number oftablets have now been launched in Windows 7 - which is perfect for users who want to buysomething that they are already comfortable using. You probably already know just how muchsoftware there is available that runs on Windows. The drawbacks? Windows tablets generally costmore, much of the software was originally designed for computers with a keyboard and mouse, andit just doesnt feel as sleek and stylish as the iPads iOS.Dual Boot TabletsThere are also "dual boot" tablets in existence: those that can run more than one operating system.So far the main choice is to buy an Android and Windows tablet. These tablets arent as common,but could become more popular as users search for flexibility.What Are The Most Common Specs To Look Out For In A Tablet PC?Size & WeightPortability is one of the biggest benefits of owning a tablet computer, so make sure you check outthe size and weight before you buy. There are two things to consider here:Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net You want your tablet to be small and light enough to carry around with you if youll regularly use it on the go, But you also want the screen to be big enough to read and type on with ease. Some bigger screens may make the device more bulky, but come with the added benefit of fitting in a full touch screen keyboard.The good news is that there isnt much in it between the most popular tablets. They generally comein at around 7-10 inches in size and 1-2.5lbs in weight.PricePrice is inevitably going to be a factor when choosing your tablet computer, but bear in mind thatyou often get what you pay for.What increases the cost of a tablet computer?1. Bigger storage sizes2. Addition of 3G or 4G connection (meaning you can connect to the internet when theres no Wi- Fi network around)3. Longer battery life4. Extra featuresLow-End Tablet Computers Start At $150Some of the cheapest tablet computers come in at as little as $150. This is a fantastic price if youwant something portable that only does the basic tasks you need it for. Its still likely to have Wi-Fi,meaning you can take advantage of hotspots to check email etc.But remember - these lower end tablets often lack the processing power that youll need to accessthe best apps (typically coming in at under 1GHz), or browse the web with any speed. Their display isalso often inferior, which could degrade the experience of watching movies or viewing photos.In short, low-end tablets could be a good choice if you really want a tablet but cant afford a morepowerful one. You can soon upgrade once you have the money.How Much Should You Pay For A Higher Quality Tablet?For a tablet computer that has a decent battery life (8-10 hours), and a more powerful processor,youre looking to spend at least $500. Anything less than this is a real value option.For the best performance, look for tablets that have at least 1GHz dual core processors.The Price Of Tablets Vs. Other Portable DevicesRemember - tablet computers are more expensive than laptops or netbooks with similar or evenbetter specs. This is because tablets are the most portable gadgets yet (and theyre also trendy!)MemoryDont expect your tablet computer to come with as much storage space as your laptop computer ornetbook. When it comes to storage space, tablet computers are actually closer to smartphones.Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.netThe most common storage capacities available in tablet computers are: 8GB 16GB 32GB 64GBCan You Add Additional Storage?If youre likely to use your tablet PC for a while, consider whether it comes with a memory slot thatllallow you to add additional memory in future (many dont - the iPad included). If it does, check themaximum possible memory capacity.How Much Space Do You Need?App files are generally very small, so youll still be able to download a large number of apps. For theaverage user, even 50+ apps are barely going to eat into your allowance.Your iPad really starts to fill up when you start downloading movies, or have a large music collection.As a rule of thumb, take a look at how much space youre currently using on your iPod or other MP3player. Getting a tablet with at least double that amount of space should serve your needs, unlessyou know youre going to be storing a lot of large files.However, its well worth buying the maximum amount of storage you can afford: your storageneeds will only grow with time.AppsBefore you buy any tablet computer, check out its app store to make sure it has the kind ofapplications youll need it for.Some of the most common types of app include: Word processing, Games, Video playback, Presentation software, Handwriting, Drawing, Music playback, Social networking, Web browsing, Basically its important to look for anything you think you want to use your tablet for!Although most tablets will have apps for the basic functions such as social networking, playingmusic, web browsing and so on, its important to realize that the bigger app stores offer far morechoice.The Apple App Store is the largest app store in existence, meaning that iPad users currently have thebiggest choice of free and paid apps. Developers also typically target the iPad store first.Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.netHowever, the Android Market is coming a close second, with more flexibility and a greater range oftablet devices available. This means that this app store could very well grow at a huge speed. It alsohas the benefit of wirelessly synching your apps when logged in to your Google account.Lesser-known app stores should not be ignored. If they have what you need - and you like the devicethat uses them - then they are still worth buying (and there is still potential for growth). Just knowthat you may limit yourself by choosing the smaller app stores.Connectivity OptionsBecause of their portable nature, most tablets today are now designed to connect to the internet onthe go. This includes even the lower-end tablet PCs. There are a few main types of connectivity youllfind on tablet computers of today…1) Wi-Fi: Pretty much every tablet computer comes with Wi-Fi connectivity. This means you canconnect to your home wireless internet, or at Wi-Fi hotspots in public places such as coffee shops oreven at work.2) Bluetooth: Bluetooth is also a very common feature on most tablet computers today. It allowsyou to connect wireless headsets, or use other features such as Bluetooth gaming.3) GPS: Most tablets include GPS (except the lower-end tabs) so that the device can detect yourlocation. Useful if you want to use your tablet as a satnav system or for map functions.4) 3G: This is the most common form of additional internet connection featured on more expensivetablets (such as some iPad and Asus Eee Pad devices). It allows you to connect to cellphonenetworks for connection to the internet when youre not near a Wi-Fi hotspot. Youll need to paymore for 3G tablets, both initially and through a monthly plan with your 3G provider.5) 4G: 4G technology is not yet the norm for tablet computers, but is available in a few models (suchas Dell Streak). It is a higher standard of mobile broadband: a faster equivalent of a 3G connection.Again, 4G is going to cost you more than 3G or Wi-Fi.CamerasIts now more and more common for tablets to come with one or two in-built cameras. Front-facing cameras are designed for video-calling, Rear-facing cameras are designed for taking photographs and recording videos.Bear in mind that tablet camera resolutions are generally low. The average range is between 1 and 5megapixels (most tablets hover between 1 and 3). So dont go throwing out your digital camera justyet!Some extra features you may want to look out for include (though these arent yet standard intablets): LED flash, Extra features such as face detection, panoramic photos, extra photo options, Video recording, HD video recording.Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.netMusic & VideoJust about any tablet you buy is going to come with the ability to play music and videos off the bat.They also come with a YouTube app for watching online videos. What you need to look out for,however, is the range of formats that they support.The most commonly supported multimedia formats: MP3, WAV, AAC, Flac, MPEG4, M-JPEG, DivX, XviD.A small number of tablets let you play HD (720p or 1080p) videos.NOTE: Be careful if you commonly use WMA (Windows files) as a few tablets (including the iPadand Xoom) dont play them. You can convert these files to MP3s using iTunes on PC or Mac.Connecting Your Tablet To Your PCNext, you want to check the software requirements for sorting and uploading media to your device.For example, if you choose the iPad then youre going to need to download iTunes to manage yourmedia.Some other tablets let you connect to your PC using USB, and work like an external hard drive (yousimply drag and drop any files you want to transfer). Others with have their own software to helpyou synchronize multimedia.Battery LifeIf you have a smartphone already then youll know just how quickly all of its functions can eat awayat your battery. This is why battery life is a very important factor when choosing a tablet computer.The battery life you look for will depend on what you mainly use your tablet for: If you tend to turn off your internet connection and listen to music all day then your battery is going to last a long time and you wont need to worry as much. However, browsing the web or watching videos will drain your battery a lot quicker. If you mainly read eBooks, remember that dedicated eBook readers will have a far greater batter life (e.g. the Kindle lasts for 3 weeks compared to the iPads 10 hours!)The average battery life of a tablet computer is around 8 - 10 hours. But bear in mind that real-world usage will probably be less than that, as youll be using it for a wide range of activities.ConnectionsMost tablets will connect to your PC or Mac via USB. Some tablets include standard or mini USBsockets, whereas others (such as the iPad) use their own connector. There are a few benefits toBrought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.nethaving USB ports - namely the fact that youll be able to connect external storage or keyboardswithout being limited to your specific tablet manufacturers products.As standard, tablets will also come with a headphone jack for attaching headphones or externalspeakers. Aside from that, it really does vary from tablet to tablet. Some of the ports you might lookfor include: USB connection (for attaching storage devices or USB peripherals) HDMI output (for connecting to a TV) SIM card slot (for 3G or 4G tablets) Card reader slots (for adding additional memory)Accessories For Your TabletSome manufacturers have created adapters that work specifically with their connections (such asthe iPad) to add accessories, so check with the manufacturer youre looking at to see whethertheyve got the accessory you need.Some of the most common accessories include: External keyboards, Docking stations, Camera connections, HDMI connections.AccessoriesAside from the accessories that allow you to make extra connections from your tablet, its also agood idea to look at the range of accessories available for a particular tablet in general.The most common accessory youre likely to buy is a case to stop your tablet getting damaged. Thegood news is that, due to the similar size of many tablet models, it isnt difficult to find one thatll fityours.However, it goes without saying that the most popular tablets (like the iPad) have a much biggerrange of accessories available. They also have some specific accessories, such as Apples magneticcover, that you may not find with all tablet models.Tablets Vs. Smartphones, Laptops and NetbooksIf you already own a desktop computer and are looking to buy something portable, then a laptop (ora netbook) is the obvious choice. However, you may also find that a tablet computer suits yourneeds without the extra bulk that a laptop inevitably brings. Then again, you may ultimately decidethat a good smartphone can do everything you need it to.The choice you make is a deeply personal one - it all depends on what youll regularly use yourportable device to do. That said, there are a few distinct pros and cons of each, which we will coverin this section.Tablet Vs. LaptopThe Benefits Of Choosing A Tablet Over A LaptopBrought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net1. A tablet is far smaller than even the most compact laptop.2. Theyre easier to carry around and weigh a lot less than laptops.3. Tablets load up quickly making them perfect for accessing information or videos and movies on the go.4. They are far easier to use in more "awkward" positions such as when youre lying down, standing up, or only have one free hand.5. Tablets are intuitive to use with your finger or stylus, especially when it comes to apps where you need to draw or write in your normal handwriting.6. Tablets usually have a longer battery life than laptops. The former last around 8-10 hours, whereas the latter usually drain in about 4 hours.The Drawbacks Of Choosing A Tablet1. Because of its size, the tablet doesnt come with a keyboard. This makes it less convenient if you need to type a lot.2. Tablets are less powerful with less storage space, a smaller screen, and less flexibility when it comes to the way you use it.3. Tablet computers are more expensive than laptops, despite the fact that theyre less powerful.4. Youll usually find apps and websites far slower loading on tablets than on laptops.5. Because of the fact that they dont come with a keyboard/ mouse, you cant rest your arms on a desk/ mat while typing, and may find tablets more uncomfortable to use for longer periods of time.Tablet Vs. NetbookNetbooks are generally described as lightweight, more compact versions of laptops. Because theyresmaller and lighter, theyre generally far less powerful than their laptop counterparts, though theyhave the same basic form with a keyboard and track pad.The Benefits Of Choosing A Tablet Over A Netbook1. Lets face it; tablets look far better than most clunky netbooks. Theyre also thinner and easier to slip into your bag.2. Netbooks are often equipped with far less powerful components than laptops, and can be slower and clunkier to use than tablets.3. Tablets such as the iPad are far better for playing games than most netbooks.4. Tablets make accessing simple information fast and easy - its far quicker to boot a tablet than it is to boot up your netbook.The Drawbacks Of Choosing A Tablet1. If youre used to using computers or laptops then youll find netbooks very easy to use. Netbooks generally run on the Windows operating system, which many users are already familiar with.2. Tablet computers are more expensive than netbooks, especially in proportion to the features they offer.3. Netbooks usually feature larger screens, making them better for watching movies or simply viewing more at one time.4. Netbooks generally have much bigger hard drive sizes compared to the average of 64GB or less on tablet computers.Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net
  • Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.netTablet Vs. SmartphonePhones are becoming more and more advanced these days, and its getting harder and harder tonotice the difference between a smartphone and tablet computer. However, there are a few keydifferences between the two.The Benefits Of Choosing A Tablet Over A Smartphone1. Tablets come with much larger screens and better resolutions, making things easier to see, and creating a far more enjoyable experience in general.2. Tablets arent just big smartphones: the increase in size makes tablets far more versatile, and tablets have found a firm place in the market.3. There is more space for the on-screen keyboard on a tablet, making them far more useful for typing in documents or emails.4. Tablets and smartphones have similar battery life, though youll eat through your smartphones battery far quicker if youre constantly making and receiving calls.The Drawbacks Of Choosing A Tablet1. You cant make phone calls on a tablet (except those that run off the internet such as Skype). If you need a new cell phone, you may be better off with a smartphone.2. Smartphones are the most portable of them all - they can fit in your back pocket and weigh next to nothing!3. Tablets are expensive, and you can get a smartphone for free on some cellphone contracts.What Do You Pick?The tab you ultimately choose will depend on all the features listed above. Although the iPadfrequently comes out top in reviews, its important to bear in mind that the world of tabletcomputers is changing, and the iPad isnt necessarily the future. Factor in your budget and specificneeds, and the iPad may not be right for you anyway.Theres now a huge range of tablets to choose from, and the range is only growing. So compare thefeatures you know you need from this guide against the reviews, and youll have your winner.Brought to you by http://www.product-review-sites.net