Which Tablet is Right for You?

If you have landed on this magazine it’s very unlikely that you already don’t have a tablet with you. Let’s assume for the sake of this article and for a reason for me to write one, that you don’t. Tablets are spreading like a wild fire. There’s one available for every need and every budget. But when there is such a vast choice there is bound to be confusion and a dilemma. Which one is right for you? In my capacity, I will try to make this decision easier for you. But, yeah, I am just putting all the cards on table, so read through and decide.

First things first

  • Don’t buy one just because everybody around you has it. There is no worse feeling than having to regret after your spending money on it.
  • Make a list of things from your lifestyle where this tablet can help you. Which means the tablet should complement your lifestyle and not change it.

Now that you have sorted these couple of things and have decided to buy one, which one should you go for? It is very important for you to first identify your needs from this tablet before you select one. Along with this you should also look at your current setup at home/office. If you already have a mac/iphone or own a blackberry or most of your computing happens with Google, etc. No matter how efficiently these devices try to promote seamless integration, selecting devices from same family always makes sense.

1.  Another common family device for those spare moments in the living room
a. As a entertainment center for home photos, movies, etc
b. For casual browsing
c. Gaming in spare time

Well, here the choice would be simple, go for an iPad. With its hundreds of thousands of apps and connectivity features iPad would be ideal for you. But wait, did you say browsing? With most of the rich media sites still running Flash you are then better of going for a Samsung Tab or any other Android device. The decision will be also easier if you already have few entertainment devices from Samsung in your living room such as your TV and a home theatre/DVD player. With allshare, it becomes very easy to share media on Samsung devices. Also in this case you don’t need to go for a 3G option. Wi-Fi only versions of the tablet will be enough for your indoor needs. If you have a Mac or any other Apple device then iPad will make more sense.

2.  Purely as a travel tool when you are outdoors
a. Emails / Chat / Social
b. Computing / Document Editing

I would strongly recommend having a 3G device in this case. You might think that there are many wi-fi spots around the city. But believe me once you get in that culture and habit of being connected then it’s difficult to be disconnected. And of course no Tablet will allow you to add this 3G feature at a later stage. Sorry, no upgrades here!  My personal choice again would be something that gives me seamless connectivity with my other devices.  Are you going to use your tablet as a computing device for mails, documents, etc? Then you also need to look at your mobile phone. Are you on iPhone? Or Blackberry? If you are on Blackberry then go for Playbook tablet. Easy bridge through you Blackberry makes it an obvious choice. If you have an iphone then go for iPad. Don’t forget you need to buy the app only once and it will be available for your other device, too. If most of your computing happens on Google docs, etc. then go for an Android device. Google is seamlessly weaved in to most of the Android devices. For emails, both iPad and Android devices fair almost same. But if you are from a Blackberry culture then stick to the Blackberry Playbook.

3.  Purely as a book reader

First and most important thing in this case is to feel all tablets one by one in your hand and see if you can really hold it for a long time to read a book. Right, it’s not easy. Tablets are not meant for this. But yes, try Amazon kindle fire, you will be pleasantly surprised to see it. You almost have entire Amazon on it. But now that’s not a good enough reason to go for it. You also have kindle app which you can download on your iPad and also on Android. So you get all those books on these platforms as well. Consider Sony Tablet, too. With its unique shape it’s easier to hold and distributes the weight nicely.

Now if you don’t want to decide based on these simple usage terms then read further to know other details and factors which will help you take your decision.

Operating system:
There are two main contenders for tablets. The first is iOS, which runs the iPad and also iPhones and iPods. The other is Android, which is made by Google, and is used on just about every other tablet.

Blackberry has its own OS which is catching up with these two. But still has a lot more do be done to really make a difference.

Or you can wait for Windows 8 to reach the market. It looks promising at least from the previews. But let’s talk about the main two options.

Tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy, Motorola Xoom and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer all use the latest version of Android, 3 (Honeycomb). This is the first version of Android designed with tablets in mind. But be careful, many Android tablets, especially cheaper models, run on older versions of Android (codenamed 2.1 Éclair, 2.2 Froyo or 2.3 Gingerbread). These versions were designed for phones and scaling them up to work on tablets doesn’t work very well. If you’re going for an Android tablet, then, avoid anything older than version 3.

Cheaper tablets tend to compromise on the quality of the touchscreen. This can have an impact on the viewing angle and the overall user experience. Cheaper tablets can be unresponsive and slow. It doesn’t matter how fast a tablet’s processor is or how much memory it has if it takes half-a-dozen attempts to respond to your touch gestures.

The operating system is also linked to the usability of the tablet. But even after this usability can be a matter of both taste and need.

Apple iOS, for instance, has a slick look and feel and, because Apple controls every last detail of the iPad’s make-up, it is consistent throughout and runs smoothly. However, the user’s ability to customize the experience is far more limited when compared to Android because Apple doesn’t want anyone interfering too much with the iPad’s interface – even the owner.

Android can be customized in a many ways, from customized home pages to applying ‘skins’ that give the operating system an entirely different look. Android also appears different with different tablet brands because it’s an open source and manufacturer do customize it for their own device.

Both Android Market and Apple’s App Store have a huge number of apps, now in the range of hundreds of thousands.

So, there’s an app for everything and everyone. Most, apps are available in both stores. So these days apps cannot be your deal breaker.

The Android Market has fewer rules for developers compared to Apple App Store, so quality control is as good as non-existent. Apple imposes tight regulations on iOS developers and, if Apple doesn’t approve an app, it doesn’t get into the App Store.

Another common criticism of the iPad is that there are no USB or HDMI ports, with the only connection being Apple’s proprietary connector that is used to charge the unit and connect it to a computer.

There are a range of accessories that extend the connectivity options, including an HDMI adapter to connect the iPad to a modern TV – but these carry premium price tags.

Most other tablets are equipped with USB ports, along with HDMI sockets and memory card slots.

Wireless connectivity is more important and also a bit more confusing. Many tablets, the iPad included, come in both Wifi and 3G versions (or both combined), so decide carefully based on your needs.

Storage space:
Just like a computer, the main purpose of storage on a tablet is for software (apps), music, photos and movies but not really so much for documents. Most tablets are offered with either 16GB or 32GB capacities.

Now, this might sound tiny compared with modern PCs, however, tablet apps tend to be smaller than their desktop computer equivalents and, unless you’re planning to install an awful lot of media, then the capacity isn’t something to worry about too much.

Everything else:
There are a few other features to look out for in a tablet depending on what you want to do with it. Most have one or two built-in cameras, but these tend to be pretty basic – for use with video-chat software such as Skype and other chat apps, etc.

So, with all this information hopefully, you will be ready to buy the tablet with confidence. Enjoy the year of tablets – 2012.

4 Responses to Which Tablet is Right for You?
  1. neeta Reply

    great!! very informative. planning to buy ipad on my visit to thailand!! :)

    • admin Reply

      Hey Neeta, hope the article was helpful :) and hope your plans for Thailand are still on after the Tsunami and earthquake… Take care

  2. Tori Reply

    Really liked what you had to say in your post, Which Tablet is Right for You? – Amol Kadam – Creative Strategist and UX Director – Founder & CEO at RBBi – I write about UX and Digital Media, Love photography, Try digital painting, Think logical, Like gadets, etc… etc…, thanks for the good read!
    — Tori


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