With so many options available in the market, it becomes hard to pick a good tablet.
The number of variants doesn’t make it any easier as well. There are tons of categories in tablets. Some are good for animations, some are good for browsing internet, some are targeted towards elder people, some are based on price ranges and so on.
This tablet guide will help you better figure out your needs, and find a suitable tablet under that category. We have covered all possible verticals and angles of table selection, explained a bit about them, and featured our staff pick for that category.
Stand Alone / Convertible
Much like laptops, while purchasing a tablet also you get an option to purchase either convertible or standard tablet.
Standalone tablets are the size of oversized smartphones. They have a large touch area, some buttons and a charging connector. They can weight somewhere around 1 to 2 pounds and are mostly less than half an inch thick. This makes them portable and supercompact thereby easy to carry. Although they can be used with touch screen itself, but some people prefer using a bluetooth keyboard in order to type better.
Convertible tablets are hybrid of both the worlds. They combine the portability of a tablet with features of PC. They either come with a detachable keyboard or are simply a full sized laptops which has a touch screen. The detachables look & work like stand alone tablets, but can be used as laptop replacements. A lot of manufactorers offer a keyboard, while some require you to get it on your own.
Tablet Sizing Goes all the way from 6 inches to 18.4 inches. Although, majority of the tablets fall in the 7-10 inch range. If you need something light and small which you can carry anywhere, you need small sized tablets.While the small sized tablets offer portability, the large sized devices offer productivity. You can’t use them single handedly, but they are pretty compact and lightweight. Large tablets are less portable but are meant to be treated as laptop replacements.
Notebook and tablet hybrids are typically 11-13 inches, but are bit bulky, so, if you’re looking for weight and portability, these shouldn’t be your priorities.
Needs no introdcution and comes default with all apple tablets. The iOS carries a lot of options that provides your tablet a little more flexibility. The split screen feature is good for multi tasking as well. If you decide to go with iOS, you are limited in terms of future hardware. Since you’d only have Apple’s iPad line to pick from.
In android, you won’t have shortage of anything, neither software nor hardware.
Google releases a new update every year or so. A lot of smartphones and tablets get this update, while some do not. Also, almost every major tablet manufactorer customizes Android to better suit their needs or be different from everyone in competition. In samsung you see samsung specific apps and features, while in Fire tablets you see Fire OS which is heavily modified Android.
If you’re going with Android, you won’t have a shortage of hardware either.
Built upon the foundation of Windows 8 and 8.1, the new OS is easy to use as compared to windows 8 and makes tablet experience smoother than before. You get a large touch friendly operating system along with buttons, and a dedicated tablet mode, which makes things easier to do on a tablet. Some apps are awkward to use with the touch screen but windows tablets are heavily orinted around mouse and the keyboard.
How Will You Use It?
For general home use — such as Web browsing, email, listening to music and so on — most any tablet out there will fit the bill. You probably won’t need to go with a superhigh-end tablet, so look for tablets that cost less than $300. The $179.99 Lenovo Tab 2 A10 is one of our favorites.
If you plan to use your tablet as a business machine — or as a laptop replacement — you’ll want one with at least a 9-inch screen. The iPad Air and iPad Air 2, Google Nexus 9 and larger Samsung Galaxy models are all good choices.
If you have the budget, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro ($799 and up), Microsoft Surface Pro 4 ($899 and up) and Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 ($649 and up) are very good options. Each of these comes with handy multitasking features, optional keyboard attachments and pen-input support.
Since iOS is the center of the mobile gaming universe, an iPad is a good bet. The iPad Air 2 offers a good balance between portability and power, but starting at $499, it isn’t cheap. Other options abound, however, such as the $199 gaming-centric Nvidia Shield tablet K1. This Android tablet is built around Nvidia’s Tegra K1 quad-core mobile processor and features an 8-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel display and 2GB of memory.
What about Windows-based convertible tablets? Since these devices run full-fledged Windows, you can play a good many PC games on them. They won’t keep up with high-end gaming rigs, but many are more than suitable for more casual PC gaming.
For the Kids
With tablets for children, you’ll want to consider size, price, durability and parental-control features. A 7-inch tablet will be more suitable for small hands, and given the risk of a broken tablet, you’ll want to stay on the lower end — no more than about $250. The $99 Fire Kids Edition is a good choice, with its rubber bumpers, compact size, parental controls and kid-friendly interface. Plus, it comes with a two-year guarantee that says the company will replace it if your child does serious damage.
For Media Consumption
Any of the tablet ecosystems are good choices for watching movies or TV shows and listening to music, but if you’re a true media junkie, the Amazon Fire HDX 8.9-inch may be for you. Not only does it feature a sharp 2560 x 1600-pixel display and Dolby Atmos speakers, but it also integrates nicely with Amazon’s Prime Video content. Another great option could be the iPad Air 2, which integrates with iTunes and sports a 2048 x 1536-pixel screen.
What About Apps and Content?
All three major tablet operating systems provide digital storefronts from which you can purchase and download apps, music, movies and other kinds of content.
On iOS, the App Store is the only real way to get apps for your iPad. Apple keeps pretty tight controls over what apps you can buy through its store, which reduces the risk of downloading something malicious, but somewhat limits the sorts of things apps can do. The iTunes Store lets you purchase music, movies and TV shows, while the iBooks app manages all things pertaining to e-books. Meanwhile, the Music app lets you listen to your own tunes or stream music via the Apple Music subscription service.
Google Play is your official one-stop shop for getting apps, music and other content on your Android tablet. But Android’s more open nature means it isn’t the only way to get apps and other content, and Android device manufacturers sometimes bundle their own digital store on their devices.
Android devices can also side load Amazon’s Underground app store. It comes with $20,000 worth of Android apps, games and in-app purchases that are free. It’s a curated — and thus smaller — version of Google Play.
Speaking of Amazon, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, the company’s Fire tablets come with built-in support for Amazon Prime content. That includes the Video streaming service, access to Prime Music streaming, Kindle e-books and more. They also come with a 30-day Amazon Prime free trial. Apps are available for download via the Amazon Appstore or via the Underground app.
On Windows 10 devices, you can purchase apps, music and movies through the Windows Store. Because this is Windows, however, you can download apps from just about anywhere. Still, certain software titles may only be available via the Windows Store, and since Microsoft vets everything in it, you’re at a lower risk of malware infection if you go through the Store.
Which specs matter?
Tablet specs can be tricky to discern, since not all manufacturers fully disclose their devices’ innards. Here’s a quick rundown on what you might see, and what it all means.
Apple uses its custom A-series chips inside its iPads. Current models use either the A7, A8, A8X or A9X processors: Higher numbers denote a newer processor that offers better performance, and the X suffix indicates a more powerful version of a given processor. The A8 is newer than the A7, for instance, while the A8X is a more powerful version of the A8.
Android tablets pack processors from a variety of manufacturers. Samsung’s Exynos chips and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors are the most common: Look for the Snapdragon 800 series and Exynos 8 processors for better performance. Nvidia’s Tegra processors are found on Nvidia tablets, and you’ll find some Android machines with Rockchip CPUs.
On the Windows front, you’ll find mainly Intel processors, including the Core m3, i5 and i7 processors. Tablets based on Intel Core processors tend to be higher-end devices, and will generally cost you more. Lower-cost Windows tablets and convertibles often use Intel Atom processors.
RAM isn’t quite as big a selling point on tablets because of how iOS and Android manage memory. Generally speaking, however, the more you spend, the more RAM you’ll get, and on most tablets, you can expect anywhere between 1GB and 4GB of memory. Laptop/tablet hybrids and other Windows-based convertible tablets, like the Surface Pro 4, typically offer more memory, sometimes up to 16GB of RAM. More RAM often equates to snappier performance.
Storage and Expandability
Stand-alone tablets typically come with 8 or 16GB of storage on the low end, and up to 128GB on the high end. Convertible Windows tablets often have storage capacities more in line with typical notebooks, so it isn’t unusual to find one with 256GB of storage or more. Some tablets include SD card readers that allow you to expand your device’s storage capacity. Unless you don’t use your tablet much, you may find 8 or 16 GB to be a little too constraining for your needs, so you’ll probably want to pay a little more and get at least 32GB of storage space — or look for one with an onboard SD card slot.
How About Battery Life?
Many tablets will get you all-day battery life, but as our testing shows, tablet battery life can still vary greatly. Lenovo’s Android-based Yoga Tab 3 lasted more than 15 hours on a single charge in our Web browsing tests, but on average, the devices we tested ran for 8 hours and 45 minutes before their batteries ran dry. We recommend you look for a tablet that runs for no less than 7 hours on a single charge.
Is the Price Right?
You can pay an awful lot for a tablet — but you don’t have to. Tablets range from more than $1,000 on the high end to less than $50 on the low end, so you have plenty of options, regardless of how much or how little you want to spend.
Less than $100
You’ll find lots of inexpensive Android tablets for less than $100, as well as Amazon’s entry-level 7-inch Fire tablet, a solid little device that goes for around $50. At these prices, though, you’re limited to tablets with tight storage capacities and low-resolution displays, and you won’t find many that have screens larger than 7 inches. You’ll want to do your homework before you buy to make sure you’re getting a decent device.
$100 to $200
If you’re on a tight budget but don’t want to delve into the bargain basement, the sub-$200 range is a good place to look. Most tablets in this price range hover around 7 or 8 inches and run Android, such as the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. Storage capacities are still limited, though, with 8 or 16 GB being the norm, but you’ll find the occasional tablet with 32GB of onboard storage.
Pay a little more, and you’ll get a little more power and added niceties, such as higher-resolution screens. At $269, Apple’s low-end iPad mini 2 gets you a 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536-pixel display, but its storage capacity is limited to 16GB. At this range, you’ll start to see larger 9- and 10-inch tablets as well.
Here is where you’ll start to see more of the larger, higher-end tablets. High-end 7- and 8-inch tablets live here, as do lower-end 9- and 10-inch tablets. For $319 you get a 32GB iPad mini 2, while $399 gets you either a 16GB iPad Air or 16GB iPad mini 4. Alternatively, you’ll find the $399 Google Nexus 9 tablet and a wide selection of Galaxy tablets from Samsung.
The high end of the tablet market is a rather wide-ranging segment, but it’s here where tablets go from being secondary devices to legitimate laptop replacements. You’ll get faster processors, bigger screens, more features and, generally speaking, more storage space (though you’ll still find some 16GB models here and there). You’ll also find tablets with built-in cellular broadband here. Tablets in this range include the iPad Air 2, the iPad Pro, high-end Android tablets and the Surface Pro 4.