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How to Choose a Tablet

Catalogue

With such a wide range of models available, each with a variety of equipment and features, choosing the right tablet can be a tricky process. To help make it easier, we've prepared this handy guide to choosing a tablet, which provides a summary of the most important tablet features and parameters.

Updated

There are hundreds of tablets to choose from on the market today. The devices vary in their size, operating system, equipment, performance, and also in what activities they're suitable for. Which tablet is best for casual users, for children or for professionals? What should you look out for when shopping for a new tablet? We are here to help you choose the right one.

How to choose a tablet

Some Tips for Choosing a Tablet

  1. First you have to choose the platform. Android is open source, iOS iPads are well-tuned, and Windows tablets are great for work.

  2. The storage capacity of your future tablet is also important. Not every device can be expanded by an external micro SD card.

  3. How will you connect to the Internet? Is your home WiFi sufficient, or do you need to be online out of the house too?

  4. What will you use the tablet for? Choose the appropriate resolution and display size.

iPad Pro

iPads

  • Apple's finely-tuned iOS operating system
  • Great performance and smooth running
  • Loads of high-quality apps

All iOS tablets are iPads. These are powerful and perfectly tuned Apple devices that run smoothly, have an intuitive user interface, and are very reliable. This is because Apple develops both the software (iOS) and the hardware (the tablet itself). IPads will satisfy all those who don't need to set up everything and just want their device to work well. They are thus particularly suitable for everyday casual use, such as playing games, reading or working with a variety of apps. IPads are great for both adults and children.

Advantages and Disadvantages
  • High-quality design
  • Smooth running
  • Long battery life
  • Higher purchase price
  • Closed operating system

What's Important When Choosing an iPad?

iOS Operating System

IOS itself is a great advantage of all iPads. Because Apple develops both the operating system and the hardware, everything is perfectly tuned. This means that, although iPads may have weaker hardware than some Android tablets, they are very fast and work without problems.

Another advantage is iPads' high level of security. Apple promptly issues patches and immediately responds to potential security holes. The company has control over their products and can immediately send a new version of the operating system. On the contrary, if you have an Android device, it is entirely up to the manufacturer whether new versions of the system and their superstructures will be released for their product. And often, unfortunately, it does not happen.

One of the biggest iOS assets is definitely the App Store, a store with apps and games similar to Google Play used in Android tablets.

The main disadvantage of iOS is its limited customisability. This means that on an iPad, you cannot rearrange the layout of many parts of the system and other features:

  • Unable to customise the homescreen setup.
  • Widgets for the notification bar are very limited.
  • Allows you to have only some apps on the home screen while others must be hidden under one of the buttons.
  • You cannot choose a default browser other than Safari.
  • Unable to use third-party gesture applications. iOS supports gestures but cannot modify their behaviour.
  • Only able to widgets to the left of the home page.
  • Transferring data from your computer to your tablet is done via iTunes.

Another disadvantage of iPads may be the higher purchase price.

Display Size

All the current iPads have an IPS LCD display so the main differences in their size includes:

  • 7.9" iPads - the smallest of the 4th Generation iPads feature a Retina display with a resolution of 2048×1536px and include an oleophobic, anti-smudge and anti-reflection coating.
  • 9.7" iPads - this most popular category of tablets includes the new iPads 2017 and iPads Pro 9.7" with a resolution of 2048×1536px. In addition, these models feature an oleophobic anti-smudge treatment.
  • 10.5" iPads - the newly introduced iPads Pro offer a remarkable resolution of 2224x1668px. In addition to its oleophobic finish and anti-reflection coating, they also feature ProMotion technology, which ensures better responses when using the Apple Pencil, and a True Tone feature, which adjusts the white colour balance and determines the intensity of white light to ensure more faithful colours.
  • 12.9" iPads - the large 12.9" iPad Pro offers a huge resolution of 2732x2048px, featuring the same imaging technology as the 10.5" iPads Pro.

iPad Versions - What's Different?

ModeliPad Mini 4iPad Air 2iPad 2017iPad Pro
Screen Size7.9"9.7"9.7"9.7"/10.5"/12.9"
Resolution2048×1536px2048×1536px2048×1536px2048×1536px
2224×1668px
2732×2048px
ProcessorA8A8XA9A9X/A10X
Storage Capacity64/128GB64/128GB32/128GB32/64/256GB
ConnectivityWiFi/CellularWiFi/CellularWiFi/CellularWiFi/Cellular
Coloursgrey, silver, goldgrey, silver, goldgrey, silver, goldgrey, silver, gold

    Performance

    The latest iPads are powered by one of Apple's A10X, A10 or A9 processors. In tablets, the processor model is not as important as in laptops. That is especially true for iPads, because the relatively old processors still have enough power to handle demanding games and other apps. In addition, iPads also don't need as much RAM to run smoothly. This is due to the very good optimisation of software and hardware with applications.

    Storage Capacity

    • 16GB - is enough for dozens of applications and a few films. This variant is suitable for casual users.
    • 32GB - suffices for undemanding users. A tablet with this capacity can store dozens of applications, including large ones.
    • 64GB - conveniently stores dozens of films. This is acceptable for most users.
    • 128GB or more - for the most demanding users. These iPads can store hundreds of applications and dozens of films.

    Tablet's capacity influences its purchase price. It is however smart to pay a bit more and buy an iPad with more storage capacity. It is always better to have plenty of space than having to delete apps. IPads cannot be expanded with a memory card like Android tablets. You should also keep in mind that the operating system itself occupies a few GBs. For example, when the configuration is 16GB, the real usable capacity is only about 11.5GB.

    Connectivity

    • Lightning port - used for charging and communicating with other devices.
    • WiFi module - is part of every iPad and allows you to connect to the Internet via WiFi. Another option is to connect using a mobile phone. Many smartphones allow you to share your Internet connection using a hotspot via WiFi.
    • SIM slot - only some iPads feature this slot. However, if they have it, you can insert your SIM card, and you can connect to the Internet on the go. The SIM card in your tablet does not allow you to make calls like in phablets. It only allows you to connect to the mobile Internet provided by your operator. IPads with a SIM slot have the word Cellular in their name and are a bit more expensive than iPads without it.
    • Bluetooth - is another way of connecting peripherals to your tablet. You can use it to pair a wireless keyboard, speakers, headphones and more.

    Tip: iPads as well as iPhones work very well with AirPod wireless headphones. If you have a Bluetooth enabled tablet, simply open the headphone case and it will immediately pair with the iPad. For this function to work, iOS 10 or higher is required.

    Features and Equipment

    • Face recognition - this rear camera feature is supported by the iPad and iPad mini 4.
    • Body and face recognition - featured in the iPad Pro.
    • Auto focus when shooting - all iPads have this feature.
    • Tapping during video recording - this feature can be found in the iPad and iPad mini 4.
    • Continuous autofocus when a recording video - iPad Pro only.
    • Apple Pencil - is an electronic pen that is compatible with the iPad Pro. It is sold separately.
    • Smart Keyboard - an external hardware keyboard that works only with the iPad Pro. This keyboard is not part of the standard iPad package. Available for 9.7", 10.5" and 12.9" tablets.

    The Most Common Questions When Choosing an Ipad

    Are iPads expensive?

    Apple iPads are generally known for their high-quality processing. In addition, they offer superior performance, a high-quality display, premium features and the iOS operating system, which is tailored to the device. Everything works just the way it should. This is the reason why iPads have a higher purchase price, but you won't have regrets once you have one.

    Are iPads suitable for children?

    Yes! They're easy to use and they also handle almost all types of games and applications. There are thousands of free apps in the App Store. Many of them are educational, which can help develop the basic skills of children.

    Does it need a case or a screen protector?

    We certainly recommend buying a screen protector or case. It will protect your tablet from everyday wear and tear and ensure that your device stays in a good condition for a long time.

    Samsung Tablet

    Android Tablets

    • Available in a very wide price range
    • Thousands of apps on the Google Play portal
    • Well-connected to Google services
    • Many settings options

    Android tablets are very widespread because they are manufactured by a variety of companies, like Samsung, Lenovo and others, even though Android is developed by Google. You can choose from very cheap models but also expensive high-performance ones. Therefore, anyone can find an Android tablet that suits them. One of the devices' advantages is that they are well linked to Google services. However, manufacturers do not update their devices too often so only a few tablets have the latest Android, including the latest security patches.

    Advantages and Disadvantages
    • Wide price range
    • Lots of apps
    • Endless options for customisation
    • Possible to connect many types of external devices
    • Irregular system updates
    • Low-performance, cheap models

    What's Important When Selecting an Android Tablet?

    Android Operating System

    Android is the most common choice when buying a new tablet. Both its design and functionality resemble Apple's iOS operating system since Android is also based on apps, downloadable from Google Play. You'll find tens of thousands of games and a variety of apps that are similar or even the same as the apps that can be downloaded form the Apple's App Store. Thousands of apps are free, so you and your kids can enjoy hours of fun at no cost.

    Android is highly customisable. This means that you can edit almost anything in the settings. For example, you can change the theme of the home screen, the whole environment, the colour scheme, the layout of notifications, the location and the shape of software buttons and lots more. The open source nature of Android also means that more third-party apps are interlinked with the operating system itself, which is not the case in iOS.

    Display Size

    • 7" - 8" - the smallest and lightest tablets. These models are useful when you're often travelling and the size of your phone is not sufficient for you. These tablets are usually cheap and not very efficient. They are also ideal for children, who would use it just for browsing the Internet and playing games.
    • 9" - 10" - the most common tablet size. The dimensions are sufficient for regular Internet browsing and playing games. The devices are a little heavier but still light enough to carry in a bag with you. Tablets of this size are more powerful and also more expensive. In addition to surfing the Internet or playing games, they are also suitable for working with photos and videos.
    • more than 10" - these are advanced tablets with greater performance and higher purchase prices. Tablets with more than 10" are suitable for watching films as well as working in graphics programs.

    Display Resolution

    The resolution tells us how many pixels there is on the display and how sharp the image will look. The higher the resolution is, the more points the screen has and the sharper the image is.

    The current range of tablet resolutions starts at 800×480px and ends roughly at 2560×1600px. For small tablets with up to 8", we recommend at least 1024×720px. In any larger tablet, the minimum should be at least 1920×1080px, which is also referred to as Full HD.  The image will look much better and will be finer (greater number of pixels in the display area).

    The larger the display, the higher the resolution you should have. What resolution is appropriate for what size?

    Display SizeMinimum Recommended ResolutionIdeal Recommended Resolution
    7" - 8"1024×720px1920×1080px
    9" - 10"1024×720px1920×1080px
    more than 10"1920×1080px2560×1600px

    Display Type

    This information tells us what technology was used to make the display. This influences the ability of the screen to faithfully display colours and contrast, its viewing angles, and response speeds.

    • TFT LCD - the TFT technology is at the cheaper end, so you can find it mainly in inexpensive tablets. This type of display consumes more power than others, which may result in a shorter battery life.
    • IPS LCD - IPS technology offers better display quality than TFT, improves viewing angles, and reduces power consumption. IPS is still a popular type and it can be found in many tablets across different price categories.
    • AMOLED - AMOLED imaging technology in many ways looks better than LCD displays. AMOLED offers great colour reproduction (black is really black), faster response times, better viewing angles, better readability in the sun, and greater brightness and sharpness. Unlike LCD technology, it does not need backlighting as it creates light itself. This also improves the battery life. The main disadvantage of AMOLED displays is faster ageing, ie gradual colour fading. Tablets featuring this technology are more expensive.
    • Super AMOLED - Super AMOLED is actually AMOLED by Samsung. The only difference is its better response provided by touch sensors built directly into the display. The newest Super AMOLED versions have better brightness and display transitions smoother due to a different number of subpixels. Super AMOLED displays can be found in more expensive tablets by Samsung.

    Performance

    You do not have to care about processors too much because there are many other factors that influence tablets' performance. It's more important to choose a tablet with more RAM. For convenient use, 1-2GB of RAM is sufficient. If you are a demanding user, choose a tablet with 3-4GB of RAM.

    Storage Capacity

    • 8GB - tablets with this capacity are only for the least demanding users and younger children who will use only a few applications.
    • 16GB - is enough to store dozens of applications and only a few films. This variant is suitable for undemanding users.
    • 32GB - suffices for undemanding users. A tablet with this capacity can store dozens of applications, games, some films and lots of music.
    • 64GB - convenient and can handle dozens of films. This is acceptable for most users.
    • 128GB or more - for the most demanding users. These tablets can store hundreds of applications and dozens of films.

    The larger the storage capacity, the more expensive the tablet. Android tablets, unlike iPads, have the advantage that their storage capacity can usually be expanded by a memory card. So if you buy an 8GB tablet, you can buy an SD card and expand the capacity.

    Battery Life

    The best Android tablets should last for more than 10 hours. However, it is often a lot less. The cheapest tablets often do not last for more than 3-4 hours. If you do not want to charge the tablet too often, pay attention to this parameter.


    Tip: Are you often on the go? Get a power bank. Preferably one that has a capacity of more than 6000mAh so that you can charge your tablet multiple times.

    The Most Common Questions When Selecting an Android Tablet

    Are Android tablets high-quality devices?

    The quality of Android tablets varies. Like for all other products, it is true for Android tablets that the more expensive the tablet is, the more powerful it is and the better it performs. However, it might not be always be the case as it also depends on the particular model.

    Even with the cheapest tablets, you can play a casual game, chat with friends on social networks or read the news. But keep in mind that you will have to bear with occasional issues and slower responses of the environment.

    If you plan to use your tablet intensively every day, do not hesitate to pay extra. It is not easy to determine a exact price of a "very good" tablet. However, if you pay more, you will get a more reliable tablet.

    Is Android Safe?

    Android as such is safe. Google regularly releases security patches, but it is important whether or not the manufacturers of the particular tablet provide patches for their device. Sometimes it happens, sometimes not. However, if you visit certified websites and use apps with good ratings, you do not have to worry about anything.


    Tip: You can set up parental control on many Android tablets, so you'll have an overview of what your child is doing on your device.

    Windows Tablet

    Windows Tablets

    • Windows
    • MS Office
    • Available in a wide price range
    • Often supplied with a keyboard

    Windows tablets are much more similar to classic laptops or desktops. They run on the same operating system - Windows 8 or Windows 10. This makes it possible to use any desktop application and perform the same tasks as on a computer. These tablets are perfect for work. In addition, many Windows tablets can be purchased with a keyboard that makes it easier to write.

    Advantages and Disadvantages
    • Familiar operating system
    • Desktop applications
    • Docking station with a keyboard
    • Not as powerful as a PC
    • Harder to control via touchscreen

    What's Important When Selecting a Windows Tablet?

    Windows Operating System

    Windows is the last one of the three major tablet operating systems. Compared to the previously described systems, the interface of Windows differs because it uses the tiled Metro design that you know from Windows for computers. It is well optimised, so Windows tablets usually run very smoothly.

    The Windows operating system makes it possible to convert a tablet to a smaller notebook as it is possible to install computer programs (including MS Office packages). It is not by chance that many Windows tablets can be expanded by an additional external keyboard for more comfortable typing.

    The Achilles' heel of Windows tablets is the limited choice of applications and games compared to iOS and Android. Of course, you will find the most famous and successful apps, but not all of them.

    Display Size

    • Up to 10" - small and light tablets that are suitable for frequent travel. They are usually cheaper than larger models. The offer of Windows tablets of this size is very limited.
    • More than 10" - The vast majority of Windows tablets have a screen size of over 10". They are almost like small laptops with a removable keyboard, which is suitable for frequent travel and working on the go.

    Display Resolution

    The higher the display resolution, the sharper the image is. The resolutions range starts at 1024×768px in the cheapest tablets and ends at 3000×2000px in the most expensive models, such as the Microsoft Surface Book 2. However, many users often need a Full HD resolution, ie 1920×1080px.

    The larger the display, the higher the resolution you should have. What resolution is appropriate for what size?

    Display sizeMinimum Recommended ResolutionIdeal Recommended Resolution
    7" - 8"1024×720px1920×1080px
    9" - 10"1024×720px1920×1080px
    more than 10"1920×1080px2560×1600px

    Performance

    • Processor frequency - this is listed in GHz and the higher the value, the more powerful the processor is. It usually ranges from 1.1GHz to 3GHz.
    • CPU cores - the more cores the processor has, the more tasks it can handle. Windows tablets have two or four cores.
    • Processor designation - Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium are cheap and less powerful processors. They are suitable for tablets designed for less demanding work. Intel Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 processors can handle more demanding operations. Many cheap processors have no special designation.
    • RAM - used to temporarily store data and programs. The more memory, the more comfortable it is to work with the tablet.  You will be able to run multiple programs at once or browser windows without lagging. For convenient use, 2-4GB of RAM is enough, and if you want to do very demanding work, choose a tablet with 8GB of RAM.

    Storage Capacity

    • 16GB - these Windows tablets can store dozens of apps or a couple of films. These tablets are suitable for casual users.
    • 32 GB - is enough for dozens of bigger apps and games.
    • 64GB - tablets with this capacity can store dozens of films and large apps.
    • 128 GB or more - suitable for more demanding users. SSDs usually have a capacity of 256GB, 512GB or even 1TB.

    Battery Life

    The best Windows tablets will last for more than 10 hours. This is usually the case with more expensive models. Cheaper models will last less. If you are often travelling and your tablet cannot last long enough, a power bank is a good solution. We recommend a model with a capacity of more than 6000mAh so that you can charge your tablet more than once.

    Connectivity

    Connectivity is very important for Windows tablets because the ability to connect other devices defines its practicality.

    • USB 3.0 - used to connect USB storage devices, a keyboard or a mouse.
    • USB Type-C - this port can be found on newer devices. It can handle peripheral connections and power the tablet.
    • micro USB - a power connector.
    • micro HDMI - used to connect an external display.
    • Earphone output - used to connect headphones or speakers.
    • Dock connector - tablets with this connector can be connected to a docking station.

    Frequently Asked Questions When Selecting a Windows Tablet

    How do various versions of Windows differ?

    Microsoft used to develop Windows RT for tablets, but it was later replaced by Windows 8. Not long after that, it was replaced by Windows 8.1. However, the most popular operating system is Windows 10. We strongly recommend buying a tablet with Windows 10. This is the latest version of the operating system and has regular updates and enhancements.

    What is a docking station?

    This is a useful accessory for a tablet. It includes a keyboard along with an additional battery, additional connectors, and sometimes a drive.

    Are Windows tablets good for kids?

    Windows tablets are not recommended for children. Its concept is more suitable for work, not for playing games. Nevertheless, there are some games for Windows tablets.

    Glossary of Terms - Tablets

    Screen Size

    Indicates the distance between the lower left and the top right corners of a display. It is stated in inches where 1"= 2.54cm. Larger models provide more working space and smaller tablets are suitable for frequent travelling.

    Bluetooth

    Bluetooth is a standard for wireless communication linking two or more electronic devices, such as tablets, mobile phones, headphones, fitness trackers and more. It is used to transfer audio, video and other files.

    RAM

    The computer's operating memory is commonly referred to as RAM. This type of memory allows random access. It allows you to read or write data in any memory location, making it extremely fast. However, all the stored data is lost when the computer is turned off. Therefore, it serves as a temporary storage device for computers, laptops, but also mobile phones and tablets.

    Docking Connector

    A docking connector is used to connect a device to a docking station. This includes ports for connecting a monitor, keyboard, mouse, external hard drive, and other devices. This is a perfect solution if you frequently transfer your laptop from your home to the office.

    Dictionary of terms
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