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How to choose the right tablet computer with five simple questions

by Kennedy • 18th December 2018 2 comment

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Are you looking to buy a tablet computer for yourself or for your loved one this Christmas, but you are not sure which one to get? Here is a practical tablet buying guide to help you make the right choice. (2018 Christmas Edition)

Introduction

No doubt tablet computer is an excellent piece of technology. With its instant access, intuitive user interface, simple touch screen control, nice & convenient size and ability to do pretty much anything, no wonder why it has become such a popular choice for computing, overtaking laptop.

 

Nowadays we can find many tablets on offer from Amazon, Apple, Google, Huawei, Lenovo, Microsoft and Samsung etc… The amount of choices is mind-blowing. With so many tablets on offer and with so many new models being released regularly, no wonder it is so hard to make a choice. Hence we have published a special tablet buying guide to help you find the right one. What makes this guide different is that it focuses on you rather than on technology or features. Think of it as a navigation map. The guide is made up of 5 key questions to help you choose the right tablet. And here they are…

 

1) What am I planning to use it for?

Think about what you are planning to use it for? What would you like it to do for you? Are you a book lover, a web surfer, a gamer or are you a workaholic? We have the right tablet to recommend you.

 

For book lovers

If you are planning to use it for reading eBooks, eMagazines or news only, then you might want to check out the Amazon Kindle. It is still the best eReader in the market. It is straightforward and easy to use. When you buy an eBook off Amazon, it will appear on your Internet connected Kindle automatically. The battery lasts for weeks thanks to the e-ink screen. The e-ink screen also makes reading more comfortable for your eyes than on LCD screens. Furthermore, it features Audiobook so you can listen to your favourite celebrities reading out your favourite books for you. Certainly you can do your reading on a multifunction tablet like the Apple iPad, but the Kindle gives you a much better experience.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

 

If you want a premium model, there is the Amazon Kindle Oasis. It is thinner and lighter and it comes with a leather charging cover which can increase the battery life of the e-reader to months.

Amazon Kindle Oasis

Amazon Kindle Oasis

 

For casual web surfers

If you are planning to use it to surf the web, check your emails, read news, be nosey (sorry we meant catch up) on social media such as Facebook, play a few casual games such as Solitaire and Sudoku, take a few photos, listen to your music collection and watch some videos, then most tablets are more than adequate. Checking out the Samsung Galaxy Tab E 9.6" (entry level), Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2018) 10.5" (mainstream) and the popular Apple iPad (market leading mainstream, more information below). Price of a Samsung Galaxy Tab E 9.6" 8GB starts from £169.97 (Currys) and price of a Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2018) 10.5" 32GB starts from £289.00 (Argos).

Samsung Galaxy Tab E

Samsung Galaxy Tab E

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 2018 10.5"

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5 (2018)

 

The previous generation of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A - the Samsung Galaxy Tab A (2016) 10.1" 32GB is still a highly capable tablet. The price was dropped to £159 during the Black Friday Sales at Argos. It is certainly a bargain if you can still find one!

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 2016 10.1"

The older but still very capable Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1" (2016)

 

For photo lovers

If you are planning to use your tablet to take some quality snaps here and there and use it as your digital photo album, then you will need a tablet with a decent camera, a good quality screen and some extra storage space. We would recommend the Apple iPad (iPad 2018, officially the 6th generation) as it has one of the best cameras in the market and the high quality eye-pleasing 9.7 inch Retina display (means HD in Apple-speak) brings out the quality of the snaps. As for the amount of storage space, there are two choices: 32GB or 256GB. We would recommend getting one with 256GB. This should give you plenty of space to store your personal collection. It is important to note that the storage space on the iPads are not expandable, so you can't add any more storage space once it runs out. So make sure you consider this before you buy. Price of an iPad 32GB model starts from £319 (£300 from John Lewis).

Apple iPad 2018 collection

Apple iPad 2018

 

The new iPad is compatible with the Apple Pencil too. The special stylus makes it easier to do artistic work and to touch up photos.

Apple iPad 2018 drawing with Apple Pencil

Apple iPad 2018 with Apple Pencil

 

Certainly there are many tablets out there that come with expandable storage such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab A, Samsung Galaxy Tab E and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 10.5" 64GB

 

For those who are interested in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S, the latest model is the Galaxy Tab S4 with Octa Core processor, sAMOLED display, surround sound and with S Pen included. (£599.99 from Currys)

 

To give you an idea of the number of photos you can store given the storage size of the tablet, we have done some estimates. Certainly it depends on many factors such as picture size, quality, format and what else is stored on the tablet, but here are some rough estimates:

 

8GB                 1.5 thousand quality photos

16GB               4 thousand quality photos

32GB               9,5 thousand quality photos

64GB               20 thousand quality photos

128GB             42 thousand quality photos

256GB             86 thousand quality photos

 

For movie lovers

If you are planning to use it as your movie station, then a wide screen tablet with a 16:10 or 16:9 screen will give you a better viewing experience, otherwise you can get the annoying letter box effect (top and bottom black border) or cropped picture (with sides missing). Check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab A or Tab E (see above) and the Amazon Fire offerings (see below).

 

For workaholics

If you are planning to use it for work, then it really depends on what the work is. For general work use, most of the tablets will come with some free or paid office apps that you can use for emails, writing documents, preparing presentations and making spreadsheets. For example, the iPads come with Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheet) and Keynote (presentation) for free. Snap on the optional keyboard (we would recommend the ones from Logitech) and you are pretty good to go. For the Google Android side (such as the Samsung Galaxy Tablets), you can use OfficeSuite, Kingsoft Office or Google docs.

iPad 2018 with Logitech tablet keyboard

iPad 2018 with Logitech backlit tablet keyboard

 

If you need to use certain applications, then you must check the availability of the applications on the tablet of your choice. If you really need to run Windows based applications, then you might want to consider getting a Microsoft Surface Pro 6 tablet or similar with a keyboard. The Surface Pro is basically a full-blown Windows PC stuffed into a tablet form package.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (starting from £879)

 

If you want the productivity of a laptop and the convenience of a tablet, then you should consider a hybrid computer from Microsoft, Lenovo and others. The hybrid device gives you the best of both worlds. That’s pretty cool! Check out the Microsoft Surface Book 2. It comes in two screen sizes - a portable 13.5" display and a productive 15" display. If you want a premium hybrid computer, look no further than the Microsoft Surface Book 2. Although it is not the latest model that Microsoft offers, it is still a good choice. No doubt a new model should be coming out soon with the recent release of the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. For cheaper alternatives, the Lenovo Yoga and the Microsoft Surface Pro are very good choices.

 

Microsoft Surface Book 2

Microsoft Surface Book 2

 

Here is a promotional video from Microsoft:

 

For those who want to be different and want something with a bit more style and chic without sacrificing performance and productivity, there is the Huawei MateBook. It is a 12 inch tablet running Windows 10 on Intel Core i5. There is a matching slim keyboard, a handy portable dock with useful connectors (e.g. monitor, ethernet and USB) and a high tech stylus to go with it. What's not to like?

Huawei Matebook

Huawei MateBook (from £899.99 on Amazon)

 

For gamers

If you are planning to use it for casual gaming, the good news is most of the tablets are pretty good. Just make sure the games you want to play are available on the tablet you choose and your tablet is powerful enough to provide you a good gameplay experience. If you want the ultimate gaming tablet, the Nvidia Shield Tablet and the Google Nexus 9 tablet were the choices as they contains special NVidia graphic processors. However these tablets are a few years old now. So perhaps it is better to get a more recent iPad or Samsung Galaxy tablet instead.

Nvidia Shield Tablet (updated)

Nvidia Shield Tablet

 

Google Nexus 9 tablet

Google Nexus 9 tablet

 

For notetakers and doodlers

Most of the tablets mentioned, for instance, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Microsoft Surface and the Apple iPad enable you to take notes or doodle with a stylus or a specialised pen such as the Apple Pencil. However, if you want an electronic device that is designed purely for notetaking only, there is a remarkable product called reMarkable that do just that. It is like an Amazon Kindle but for notetaking. The price is also a remarkable £549 from their website directly.

reMarkable tablet

reMarkable tablet

 

Do I need wide screen?

Generally speaking, the 4:3 screen (more square) is better for everyday use, whereas 16:10/16:9 (wide screen) is better for movies.

 

Do I need an HD, Ultra HD or Retina screen?

The high-resolution screen has many advantages:

  • It makes the visual experience more real-life than digitally pixelated (blocky).
  • It brings out the detail of nice photos, so photos look really sharp.
  • It makes texts and graphics more appealing to the eye.
  • It makes good HD movies viewing experience.

 

Many of the high-end tablets such as the Apple iPads and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S come with the high-resolution screen. Many of the mainstream tablets now also come with an HD or high-resolution screen, only the low-end ones don’t. We would recommend avoiding the low-end tablets if possible as you likely need to replace it with a better one soon.

 

Should I choose a bigger or smaller screen?

If you are not planning to travel with it a lot, then we would recommend getting one with a 10 inch or larger screen. The bigger screen makes it a nicer experience, whereas the smaller screen (e.g. 7-8 inch) makes it easier and lighter to carry around. Check out the iPad mini 4, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2. The Active 2 is a rugged Samsung tablet with 4G mobile Internet.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2

 

How long before I need to charge it?

As for battery performance, most tablets will give you around 8-10 hours of use. So you can use it all day and get it charged up overnight. Certainly how long the battery can last depends on what you use it for and the age of the tablet. If you really need to use it intensively for long hours with no access to a power source then you might want to consider getting a portable battery pack.

 

I have no computing experience

If you haven’t used a computer before or have minimum computing experience, then a tablet is an excellent starting point. Many of our clients and students found them easier to learn to use. Many prefer their tablets to their laptops for everyday casual use. However, it is proven that tablet is not a magic solution. You would still need some help to set it up and to learn to use it. Our friendly local IT experts are more than happy to provide such help. You can find out about our service offerings here.

 

2) What is my budget?

So how much are you planning to spend?

 

If you have a very tight budget and are looking for bargins. Amazon offers 5 multimedia tablets of different sizes, colours and shapes to suit your wallet. From Amazon Fire 7 tablet to Amazon Fire HD8 and Amazon Fire HD10. There is even two special version for kids e.g. Amazon Fire 7 Kids edition! The price is definitely set to "value for money" - from £34.99 for the Fire, £59.99 for the HD8 to £109.99 for the HD10. They come with expandable memory storage, run an Amazon version of Android and now comes with Amazon’s own digital assistant “Alexa”. The only downside is the standard resolution screen (except for HD10 with the a high resolution screen).

Amazon Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa, 7" Display, 8 GB, BlackAmazon All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8" HD Display, 16 GB, Black

Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet with Alexa Hands-Free, 10.1” 1080p Full HD Display, 32 GB, BlackAmazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet, 7" Display, 16 GB, Blue Kid-Proof Case

Amazon Fire 7 inch (top left), Amazon Fire HD8 (top right), Amazon Fire HD10 (bottom left) and Amazon Fire Kids Edition (bottom right)

 

If you are thinking of spending no more than £160, then the previous generation of Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1" (2016) is a good candidate to consider too (price from £159.99 at Argos). It’s a bit of a bargain for such a good tablet. Grab it when it is still available!

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 2016 10.1"

The older but still very capable Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1" (2016)

 

If you are thinking of spending more than £250, there are plenty more choices on offer: Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab S, Microsoft Surface etc. We would recommend the Apple iPad (from £319 RRP).

 

If money is no objection, then you might want to take a look at the new Apple iPad Pro (in 12.9" and 11"), which some say it’s "the most powerful mobile device ever made". Similar to the last generation of the iPad Pro, it comes with a more powerful processor and better sound. It is designed to work with the Apple Pencil and a special case with keyboard. This new generation comes with a bigger screen, rounded corners including the screen and it features Face ID instead of Touch ID to unlock the device. It has a USB type C connector instead of the lightning port. With all these changes, it is likely that you will have to get a new set of accessories or an adapter and hope everything will work. Certainly, it is a nice piece of kit and very desirable too. If you want the best iPad, this is the one to go for. However we believe the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is the most powerful tablet in practical terms.

Apple iPad Pro 11" and 12.9 with iPad 2018 at the back

New Apple iPad Pro 11" (left), iPad Pro 12" (middle) and iPad 2018 (right)

 

What about accessories?

The "must have" for any tablets is a good case or cover. Since you are planning to keep it for long, you would like to look after it well. A good case or cover will protect it from damage. Some covers give you the option to stand your tablet upright or slightly tilted which is great for watching movies or browsing. How much you want to spend on a cover or case is a personal choice. Our advice is to get something that is well built, functional and nice looking. Some people even get a screen protector (a strong plastic firm that protects the screen from scratch or damage). Since most modern tablets have screens that are made of very strong material e.g. gorilla glass and sapphire glass, a screen protector is optional.

In terms of pricing, generally speaking, the accessories for Apple products (e.g. iPads) are more expensive than others. If you want to get a cover/case, a new set of matching ear phones, a new charger or just a cable for your tablet, you are going to pay a bit more. In terms of choices, well known brands tend to have more choice of accessories from the same brands or from other accessories manufacturers.

 

3) Where am I planning to use it?

Are you planning to use it indoor or out-and-about?

 

If you are planning to use it when you are out-and-about and you want to stay connected, then you have three choices:

 

Option 1) You might want to get one with built in mobile Internet (3G/4G). The price of the tablet is usually around £60-110 more expensive than the WiFi only equivalent and you will need to get a mobile data subscription or pay-as-you-go for it to work.

 

Option 2) If you have a smartphone with a decent data plan, a cheaper alternative is to share the mobile data connection from your smartphone to your non-mobile Internet enabled tablet over WiFi or Bluetooth (called Tethering or Personal Hotspot). The downside is that you will be asking your smartphone to do a bit more work and it will run out of juice (battery power) sooner, actually much sooner.

 

Option 3) You can get a 4G portable WiFi router from many of the mobile network providers. With this gadget, you can connect all your devices to it via WiFi. Similar to option 1, you will need to get a mobile data subscription or pay-as-you-go for it to work.

 

4GEE Home Router

4GEE Home Router

 

Smaller tablets

If you want to carry a smaller and lighter tablet with you, then you might want to consider the 7" or 8" equivalent. For example, if you like the Apple iPad, you can get the smaller iPad mini. It does the same thing, but in a smaller screen and a lighter package. The latest model is iPad mini 4 and 128GB version starts from £399 (Apple Store). If you prefer Samsung’s premium tablets, then there is the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2. Certainly many other brands offer a similar choice too such as the Amazon Fire HD8.

If you're not planning to travel with it a lot, then we would recommend getting one with a 10 inch or larger screen. The larger screen makes it a nicer experience. And all our customers agree too!

ipad Mini 4iPad mini 4

 

4) Have I got any preference to any brands or operating systems?

If you have already got a tablet and is planning to get a new one, unless you have a specific reason to switch, we would recommend you to stick with the same brand. Especially if you have bought some apps and want to have the same when you switch, it is highly likely that you will have to pay for them again.

 

If you really need to run Windows based applications, then you might want to consider getting a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet with a keyboard as mentioned previously.

 

Do I need an Apple Mac to use my iPad?

The quick answer is no. If you are thinking of getting an Apple iPad, you don't need to get an Apple Mac to use it. You can use it as standalone or you can sync your photos, music, movies and contacts etc with your PC or Mac. The same goes for any Google Android based tablet such as Samsung Galaxy Tab and Google Nexus 9.

 

5) Have I got any preference on the look and feel of the tablet?

With so many tablets on offer in the market, some of them might feel very plasticky; some might feel more luxury with nice design details and nicely crafted metal; some come with multitude of colours and accessories; and some have screen that looks great and some looks a bit dull and dim.

 

Aesthetics, look and feel are very personal things. As the saying goes “One man's meat is another man's poison”. So we would strongly recommend you to go and see the tablets yourself. Go and visit any electronic stores, check out the tablets on offer, touch them, feel them, look at the screen and play with them, don't be shy! Don’t rush into getting one because it is a bargain. Remember, you are going to spend many hours with it. It makes sense to spend some time to get to know them. A good tablet will last you many years.

 

Finally, there is one thing we always tell our customers to do is to hold the tablet and check the weight and balance. Since you are going to spend a lot of time on it, holding a tablet that is too heavy for you is just not ideal. For example, the weight of the new iPad (used to be called the iPad Air) is great, where as the weight of the good old iPad 3 or 4 were a bit on the heavy side.

 

In summary

So when choosing a tablet, please remember to ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. What you are planning to use it for?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. Where are you planning to use it?
  4. Have you got any preference to any brands or operating systems?
  5. Have you got any preference on the look and feel of the tablet?

 

We hope this guide will help you choose the right tablet for yourself and your loved one. If you found the guide useful, please feel free to Like and Share. Comments are welcome too. Certainly, if you still need some help, our friendly local experts are more than happy to help you. Check out our special tablet advice service offer. If you need some help to setup your tablet and to learn to use it well, our experts are happy to help you too. Check out our special tablet setup and learn service offer.

 

Good Luck! Have a wonderful Christmas!

 

 

Mentioned previously

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

 

Asus ZenPad S 8.0

Asus ZenPad S 8.0

 

References

 

Photo by Anna Demianenko: https://unsplash.com/photos/CPWhnIkL4Lk

Photos of tablets and devices are sourced from manufacturers' website.


*Prices might vary

 

#tablet #ipad #ipadpro #surface #GalaxyTab #kindle #Amazon #Fire #matebook #zenpad #Microsoft #Huawei #Asus #iOS #Android #Windows

 

  • florida portrait

    florida 23 November 2018 at 7:17am Reply

    I am planning to buy a new tablet and this post is really helpful to me. some good tips mentioned in this post.

  • Chritstiana portrait

    Chritstiana 09 October 2019 at 11:45am Reply

    Great post, you have pointed out some excellent points, I as well believe this is a very superb website.I guess I am not only one having all the enjoyment right here! thanks for posting these wonderful knowledge.

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