. . . but good ones are harder to find. I want a tablet. I think. But the more I look and the more I try them out the less likely a clear decision is near. Buying a tablet for oneself is difficult, but buying the right tablet for someone else is next to impossible.
Many shoppers are going to think a tablet is a tablet and buy the cheapest one they come across. Unfortunately, the gift receiver’s joy may soon turn to disappointment. There is a reason why tablets range in price from $75 to $750. Here a few points to help make a better choice when purchasing a tablet:
- Wi-Fi or 3G? All tablets have Internet access from wi-fi sources such as your home wireless network (with your standard broadband Internet connection) or the any of the thousands of free wi-fi hotspots including your local McDondalds. Some also offer 3G, the cell phone company’s “anywhere, anytime” Internet connection. The 3G connection is available only through a monthly fee of up to $50 or more.
- Size does matter. The 9″ – 10″ tablets offer the best viewing size, of course, but the 7″ tablets can fit in a purse or jacket pocket. For me, portability is king. But if the tablet is going to be the “quick lookup” device around the house or replace a bigger and heavier laptop on the go, then the larger size works great.
- The operating system. This is a little techy for some, but it is important. There are two basic choices right now – Apple iOS on the iPads and Google’s Android on most very thing else. (I would avoid other operating systems on tablets such as HP’s Touchpad or Blackberry’s Playbook.) Apple’s iOS is simple and easy to use. Android seems less intuitive to me but will be fine for typical users, but be aware there are several versions of Android available on current tablets and most of the tablets are not upgradeable to new versions. To simplify the Android tablet choices, make sure the tablet is using at least version 2.3 and the Honeycomb versions 3.0 and above are the only Android versions made specifically for tablets.
- Do you want an eReader or a small computer? If you are looking only to buy a device to read books, newspapers, and magazines, the monochrome Nooks and Kindles are wonderful. The color tablets usually provide e-reader software but they are designed to “do it all” and may not provide the same experience that a true eReader does.
- The hardware:
The touchscreen! My opinion, do not buy a tablet without a capacitive touchscreen. This insures a smooth experience that just cannot be matched by a resistive screen. My first tablet had a resistive touchscreen and I soon couldn’t stand it. Quickly returned.
Do not buy a tablet whose processor speed is less than 1 gHz and a dual processor is best.
Memory should be no less than 512 MB and 1 GB is definely desireable.
Storage capacity can be vital. Are you going to store thousands of songs, videos and photos on the tablet? Then you will want more than 2 or 4 gb of storage. Some tablets will offer 8 or 16 or even 32 gb of storage. Even better are the tablets offering large built-in storage capacity and also accept the SD or micro SD storage cards.
Camera or not? A front facing camera allows you to video chat with friends. A rear facing camera lets you take pictures. Some tablets offer none, one, or both types. Don’t expect the rear facing camera to replace a decent point and shoot camera.
Screen resolution – the bigger the numbers the better . So a tablet with 800×480 resolution is going to be less desireable (and you will have to scroll more when viewing web pages) than a 1024×600 resolution.
So, I am going to recommend a specific table? No, there is no tablet currently available that meets all of my personal checkoff points. There are several that I would gladly use, but like so many things, recommending what I want isn’t necessarily what makes someone else happy. Its always a good idea to actually get hands on with tablet and many retailers such as Staples and Wal-Mart make that easy. I do think that if you take the time to find the right tablet for someone, it can make a wonderful gift.
I know, the process of buying a tablet for someone else just became so difficult you are going to buy towels instead. But even those are a better gift than buying something that becomes frustrating for the gift receiver and sits in the closet with the other “good ideas.
(Remember a good return policy at your retailer will help a lot in case you make a bad choice.)