For first time buyers...

Here are few important things you should keep in mind while buying a tablet.
twitter-logo Nidhi Singal        Print Edition: November 2014
Tips for first time tablet buyers

Falling between a smartphone and a computer, tablets have evolved as a strong category. While many still continue to question their usability factor as a primary work machine, there are many who have replaced their PCs with a tablet. While all this is subjective and technology lovers will continue to argue, here are few important things you should keep in mind while buying a tablet:

NATURE OF USE:

You own the latest smartphone and a powerful machine, but you still want a tablet. Before zeroing in on one, you need to first determine what you will use it for? Convenient to use and carry, some people prefer to use it on the move, to stay abreast of the latest happenings, emails and other stuff. For a few, it is mostly an entertainment device where they can play games, download and experience apps and play movies. Some pair it with Bluetooth keyboard and use it as a primary work machine (yes, tablets are that powerful too). Kids too are fascinated with tabs, and parents are also investing in one as an additional education tool for their kids.

SIZE:
Gone are the days when tabs were only available in two sizes - 7-inch and 10-inch. Today, there are available in multiple sizes - 7-inch, 8-inch, 8.9-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch. Go for one which you are comfortable holding, carrying and typing on. Also, there are different types of screens, for instance, LED, IPS, Retina, LCD, AMOLED, etc. Whatever you may choose, go for a full HD display.

OPERATING SYSTEM:
It all started with Apple's iPad, followed by Android. But now Windows tablets too are emerging in this space. The Apple iPad runs on iOS platform, which is closed and you cannot do much of tweaking on your own. Apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store only. On the other hand, Android tablets are built on open source platform and is open to customisations by the manufacturer as well as the user. You can root the tablet to access more resources (but this will void the warranty).

STORAGE:
Unlike laptops that come with huge storage space, tabs only have a few GBs. The most common storage spaces are 16 GB and 32 GB. Apple has dropped 32 GB storage and has now come up with 64 GB and 128 GB options. The downside with Apple tablets is that they don't support expandable memory card. This is where Android tablets score. They might be available in 8 GB or 16 GB storage, but support an expandable memory card slot of either 32 GB, 64 GB or even 128 GB. So do consider the storage capacity while buying one as 16 GB will exhaust quickly. Applications and software do consume a lot of storage space. Anything below 8 GB is a big 'NO'. The higher the storage capacity, the higher the price.

CONNECTIVITY:
Usually, all tablets come with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, which are good enough to be used in a Wi-Fi-enabled zone. Tabs also come with cellular support, which means you can insert a SIM card and use Internet service. Some tabs even allow calling. The latter comes handy if you plan to browse the web, download emails, etc., on the move, where you are unlikely to have a Wi-Fi network. But the price of these tabs is usually higher. And not every company has Wi-Fi tablet or Wi-Fi+cellular tab. TIP: If you have a budget constrain and want to go for a Wi-Fi only tablet, you can convert you phone's data into a Wi-Fi hotspot to create a Wi-Fi network on the move.

APPS:
While most popular apps are available on all platforms, you should still check the availability of the apps that you plan to use. Be it documentation apps or multimedia apps, everything today is available on all the three platforms.

CAMERA:
A couple of years ago, camera wasn't a top priority for tablets. However, things are changing and camera optics is improving. If you plan to use your tab for imaging, go for the one with the best camera as tabs are usually a one-time investment.

WEIGHT:

Tablets are used on the move and should not weigh much. Depending upon the display, the weight does vary, but it should not be heavy because if you are holding it for longer duration, your hand is likely to get tired.

ACCESSORIES:
Converting a tab into a full-blown machine is easy. It can be placed on the stand and paired as a Bluetooth keyboard for typing. These days, some of the Android and Windows tabs come with a keyboard dock. On the other hand, there are Windows laptops that are convertible and can be used as a tablet as well.

SERVICE:
Apple is known for its service. If there is any manufacturing defect or a software glitch, Apple will replace the tablet. It might not be a new unit, but it is a refurbished one (an old unit which has been cleaned and made as good as new). You might not enjoy the same experience with other companies.

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