Choose the right tablet for you

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There's a tablet for every consumer. Here are some tips to help you out

many fish in the seaEach tablet has its own strength.Photo: Reuters
many fish in the seaEach tablet has its own strength.Photo: Reuters

Once you’ve made the choice to switch to a tablet computer, you’ve got a lot more choices ahead of you.

Seven-inch or 10-inch display? Android or Apple? Are you going to be using it on the couch or while underway? The good news is that, whatever answers you choose, there should be something that fits your needs.

First, pick an OS

First, users have to pick an operating system. Michael Wolf, of a product testing group recommends Apple products for the less technologically oriented.

“On the other hand, Android can be fun for people who want more flexibility and want to make the device suit their needs more,” he says. “A lot of Android devices just cost less for a comparable configuration.” Android and the new Windows tablets are about the same in terms of user friendliness, says Christian Woelbert of a German computer magazine.

But a Windows 8 tablet is probably the most obvious replacement for a notebook. “You don’t run into the problem that a Windows programme you need can’t be installed.” Windows RT is a special version of the recently released Windows 8 operating system which is designed to run on tablets. But note that Windows RT devices often only use special RT apps and there aren’t many of those yet.

Keyboard or not?

A lot of new Windows tablets are coming with keyboard docks - for keyboards that can be plugged in, often with their own integrated battery. They’re often attached with a hinge, practically turning the tablet into a laptop.

However, classically, tablets aren’t really for typing.

Size matters

A lot of the choice will depend on size and weight. The more the tablet is intended as a travel device, the smaller it should probably be. Weight is less of a problem, across the board.

“There aren’t many that weigh so much that they’re heavy in the hand,” says Woelbert.

A 7-inch model is usually only about 350 grams; the 10-inch model usually about 600.

Need a long life?

But battery lives differ widely, in a range from three to 10 hours. Always check before making a purchase.

Tablets at the cheaper end of the range, are not known for long lifespans. Corners are often usually cut with displays and components, which means lower resolution and more difficulties in getting an overview of the contents.

Like what you see

Don’t focus too much on RAM and CPU figures. “The key thing is how fluid it feels.” It’s possible to get a feel for handling and the screen in store tests. “With a display model, you can quickly see if the colour, brightness, focus and viewing angle are right,” says Wolf. Also see if there is an SD card slot for expanding memory.

Connections are also key. Some tablets have standard USB and HDMI connections, others insist on special connections that require special hardware, says Wolf. UMTS is not yet standard, but “not everyone needs it.”DPA



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