Tablet Computer Buying Guide

Tablets are small computers that are easy for on-the-go use and have many of the same features of full-sized computers. Tablet computers are great alternative to full-sized computers for many tasks, and are equally usable by everyone from young childhood to grandparenthood.

Types of Tablet Computers

Android

From the inexpensive RCA Voyager to the top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Android tablets run the gamut of style, features, and cost. They make great gifts, but it can be hard to determine just which tablet to buy because there are so many of them. The operating system, an open-source platform, makes it easy to customize your tablet. Android is considered one of the best platforms for a tablet, with good reason, as it is fast and simple to use.

Apple

Apple's lineup of tablets, from the iPad Mini 2 to the iPad Pro, feature IOS, Apple's operating system for iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Simple to use, it features great speeds and excellent security. However, customization is restricted, as you are limited to the settings that everyone gets. Choice is limited, also, as there are only a handful of different tablets, but each one differs enough that one of them is sure to meet your needs.

Blackberry OS

The Blackberry Playbook is a great, inexpensive device for on-the-go texting and e-mails, but there are many downsides to this tablet, including a clunky interface and a weak battery. This tablet's operating system never got the attention that it needed.

HP Web OS

The HP Touchpad uses the Horse Power Web OS, a small, open-source platform. It has a fabulous browser, but the lack of third-party apps makes this operating system limited in usability. For a basic tablet to check e-mail, text, and browse the internet, however, it is a good choice.

Windows

From the Asus Transformer Book to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the Windows operating system supports a decent range of tablets. On small tablets, the interface looks like a miniature PC, while it can take the place of a full laptop computer on a larger tablet. With a good range of apps and fast speeds, the Windows operating system is worth looking into as almost equal to the Android and Apple platforms.

Pay attention to

Screen size

Bigger is not always better when it comes to screen size. For one, tablets with larger screens cost more. For another thing, bigger tablets are more awkward to hold. You'll need to find a balance between awkwardness and ease of viewing when it comes to screen size.

Memory

Another option that is not always best at the top level is memory. While you want to get as much memory as you will need, getting too much memory will add to the price of the tablet, which is likely already hundreds of dollars. The most common memory options are 16 gb, 32 gb, and 64 gb. Now, too, there are even tablets with 128 and 256 gb memory.

Battery power

You want a tablet that you will not have to rush to the charger every time you use it, so look for a long-lasting battery. The best tablet computers have batteries that will last eight or more hours of active use.

Availability of third-party apps

Depending on the operating system, the tablet computer you choose may have very few third-party apps or it may have hundreds of thousands. The more apps available for your tablet's system, the more likely you are to find the apps that do everything you want them to do.

Top Brands and Product Lines

Apple

One of the best companies for tablets is Apple. Apple tablets are easy to use and have access to a wide range of apps. They also come in a wide range of sizes. All of the Apple tablets have long-lasting batteries, and many memory size choices. The biggest downside to an Apple tablet is the high price. The least expensive tablet available from Apple is the iPad Mini 2, and goes up in price depending on the memory you want, while the most expensive tablet is the iPad Pro.

Samsung

This company, well-known for their cell phones, is also a great company for tablets.

Their product lines include the Galaxy Tab, the Galaxy Tab Pro, and the Galaxy View. With a wide range of screen sizes and access to hundreds of thousands of apps, Samsung tablets can fit anyone's needs. Their prices, too, can fit any range. The average Samsung Galaxy tablet also has 8-10 hours of active use on its long-lasting battery, and some come with special features such as Microsoft Office, or are dedicated kids' tablets with special apps just for the little ones.

Google

The creators of Android, Google also has its own line of tablets, the Nexus tablets. These tablets have fast processors, an intuitive interface, and access to a wide range of third-party apps. As there is only one product line for Google tablets, there is not a lot of choice if you want one. It is either the newest version or an older version with fewer features.

Microsoft

While Microsoft is best known for its computer operating system and Office suite of software, this company has also expanded into the tablet computer market with the Surface product line. Best known as computer-replacements, Surface tablets are very durable and versatile devices. Coming with a stylus and keyboard and the ability to add an external hard drive, Surface tablets are as close to a computer as you will get with a tablet. The downsides of the Surface tablets, which include the Surface and the surface Pro, are that they have a less wide range of third-party apps available for download and are quite expensive.