Tips on buying an Android tablet

AndroidTablet_Dec02_AThis holiday season there is a good chance that electronics will be a popular gift. One of the more sought after devices will be tablets, especially those that use Google’s Android operating system, of which there are a wide variety to choose from. Because of this choice, actually picking the right tablet to give as a gift can be a bit of a chore.

To buy the best Android tablet, either for yourself or to give as a holiday gift this season, follow our simple guide:

What will it be used for?

When looking to buy a tablet, come up with a list of what the user will be doing with it. Some tablets are geared more towards those who watch movies and play games, while others are more suited to business users. If you come up with a list of potential uses it will be easier to pick the best tablet.

This is also a good time to do some preliminary research, like searching the Web for various review sites and comments on different tablets. Try looking at the bigger electronic sites like Amazon for positive reviews that compliment the functions you expect the tablet will be primarily used for.

What version of OS does the tablet have?

As you look at different Android tablets you will begin to notice that not every tablet has the same version of Android. The most recent version of Android is 4.4 – KitKat, which is currently only on a few different tablet models like the Nexus 7 and 10.

You will find a higher number of tablets running Android 4.2 and 4.3, which both came out last year. These versions are similar enough to 4.4, so much so that most users won’t notice a difference. However, there is no guarantee that they will receive an update to newer versions of Android.

If the person who will be using the tablet doesn’t care about having the latest and greatest, then a device using a slightly older version of Android should be just fine. Having said that, it is not a good idea to purchase a tablet that is running a version of Android older than 4.1. This is because some apps may not run properly, and any tablet running older versions than this will not see any updates.

Those that like the latest and greatest, should try looking at tablets created by big name manufacturers like Samsung or the Google Nexus line. Nexus devices are guaranteed to receive updates almost as soon as they are released, while many newer devices also eventually see updates.

What size do you want?

Tablets tend to come with either 10 inch or 7 inch screens. Some users prefer the smaller 7 inch screens because they are more portable and easier to use with one hand. Others prefer the larger 10 inch screens because you can see and do more.

When trying to decide which size suits best, think about what the device will be used for. If the user will be traveling lots and usually prefers to watch movies or read books on the plane or once they get to where they are going, then a device with a 7 inch screen may be better, because is it more portable. Most business users who will be connecting with the office, doing light emailing or even working from a tablet, and will likely prefer the 10 inch screen.

The best plan is to go to an electronic store and take a look at the tablets available. See how they are to hold in the hand and how big the screen feels. Some devices are made to be held in landscape mode which may make it awkward to hold and operate comfortably in one hand. Playing with different tablets will also give you a good overview of what the device’s display is like and whether it looks good enough for the intended use.

Are there any specific features you would like?

Unlike the iPad, Android tablets come with a wide variety of features. Some have expandable memory slots that allow you to stick SD cards into to increase storage space, while others come with pens for easier use, or decent speakers.

The most popular features users look at however are:

  • What processor does the device have? – The processor is the brain of the device and is an essential component. The faster the processor, the more tasks the tablet will be able to handle. As a benchmark, look at the Google Nexus 7 2013 which has a 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor. This device is what Google deems to be the perfect Android tablet (At least until July next year!).
  • How much storage space? – Almost all tablets come with two options for storage: 16GB or 32GB. Some tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 allow users to stick an SD card into the device for extended storage – up to 64 extra GB in this case.
  • What is the battery life? – This is an important issue for many users. They expect tablets to last longer than their mobile phones and one with good to great battery life will almost always see better sales. To see how long the battery in a device will last, look at the various review sites and even retailer sites for customer submitted reviews mentioning battery life.
  • What is the camera like? – If you know that the person you are buying the tablet for will be taking pictures, look for a device with a better camera. As a general rule of thumb: The higher the megapixels, the better quality of images. This isn’t always true however, so be sure to look at the reviews and comments.

What is your budget?

Finally, the big one. Before you set out to buy a tablet, you should think about how much you want to spend. While you can find tablets for under USD$100, you get what you pay for. Somewhere around USD$200-250 for a 7 inch tablet and USD$300-400 for 10 inch tablets, is what you might be looking at.

If you are looking for help finding a tablet that will make a great gift, please contact us today to see how we can help.

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