Tablets: What to Look For
In this section we look at the main functionality of each tablet. A music player, video chat capabilities, a camera, GPS and even a built-in eReader are features you will find in several top products. The operating system is also a critical feature we explore to give you a feel for the interface and navigation.
The hardware is an important part of your computing device, and it is essential you know what is available to you. When considering different tablets, you need to look at the processor and make sure it offers the speed you need. Also, the amount of memory is important, especially if you plan on storing your music collection, photos and videos on this device.
The display makes these computing devices unique compared to other computing devices. A responsive touchscreen is a necessity, along with beautiful display resolution, particularly for viewing photos, movies or even playing games. Portability is paramount for a good tablet. And although you definitely want a lightweight device, you have to decide for yourself whether you want a larger screen or a more portable product.
For a tablet to be worthwhile, it must be easy to use. Some devices include a built-in stand to hold up the product for easy viewing. Others provide a digital pen for easy navigation, especially if you don’t want to use your fingers all the time. But most importantly, the device must be easy enough to navigate that even a tablet beginner won’t have any difficulty.
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Simply put, tablets aren't really filling a true need—they're neither replacements for full-fledged computers nor smart phones. A tablet is a touch-screen media device that is actually most similar to a portable media player, but with a larger screen. Many tablets have mobile service features, but they don't make phone calls via a traditional mobile provider. And while you can tackle productivity tasks on an iPad or an Android tablet, you won't get a desktop-grade operating system, like you'll find on a PC. Plus, since we're talking about slates here, there's no hardware keyboard. The main focus of the tablets we'll discuss is media consumption.
Just like with a full-fledged computer; if you're getting a tablet, you need to pick a side. Right now, the main contenders are Apple with its iPad, and Android with its many hardware choices from the likes of Amazon, Asus, HTC, Samsung, Toshiba, and others. (Check back next year, and Microsoft, with Windows 8, its tablet-friendly Metro interface, could be a serious contender.)