How To Buy A Tablet – Ultimate Buying Guides

Kenny Trinh Updated on July 30, 2020
how to buy a tablet

Thinking about buying your first tablet or upgrading your old model? Purchasing a tablet is not an impulse decision and it can be overwhelming considering that there are many options to choose from and it can be difficult to know if you’re getting the right device that fits for you.

Evaluating your tablet needs is a good idea when buying a tablet, whether you’re shopping for yourself or family members it is important to see if the choice you’re making is the right one. With overwhelming options there you might be skeptical or rather confused as to what to look for a tablet, don’t worry we’ve put a handy guide that is easy to understand so you can have a stress-free buying experience.

In this article we will guide you on what to look for when choosing a tablet that would definitely fit your needs, from brand, operating system, size and everything else you need to know we will break them down into chunks of information to give you the essential knowledge you need.

How To Buy A Tablet in 2020 [Short Answer]

  1. When looking for a tablet you must first consider what type of operating system you will use, Android is usually budget-friendly, iOS for stability and Windows for flexibility.
  2. Pick a tablet that has high processing speed if you are into gaming but if you’ll just use your tablet for light tasks then go for a lower processor as it is much cheaper, and for graphics intensive tasks a tablet with a dedicated GPU is best.
  3. Pick a tablet with a screen in 5-8 inches for most portability and lightest weight, if you prefer a bigger screen then 8-11 inches is the way to go, 11-inches above is for on the go replacement of your laptop.
  4. Choose a decent resolution, if you can go for 1080p resolution or Retina display then go for it, a mediocre resolution would end-up you not using your tablet as it hurts your eyes.
  5. Don’t go for 16GB storage as almost ¼ of its storage is already occupied by system data, we recommend to go for at least 32GB to 128GB with a micro SD slot if available.
  6. Choose a tablet with LTE only if needed as it contributes to the price and since all tablets have Wi-Fi connectivity already.
  7. Look for a tablet that has at least 10+ hours battery life, the more power the better.
  8. Your tablet should have all the essential ports that you need, if you need to connect it to a secondary display then a USB-C port could be essential.

Is Tablet The Right Choice? 4 Alternatives

If your heart is already set to buy a tablet then you can skip this part, if not then it is good to know that there are other option out there similar to a tablet that you may want to consider:

E-Readers

If you want to buy a tablet mainly for reading digital books, then you may want to consider E-Reader tablets that are made mainly for reading and generally offer a high-quality display for better reading experience.

Convertible Tablet

These tablets are also known as 2-in-1 or hybrid laptops that have the power of laptop and convenience and versatility of a tablet. This tablet offers a removable keyboard and USB port for a mouse or you can use wireless if you opt to, these kinds of tablets usually made as laptop replacement that people use on the go thanks to its portability.

Ultrabooks

These are full-sized laptops that are ultra-portable and designed to have an excellent battery life; they only measure less than an inch thick and weigh less than 3 pounds. Ultrabooks are widely used in business and travel, they are capable machines that can replace a full-fledged laptop.

Smartphones

If your purpose is to video chat family members or use it as communication, then there is no better choice than smartphones. Tablets may have LTE capabilities but they are bigger than smartphones and everything a tablet can do, smartphones can do better as they are equipped with faster processors, bigger storage (it depends on specs) and bigger MP in camera.

What Operating System Do You Need?

It is important that you know what operating system that your tablet has, do you want Android? iOS? Or Windows? What operating system your tablet has is tied up to what ecosystem you can use for example, Android has Google Play, iOS has iTunes, and Windows has Microsoft. Each of those ecosystems has their own app store and though most of the apps have different versions, they’re not interchangeable between platforms so if you have an Apple, Windows, and Android device you may have to buy the same app for each of them.

iOS

iOS has paved the way for smart devices, it is the original smart device operating system that features a simple and efficient system. For those who don’t want to indulge in complicated menus and settings, iOS is the best operating system you can have.

iOS is ideal to anyone who wants to use their tablet in playing apps, streaming, browsing the internet or playing games. iOS is the most user-friendly system and is the longest that has been around with a vast selection of apps.

Tablets that have an iOS system are produced by Apple and are tied up to a single ecosystem; the hardware doesn’t require many outputs. Being tied-up to one ecosystem is their edge too, as they produce everything the tablet has making it more efficient and faster than similar tablets with different operating systems.

The only downside of the iOS system is that it is restricted to other third party apps and solely relies on Apps Store unless you jailbreak your Tablet which voids the warranty puts you security at risk.

Android

Android is developed by Google and has been the main choice for many brands, an Android operating system is a highly flexible, open source system that is ideal for users who want to customize their tablets for a better user experience.

If pricing is a big concern for you then you may find an Android powered device more suitable, Android tablets are much cheaper than iOS tablets in most cases. Also if you want more control then an Android tablet is definitely your choice as it has an open system which means if you are a tech-savvy person then you can easily customize it depending on your preference.

The Android system is great for gaming, streaming and reading. Android is basically found on tablets from brands such as Amazon, Dell, Lenovo and even those unfamiliar brands in the market. What makes Android standout is the wide range of options, from low-end to high-end tablets and is much more open than iOS which is restrictive.

On bottom note, there are skinned versions of Android like the Fire OS which can be found on Amazon’s reader tablet. Those kinds of Android are locked down which means you can’t access everything that an Android offers like the Google Apps or services but they have their own app store and services.

Windows

Windows is an operating system found on most laptops, tablets nowadays can run Windows operating system too though not all Windows-based tablets run Windows 10 proper (the one installed on laptops) they still feel exactly like what it is on your computer and lets you command the full power of a desktop PC in the palm of your hands.

Tablets that are powered by Android systems could satisfy tech experts where you can work, complete projects, or even create something. The portability and at the same time Windows experience is a huge plus for those professionals who travel a lot.

Windows flexibility to your tablet comes with a price as it needs more storage, faster processor and even plenty of RAM so the cost is higher than Android and iOS most of the time. So only if you need a tablet for work that is capable of what a laptop can do then you can consider spending that much money for a tablet, after all the functionality and portability will be at your advantage.

Things To Consider When Buying A Tablet In 2020

What Is A Good Processing Speed For Tablets?

The processing speed of a tablet is what defines it as what it is capable of doing, the speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz). basically, the higher the GHz of a tablet the faster it is, so if you plan on getting a tablet for more intensive use then consider something that can go up to 2.0GHz so it can cater many applications but if your tablet is just for entertainment then you don’t need much power and can settle for 1.5GHz or lower.

In terms of processing speed in iOS tablets, each generation has the same processing power and only varies in terms of RAM, storage and size so it is much easier to choose from iPad and most of them are the same in terms of features.

Android on the other hand is very difficult to compare, each brand uses different processors like MediaTek, Snapdragon, Exynos etc.so you can’t really tell if the difference in GHz is the same for each type of processor. But you can still base it on the general rule of the thumb that a bigger GHz is faster.

Windows tablets mostly use Intel processors that range from Intel Core 2 to Core i9 processor which is easy to distinguish as Intel Core 2 is the lowest and Core i9 the highest. Windows tablets have higher processors because the Windows system has many applications running on the background and to maintain a stable system a much faster processor is needed. We recommend you to go for Core i3 and above.

What About Screen Size?

Does screen size matter? Tablet screens vary in size just like our laptop, they are measured from corner to corner and the size of your screen dictates how big your display is or how small it is and depending on your purpose why you’ll buy a tablet, screen size matters.

There are three categories in terms of screen size which are compact that ranges from 5 to 8-inches, medium over 8 to 11-inches and the large category that is over 11-inches.

Compact: Compact tablets are more portable, lighter and easier to carry. They are just like the size of a smartphone and they tend to be cheaper.

Medium: Medium tablets are bigger and more pricey than compacts, they have larger screens and are usually used for productivity, gaming and web browsing.

Large: Large Tablets are any tablet that is over 11-inches and is far more pricey than both as it is usually equipped with higher specs, most large tablets are 2-in-1 which means you can use it as a tablet or a fully functional laptop.

Does Screen Resolution Matters?

You don’t want to look at a mediocre display while doing something on your tablet right? So it is equally important to consider the screen resolution of tablets. Display resolution is expressed in pixel-per-inch (ppi) and the higher the resolution the sharper the display will appear. 

Display resolution usually ranges from 1024×600 to 2560×1700, but there are tablets that offer 1080 resolution and are usually found in the high-end category. Take note that the higher the resolution the more they consume battery so it would definitely affect battery life.

In terms of deciding what resolution best fits for you, ask yourself  these questions. Do I need my tablet to have real life images? Or is any quality display will do? Retina display is one of the best display options in the market and is equipped in iPad tablets, while IPS display is a decent display that is equipped in high-end Android or Windows Tablet.

How Much Storage Space You’ll Need?

The storage capacity of tablets varies from 16GB to 128GB  and deciding how much storage space you need depends on how you intend to use your tablet. While all tablets are good for general use like web browsing, checking emails, gaming, streaming and other content via the internet.

If you plan on saving files or install many apps then you need a bigger storage space, 128GB is more than enough for most users while 64GB is fair amount and if you really need to have a storage space that is more than 128GB then you can opt for tablets that has upgradeable storage in the form of micro SD card.

Take note that iPads storage cannot be upgraded unlike Windows and Android tablets that generally offer micro SD slots on their tablets for storage upgrade. But you can always use any cloud-based storage to lessen the burden from your internal storage and to maximize the storage capacity.

If you want to download offline music, movies and want a lot of apps, go for the biggest storage or you can opt for 32 to 64GB and put some SD card. Idf you like to play games on your tablet, consider the biggest storage as most great games can be more than 1GB in size. For light usage 16GB is enough while 32GB is a good starting point.

Pro tip: If you don’t want to spend too much money, you can have 16GB storage and upgrade it via SD card and for iPad there are wireless storage storage devices that are accessible via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

What Do I Need To Access The Internet?

Do you need your tablet to be able to access the internet? Of Course you do! While most tablets have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, there are tablets that offer a mobile broadband connection (3G,4G newer tablets support 5G) but that means having a separate plan or use your smartphone as hotspot but why bother if you can just access the internet through your phone?

If you use your tablet mainly for accessing the web while in your house then Wi-Fi is pretty much needed, but if you have work from your tablet that cannot be done in your smartphone then that is the time you might want to consider tablets with LTE capability.

How Long Does Battery Life Of A Tablet Must Be?

When buying a tablet, aside from portability you need to consider the battery life so you can fully maximize your investment. Ideally, a tablet would last a full day of normal use but there are others that last only for a few hours 3 to 5 hours and some can’t even go 2 hours straight.

Battery is measured by milliamps times hours (mAH) and the higher the mAH capacity the longer it is to die out. In modern tablets there are fast charging tablets that could take only less than an hour to become fully charged and last an entire day with minimal usage.

We recommend getting a tablet with at least 4,000mAH and higher if you don’t want to spend more time charging your tablet than actually using it or using it while charging.

What Hardware Connections I May Need?

Though hardware connection is not much of a feature in tablets, it is good to know that your tablet is capable of transferring files to your computer via cable or if you can connect a keyboard or mouse to it via ports although you can easily connect it through wireless. If you needed an HDMI port then look for tablets that have HDMI ports.

The most common hardware connection is the micro SD slot, USB port, headjack, the ones mentioned above and they are typically found on Windows and Android tablets as Apple tablets only have USB-C ports and Lightning to USB.

Don’t Forget The Little Things

Having the right accessories adds value and improves productivity so when buying a tablet don’t forget about this little thing that could help you or make a huge impact on your tablet’s worthiness.

Protection

No matter what tablet you choose from the cheapest to the most expensive one, you need to make sure that it is protected. Remember to look at if it has screen protector installed already if not then you can have it installed for a few more dollars, also choose the right case for your tablet as it provides protection from accidental drops. Making sure your tablet stays in one piece is as important a decision as buying one.

Accessories

If you want to use your tablet to write novels or articles then you may want to get an external keyboard for faster typing, want to draw on your tablet? A stylus may come in handy, want to use a mouse? Then find a tablet that supports either via cable or wireless.

Accessories are productivity booster, so if you want to do more with your tablet then consider any accessories you may need before purchasing a tablet.

Tip: An extra charging cable is very convenient in case you forgot your charging cable at home, keep extra chords at your car, office or other places you usually work.

Keeper

You bought a tablet because of its portability but carrying it in open can be a hassle, so a simple  bag or protective sleeve can come in handy when travelling. So if you travel a lot keep in mind that a tablet safe keeper is a must have.

There are many options from a case to bag, but we recommend a bag which is more secure and also very easy to carry. But of course if you have a backpack that has a tablet compartment then you can use it though you can’t easily get your tablet just like a dedicated bag would do.

Conclusion

So now that you have the whole idea on how to buy a tablet, the next step is up to you. Based on what you already know and the things that we helped you with, your decision must be based on your reasons as to why you need to buy a tablet.

As we have said from the start that buying a tablet is not an impulse decision, rather as a user you need to consider all the factors that may affect your experience. We are only here to help you know things which you might not know or simply don’t understand, but now that you are already equipped with information go and buy that tablet you need.

Kenny Trinh
Article by:
Kenny Trinh
Editor @ Netbooknews. While he’s not editing articles on the latest tech trends, he likes to discuss business and entrepreneur tips and tricks which featured Forbes and other places.

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