Last Updated on 6 months by Karen Maldonado
Best Tablet Buying Guide
Tablets are the hottest gadgets for consumers who want information and media at their fingertips. Be it iPads, Androids, or Windows Tablets–if you’re wondering how to sort through all the options, our tablet guide will help you navigate the tablet world.
Whether you’re replacing an e-reader with something more flexible, or you just want to be able to look up where you’ve seen that actor before while watching your favorite TV show, our tablet buyer’s guide will help you pick out the perfect tablet just for you.
Which Operating System and Size is Right for You?
The first step in this tablet buying guide–and the biggest decision you have to make–is which operating system you prefer. Do you want the simplicity of Apple’s iOS, the customizability of Google’s Android, or a Windows 8 tablet that will run most of the same apps as your computer?
- iPads and iOS — Apple’s iPads are the most popular tablets on the market. If you already have an iPhone or an iPod touch, you know just what to expect. iPads are simple, easy-to-use tablets, although a consequence of simplicity is less customization. Your experience will be very smooth, and iOS has the most tablet-optimized apps of any ecosystem. Apple’s hardware is top-notch, but iPads can be expensive. However, with the new iPad Mini, there is now a more cost-effective option.
- Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Google’s Nexus, and Android tablets — Android is all about customization. Google’s flagship Nexus line offers the latest software on affordable tablets. Amazon’s Kindle Fire opens a portal right into Amazon, giving you easy access to countless movies, TV shows, music, and eBooks. Amazon’s Appstore even offers one paid Android app for free every day.
- Windows Tablets — One of the big draws of a Windows tablet is that it can run most of the same apps as your Windows 8 PC, including Microsoft Office. If you’re looking to get serious work done, these may be your kind of tablet. Some Windows tablets can even convert into ultrabook-style laptops.
- Guide to Tablet Sizes — If you plan to use your tablet on your commute, go for a smaller seven-inch device like the Kindle Fire HD, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, or iPad Mini. If you’re looking for a tablet to use while you’re on the couch, go for a larger model like the 10-inch iPad or Kindle Fire HD 8.9.
Do You Want More Storage or Less?
While you may think that bigger is better, if you’re primarily using your tablet to read books or browse the web, you may not need a ton of storage. Movies, TV shows, and music can all be streamed directly from the cloud to your tablet instead of storing them locally too. If your tablet will be connected to the internet via Wi-Fi most of the time, you can save a lot of money by getting a tablet with less storage.
Stay Connected Everywhere
Adding 4G connectivity to a tablet will increase its price significantly, and you’ll also need to pay for a monthly data plan. Overall, it’s the most expensive decision in this tablet guide. You’ll want 4G connectivity if you’re going to spend a lot of time out and about (away from Wi-Fi) and want to check your email or browse the internet on your tablet. ATT and Verizon offer plans that share the same data pool as your smartphone, and Amazon offers an incredibly cheap data plan when you buy a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless Tablet.
How to Make Your Final Decision
So here’s your ideal strategy to buing the best tablet: First, pick out which operating system you want. If you want something easy to use, go for an iPad or a Kindle Fire HD. But if you want to customize it so it’s just right for you, go for an Android tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. If you want to primarily get work done on your device, pick up a Windows tablet. Next, decide whether you want a portable, small tablet or more screen space for typing and watching movies. Finally, decide how much storage you think you’ll need and whether you’ll want 4G data to go with that. Any time you feel unsure, you can always come back and check this tablet guide for handy reference. Happy shopping!