By Frank Ling
Prior to the launch of Apple’s iPad tablet just a scant two years ago, the word “tablet” only refereed to a pad of paper for taking notes or drawing sketches. Since the iPad launched in 2010, there have been a literal explosion of tablet devices offered by other manufactures.
In this article we’ll try to clear the path so you can choose a tablet that’s just right for you.
When tablets first started out a few years ago, all of them offered a screen display size of about 10-inches. The primary manufacturers of these tablets were from Apple and Samsung.
A short time after, new tablets began to emerge in smaller 7-inch display sizes.
The first step in choosing the right tablet for you is to decide what your needs are for a tablet. If you’ll be primarily surfing the web, checking email, reading eBooks, playing games, and portability is a big factor, 7-inch tablets may be the way to go for you. They are small, and light enough to place in a purse, handbag or backpack.
If you like to watch movies, engage in occasional word processing, need more power for running apps and games, 10-inch models will do nicely, but at the expense of higher prices when compared to 7-inch tablets.
The next consideration in owning a tablet that is just right for you is its power. The more powerful the processor in a tablet, the faster the general speed of the tablet will be when it comes to running programs or just navigating around the device.
First generation tablets only had one processor or CPU to operate all of its functions and apps. But today’s tablets commonly have dual-core and quad-core processors in them. Multiple core processors are like having more than one engine in your car—you’ll get a lot more power and speed out of it.
Apple, Android or Microsoft?
At the moment there are two types of tablets that are on the market today—Apple’s iPad, which only runs Apple operating systems, and Android, which is developed by Google. The two systems are not compatible with each other, so which one is “better?”
The question may not be which one is “better” but which one you like. Both operating systems do one thing: allow the tablet to run programs and software to make your use of the tablet easy and enjoyable.
Apple sports a tremendous amount of downloadable content, apps, and programs from its iTunes Store, while Android tablets can get many of the same types of apps at the Google Play online store or on the App Store on Amazon.com.
But a third player is about to enter the tablet scene, albeit a bit late—Microsoft. The “Surface” tablet will run the Windows 8 operating system or Windows RT, a modified version of Windows 8. These tablets will offer compatibility with standard programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Features such as a keyboard that is part of the top cover of the device, extra long battery life, and a thin profile makes the Surface tablets a prime candidate for new tablet customers.
The Surface from Microsoft is expected to launch in September or October of 2012.
At the top of most people’s list of criteria for choosing a tablet is the price. At the time of this writing, 7-inch tablets range in price from $199 to $399. Among the most popular are Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Google’s Nexus 7, and Barnes and Noble’s Nook line of tablets.
The next jump up in price is the larger 10-inch tablets. The main players for these tablets are Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy brand of tablets, and the upcoming Microsoft Surface tablets.
Prices range from $499 and up for these devices.
Which one is the one?
Tablets are great pieces of technology, but just like buying new clothes, you have to make sure that they fit. In the case of tablets, the best way to do this is to go to your local electronics store and try a few of them out.
You may find that a 10-inch tablet is too big for your needs or that a 7-inch tablet is too small. You can’t really make a good choice by just looking at ads; the acid test is to test run one for yourself.
All tablets basically do the same things; it’s how elegant and easy they perform their tasks that separate the good ones from the better ones.
Frank Ling is the SF Gadgets Examiner. He is a writer, professional photographer, and video editor. One of his all-time favorite jobs was working at a large video game publisher testing games.