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What type of tablet should I buy?

5 December 2013

Is someone you know hoping to find a tablet under the Christmas tree this year? With so many of them on the market, here’s our no-nonsense guide on what to look for to help you decide on which tablet’s right for you...

7-inch or 10-inch?

You’ll see a variety of different sizes on the market, but by far the most common types are 7-inch and 10-inch. There’s no right or wrong answer on what type is the best; it’s all to do with what you’re going to use your device for. 

Buy a 7-inch tablet if:

  • You’re looking for something a little bit larger than a mobile phone for browsing the Internet
  • You want something that’s easy to hold one-handed and easy to stuff into your bag without it taking up too much room
  • You want a portable gaming device
  • You don’t mind viewing movies and catch-up TV on a small screen
  • You’re on a budget: The Tesco Hudl for instance has a perfectly decent spec and can be bought for just over £100 (much less if you’ve got plenty of Clubpoints to use up)

Popular and well-reviewed 7-inch tablets include the iPad Mini (which actually gives you an 8-inch display), Nexus 7 2013, Galaxy Tab, Tesco Hudl, LG G Tab and Kindle Fire HDX.

Buy a 10-inch tablet if:

  • You want a smart alternative to a laptop. You want to do the same type of stuff you’ve been doing on your laptop but in a more portable form.
  • You need to type. You can get hold of 10-inch tablets such as the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity that feature a keyboard dock and detachable keyboard. Alternatively, you can buy portable keyboards that attach to your device via Bluetooth.
  • You want a ‘TV’ experience. Those extra inches go a long way when it comes to catching up on iPlayer or streaming films.

Popular 10-inch tablets include the iPad, iPad Air, Asus Memo Pad 10, Lenovo Idea Pad and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.

Top tip: Don’t rely too much on Internet reviews when choosing a tablet. Go and take a look in a shop and play around with a couple. A tablet might have a great write-up but that doesn’t count for much if it’s too big or small for you to get any use out of it!

Screen Quality

Responsiveness

Can you dart smoothly from page to page without lag or delay? A slow or non-responsive touchscreen will leave you wanting to throw it out of the window. This is where quality really counts. For the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to responsiveness, take a look at the iPad Air and Nexus 7. For an impressive budget tablet with a nippy screen, check out the Asus Memo Pad HD 7. It’s available for around £130 and it picked up Cnet’s Editor’s Choice Award.

Display

Great picture quality is a must for a decent gaming and movie-watching experience. Lots of product descriptions concentrate on pixels-per-inch (PPI), but it’s not the only thing you should look for. Anything in the region of 300 PPI should look pretty sharp – but at the same time you should look at colour reproduction, brightness and contrast; things that aren’t reflected in the pixel count. It’s a matter of personal taste – so it’s worth checking out a few tablets in the flesh.

With the Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and iPad you can’t go wrong. The Kindle Fire HDX 7 also boasts an extremely sharp display. The screen on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is extremely vibrant (it might not be your cup of tea if you want a more natural display).

Top Tip: This is for movie and TV fans. Do you stream films from Netflix or Lovefilm? With Netflix you can do it on all tablets. With Lovefilm you can only stream on iPads and Kindle models but not Android tablets (for the time being at least).

Memory

Tablets tend to be available with a choice of inbuilt memory. For instance, the Nexus 7 comes in a choice of 16 GB or 32 GB. That’s not a lot compared to your laptop (which is likely to have a capacity of around 200 GB). A tablet is not a storage device. You need to think about how much stuff you need to carry around with you at any one time.

As a rough guide:

  • 250 songs take up 1 GB
  • 200 photos take up 1 GB
  • A HD movie may take up between 3GB and 4GB
  • A single game may use between 200 MB and 0.5GB – (possibly more depending on how detailed it is)

Top Tip: If you think you’ll need to expand on the basic memory, look out for tablets that feature a memory card slot (the iPad doesn’t have this).

Connectivity

All tablets enable you to browse via Wi-Fi - enabling you to connect via your wireless router at home. You might also get Wi-Fi connectivity in certain public places (e.g. in a coffee shop or on the train). If you want complete connectivity on the move though, you may wish to opt for a 3G tablet. This allows you to connect to the Internet in the same was as your mobile. The downside is that you’ll need to sign up to a data plan.

Top Tip: Is your phone contract up for renewal? A lot of providers offer ‘Free Tablet with Phone’ deals, so it’s worth shopping around.

Looking after your tablet

Check out our neoprene tablet pouches for a common-sense way of looking after your new tablet. They’re tough, lightweight, waterproof and available in a cool range of colours: the ideal stocking filler for any tablet owner. Two sizes are available; so you’ll find something, whichever 7-inch or 10-inch tablet you own. 

And there’s more...

If you’re the lucky owner of an iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire, we’ve got a range of cases designed specifically for your tablet. Take a look through our tablet cases and see what stands out! 

5 December 2013

Is someone you know hoping to find a tablet under the Christmas tree this year? With so many of them on the market, here’s our no-nonsense guide on what to look for to help you decide on which tablet’s right for you...

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