When most of us were in school, a tablet was something that you wrote in to copy down what our teachers were saying, to pass notes to our friends, or to doodle away our afternoons. Today’s incarnation of the tablet has a different meaning, but it’s not entirely a different thing. We still use our tablets to send a friend a note in the form of an email, we take notes using apps during business meetings and conferences, and some of us even doodle our afternoons away using coloring and drawing apps. So while it’s gotten a little bit more high tech, it’s still essentially the same thing. Welcome to the definition of the tablet, 2.0.
Tablet users exist in three categories; those who have tablets and use them regularly, those who own a tablet but don’t really use it much other than to play solitaire or Sudoku, and those who want a tablet but don’t know where to start as the market it being flooded with the next big thing in tablets, seemingly every year. For the people who use their tablets on a daily basis, chances are you’re looking for the bigger and better model. Those who don’t use the tablets they have may be confused by unnecessary additives or hindered by expensive data plans. For the newbies to the tablet market, your head must be swimming with options.
It seems as though everyone has an option for a tablet; they even make tablets specifically for kids use now. So where do you begin when shopping for a new tablet, your first tablet, or maybe a better one with different features that will actually prove useful? If you’re simply looking to check your Facebook status and play games, stick with your cell phones, you don’t need a tablet to do those things. However, if you’re a college student looking to download your books, have an app to take notes, or have easy access to studying on your off-class hours, a tablet would be a nice and lightweight choice.
In order to fully assess your tablet requirements, you need to figure out what you want to do with it. If you need constant internet access, a tablet through your cell phone provider that is linked to your data plan is a good option. If you don’t need internet access, and just plan to use it with the Wi-Fi option, there are different choices for that type of use. Each tablet has its own specific set of features that are valuable, and each one was designed for different users in mind.
The iPad, made by mega-corporation Apple, Inc., is made for fans of the Apple line of products. If you’ve got an iPhone, chances are, grasping the mechanics of an iPad will be easy for you. Available with both a straight Wi-Fi option, and a cellular data option, the iPad is priced between $270-$950 dependent upon your size requirements. If you intend to carry with you your entire music collection and take thousands of selfies, download as many apps as possible, and use it to stream videos saved in your Apple account, you’re going to want an iPad with a healthy number of gigs in order for it to fit your needs. There are models from 16GB to 128GB on the market, and they function in almost the exact manner of an iPhone. You can take pictures, iMessage, email, read books, and find an app for nearly every need, if you’re willing to pay for it.
If the price point of the iPad is a little bit steep for you, and the screen size and GB size isn’t a major concern, consider the Fire HD tablet family. Available in different screen sizes, different colors, and even in a kid’s only edition, the Fire is priced between $50-230. This little tablet can do most of the things an iPad can do, but models max out around 32GB of internal storage, with the new version offering a microSD slot for expansion. The screen sizes also run a bit smaller for the less expensive models. About the size of the iPad mini, the Fire HD is 7” and it runs on Amazon’s own Fire operating system. The Fire tablet family also operates solely on Wi-Fi, so the cellular data route won’t be an option. However, it is backed by Amazon’s customer service, which is always on call.
If cell phones, household appliances, and other electronics are any indication Samsung is slowly taking over the world. With their own tablet offering in the Galaxy Tab, android giant, Samsung is certainly putting up a good fight. Operating on an android OS, the Galaxy Tab ranges in price from $180-650, has screen sizes from 7” to 12” and goes up to 32GB. This tablet also offers functioning internet access via Wi-Fi or a cellular data plan, much like the iPad, but it smartly priced about one hundred dollars less than Apple’s product. If you’re a Samsung phone user, this OS won’t be hard for you and will basically function like a larger version of your cell phone as well.
No matter what your need, there’s a tablet on the market. There are a plethora of different options out there from which to choose, and it will all be based on your taste. Don’t get suckered into a crappy deal on glorified junk from your cell phone carrier if you can help it, and get informed before you accept their terms. Data plans can be expensive and if you’re not using it on the go, in places where Wi-Fi is unavailable, you may not need the top of the line model. Whichever you choose, the tablets are going to keep getting smarter than what we’re used to from a simple notepad.