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A Beginner's Guide to Tablet Computers

Have you ever considered buying a tablet, but not yet done so? It could be that you’re hesitant because you don’t feel that you’re well-informed enough to make the right decision. Don’t fret – this guide is the quintessential beginner’s guide to purchasing a tablet.


What is a Tablet?

A tablet is a mobile computer with a touch-sensitive screen display. It provides you with most of the bells and whistles of a traditional laptop computer in a much smaller, lighter and portable package. Some models will be able to connect to your wireless internet connection at home, while most are also able to connect to mobile internet (3G and 4G) networks.


How Do Tablets Differ From Laptops?

The biggest difference between laptops and tablets is that tablets run on operating systems (software) that are found in smartphones. The most common operating systems at present are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, although Microsoft also produces its Windows tablets, using an operating system which is more similar to traditional computers.


Are Tablets Different To Use Than Computers?

Well yes, they are, but many people actually find them more intuitive to use than a computer, and this is especially true about iPads (tablets manufactured by Apple, which run on the iOS operating system). They’re different to use because using a tablet is more like using a smartphone with a big screen rather than a computer with a small one.  Furthermore, because they are touch-sensitive, they don’t normally have any input devices, such as a keyboard or a mouse, attached to them, however these can be bought at an additional cost should you wish.


What Can Tablets Offer Me That Computers Cannot?

There are several benefits to owning a tablet over a computer or a laptop:

  • Easier portability due to compact dimensions and light weight
  • Much longer battery life than most laptops
  • Use of apps (applications) that may be familiar to you from your smartphone
  • Many tablets incorporate a high-resolution camera for taking beautiful pictures and recording video footage
  • Touch screen user inputs (no need for a keyboard)

Okay, You’ve Convinced Me. Which One Should I Go For?

First off, you should know that there are three main types of tablet on the market today:

1. iOS Tablets

These are called iPads and they’re manufactured exclusively by Apple.

2. Android Tablets

These tablets run on Google’s operating system, and they are made by a number of different manufacturers, notably Samsung, Lenovo and Sony. Google itself actually manufactures its own line of tablets, called Nexus.

3. Windows Tablets

These tablets run on the Windows operating system, which will have certain familiarities you will recognize if you use a conventional personal computer or laptop. Just like the aforementioned Android tablets, tablets using the Windows operating system are made by a range of different manufacturers, such as Acer, Dell and Toshiba.


How to Choose

While we’re going to give you a slightly more in-depth view in just a moment, the best piece of advice we can give you is to go and try the different kinds of tablets out and see which one feels most intuitive to you. That should be your primary deciding factor, with technical consideration being secondary.


Go For Android If…

…you happen to like Google and its associated services. You can also set up accounts for multiple users on such a tablet in the event that you’re going to share it with a number of different people. A downside is that there is no distinction between tablet and smartphone applications on the Android operating system, so the quality of your experience using a particular app is left down to whether the developer has optimized it for use on a tablet. With that being said, if you have an Android smartphone that you’ve downloaded an app to, there’s no need for you to pay for it again, should you also want to download it to your tablet.


Go For Windows If…

…you’re highly familiar with a Windows computer or laptop and want to stick with what you know. An advantage over the other two types of tablets in discussion here, is the ability to run full versions of software such as Microsoft Office. If you’re going to use your new tablet for word processing, this might be the route to take. Downsides are a weaker touch screen experience than the other two types offered and less apps are available to you.

Go For iOS If…

…you want the market-leading tablet and can afford to pay a premium over Android and Windows tablets. This is because it’s arguably the easiest to use from the three types of tablet we’ve looked at. It is also the benchmark tablet for quality and has the largest number of apps available for you to download to it. Some downsides are a somewhat restricted ability to customize the tablet’s interface, no ability to set up multiple user accounts, and slightly more expensive average prices to pay for the apps you download.

Content Sources: Digital Trends, Dummies


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