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Tablet Buying Guide

"Hi, my name is Mike. Tablets are all the rage at the moment and I'm here to hopefully answer a few questions that you have about Tablet PCs and give you the low-down on this new type of device. You'll be sure to be 'in the know' by the time I've done with you!"

Put simply, a Tablet is a happy medium between a Smartphone and a laptop, they're slim, portable and fun to use. Some of you may think that tablets are just overgrown phones, but that isn't the case; tablets allow you to surf the web, check your emails, read books, view photos, watch movies and play games, the possibilities are endless.

Tablets are easy to use and are a size that lets you carry them anywhere easily. or even just lounging out on the sofa or in bed, while still giving enough muscle to keep you entertained and connected to your desired online content. Once you get one you'll wonder how you ever lived without!

  • Touchscreen
  • Portable and light
  • Quick start-up

Key Feature: Operating System

The operating system (OS) of a tablet determines the interface and how you go about navigating and using the tablet PC. It gives you multiple themes, wallpapers and lets you personalise it to your taste. It holds all your apps and shortcuts whether it be games, clock, calendar, YouTube or catch up TV.

Apple iOS: The Apple iOS is an easy to use Operating system with bags of features and applications (apps), it's a very silky OS and is so easy get to grips with, and you can browse through hundreds of thousands of apps, including lots of games which is why the iPad is so popular. Beware the Adobe Flash is not compatible with iOS so this will limit browsing online to non-Flash sites.

Android: The biggest competitor to Apple's iOS, Android is the most popular OS for Tablet's. The reason being it`s an open platform that many tablets can use, which therefore gives you a lot more choice. Most of today's tablets on the market run Android 3.0 which are codenamed Honeycomb. Android brings Google to your fingertips and allows you to use 'Widgets' which are basically small window applications that you can customize to show news, weather or even your calendar.

Windows OS: The Windows OS is more regularly used in convertibles; whether that be a touchscreen laptop with a rotating screen, a laptop or slate, this is usually a business machine. We should be seeing more tablets and slates in the future with the Windows OS, but for now these tablets aren't as nimble or as resourceful as its Android or iOS competitors. Windows tablets currently take longer to Load than Android or iOS 5 versions.

Other features to consider

Screen: Tablets are a touchscreen device ranging from generally 5" – 10" which you control with your fingertips or if you’re posh like me, use a stylus pen. It’s a fun way of making everyday tasks entertaining. You get two main types of touchscreen technology, resistive and capacitive. Resistive will react with pressure from your finger or stylus pen whereas capacitive works in the same way as a laptop touchpad, it senses the finger or stylus via electrical properties therefore allowing the tablet to be a lot more responsive.

Internal Memory: Most tablets come with a certain amount of memory built in, whether that be 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, but which is the right size for you? Firstly I must note that around 3-4GB of that memory is used to power your operating system. So, if you would class yourself as a just a web surfer and not much else then 16GB would suit you down to the ground. If you like to download a lot of media content and store games, music and movies then you should be looking at either 32GB or 64GB. Some tablets also come with the ability to add more memory in the form of a memory card slot. This gives you the option to expand your storage space and is also useful for data transfer and security, so bear it in mind!

Processor: A tablet processor is the main brain of the machine, so to speak. Most tablet processors are built for low energy consumption in order to conserve the tablet battery life, but are fast enough to enable you to open and work on multiple apps at the same time, without slowing you down.

Battery Life: If you like to travel,or work all day then battery life is very important. These can range from around 3 – 12 hours (even up to 20 hours with a docking station). Generally speaking a tablet has a longer battery life than you`d expect from a laptop, the average is about 8 hours. Certain activities like watching videos for long periods may deplete battery life quicker than normal so beware of that!

Connectivity: Well, that seems to be the big question when buying a tablet. A tablet is specifically designed to be a portable, mobile, online device. So what’s the difference? A Wi-Fi only tablet will connect via your home internet router or can also connect up to a Wi-Fi hotspot eg. Café, Bar, Restaurant, hotels and even trains, therefore ideal for general web surfing, streaming and downloading media.

If you’re a 'busy bee' that’s always on your feet, constantly checking emails, Facebook updates and Tweets, then the 3G option is probably more up your street. 3G tablets give you more options to get online while you’re on the go and come with a 3G sim card slot so you can decide whether you want to pay monthly or pay as you go.

Bluetooth is used for short range connectivity which allows you to connect to other Bluetooth enabled devices, this may be your Smartphone, laptop or even desktop, it comes in very handy for quick file transfers and connecting accessories to your tablet.

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