How to Buy a Android Tablet
Go High End – Know your Needs!
How to Buy a Android Tablet. The best way to guarantee that a tablet bought today will still be useful in three years is to start high up in that process. There’s more money up front in purchasing from the high end, but it will be worth it in the long run. This is an investment, not a quick purchase. Just because a tablet is expensive doesn’t mean you’re getting a quality product worthy of your dollar or pound. Conversely, not all cheap tablets are worthless throwaway devices with screens designed to induce glaucoma.
- Choose your tablet manufacturer wisely. Computers aren’t perfect, and tablets in particular can be even less perfect. If there are problems, you’ll want to make sure you’ve chosen a vendor that will address said issues with frequent and effective patches. Also, if you’d rather avoid frustration, you might want to choose a manufacturer whose tablets aren’t known for requiring frequent and effective patches.
In a nutshell:
- Often cheaper than other tablets – especially the 7-inch models
- Apps aren’t always optimised for bigger screens
- Very customisable – you can make it look the way you want it to
- User accounts allow for separate settings for each member of the family
Because it’s free for makers to use, there’s a huge array of Android tablets to choose from. Some are excellent and some downright dreadful.
One of the biggest benefits of Android is its customisability. You can tinker with it to your heart’s content and set up your homepages just the way you want them. For example, you can have a widget to check your emails or a Twitter widget to see and respond to the latest tweets from your home screen. It sometimes means it’s harder to find your way around, but that’s not the case with the very best Android tablets.
The Google Play store is much better than it used to be, although most of the apps are designed for phones rather than tablets, which means they don’t always make best use of larger screens. It also means 7-inch Android tablets are better to use than 10-inch ones, because the screen size is closer to a mobile phone.
Since Android is open-source, makers are free to customise it to create their own experience. This is a good and a bad thing: it means there’s lots of variety, but also that some Android experiences aren’t as smooth and easy to use as the standard ‘vanilla‘ Android. Android 5.0 Lollipop, the latest version of Android, has recently been released and it’s a great improvement. It looks a lot more contemporary and has some great new features, but also comes with a few niggles that will take some time to sort out.
Our favourite feature of Android, and something you don’t get on iOS, is support for ‘user profiles’. User profiles let you give your tablet to your kids, for example, but keep certain apps and settings locked safely away. It’s not fool-proof, but it does provide some level of security. Be aware, though, that this feature is only available on Android version 4.3 or later. Most tablets run earlier versions, but should get the upgrade at some point. If you want this feature, check which version of Android the tablet uses – our list will note what version is installed by default.
The other most impressive feature of Android tablets is their price. You can get high-spec 7-inch Android tablets for less than £200 – much cheaper than any iPad.
How Are You Going to Use It?
Business/Productivity: You’ll want to invest in a full-size tablet (8.9 inches or larger) and possibly an external keyboard. You might also consider Samsung’s Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, which offers pen input and enhanced multitasking.
Gaming: Die-hard gamers will want to check out the Nvidia Shield Tablet. This powerful slate lets you play Android games, stream PC titles and is available with an optional controller to give you a console like feel.
What Size Would You Prefer?
If you’re looking for a lightweight device that fits in a purse or bag and allows you to read and watch video on the go, you’ll want to consider a 7-inch tablet such as the Dell Venue 7. Weighing less than a pound, 7-inch tablets are easy to hold with just one hand, but they don’t provide the most immersive experience.
A 10-inch or larger tablet provides a bigger canvas for surfing the Web and editing documents, making them the best choice for productivity. With a typical weight of 1 to 1.6 pounds, larger slates aren’t as portable as their 7-inch siblings, but they easily fit into a bag or sleeve.
What Kind of Apps and Content Do You Want?
On the Android front, you have several options. There’s Google Play, with its growing selection of music, movies, TV shows and magazines. This is the most common app store, found across most Android-powered devices.
What Specs Do You Need?
Android front, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 is a superfast option as well. The Samsung Exynos line, especially the octa-core chip, provides snappy performance on Samsung’s tablets.
Other options include Nvidia’s Tegra K1 (in the Nexus 9) Android tablets such as the ASUS MeMo Pad 7). Intel’s lower-end Clover Trail CPU exhibited lag on some Android tablets we tested, so think twice about buying a tablet with that processor. Some smaller brands, such as MediaTek, offer fairly strong quad-core performance on cheaper slates
RAM: You’ll definitely want at least 1GB of RAM in your next Android tablet, but 2GB would be better. For a Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, come with 3GB. The more RAM a tablet has, the more responsive it will be in performing the tasks you need it to. When you don’t have enough, you’ll find loading and closing apps, as well as switching apps, to be sluggish.
Internal Storage/Expandability: The internal storage of some Android or Windows tablets can be expanded with a microSD card. That can be particularly helpful if you plan to download a large amount of data. But for internal storage, you should look for a minimum of 16GB. We would recommend 32GB or higher, if you can swing it, for storing more apps and games.
How Much Do You Want to Spend?
The price range for tablets can vary wildly. From $99 for the Fire HD 6 to $1,299 for the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, there are gems for any budget. Android tablets tend to be the cheapest, and Microsoft tablets tend to be slightly more expensive.
Less than $100: There are some exceptions, but most of what you’ll find for less than $100 is not worth a second look — and if it’s less than $50, it’s likely too good to be true. All tablets in this range will come with 7-inch or smaller screens.
$100 to $200: Most tablets in this price range are 7-inch Android devices (with the odd 8- or 10-inch model here and there), and there are some very good options. The $149 ASUS MeMo Pad 7, for example, offers a quad-core CPU, a 720p screen and 16GB of storage. For $199, you can pick up the Dell Venue 8, which features a 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution and includes a microSD card for additional storage.
$200 to $300: For $299, the gamer-friendly Nvidia Shield Tablet is at the top of its game in this price range. It offers a powerful Tegra K1 chip and 2GB of RAM, and can stream PC and Android games that can be manipulated via the included controller.
$300 to $400: This price range is where the premium tablets start to show their faces, offering top-end specs without breaking the bank completely. For instance, for $399, you can grab the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, with its awesome Super AMOLED screen and expandable storage.
Always read the customer reviews for the tablet you’re looking at. Why not see what others have to say about the pro’s and con’s on the tablet your looking at. Check out how many reviews the tablet has and the average rating. Stay up in the 4 out of 5 range and really read what consumers are saying on the con’s they have with the tablet. This is a great resource tool and prevents you from buying a dud.
The below chart summarizes the eight tips already given. Customers should remember that all of these are important, although some may be more so than others, depending on individual priorities.
Tips and Considerations
|Choice of manufacturer||To ensure a high quality product|
|To determine required size for individual needs|
|Android operating specifics||To choose the right Android version for required applications|
|Features||To ensure correct product choice that satisfies individual needs|
|Intended use||To determine the suitability of an Android tablet over a Windows or iOS operating system|
|Future proofing||To safeguard against the product quickly becoming superseded|
|To find the right Android tablet at a desired price point|
|Design||To choose a tablet that is satisfying for regular use|
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