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Apple iPad Pro 11

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Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)



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Apple iPad 9.7 (2018)

What's good  

  • Bright, colorful display
  • Blazing performance
  • Solid build
  • Light enough to hold for extended periods
  • Apple Pen support

What's bad

  • Lack of storage options
  • No microSD support
  • Apple Pen and a case will increase the price
  • No smart connector for accessories

Verdict

The Apple iPad 9.7 (2018) might be the perfect iPad option for everyday use. It’s big enough for productivity or movie watching but small enough to easily stash in your bag or hold while you read. Apple Pen support is also great -- but will add to the price.

See full review, specs & prices
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Apple iPad Pro 10.5

What's good  

  • Great build quality
  • Stunning screen
  • Blazing performance
  • Great battery life

What's bad

  • No microSD support
  • Price
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Apple iPad Pro 12.9

What's good  

  • Fast, lag-free performance
  • ProMotion tech for smooth, snappy scrolling
  • Sharp, vibrant display

What's bad

  • Unwieldy to hold in hands
  • High price tag
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Apple iPad 9.7

What's good  

  • Mid-range price
  • Impressive photo quality (for a tablet)
  • Long battery life
  • Smooth performance

What's bad

  • No 3D Touch or Apple Pencil support
  • Air gap between display and glass
  • Sound through speakers is off-center
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Apple iPad Pro 9.7

What's good  

  • Great display
  • True Tone technology
  • Tablet design
  • Apple Pencil support
  • Flawless performance
  • Outstanding audio quality

What's bad

  • Cost
  • Storage capacity
  • Multitasking limited by iOS
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Apple iPad Mini 4

What's good  

  • Smooth and snappy performance
  • Laminated screen for more interactive user experience
  • Bigger color gamut range
  • Good camera

What's bad

  • Slight lag when switching between multiple apps
  • Different dimensions means you cannot use older covers
  • No mute/rotation lock switch
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Apple iPad Air 2

What's good  

  • Reduced weight and thickness
  • Incredibly fast performance
  • Beautiful display with vibrant colors and deep blacks

What's bad

  • Potential issues with bending
  • 16GB base model not worth the price
  • No real improvement in battery life
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Apple iPad Pro

What's good  

  • Large display great for media consumption and split screen multi-tasking
  • Fast performance during all tasks
  • Zero latency with Apple Pencil
  • Good battery life

What's bad

  • Keyboard and stylus sold separately
  • No true multi-tasking abilities
  • Keyboard does not have trackpad

So you’re looking to pick up a tablet but you’re not sure where to start?

Between the price of modern tablets and the sheer number of options out there, it can be a daunting experience…

Do you really need an octa-core processor? Why is tablet A twice the price of tablet B? How can you be sure the tablet you pick won’t be obsolete in a month?

In this guide, we’re going to look at all of the factors to consider when comparing tablets and choosing the best tablet for your needs. We’ll start off simple and and by the end of the guide, you’ll be an expert ready to hit the order button or walk into your nearest shop with confidence.



Tablet Basics


Before we dive into the specifics about tablet features and considerations, let’s go over a few basics surrounding what tablets are and why you might want one.


What is a Tablet?

Tablets are portable computers that use a touchscreen instead of a mouse and keyboard. The screen often takes up the entire front face of the device. While many have speakers and microphones like a smartphone, tablets are not designed for calling.

Tablets allow you to run apps that perform a range of tasks -- from 3D games to 3D modelling. Most also include cameras -- though quality varies. They’re often meant more for taking notes or video chatting than photography.

High-end models might also offer official keyboard stands, styluses, and other accessories that allow them to function similar to a laptop or drawing tablet as well.


Reasons You Might Buy a Tablet

Major uses for tablets typically fall into one of two categories:

 

Productivity

 

Entertainment

On the productivity side, tablets offer an interesting middle ground between smartphones and laptop or desktop computers. You get the simplified touchscreen-based experience of a smartphone but with a larger display. And, with the power of today’s devices and apps, many tablets offer the same robust performance and you’d find on a laptop or PC you’d use at the office.

They’re great for on-the-go business professionals looking for a way to collaborate with others from the road, showcase products or designs for new clients, or even do some serious work. There are apps from major brands for everything from web design and drafting to publication and illustration.

When it comes to entertainment, tablets offer a more immersive experience when compared to their smaller smartphone counterparts.

Larger screens and better speakers make movies, TV shows, and games pop while still remaining super portable.

Most tablet speakers can compete with those found on laptops, but won’t touch the quality of a set of desktop speakers or home entertainment center. But they’re still an improvement over most phones.

If you’re looking for a way to read your favorite blogs, watch your favorite shows, or add a little fun to your frequent travels, tablets are a great option. Their smaller size also makes them ideal for situations where space is at a premium, such as dorm rooms. There are even kids’ tablets that you can pass off to small hands without worrying.

But there are still some trade-offs to keep in mind:


When it comes to raw performance, most tablets simply cannot keep up with high-end laptops or desktops.

Multitasking on tablets is very different from a traditional computer. Even when a tablet supports multiple windows, you’ll find your options limited in most cases.

While app selection is great -- and growing daily -- you might still find a few of your favorite programs from the office or games from your PC or gaming console haven’t made the jump to tablets yet.

You cannot upgrade a tablet. Apart from the occasional software upgrade, adding storage on models with microSD card support, or picking up new accessories to change how you use your tablet, what you see when you open the box is what you get. With the price of some high-end tablets, this is an important consideration to keep in mind as upgrading to a new model for new features could be a pricey affair.

With each new generation of tablets, the gap between tablets and gaming consoles, streaming media devices, and set top boxes continues to shrink. If you’re simply looking to enjoy games and don’t need the portability, you might find those other options a better value.

Still want a tablet? Awesome! Let’s dig into the details you should consider when choosing the ideal tablet for your needs.



Factors to Consider


There's not a single tablet that is perfect for everyone...

From the where you plan to use your tablet to what you’d like to do with it, each aspect will influence which model of tablet will work best for you.

The best way to find the ideal tablet for your needs is to research your options and read reviews about the various models available.

But without knowing what to look for and how tablets might differ from one another, it’s hard to figure out what you might want or need.

Let's look at some of the most important considerations when choosing a tablet.


1. Screen Size and Type

In many ways, choosing the screen size of your tablet is one of the most important parts of the buying process. It typically dictates the price you can expect and defines what you can and cannot do with your tablet.

Offerings range from barely larger than a smartphone to rivaling a small flat-screen television.

Curious about how screen size might impact your tablet experience. Consider the following pros and cons:


Smaller Tablets (6 to 7 inches)

 

Portability:

If you’re looking for a tablet you can slip in your handbag or drop into your bookbag, smaller tablets are the way to go. Combining a thin profile with a small footprint, these tablets are great for on-the-go use.

 

Weight:

If you’re looking for a device for bedside use or plan to hold your tablet for long periods of time, weight will have a huge influence on how much you like your tablet. Smaller tablets tend to be lighter and more comfortable to hold for tasks such as reading, watching movies, or enjoying an extended gaming session.

 

Price:

In most cases, the size of a tablet directly influences its price. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly offering, you’ll want to stick to the smaller end of the size spectrum.

 

Readability:

Smaller screens mean smaller text and video. If you’re planning to use your tablet frequently for reading or browsing text-heavy websites, you’re looking for a great movie viewing experience, or you’re planning to use the tablet for work -- especially graphics or video -- it might be worth the extra funds to move toward the middle or upper end of the size options.


Larger Tablets (Larger than 7 inches)

 

Productivity:

With more room to display both content and controls, larger tablets make it even easier to use your tablet to work. Add in split-screen views and other features on premium offerings and you have a real productivity workhorse.

 

Media Streaming:

If you’re looking for an immersive media experience, larger tablets help to draw you into the action and help to make details in your favorite videos and images pop.

 

Premium hardware:

Unless you’re sticking to the very bottom of the price brackets, most larger tablets tend to be made from better materials than their smaller counterparts. Even within the same manufacturer, the largest sizes are often equipped to provide the most impressive experience.

 

Accessories:

In most cases, since larger tablets are often used for productivity and creative works, you’ll find a larger range of functional accessories available. Common options include a keyboard case, a kickstand, or a pressure-sensitive or active stylus.

 

Cost:

If you’re looking for a good larger tablet, you’re likely stuck toward the higher end of the price spectrum. Many of the lower-priced large tablets available only compound the problems of smaller budget devices and make them glaringly obvious in a larger format.

 

Weight:

All that extra screen real estate takes up space and requires a larger body to keep it safe. The result is more heft. If you’re planning to hold your device while you use it, be sure to consider this factor before making a purchase -- or better still, consider a tablet with a kickstand, folding case, or even a full-featured 2-in-1.

 

Battery life:

While many larger tablets include larger batteries to compensate, the increased size often means you still won’t get the overall battery life of a smaller tablet.


As you can see, when it comes to the world of tablets, size matters. If you spend time focusing on just one aspect of this guide when making your purchase, sizing should be it.


2. Operating System (Android vs iOS vs Windows 10)

Choosing a tablet that runs the right operating system for your needs is a critical part of finding a good fit. This choice impacts a range of considerations -- including where you’ll be able to find apps for your tablet and what other devices your tablet might be able to interact with.

If you already own a smartphone or another tablet, choosing a tablet with the same operating system will allow you to use many of the same apps you’ve already purchased. While apps are often affordably priced, the costs add up. Matching your tablet’s OS to your phone is a simple way to save money.

Let’s take a look at the four most popular tablet operating systems on the market today.


iOS

The easy-to-use design and endless selection of apps offered by Apple’s iOS has created a loyal following. It also made Apple’s tablets a central part of the rise in popularity of tablets.

Apple designs every device that runs iOS. So you can always count on consistent performance and a premium feel that you won’t always find with other operating systems. However, if you don’t like the design of iOS, Apple’s rules make it hard to customize your experience.

The app store is well monitored to keep out malware and low quality apps as well. You’ll also find a fair number of iOS exclusive apps that are very popular. Many apps will interact with other Apple products you might own, such as a MacBook or Apple TV, for added functionality.

Unfortunately, all of this comes at a price. The iPad series of tablets is one of the higher priced offerings available. However, with the reputation of Apple’s products, you can count on a decent resale price as long as you’ve kept your tablet in good condition.

Related Resource: Compare Apple Tablets


Android

As the other major competitor in the mobile operating system market, Android’s flexible and highly-customizable design offers greater flexibility than competing Apple products. While Google has its Nexus line of devices, most Android tablets are made by other manufacturers.

This means that every Android tablet has the potential for a slightly different interface or design.

Many major brands, including HTC, Samsung, and Motorola, all add their own touches to Android that change the user experience. Fortunately, if you don’t like how your Android tablet looks, changing the appearance is often as simple as installing a free app.

Google Play features a massive collection of apps to suit any need.

While not as strictly monitored as Apple’s store, you can generally count on apps on Google Play to be safe and free from malware. However, you do need to a be a bit more diligent to filter out low-quality apps.

Pricing for Android tablets is the most varied of the this list. From the super-affordable to the top-of-the-line, you’ll probably find a tablet to fit your budget. Unfortunately, unless you stick to major manufacturers, quality can fluctuate just as much.

Related Resource: Compare Android Tablets


FireOS

We wanted to include this separately as Amazon’s wildly popular Kindle Fire tablets run a specialized version of Android that works much differently than others. From the interface to the app store used, Amazon has optimized everything to create a very user-friendly and Amazon-centric experience. They call their special version of Android “FireOS”.

App selection is lower than a stock Android tablet, but still covers most of the essentials. However, if you’re a user of Google’s apps on your smartphone, you won’t find them on a Kindle Fire.

FireOS is also not nearly as customizable as stock Android.

One of the interesting aspects of FireOS is the access to a wide selection of free apps that are paid apps in other stores. This makes these tablets great for kids as you can load up on games without spending a fortune.

While it’s possible to install the Google Play Store on many Kindle Fire tablets, this may void your warranty depending on how you do it. Step to do this change often. Even then, it’s a fairly technical process, so we won’t cover that in this guide.

Related Resource: Compare Amazon Tablets


Windows 10

Microsoft’s Windows 10 is common on desktop and laptop computers but it is still finding its footing in the mobile market. This shows in Microsoft’s app selection which lags far behind the options on iOS or Android.

Fortunately, most of the major apps are covered.

If you’re looking for a productivity tablet and use Microsoft’s Office suite, the integration for Windows 10 offers features you won’t find anywhere else. Particularly on the 2-in-1 side of the market where Windows 10 currently offers some of the most powerful tablet options around.

One of the biggest differences between Windows 10 and the other operating systems is its interface. The version on tablets and 2-in-1’s is either a scaled-back version of the desktop version or exactly the same depending on the model.

This means there are the traditional windows and interface elements you’d expect on a computer, but on a tablet.

In terms of pricing, Windows 10 devices tend to be pricier than Android options. Some of them even rival and exceed the price of iOS devices -- but most of these are 2-in-1 options that compete more with a laptop than the iPad.

Related Resource: Compare Windows Tablets


3. Connectivity Options

Virtually every tablet supports Wi-Fi to allow you to browse the web, download apps, or stream media anywhere you have a Wi-Fi signal.

But if you plan to use your tablet in places where Wi-Fi isn’t readily available, considering a model with 3G/4G connectivity provides added flexibility. Much like with your phone, tablets with this feature can connect to mobile carrier networks and allow you to use your tablet while away from Wi-Fi.

What’s Good About 3G/4G Tablets?

  • You can get online anywhere with network coverage without the need for Wi-Fi
  • Most 3G/4G tablets tend to feature high-quality designs and components

What’s Bad About 3G/4G Tablets?

  • Unless you buy an unlocked tablet, you can only connect to a specific carrier’s network
  • 3G/4G access raises the cost of ownership significantly by requiring monthly contracts or data plan top ups
  • 3G/4G usage can greatly decrease battery life
  • High-resolution tablets can use data shockingly fast

Ultimately, the choice to opt for a 3G/4G-enabled tablet is largely personal and based on your typical usage needs.

However, if you plan to take your tablet on the road, there’s a good chance you’ll find use in mobile data.


4. Screen Resolution

What does screen resolution mean? To answer that we’ll need to get a little geeky for a second.

Digital images and video are made up of tiny dots of color. These dots are called pixels.

A tablet’s resolution is a measure of the number of pixels it has on it’s screen. For example, 1920-by-1080 means there are 1920 pixels on the long side and 1080 pixels on the short side. This is the common resolution for “Full HD”.

As tablets get larger, resolution becomes more important because the potential for pixels to become large enough that you can actually notice them increases with size.

The more pixels on the screen, the less chance of you being able to pick one out from the crowd.

This is referred to as pixel density.

In many ways, pixel density is a better indicator of what you can expect when it comes to text clarity and detail in images and video.

You’ll often find it listed in specifications sheets with the label “ppi” or “pixels-per-inch.”

When it comes to pixel density, more is almost always better. But before you make any decisions, consider these pros and cons:


High Pixel Density

 

More pixels means clearer text and cleaner lines

 

More pixels also allows for increased detail in images and videos

 

Typically included in high quality displays

 

As pixel density increases, so does price

 

More pixels means more changes to the display, so you’re likely to notice it on your battery life

 

More pixels also means your tablet’s processor must work harder to keep up. This can make all the difference in mid-tier tablets.


Low Pixel Density

 

Low pixel density displays are often more affordable

 

Slower processors have less trouble running games and apps smoothly on low pixel density displays

 

Text on low pixel density displays is often hazy or has jagged edges. If you’re planning to read often using your tablet or browse the web, this can lead to eyestrain and headaches

 

Images on low pixel displays lack details and clarity

 

Video is often even worse as we’ve become accustomed to high-definition video and displays. If you’re looking for a tablet for watching your favorite movies and television shows, consider looking for a high pixel density display


Where Do Retina Displays Fit In?

Retina Display is a term developed by Apple to describe the high density displays in their newer devices.

Featuring resolutions well beyond what you’ll find on most Android or Windows 10 tablets, these screens often lead the pack when it comes to clarity and color reproduction. Unfortunately, retina displays are only available in high-end (i.e. expensive) tablets.

If you’re not already invested in Android or Windows 10 apps and looking for the ultimate media watching experience, Retina rules the display world by a substantial margin.


What About 4K Tablets?

4K, or "Ultra HD", is the latest step in video and image quality.

While 4K tablets rival and even surpass the resolutions and pixel densities of Retina displays, this is still a very new market for tablets.

The biggest challenges facing 4K tablets will be cost.

And, even after forking out a hefty sum for a new 4K tablet, you’ll likely notice that battery life and performance suffer for the sake of the display.

At the end of the day, 4K tablets are definitely a luxury item at this point.

As tablets continue to grow in size and 4K technology matures, this might change.

For now, it is mostly a marketing gimmick.


5. Performance

On one hand, if you buy a tablet and it doesn’t perform how you expect, it will be frustrating to use.

On the other, if you buy the latest and greatest option and don’t use all of its features or potential, you’re probably spending more than you need to.

So finding a good balance of price and performance will help you to find the best value.

To do this, you’ll want to look at two different factors:

 

Processors

 

Random Access Memory (or RAM)

Each factor impacts performance a little differently. Let’s take a look at what to consider when it comes to these two key pieces of hardware.


Processors

The list of individual processors out there is mind-boggling. There are options from Apple, Nvidia, Samsung, Huawei, Qualcomm, Intel, and more.

So with all the options available, how do you know what you look for?

In most cases, you’ll want to look at the number of cores and the speed of the processor.

Multiple cores means more processing power. This is especially important if you plan to play the latest games or get work done with your tablet.

When it comes to speed -- often measured in gigahertz (GHz) -- bigger numbers are better.

The relationship between cores and speed isn’t something that is exact. A single core 1GHz processor doesn’t necessarily run at half the speed of a dual core 1GHz processor.

In most cases, you’ll find that processors with a higher series number will outperform the processors below it in the same series.

For example, a Snapdragon 845 processor will offer better performance than a Snapdragon 835. The Apple A12 processor is faster than the Apple A11.

In general, unless you’re only planning to use your tablet for streaming music from a service like Spotify or video from a platform like YouTube or Netflix, you’ll want at least a quad-core processor.

If you’re planning to use your tablet for productivity or creative works, the processors from Apple and Microsoft tend to offer better performance than others for more involved tasks.


Random Access Memory (Also known as RAM)

Outside of processor choice, RAM is the second most likely factor to impact performance on your tablet.

While we won’t get too specific, a good way to think of RAM is comparing it to your short term memory...

It’s much faster than the internal storage on your tablet, so the RAM is the place your phone can store recently accessed apps or things it thinks you might use in the near future and get back to them quickly.

The more RAM you have, the faster your tablet can keep track of multiple tasks, switch between apps, or load complex apps.

While you might find the occasional device with only 512 megabytes (MB) of RAM these days, most tablets start at 1 gigabyte (GB) or 1024MB.

While this is enough to perform common tasks and keep the tablet running, it will create delays when multitasking and cause issues with larger apps.

It’s also not enough RAM to keep most apps in standby. So, each time that you switch apps the app will have to reload completely.

If you’re planning to do anything other than check the occasional email or stream video or music, starting at 2GB is wise.

Planning to use your tablet as a productivity tool or play the latest games? A model with 4GB or more will show obvious improvements.


6. Internal & External Storage

The internal storage on your tablet is where you’ll keep your apps, games, movies, pictures, and other files you want to access.

Think of it much like your computer or laptop’s hard drive...

The more storage you have, the more apps you can install or the more files you can keep available without having to worry.

However, it’s important to remember that regardless of the tablet you buy, you won’t actually have the exact amount of space available that is listed on the box.

This is because the tablet must store important files, such as the operating system, somewhere.

In some cases, this can reduce your available storage by a few gigabytes.

Plan accordingly and always choose an option with a little more storage space than you need.

Some tablets also support external storage -- either through inserting a microSD card or through connecting an external hard drive using a special cable or adapter.

However, there are some important limitations to this storage you must consider.

In the case of microSD cards, some tablets will not allow you to use them to install apps. This means that while you might have room for more videos, images, or podcasts, you’re not exactly free to use the space as you please.

Many tablets also have a limit regarding microSD capacity. So be sure to check specifications on the tablet to be sure it will work with the card you’d like to use.

External hard drives are another option but come with similar limitations. But you must also now carry around any adapters needed to connect the drive to your tablet. If the hard drive requires power, that will be another adapter.

While using an external hard drive with your tablet might sound nice, it often impacts portability and is really best used when you need to store large numbers of files -- such as if you’re editing photos or video or want to keep a collection of movies or music on hand.

Unsure how much space you need? This list of file sizes should help.

  • 1 picture - 2MB to 10MB
  • 1 basic app - 4MB to 50MB
  • 1 basic game - 15MB to 75MB
  • 1 High Definition game - 150MB to 2GB
  • 1 MP3 album - 75MB to 125MB
  • 1 Standard Definition TV show episode - 200MB to 300MB
  • 1 High Definition TV show episode - 800MB to 1.2GB
  • 1 Standard Definition movie - 500 to 700MB
  • 1 High Definition movie - 2GB to 6GB

If you’re planning to do anything other than stream media to your tablet, at least 16GB is highly recommended. Better yet, 64GB tablets are increasingly affordable and offer much more flexibility in what you can install or store on them.


7. Battery Life

If you look at the specifications list for any tablet, you’ll see a capacity rating measured in mAh. While this offers a way to compare battery capacities between tablets, it doesn’t necessarily offer any real value in comparing battery life.

This is because battery life is a complex thing. Virtually every aspect of how you set up your tablet will change battery life in some way.

Primary factors include the screen brightness, how often the screen is on, the resolution of the screen, and the type of processor in the tablet. Using Bluetooth accessories, GPS tracking, or 3G/4G data can change it yet again.

You might find an estimate in the product description stating estimated battery life. In most cases, you’ll find real world battery life to be slightly under many of these predictions.

By far the best way to compare battery life between tablets is to consult the various reviews on the Internet. To help make this process simpler, you’ll find most major tablets are covered in our tablet review summaries. Instead of sorting through pages of reviews, you can find out what people are saying and get a quick overview of what to expect.

As a general rule, pricier tablets -- especially those aimed at productivity and creativity -- tend to offer longer battery life than entry level models.


8. Durability

There’s only so many ways to make a large, thin slab of screen stuffed full of electronics sturdy.

In most cases, you’ll need to resort to accessories -- such as padded cases and tempered glass screen protectors -- to keep your tablet in good shape.

However, you can also consider how materials and build quality might impact durability.

For example, while glass backs might look nice, they’re prone to cracking. An aluminum or high quality polycarbonate chassis will withstand a few more dings than a cheaper one made of thinner materials.

Also, while nothing will save a tablet from blatant abuse, smaller tablets tend to generate less force when dropped. So they can be better suited for use in active environments or when little kids are involved.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that smaller tablets are cheaper than larger ones too. So if you had to replace a broken tablet, it won’t be as expensive.


9. Accessories

As a simple way to extend the functionality of your tablet or provide extra protection, accessories for tablets are a booming market.

However, while many accessories -- such as generic stands, bluetooth keyboards, and bluetooth speakers -- will work with any tablet, many are also designed to work with specific devices.

Examples of this include the Apple Pen -- a specialized stylus specifically designed for select iPad models -- and the Surface Dial -- a button-like input designed for use with the Microsoft Surface series of 2-in-1s.

Checking the accessories available for the tablet you’re considering is a simple way to ensure that it will work well for your immediate needs and provide insight into potential future upgrades in how you use your tablet.


10. Audio

Audio quality is one of the few areas where tablets could still stand to make major improvements. While you’ll find tablets that can get loud and even fill a room with sound, no one has figured out the secret to actually making it sound full and balanced.

You’ll probably want to turn to a good pair of headphones or a Bluetooth speaker for improving sound quality. That said, there are a few features to keep in mind to maximize the potential of your tablet’s speakers.


Front-facing vs Rear-Facing Speakers: While part of it is personal preference, in most cases, front-facing speakers will provide clearer, louder audio. This is especially true if you like to place your tablet on the table or bed while watching movies or listening to music.

Stereo vs Mono Sound: Two speakers are almost always better than one. However, in the case of tablets, this difference is often negligible at best. With the smaller size of many tablets, there isn’t enough spread between the speakers to create channel separation or a wide soundstage using stereo speakers. If you listen to podcasts or other vocal heavy media, you might notice an improvement in clarity.

Audio Processing (Dolby, Beats Audio, etc): These options are a bit of a grey area. Some audio processing makes a world of difference while others are barely noticeable. It will also depend on whether you’re listening through headphones or the tablet’s speakers. For example, Dolby Atmos does a great job for speakers but often doesn’t support headphones while DTS:X makes a huge difference on headphones but doesn’t impact speakers.

The sound from even the best tablets often compare more what you’d get from a laptop or an entry-level Bluetooth speaker than your home theater system or stereo. But a tablet with decent speakers can still work well for personal listening even in noisy environments.


11. Camera

We list cameras last because they are still a bit of a weak point on almost every tablet on the market.

This is mainly due to the shape and size of a tablet...

Holding up something the size of a sheet of paper to take a picture isn’t exactly easy.

It seems tablet manufacturer’s understand this and don’t try to push the envelope when it comes to camera specs.

If you’re looking to replace your point-and-shoot -- or even your smartphone’s camera -- you might want to try taking some pictures on a tablet in a store first to see how they come out. Even the best tablet cameras often produce photos that are fairly lackluster.

That’s not to say that tablet cameras are completely useless.

The front facing cameras are perfect for video chat or interactive apps. The rear facing cameras are good for quick snapshots or scanning in documents.

In most cases, to prevent issues with graininess or blurriness, you’ll want a rear camera of at least 5 megapixels (MP). Higher numbers will turn out better results. But again, these only get so good.

For front-facing cameras, consider a tablet with a wide-angle lens.

By increasing the area the lens captures, these are great for video chatting when there is more than one person in the shot, such as letting the kids talk to their grandparents. Since the wide angle lens captures a wider area, there’s more room for people to fit into the frame.



Common Questions

















Conclusion


Choosing the best tablet is all about knowing what you want to do with it.

Features to consider include:

 

What tablet size best suits your needs

 

Which mobile operating system works best for you

 

Whether you need mobile data

 

How much storage you need

 

What level of performance you’re looking for

 

What accessories might help you make the most of your tablet

 

How you plan to buy your tablet

By knowing what features you need -- and what you don’t need -- you can find a tablet that is the perfect mix of utility and value.

We hope this guide helps to clear up any questions you might have about choosing a tablet.

If it has helped you -- or if you know someone who might need a little help with this -- please share this guide with others.



Your Turn


Now that you know exactly what you need in a tablet, it’s time to find the perfect model for you.

Our tablet comparison tool makes it simple to search by brand, price, size, features, and more to start limiting your options. You can even compare models side-by-side to see how multiple models stack up.

You can also check out our tablet reviews. These handy reviews break down what experts around the Internet are saying about the latest releases in an easy to understand format that will get you up to speed in just a couple minutes. All without having to juggle a bunch of tabs or spend hours researching.


 
REFERENCES:
[1] CNet : How to Buy a Tablet
[2] Consumer Reports : Tablet Buying Guide
[3] Laptop Magazine : Tablet Buying Guide: 8 Essential Tips
[4] Trusted Reviews : Tablet Buyer’s Guide: All You Need to Know
[5] Best Buy : Tablet Buying Guide
[6] Lifewire : Things to Consider before Buying a Tablet
[7] Digital Trends : Tablet Buying Guide: Everything to Know Before You Buy a Tablet
[8] John Lewis : Buying Guides: Tablets & E-Readers

Tools & Resources

Not sure what to look for in a tablet? Check out some of our in-depth guides, comparison tools & resources!


Common Questions


If your tablet and smartphone run the same operating system (Apple iOS, Google Android, Microsoft Windows 10, etc) there’s a good chance that both devices will be compatible with the same apps.

However, if the app isn’t optimized for the larger screen size of the tablet, you might notice it doesn’t look the same. While less common now thanks to improvements in how apps are made, there might be a tablet-specific version of your favorite app to download as well.


For most a tablet 9-inches or larger is ideal for productivity. Most tablets are still weak multitaskers. By having a larger screen size, you can take advantage of any split screen capabilities to make multitasking simpler. A larger screen also allows you to view documents, images or spreadsheets without constant scrolling or zooming.

If you intend to use your tablet primarily in an office setting, even larger options--such as the Apple iPad Pro--offer increased ability to dig into your work. At 12+ inches, these tablets are not ideal for portability. There’s also the substantial cost to consider. Before making an investment in this tier, find a retailer that will give you some hands-on time with the device.


This question is best answered depending on where you want to watch movies or games.

Planning to watch on the go? A six-inch tablet makes it easy to just toss your tablet in your bag or set it up on your tray table on the plane. While the screen won’t be a massive upgrade over many flagship smartphones, it will still make a large difference in the immersion and enjoyment of your favorite media.

Planning to watch at home? A nine-inch tablet is great for getting into your favorite TV shows or making the latest mobile games come alive. Most are comfortable to hold while you watch though a small stand will help for those all-night Netflix binges or Candy Crush marathons.


YES! Not only are they available, most are very affordable. If you’re looking for an ultra-rugged option, Amazon’s Fire for Kids is a great choice with its foam case and extended warranty, it’s ready for anything tiny hands might dish out. Other leading options include the Fuhu Nabi series, the Kurio series and LeapFrog’s full-feature tablets.

Kids’ tablets are still hit or miss in performance and quality. If you’re looking for the full tablet experience, be sure to check that the tablet supports one of the major app stores before purchasing. The ability to expand memory will also help with tap-happy little fingers.


Most tablets will perform basic functions with no need for an Internet connection. However, many free apps earn their income through advertising, this means you cannot use the app without a connection unless you pay for the premium edition of the app.

Other common tasks that require an Internet connection include social media apps, web browsing and music or video streaming.


No - in fact, outside the flagship markets, many tablets do not support data service at all. If you’re not sure, check the specifications for the tablet for any mentions of SIM support. As with your mobile phone, data plans for tablets will require a monthly payment in most cases to remain active. Looking for suggestions? You can view all of our summaries for 4G-compatible tablets here!

Not sure how much data you might need? Our guide for choosing a smartphone data plan applies to data-enabled tablets as well!


Yes and no. There are a few features that will determine how “phone-like” your tablet behaves.

The biggest issue is mobile data. Without it, you can only receive calls when in Wi-Fi range. Even still, you’re likely limited to an app instead of a dedicated phone number through a carrier. However, most tablets feature microphones and loudspeakers, making them great voice-over-IP options. Popular apps include Skype, Line2 and Google Voice.

You also have the issue of holding a huge tablet up to your head to talk. For most, a Bluetooth headset is a must. If you’re not sure where to start, we offer an in-depth buyer’s guide for Bluetooth Headsets!

If you’re looking for a true phone experience with the large-screen convenience of a tablet, you’re probably better looking for a large smartphone or ‘phablet.’ You can view summaries for many of the best options here!



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