Buyers' guide to the tablet PC
Having a computer that you can take with you anywhere you want to go is exactly what the crop of new tablet PC devices offers and there is certainly plenty to choose from. What's more, because this is an area of computing that has become so active in the last couple of years, it means there are many deals and offers on tablet computers.
It was Apple that really got the tablet computer phenomenon off to such a great start with the iPad, which was and perhaps still is, the leader of the pack when it comes to tablets PCs. The iPad has really set a high bench-mark in terms of quality and overall performance and there are endless tablet computer reviews online that attest to this.
However, since its arrival there has been a wave of rival models, that come in a whole variety of shapes, sizes and specifications, along with offering the option of running all manner of operating systems too. Better still, while the Apple iPad is seen as a premium device, there are now plenty of cheap tablet PC packages that come complete with plenty of goodies on-board and that can get you connected to the Internet too.
Why buy a tablet PC?
When the first tablet computers started to arrive here in the UK, many people weren't immediately tempted to buy one and some questioned the point behind owning one. But, used to its maximum potential, the best tablet PC can supply you with all your computing needs on the move, function as a phone and also keep you entertained with a raft of different movie and game-playing options.
There's a lot to factor in if you're considering the appeal of a tablet PC though, so before you buy it's absolutely vital to carry out a comparison on what's available. There are also many different prices to compare, but the good news is that there will be something out there to match your budget. Even the cheapest tablet computer should be able to supply you with a decent web browsing experience, along with plenty of other portable diversions when you're on the go.
Thanks to the power of modern technology, even those cheap model tablet PCs should have touch screen functionality along with the capacity for storing lots of files and folders. In fact, the tablet PC can do pretty much everything you'd do on a regular home computer, laptop or netbook, but the added advantages are that it'll be a lot lighter, much more portable and should deliver very respectable battery life too.
Here's a handy video guide that shows you a comparison between two typical tablet PC models:
Tablet PC comparison
With so many different tablet computer options out there, from cheap basic models through to premium products like the Apple iPad, you'll want to begin your search with a comparison. Here are some key features that you should lookout for:
- Processor: this is at the heart of your tablet PC and will determine how well it performs, so look for the most potent option that you can find for the money.
- Storage: even a cheap tablet PC should come with a reasonable amount of storage but premium models can have very sizeable hard drives or flash memory.
- Operating system: the OS or operating system inside the tablet PCs you compare can differ, so check carefully that you'll get on with it.
- Screen quality: try and buy a tablet PC with the highest resolution that you can get as some cheaper models tend to be less great on this front.
- Touch screen functionality: most tablet computer models have screens and virtual keyboards that you can use to control and operate them with.
- Battery: a good battery is vital for ensuring that your tablet computer keeps functioning when you're on the go, so compare this aspect carefully.
- Ports and plugs: not all tablet PC models have ways to connect other devices, so check for USB ports and suchlike if you need that functionality.
- Design: looks aren't everything but some of the best tablet designs are really eye-catching and make something of a style statement too.
- Apps: a tablet computer will work without apps, but these software add-ons make it much better plus there are countless to choose from, both free and paid-for.
Getting to grips with a tablet PC
Just supposing you decide to buy a tablet PC - what can you expect from it? That's a question posed by many who haven't tried one, but ask the owner of one of these devices what they use it for and the answers will probably be very diverse. Of the numerous ways you can put a tablet computer to work, the following requirements will probably be high-up on the list:
- Internet connectivity and web browsing - being able to look at web pages, post social networking updates and suchlike on the move is essential.
- Apps - are the small chunks of software that can transform your tablet PC into anything you like, so be sure there are plenty available on the model you fancy.
- 3G and/or wireless functionality - this means you can stay online using home wireless routers, WiFi hotspots and also the 3G mobile phone network.
- Email capability - email is vital for many of us, so you'll want to have a decent email client or software on-board your new tablet PC purchase.
- Camera and image management tools - these vary in quality from model to model, but can be handy for swift shots when you're out and about.
- HD capability - many new tablet PCs have the ability to record high-definition video as well as play it back via the delicious new top-resolution screens.
- Music and media playing functionality - tablet computers are great devices for watching movies and listening to music so see what's included on yours.
Tablet PC operating systems
One point to note about all tablet PCs is that they need an operating system to function. This is the software that lies at the root of the machine, and alongside the processor and memory considerations, will generally determine how well it performs. The good news is that there is an OS out there that will be perfect for your needs, although it's very much a personal decision.
Those who go down the route of the Apple iPad will have the iOS to work with, and that has proved very popular with millions of satisfied users. However, you will probably also want to compare the array of tablet PCs that come with the Google Android OS installed as this is very good too and, like it's main rival, is being updated on a regular basis to make it even better.
There are other variations on the OS theme, but if you pick a tablet with a less well known operating system inside then you may be rather limited when it comes to the choice of software and apps that you can run on it. And, after all, apps are one of the main reasons people buy themselves a tablet PC in the first place.
Searching for tablet PCs
The comparison options that are available if you're looking for deals and offers on a tablet computer are numerous and you can use the tools on the left-hand side of the page to make adjustments as you see fit. After all, if you've taken a look at the key features to consider and decided that you can compromise on storage capacity, for example, you may be able to find cheaper models in the comparison tables.
Alongside the specification and core features, there are also many different manufacturers to chose from when it comes to picking the perfect tablet PC. Now that everyone seems to be getting in on the act, you'll find models from all of the big names in electronics, as well as quite a few that might not seem to obvious.
These lesser known brands might be okay, but to be sure you're buying a device with a reasonable pedigree then be sure to compare tech specs carefully and read some consumer reviews online.
Cheap tablet PC options
Similarly, when carrying out a tablet PC comparison, it's always a good idea to consider the different options on prices and, if you're a newcomer to the technology or not sure how much you'll make use of this mobile device, it might be an idea to consider a cheap model. That way you can remove the high prices from your comparison and look at the more budget-friendly options that are available.
Prices on these lower end units are very competitive, mainly because there are so many of them around, although bear in mind they may be lighter on features and technical specification as a result. Don't forget to spend some time reading those tablet computer reviews as this can be a great way to get an idea of what's hot and what's not.
Ready to buy?
Once you've spent the time on a comparison of tablet PC models, specifications, prices and everything else here in the UK you should be in a perfect position to buy.