Buying a Tablet

Are you ready for one?

By , Columnist

Most tablets have built in WiFi, Bluetooth capability, and front and rear facing cameras but otherwise run the gamut of specs and options.

I have been waiting for this tablet business to go the way of most fads as my computer does an excellent job of browsing the web, my phone has many more apps than I could possibly use, and the large television that made its way into our house at the hands of my significant other is much better for watching movies than a 10-inch screen.

The benefits though, as I have recently realized, are that a tablet is smaller than a laptop, making it easier to pack in a bag, less invasive to use when trying to work on an airplane, and more convenient than a tiny phone keyboard for constructing lengthy emails about why I will be away from work for three weeks without giving prior notice. As my birthday is coming up soon and I am at a loss for new shiny things to want, I have decided I need a tablet. As a confirmed and unapologetic Mac user, I knew right away that I wanted an iPad 2, but thought I’d go through the pretense of researching alternatives so as to make an informed decision.

If you also plan to succumb to the tablet rage yourself but have no idea what you are looking for, start by narrowing your options.

A Tablet for Reading

If you prefer your books the old-fashioned paper way but would use a multi-purpose tablet for reading e-books or catching up with your favorite websites, you have a few options. For those who are Mac-based, the iPad 2 has a 9.7” screen but features a clear, crisp image with thousands of apps and e-books to choose from. Android-based tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy 7”, are small and fit easily in your hand. The Galaxy 10.1 is a newer model with a larger, clearer display and is lightweight enough to go virtually unnoticed when carrying in your bag.

For Working

The Galaxy Tab and the Xoom are compatiable with PCs and are recognized like a mass storage device on Windows platforms and Xoom offers the greatest number of apps for organizing your information. The Blackberry Playbook has a 7” screen, a simple user interface, and offers multi-tasking capabilities. The Playbook also has Flash. If you have seen those commercials, you just sang that and I apologize.

For Web-Browsing, Video Watching, and Playing

HD movies look good on The Galaxy 10.1 and Xoom as both have 1280 x 800 resolution and also offer a Google interface and music player. The Galaxy Tab uses Samsung's Media Hub to make and play music and video purchases. The Playbook’s screen resolution is 1020 x 600, just behind the iPad 2 at 1024 x 768, but the iPad has the added benefit of an LCD screen and a great selection of third-party games and social apps but as always, Mac devices are (mostly) limited to purchases from iTunes.

There are possibly one million uses for a tablet, and even more tablets to choose from, but they are not all created equally. You might have an idea of where to begin, but your best bet is to try them out yourself and find the one that fits your budget and preferences. Or if you’re like me, add several to your Amazon wishlist and hope that someone buys you one (iPad2).

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Holly is a freelance writer and copy editor with a background in journalism and publishing. Like a grandmother's purse, she is about three decades old, worn around the edges and mostly full of crap.

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