Tablets are great for watching videos and TV, for playing games, reading eBooks, and browsing the web. Sharing photos and catching up via Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest are all great on iPads and Android tabs. And you can catch up on email, too.
They’re not so good if you need to create a newsletter, presentation or write up a report. Printing off a spreadsheet or document can prove problematic if you don’t have a printer that’s compatible with your particular tablet. These things are possible, but you’ll find it’s much easier on a laptop or PC.
You can install extra software – known as apps – on a tablet, much like you can on a PC. Many are free, but some cost a few pounds. You have to install apps from the respective store on your tablet: Apple’s App Store on an iPad, the Google Play Store on an Android tablet and the Amazon Appstore on a Fire Tablet.
On a Windows 10 tablet you can install normal Windows software, but you also get to browse the Windows Store for dedicated tablet apps. But the selection is much more limited than on the other types of tablet.
The same is true of music- and other media: you can buy it from Apple, Google, Amazon or Microsoft. You can also transfer your own music, videos and photos to your tablet from a PC or access them from many cloud storage services. Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft have their own cloud services but you can also use others, such as Dropbox, which let you store files and media and get to them from all your devices, no matter whether a phone, tablet, laptop or PC.
Here’s the bottom line: for fun, you need an iPad- or Android tablet. For work, go Windows. But only if you can afford the best.
What to look for
Android tablets pack processors from a variety of manufacturers. Samsung’s Exynos chips and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors are the most common: Look for the Snapdragon 800 series and Exynos 8 processors for better performance. Nvidia’s Tegra processors are found on Nvidia tablets, and you’ll find some Android machines with Rockchip CPUs.
On the Windows front, you’ll find mainly Intel processors, including the Core m3, i5 and i7 processors. Tablets based on Intel Core processors tend to be higher-end devices, and will generally cost you more. Lower-cost Windows tablets and convertibles often use Intel Atom processors.
RAM isn’t quite as big a selling point on tablets because of how iOS and Android manage memory. Generally speaking, however, the more you spend, the more RAM you’ll get, and on most tablets, you can expect anywhere between 1GB and 4GB of memory. Laptop/tablet hybrids and other Windows-based convertible tablets, like the Surface Pro 4, typically offer more memory, sometimes up to 16GB of RAM. More RAM often equates to snappier performance.
Storage and Expandability
Stand-alone tablets typically come with 8 or 16GB of storage on the low end, and up to 128GB on the high end. Convertible Windows tablets often have storage capacities more in line with typical notebooks, so it isn’t unusual to find one with 256GB of storage or more. Some tablets include SD card readers that allow you to expand your device’s storage capacity. Unless you don’t use your tablet much, you may find 8 or 16 GB to be a little too constraining for your needs, so you’ll probably want to pay a little more and get at least 32GB of storage space — or look for one with an onboard SD card slot.
How About Battery Life (Very Important)?
When looking for a tablet its best to find one that can serve up to 7 hours one a single charge while being used.