A guide to tablet comparison

Tablet Comparison

If you are in the market for a new tablet device then this article will help you determine which is right for you. Before I start though I’d like to point out that there is no such thing as a perfect tablet. There may however be a tablet perfect for you. Going through the process of tablet comparison will help you when sizing up your new device by helping to make choices based on your priorities. The comparison priorities are:

  • Price Comparison
  • Operating System
  • Size
  • Screen
  • Speed
  • Battery Life
  • Apps

Price Comparison

Do a price comparison when looking at the different tablets available. If money were no object then you could get one of each of the latest tablets and use the best elements of them. Unfortunately life isn’t like this so you need to have in mind how much money you will be prepared to spend when you are comparing tablets.

As a rule of thumb Android devices start at around £140 and go to around £500, iPads start at £269 and to to £739, whilst Windows 8 Pro devices start at £300 and to around £800. So if you budget is £200 then you need to be focusing your tablet comparison on Android devices.

Operating System (Android, iOS or Windows 8 Pro)

The next hurdle you need to overcome is what operating system you wish to run on your tablet. If buying today I’d only recommend Android Jelly Bean or better, the latest version of Apples iOS or Windows 8 Pro.

You should steer clear of older versions of Android as whilst these may be purchased at a bargain price you will probably be locked into old insecure software. By not being able to update to the latest version you may be susceptible to attacks which exploit a vulnerability in the OS and make some or all of your personal information stored on it available to others.

If you buy an Apple device then you will be able to keep up to date with the latest version of iOS. For the best future proofing you should be looking at the latest iPad with Retina or iPad Mini tablets as these are likely to get long term support from Apple. Whilst the iPad 2 is a bargain device there is a risk that Apple will stop updates for it and that will prevent you from getting the latest version of iOS.

If you want a Windows tablet then Windows 8 Pro is the OS to go for. Windows 8 RT hasn’t taken off in the way Microsoft might have hoped and as a consequence there aren’t the apps being developed for it. Windows 8 Pro is currently the only tablet that enables you to run a full version of Microsoft Office. There are alternatives available on the other types of device but this is one of Microsofts trump cards. I would however recommend that you spend a little time using a Windows 8 Pro tablet before parting with cash as whilst they are feature rich there are some idiosyncrasies which come with Windows 8 Pro that you should be aware of.

In my opinion iOS offers the best all round tablet experience – especially if you use iPhone and a Mac. Android is best value for money (the Nexus 7 is a great tablet) and Windows 8 Pro offers the most laptop like experience. Ideally you’d spend a little bit of time playing with each of these before you buy and a bit of time at your local computer store might be wise.

Size

Size does matter. Bigger screens mean bigger batteries so are more expensive. If you want a 10″ device then expect to pay around £400 for the privilege. Bigger screens are better for playing media and using as a laptop replacement but don’t fit in a pocket and aren’t as slim. My advice to newcomers to the tablet world is to try the smaller devices first. If you can get used to the smaller display and smaller on screen keyboard then you will probably enjoy being able to pop it in your pocket or fling it in a bag and hardly notice the weight. If however you are sure that the tablet will be used more for consuming media or will be go in a bag to be carried with you then that’s when you should be looking at bigger screened devices.

Screen

The higher the screen resolution and smaller the screen the sharper the image. So for instance a 1024×768 resolution on a 7.9″ tablet will be sharper than on its 9.7″ brother. When comparing across brands (so for instance comparing iPad with Google Nexus) the resolution only tells part of the story. The screen quality is also important as better screens replicate colours seen in nature better. To get a feel for the quality of a screen then it is a good idea to read a few reviews of your short list devices. Tablet reviews always focus heavily on this element of the device as it is such an important element. For my money iPad with Retina is an amazing screen. Other tablets come close (Google Nexus 10 springs to mind) but the colour reproduction isn’t quite as stunning. That said unless you are comparing side by side you are not going to be able to see the differences so once you’ve made up your mind don’t worry too much if tablet y gets slightly better screen reviews.

Speed

If you plan on buying an Android device then you can make a tablet comparison by looking at the specs. Tablets with more processor cores and faster CPU speed with more memory are faster than those with lesser specs. Also if manufacturers put less additional apps on Android then your tablet is likely to be faster than those that are bogged down by apps which you do not need and cannot uninstall.

If you buy the latest tablet from Apple then you can be assured that you will get the fastest model.

Windows 8 Pro tablets need a little more time when looking at the speed issue. As with Android devices if you buy a tablet with the best components then you are going to get a faster tablet. But this does come at a cost – battery life. Microsoft Surface Pro is a well spec’d tablet which retails for £800 but only manages to provide 5 hours of battery life. For a laptop this is acceptable but for a tablet it is a bit of a limitation we’ve become used to not accepting.

Battery Life

In my opinion the longer the battery life the better. If you do not want to carry a charger with you (and who does?) then you should be looking for a tablet with at least 7 hours battery life. This should allow you to use your tablet for a whole working day and then get a full charge over night. Windows 8 Pro tablets with laptop quality components will struggle to give you this kind of battery life and that may be a trade you would be willing to make.

Apps

Most apps are available through one way or another on most tablets. iOS tends to get new apps first and once they are proven move over to Android next. This is because iOS users tend to pay for more apps than Android users do. Windows 8 Pro has a wealth of applications which can run on the desktop but being as these are not necessarily written for touch use may be a little awkward to use without a keyboard and mouse.

Tablet Comparison Conclusion

There is a whole world of tablets out there and its a good time to buy – especially if you can afford the latest tablets. But before you splash the cash its a good idea to weigh up your tablet comparison based on your priorities.

If you’ve read this and thought there are other crucial factors that should be considered when buying a tablet then please drop a comment below as I’d love to hear your views on this article.