How to choose the right tablet for you 14/05/2014
A simple guide to comparing iPads and Android tablets that makes finding the tablet that best suits your requirements, preferences and budget easy.
How to choose the right tablet for you

Although it wasn’t the first tablet on the market, the first iPad launched in 2010 brought tablets into the mainstream. Now, with so many tablets on the market, it can be tricky deciding on one but the good news is that whether you want a tablet to replace your laptop for work, play games and movies or just handle emails, stream media and access the internet, there’s a tablet for you.

Here are some tips to help you find your way to your perfect new tablet.

Start with the operating system

If you can decide on the operating system first up, you’ll save yourself a lot of time comparing your options.

Most tablets either run on iOS (Apple iPads) or Google Android (Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus, Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Sony Xperia, Asus Transformer) or Windows 8 (Surface, Ativ Tab, Vivo Tab Smart).

Some reasons to opt for a particular operating system might be:

  • You want to easily sync calendars, contacts and alerts between your tablet and your smartphone or computer. If you’re a confirmed Apple addict with an iPhone and a Macbook, you can skip right forward and just compare iPads!
  • You want to work in a familiar operating system. Again, if your smartphone is an Android, you might consider ruling out the iPad range.
  • There are particular apps you need or want to use. While many apps are available in both the iTunes App Store and Google Play, not all of them are so if there’s a particular app you need and it’s only in one of the stores, that could be your operating system decider as iTunes Apps won’t work on your Android device and vice versa.
  • You want to use your tablet for a lot of work in Microsoft office documents or spreadsheets. A Windows operating system could be better for you.

Narrow down your tablet requirements

If you were able to decide on the best operating system for you, the rest is easy – it’s time to decide on the hardware specifications you need. If you’re still unsure about the operating system, just work through the next part of your evaluation to narrow down the field.

Knowing how you intend to use your tablet quickly helps to refine your search. It also helps you decide which hardware features you really need and which ones you could forego if you want to stick to a budget.

Size, weight & screen quality

From a 374g Amazon Kindle Fire HDX to the 676g Surface 2 (which is also considerably larger to be fair), there is a big difference in the weight of tablets.

The dimension of tablets is measured as the diagonal distance from corner to corner in inches. Most of them are either 7 inch or 10 inch but there are exceptions.

Smaller tablets are ideal for reading because they can be held in one hand like a paperback. They’re also the best if you want a tablet that will fit in your bag or you aren’t doing much more than accessing the internet, messaging or emails. Although you can still stream media and run apps on a smaller tablet, you might opt for a larger screen if:

  • You want to watch a lot of tv or movies
  • You want to play games
  • You’re editing photos
  • You’re using your tablet in place of a laptop
  • You’re working with documents and spreadsheets.

Better screen quality will improve your experience no matter what you’re using your tablet for but if you’re a gamer you’ll probably want the full HD experience that comes with a better screen.

Processing speed

Most tablets are pretty fast now but of course some are faster than others. If you’re a gamer, you’ll want fast processing whereas if you’re just using your tablet to access to the internet or stream videos, any tablet with a processing speed of 1GHz or more should do the trick. Some apps can be demanding on processing power though so keep that in mind before you sacrifice speed for savings.

According to a recent test by Which? Magazine, the 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is the fastest tablet on the market, followed by the Apple iPad Air and Google Nexus 7.


512Mb of Random Access Memory (RAM) or more will perform better generally, however the different operating systems are exactly that and they work in different ways. For example, the Windows 8 operating system needs to access more memory than Android so they often come with 2BB of RAM.

Storage capacity

Like all the other features, the more storage you need, the more your tablet is going to cost. The range of storage capacity on tablets is extremely broad with the smaller tablets offering 8Gb through to the larger tablets with 128Gb.

The amount of storage available on your tablet will restrict the number of photos, games, apps, video and music you can store. Not sure how much space things take? Here’s a guide:

  • Photos can be 5MB +
  • Large games can be 500MB – 2GB
  • HD Video ties up about 1.4GB per hour of video

If you just want to use your tablet for email, internet, messages and storing photos and music, you’re unlikely to need enormous storage capacity. If you do underestimate what you need, you may be able to buy extra (not with an iPad though), or ‘rent’ cloud storage.

Wireless, 3G or 4G?

Do you need your tablet to connect to your home or work wireless only or does it need its own data plan so you’re truly mobile? You’ll save some money if you opt only for wi-fi because your tablet will cost less and of course you won’t have a monthly bill for usage. If you need to connect to a network when you’re away from your normal one, you can always use your smartphone but if you’re on the go all the time, you might be better off going for mobile internet.

The best useability

No amount of online research can give you the experience of actually using a tablet. If you plan to use it often, you’ll want to be sure it ‘feels right’. Once you’ve narrowed down the features of your tablet, head out to a store and actually have a play with them.

The right tablet case can also enhance the usability of your device. For example, the Sprout Covermate Morph for the iPad Air is an extremely versatile case that allows for maximum stability for watching movies, gaming or typing. The Covermate Plus for the iPad Mini is designed with a polyurethane outer to enhance grip. And if you’re just looking for a super-thin case that adds protection but doesn’t cover your screen, take a look at the Covermate for iPad 2, 3 and 4 in black or clear.

Finding the right tablet and cover gets a little easier once you have a clear idea of how you want to use it and what it needs to do for you. Sprout has a great range of iPad covers to suit every iPad from the iPad 2 to the iPad Air and iPad Mini.

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