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Ask These Questions Before Buying a Tablet

What questions do you have about buying a tablet? We have the answers for you.

Why do I need a tablet if I have a laptop?

While laptops have come a long way from the heavy machines of even just a few years ago, sometimes you don’t want to take your entire computer with you when you’re on the go — like if you’re going on vacation — even if you still want to stay in touch with friends, family and the office. In those cases, you need a device like a tablet, which will give you the functionality you want without the size or weight. Most of the time, thanks to Web-based tools and apps, you’ll still be able to keep up with work and other obligations, but you’ll be able to do so with the flexibility of a device that’s designed to be mobile. And keep in mind that while some of the same functionality may exist on a tablet and a laptop, the mobile version of some software is not always as robust and full-featured.

Why do I need a tablet if I have a smartphone?

There will always be a place for pocket-sized phones that make use of wireless, cellular networks. But a phone is not the most convenient device to use if you want to easily access and consume your personal and business information. Tablet screens, whether they’re 7" or 12", allow information to be viewed much more clearly than on a smartphone — anyone who’s struggled to read spreadsheets, PDFs, Web pages or books on a 3" phone screen can attest to this. And don't forget that you can also make voice, video or conference calls using VoIP systems such as FaceTime or Skype more easily with a bigger device like a tablet.

How much memory do I need?

When selecting a tablet, you have a choice of memory capacity — devices with as much as 256GB are available. How much will you need? Keep in mind that a two-hour HD movie will take up about 3GB of hard drive space; a half-hour episode of a sitcom will take up about half a GB. And that’s just video. Don’t forget about music, games, photos, books, apps and other files. Be sure you have enough space now, and figure you’ll need more the more you use your tablet. If you’re unsure of how much memory you’ll need, consider buying a device with a slot for an external memory card so you have some flexibility.

What size tablet should I buy?

Tablets generally come in two sizes these days: ones with 7” screens and ones with screens up to 12” (both sizes are measured diagonally). A smaller size generally doesn’t translate into less functionality, so the model you go with comes down to personal preference and how mobile you want to be. After all, a larger device will also be a heavier one.

How much battery life does this device have?

Battery life varies between tablets, so it's important to consider this feature as part of your research into which tablet to buy. Choose the longest battery life you can afford, and consider purchasing a battery pack accessory that you can plug into your tablet and lengthen its life when you’re on the move.

Will I need cell service, or will Wi-Fi be enough?

Think about the places you’ll be using your tablet and what you’ll be using it for. If you’ll mostly be in places with wireless networks, then you can stick with a tablet that only has Wi-Fi. But if you’re always on the go and will need the Internet for anything from Web surfing and email reading to accessing a work computer, then you’ll need 4G or 3G service, which will increase the price of your tablet and add a monthly cell service charge, too.

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