Apple® took the consumer electronic market by storm with the introduction of the iPad®. The sexy, highly stylized tablet hit center stage and not only demanded the question of whether we need to bridge the gap between smartphone and PC?, but confidently answered it, yes.
Since then, it's been fantastic news for consumers as manufacturers such as HTC®, Microsoft®, Samsung® and BlackBerry® have followed suit and left customers spoiled for choice with an array of excellent products. But the question that's still on everyone's mind is this: do I need to match my tablet with my existing setup?
Thankfully, this new generation of tablet manufacturers has realized that customers want to choose the product they like, not the one that matches their computer or cell phone. This is fantastic news for those of us who can't live without our Windows platform but adore the Apple's sleek style, or for anyone who needs to go for one of the more wallet-friendly options, because now it's really up to you.
Many of the new-generation tablets offer users the option of different operating systems and can be installed by you as you see fit. Or – if this seems too technical – most of the information you use on your PC or Mac® that you'd want on your tablet (music, photos, videos and other media) can be instantly synced with the press of a button.
The days of fuss and incompatibility are numbered. And this lets us get on to the most important thing — choosing the tablet that looks professional and functions seamlessly. But before clicking the &lquot;Buy Now&rquot; button, you need to do three things.
First, ask yourself what you want to do with your tablet. Second: once you've answered this, think about the five key practical considerations listed below. And third – breathe a big sigh of relief that the choice is finally yours. Now you can make sure you're investing in a tablet that suits your own personal needs without compromising your hardware setup.
Essentially there are two main contenders: in the red corner, Apple's iOS, and in the blue corner, Google's Android™. This clash of the titans has left us with two great options — Apple simplicity or Google flexibility. But in reality, little separates these interfaces. The only real difference is how much you can personalize your home screen.
But not all apps span across both systems, so make sure you have a look at which apps are available for each. It's also worth mentioning BlackBerry® and Windows, who both provide an alternative platform that might be more to your taste.
Weight and size
The weight of the tablets ranges from around one to two pounds. So if you're someone who's using your tablet to do business on the move, then the lighter, thinner option is probably for you. But if you're looking for a bigger display, then go large.
It's also worthwhile dropping into an electronics store to get a feel for what it is you're buying. There is a great deal of variability in thickness and texture, with some tablets offering much more grip and balance.
Make sure you know what type of touch screen the model that holds your interest has been fitted with. Some of the cheaper models respond to the pressure you apply with your finger but — again, without getting too technical — the higher-end screens work better because they respond to electrical changes when touched by skin.
If you're looking to use your tablet to put photos in presentations or emails, then it's good to go for a camera with a higher resolution. Most tablets offer some form of rear-facing camera that can come in handy. But some of the newer-generation tablets have both rear- and forward-facing cameras that allow you to use video conferencing and other great communication apps.
These include memory, processor speed and connectivity. Again, the key here is to ask yourself what you want to do with your tablet, because all of these choices will have a direct impact on price. For instance, a tablet with a 64GB memory is going to cost a lot more than a 16GB model. And WiFi connectivity is free on an established network but, 3G or 4G needs its own contract. If you need lots of storage space for bigger files, or you work on the move, then these higher-price options might be necessary.
So now you've gone through the list, it's time to follow step 3. Breathe that sigh of relief. Because the great new innovations in the world of tablets mean that when you click the &lquot;Buy Now&rquot; button, the choice you're making is really yours.