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Choosing a tablet Making the most of your device in everyday life.

Tablet: What is it? What should I consider?

choosing tablet

Tablets are a powerful tool for enhancing your productivity and online experience whether for business use, or life in general. Smaller than a laptop and bigger than a Smartphone, the tablet is perfect to take with you on the go. You can browse the Internet, download books, games and videos, watch movies, share photos, stay connected with social networking sites, create and share presentations, video conference with clients and much more with your tablet.

When choosing a tablet, you should consider how you’re going to use it. Here, we look at some of the key areas you might like to consider. You can also quickly compare tablet features on our Compare tablets page. And if there's a word or phrase you'd like to understand more about, our Glossary is only a click away.

Android or WebOS? What Operating Systems are available for tablets?

An important tablet feature to consider is the operating system, otherwise known as the platform. There are currently three choices available, Android, BlackBerry and Apple.

Operating systems are the framework and interface of the tablet, and represent the experience you will have when you interact with your tablet. It is important to carefully consider each to ensure you get the best experience for your needs.

Key highlights of the current operating systems available at Staples include:

Android
  • True multi-tasking, meaning you can do multiple activities such as email, Web surfing and video chat at one time on the same screen
  • Full Adobe Flash support, allowing users the full rich experience of the entire Internet
  • Strong integration across Google's rapidly growing services such as the Android Marketplace, Maps, eBooks and more
BlackBerry
  • Wireless connectivity to existing BlackBerry smartphones for real time access to email and calendar plus 3G access
  • Seamless pairing with BlackBerry servers allowing for enterprise level performance and security
  • Full Adobe Flash support, allowing users the full rich experience of the entire Internet

When considering your OS give some thought to the types of software and applications (or apps) you are likely to use. Availability of apps and software varies depending upon which OS your tablet runs. This area will be one of the most important as you weigh up which tablet is right for you.

3G, 4G or Wi-Fi?

Connectivity and online experience is what sets tablets apart from smartphones and laptops. So, when choosing your tablet, check out its options for Internet connectivity.

Wi-Fi connectivity is a standard feature of pretty much all tablets and delivers a solid browsing experience. With a Wi-Fi connection, you can access the Web on your tablet. Wi-Fi hotspots are usually available at work, malls, restaurants, coffee shops and more.

3G and 4G connectivity are other options that enable Web access anywhere there is a cellular telephone network. You'll find such access particularly useful for any apps with GPS related functions, such as maps. Bear in mind that you will pay extra for this type of connectivity from your wireless supplier, in much the same way as you do with your cell phone. Consider this extra cost when choosing your tablet.

Most tablets also incorporate Bluetooth technology. This enables your tablet to wirelessly transfer data to and from your computer or other peripherals such as keyboards, speakers or a mouse.

Tablet processor, size and touch

Another key feature is the tablet's processor. This is the technology at the heart of your tablet and controls all the systems that provide its functions. Speed and power define the differences between brands and models.

The tablet display or screen is one of the most important features to consider. Smaller screens will be easier to slip into a small bag or purse, but larger screens will be easier to type on using the on-screen keyboard. It's also worth remembering that the bigger the screen, the larger (and heavier) the tablet.

Options are many. Most screens come out somewhere between 7" and 11". This is the diagonal distance between corners.

Touch responsiveness is also a key consideration as a lot of your interaction will be through tapping. Also look at screen resolution, relative screen size and brightness. These will all determine how your films, photographs and games appear, and how easy it will be to read your books, websites and emails.

Battery life

Depending on the way you are likely to use your tablet, its battery life will influence your choice, as this feature differs greatly between machines. Lots of things will affect the battery life between charges, such as the tasks you undertake, bandwidth consumption, processor speed, screen resolution and brightness.

Memory is expressed as GB (gigabytes). Memory is the amount of storage available on your tablet to save files such as documents, video files and photographs. Tablets start at 16GB and can go up to 64GB. If you are going to listen to a lot of music and watch a lot of movies consider a tablet with 32GB of storage.

Cameras

More and more tablets now incorporate cameras, enabling you to not only capture images, but also for use in video conferencing, or video conversations.

Different tablets have different systems some have only a single camera, while others have both forward and backward-facing cameras. Things to bear in mind here are the resolution of the camera and whether it has a zoom, a flash or autofocus feature. Visit our Compare tablets page and check the camera features of the very latest machines.

Help with your choice

Luckily, Staples is an expert in helping you to make your choice. If you know what you want, great just go directly to our Shop by brand page here or visit your local Staples store.

But if you're like most people and want to compare tablet brands, we've also got the tools to help you. Find all the information you need in our Learn about tablets pages

If you prefer to talk to us in person you'll find our live customer support is never more than a click away.

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