Sponsored Post: David Bakke is a contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance. He writes about smart shopping tips, technology, and money management.
It seems like no matter where you turn, you see someone with a tablet computer – and that’s not too far from the truth. One-fourth of all American adults now own one, and tablet sales are expected to surpass those of traditional laptops this year. While tablet computers are light, practical, and fun, you shouldn’t pull the trigger on one until you’ve done some research.
Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/claudiaregina/6243085817/
To help you make the best choice in a market full of options, consider these five specifications:
1. Screen Size
Tablet PCs come available with screens ranging in size from five to ten inches. It’s not all about viewability and resolution, however. If you’re planning on using your tablet in lieu of a laptop or desktop, chances are you’re going to need to send emails and type up documents. If you have big fingers, going with a five-inch screen may be setting yourself up for more hassle than convenience. When you narrow down the candidates, make sure you shop around and sample your options in-store – nothing can replace that tactile experience.
2. Operating System
You have three main choices when it comes to the operating system on your tablet – the iOS system by Apple, the Android system by Google, and Windows 8 by Microsoft. All have their pros and cons. The operating system by Apple comes with the comprehensive Apple app store, a big bonus. You can find a wider selection of tablets featuring Android, which means more options at lower prices on hardware. Windows 8 may take a bit of getting used to if you’re used to Windows 7 (there is no Start button, for one), but it’s a fully customizable operating system, so you can make adjustments to suit your tastes.
3. Thickness and Weight
The thickness and weight variations are minimal between tablet PCs, but still an important factor to consider. If you’re planning on traveling frequently with your tablet, a few grams or millimeters can make a big difference. Your best bet is to test drive a few options of differing weights and thicknesses at your local electronics store to get an idea of what you’re most comfortable with.
You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a tablet with more than 64GB of storage space – it’s one of the natural limitations of the device’s size. However, if you don’t think you need quite that much memory, you can save by going with one that’s got only 16GB. More importantly – and this is especially true if you think you’re going to need more than 64GB – check to see if the device has an SD card slot. If so, you can upgrade your tablet’s memory capability as you wish.
5. Audio Capabilities
The audio capabilities of most tablet PCs are average at best. If you’re planning on using yours for viewing the occasional YouTube video or news clip, it shouldn’t pose a problem. However, if you’re going to need higher quality audio, you may want to investigate alternative devices like mini-laptops or netbooks, which can support better sound.
Bonus: Residual Value
Be mindful of the residual value for your tablet computer. Apple products generally depreciate slower than other devices, meaning you can sell your tablet to the secondary market for more money.
Prices for most tablet PCs are constantly dropping. You can save big by purchasing a prior-year model or sacrificing one of the above features in the interest of getting a better deal. You can even buy gently used or refurbished tablets at a fraction of the cost. Remember, tablets are fun and practical, but you don’t have to spend a bundle to own one. Just investigate the benefits and drawbacks of each model, and give them all a test drive before you make your final choice.
What’s your deciding factor when purchasing a tablet? Please share in the comments below.