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How to buy the best tablet
12th April, 2021 |
We demand a lot from our devices. We want them to be a combination of the ultimate entertainment machine, a powerhouse to drive up productivity while also having the chutzpah to give free rein to our creative impulses. And our demands are no different whether we’re looking at the latest phones, the smartest laptops or the handiest tablets.
To help buyers searching for the best tablet this year we’ve put together this handy ‘how to’ buyers guide. Whether you’re an Apple obsessive or looking at the latest update from Amazon or Samsung, we’ll help you find the best tablet for your needs.
Whatever decision you finally make, the first thing any sensible owner must do is to get the very best insurance for a gadget in place. Call the dedicated team of insurance specialists at Gadget Cover to discuss your options.
All about tablets
The simplest way to think of a tablet is as a handheld computer which is smaller than a laptop but larger than a smartphone. By taking some of the best features from both devices, makers like Apple, Samsung and Huawei have created a kind of hybrid device.
Operating on a specially adapted mobile operating system, a tablet won’t have the same software or hardware components as a laptop or desktop computer. It probably won’t have a keyboard or mouse, instead you’ll use the touch-sensitive screen to control the tablet.
Tablets are a very versatile tool and are often a good choice over a laptop in terms of features and cost. They are particularly useful for browsing the internet, playing videos, movies and music, displaying photos, and enjoying the huge variety of apps and games on offer. Some tablets are seriously powerful and very useful for those working and creating while out and about.
Pros of buying a tablet
- Light and portable – Tablets tend to be around a third of the weight of a standard laptop and with a screen size of between 7-10 inches they easily fit into most bags and backpacks. Great for those on the move.
- More affordable than a laptop – Not everyone needs the capabilities of a desktop computer at home. And if you’re just looking to update your social media, do some light web shopping or watch the latest series on Netflix, a tablet can easily fit the bill. And when you think that the price of a decent tablet can range between £100-£800 whereas a laptop will set you back from between £500-£1400+ there’s a clear saving on price.
- Quick start-up – Tablets run on pared-down systems compared to desktop and laptop computers. So, start-up speeds tend to be faster than their more powerful brethren.
- Excellent for movies and other mobile entertainment – Tablets really are the bee’s knees when it comes to entertainment. A quick bit of gaming during the commute? A final episode of your latest favourite TV series before bed? Lighter than a laptop but with a bigger and better screen than your phone, there’s really no contest.
- Great for web browsing – From quickly checking a yummy recipe for this evening’s family meal or looking for a new winter coat, tablets are perfect for web browsing.
- Useful for business presentations – Simply upload your presentation to your tablet. That way it’s simple to share your great content no matter what meeting room or office you're in. And slipping a small tablet into your bag rather than a hefty laptop will save your shoulders from a lot of muscle ache.
- Child friendly – With so many budget tablets on the market they’re a great option if you want to let your child surf the web, play games or access online learning resources. All without the need to queue up to get on your home computer or laptop. And with tablets such a success in the modern classroom it could also give your child a head start in life.
If you do let other members of your family use your tablet then remember that our gadget insurance cover can be extended to your immediate family. So, if someone loses or damages your tablet then you’re also covered.
Cons of buying a tablet
- No keyboard and mouse – If you’re going to be typing long documents and doing many office tasks then having no keyboard or mouse can be a big drawback.
- Low processor speeds – There is a big range when it comes to processor speeds in tablets but if you’re going to be performing intense activities such as image editing, rendering video or manipulating complex spreadsheets then a laptop might be more suitable.
- Less portable than a smartphone – Yes, tablets are great for being on the move, but they’re unlikely to fit in your pocket.
- Lack of ports – Flash memory, USB and HDMI ports are not always included on tablets so make sure you check beforehand. This can be a big pain for some users, although there are ways around this problem.
- Easily damaged – We all know how easy it is to damage your smartphone’s glass screen, and your tablet will have a similar problem. Their thin screens are not designed for impacts and you’ll always need to be careful of bumps and drops. That said, many owners add a protective cover or tablet case to be on the safe side.
- Can cause discomfort – Tablets are so portable that we often end up using them in a whole variety of situations. And with their entertainment and web browsing potential it’s all too easy to use them for extended periods. However, over time this can easily cause problems with hands, wrists, backs and necks – so always be mindful of how long you are using them for and any strains you are putting on your body.
- Not as good for reading books – Many users enjoy reading eBooks on their tablets. However, if you’re going to be doing this often then you might consider investing in a dedicated eBook reader. They’re even more lightweight and portable than tablets and their ‘electronic paper’ screen is much easier on the eyes than a tablet display.
Buying guide - what to look out for in a tablet
7 inches or under – Small, cheap and often cheerful these are great for kids and perfect for one-handed use during a commute. They can be a decent Kindle alternative if you’re a book lover as well as a telly addict.
7.1 – 9 inches – With a bigger screen these are getting heavier but still pretty portable. Popular models like the Huawei Mediapad M5 8 and iPad mini come in this size.
9.1 - 11 inches – You’re really going to need two hands for these, but with that bigger screen they can be used for a wider variety of tasks. From the great-value Lenovo Tab P11 to the high-end iPad Pro 11-inch there’s sure to be one to fit any budget.
Over 11 inches – More power and bigger screen space, these are designed for getting work done. Users often couple them with a keyboard, a stylus or both. Think the iPad Pro 12.9 or the Microsoft Surface Pro 7.
If you want to watch movies, play games or edit photos then you’ll want to focus on screen resolution. The higher the pixels per inch (PPI), the more detail you’ll see in photos, videos and games.
iPadOS – Incredibly easy to use, the slick and simple iPadOS is Apple's operating system for iPads. iPhone users will feel instantly at home and your devices will be easy to link up. You also have access to the App Store with thousands of apps designed specifically for iPads.
Android – From Samsung and Lenovo to Google’s Nexus tablets the Android operating system is hugely popular among both manufacturers and users. Its main benefit is that it’s easy to customise and adapt to your own needs. While Google’s Play Store offers a huge variety of apps, be aware that not all are compatible with every tablet.
Fire OS – Based on Android, Fire OS is only available on Amazon tablets and is focused on Amazon’s own products. The app store has a smaller selection than the Google Play Store, but it still has the most popular apps, such as Facebook and Netflix.
Windows 10 – A truly cross-platform operating system you’ll be able run your Windows apps and programs just like you would on a laptop. And with the addition of a keyboard, you won’t be far off a laptop experience.
If you have a favourite video streaming service or other software that you’d be lost without then check it’s available on your tablet before you take the plunge. Check out the four biggest app stores online so you can have a look at the apps that are available.
If you’re looking to do some web browsing then most tablets should give you a battery life of around seven hours. However, if you’re using a cellular connection or playing high-definition games and videos, then the battery life could be a lot shorter. If you’re a frequent user of your tablet then look for a battery life approaching 10 hours.
Taking pictures might not be the primary reason for purchasing a tablet but a decent camera is a great extra to have, particularly if you’re a social media obsessive. While all tablets will feature a front-facing camera for making video calls, many also include a rear-facing camera for taking snaps and short videos.
There seem to be countless choices when it comes to tablet processors – Snapdragon, Intel, A12 Bionic… the list can become bewildering. The processor is essentially the tablet’s brain and is used to drive all its functions. Single-core processors are the most basic and really only useful for basic web browsing and processes. While quad-core or even octa-core processors are the fastest and needed to run high-end apps and tasks.
If you’re wanting to store some of those great pictures and videos then you’re going to want decent internal storage. Unless you’re a light user, you’ll probably want at least 32GB of storage. Although some tablets go up to 128GB and beyond.
Also check to see if your tablet has a memory card slot, which allows you to double or even triple your storage capacity.
Consumer website Which? gives us an example of what we can expect from tablets at each price point:
Less than £100
Great for watching videos, a bit of web surfing and light reading. But don’t expect large storage, premium build or performance at this price range.
£100 - £200
Some great value models can be found in this price range with decent speed and screen quality. Storage begins to creep up.
£200 - £400
You’ll start to find premium models with a bit more oomph, sleek metal designs, higher resolution screens and great battery life. You’ll also start to find those coveted Apple products like the iPad mini.
£400 or more
There’s a big range here as tablets start to move from being a secondary device to a laptop replacement such as the 2-in-1 Microsoft Surface Go 2. More features, bigger screens and fast processors are the order of the day here. Think of spending closer to £800 if you’re looking to buy a 256GB iPad Air, iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface Pro 7. And don’t forget all the accessories!
Remember that if you do invest in accessories then Gadget Cover will replace any accessories (up to £150) if they are lost, stolen or damaged at the same time as your gadget.
Arrange gadget insurance with Gadget Cover
Rest assured that whatever your purchase decision, Gadget Cover’s team of insurance specialists will always be there to find the best gadget insurance policy for the best price.
Our policies can include protection for your gadgets from accidental damage, liquid damage, theft, breakdown and unauthorised usage. For an extra premium, loss can also be covered.
Tablets are great for holidays, so if you’re taking yours abroad then cover is also automatically extended to include use anywhere in the world, up to 180 days in any one year.
Call today for a quote. Isn’t it time you got gadget insurance?
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.