You’ve seen the commercials; some of your friends have them. You’ve even played games on them, and quite frankly, they’re a hoot. Now Stephanie at the office has one, and she’s walking around (even more) like she’s “all that”. Don’t you just hate her!?
So, now you’re considering purchasing your own tablet and quite frankly, you haven’t got a clue. There are “do-hickies”, and “what-cha-ma-foo-jits”, and thing-a-ma-bobbers about which you haven’t the foggiest. Good news, you’re not alone, and that’s what this article is all about. We here at Let’s Talk Tablets want to assist you in navigating your way through the bewildering maze of options, to find the tablet computer that’s right for you. May we suggest that you begin by first reading “A Guide for Finding the Right Tablet for You (Part 1)”. (It’s awesome! I wrote it)
Operating Systems / Availability and Access to Apps
When choosing a tablet, an important consideration is the operating system (OS). As defined by Wikipedia:
an operating system is software, consisting of programs and data that runs on computers, manages computer hardware resources, and provides common services for execution of various application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system. Without an operating system, a user cannot run an application program on their computer, unless the application program is self-booting
Wikipedia Source: Operating System
In short an operating system is the software that makes everything work together. If you buy a tablet, it will come with an operating system installed. It’s typically not something you purchase/add after the fact. So why am I bringing it up? Well, the operating system may or may not allow applications (apps). Therefore, some operating systems may be more or less preferable to your specific needs.
Some tablets come with “Windows” as the operating system. Depending on your requirements, this may or may not be a good thing. If you’re all about business than this operating system is ideal. However if you are looking to integrate apps, than you’ll be out of luck with this OS. As programs, apps are typically much smaller than Windows based programs. Nevertheless Windows OS cannot accommodate them.
Remember if you buy a particular brand of tablet, you will be tied its operating system. You can’t install Android Honeycomb on an iPad. In the same way, you cannot install Apple iOS on the Motorola Xoom. To a large extent, the operating system is the tablet. So, lets look at the some of the major operating systems on the market (in no particular order).
- Android (Honeycomb) Mobile OS
- Android Gingerbread OS
- Apple iOS
- HP webOS 3.0
- BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet OS
- Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Edition OS
- Microsoft Windows 8 Tablet OS (coming soon)
The biggest players in apps are Apple and Android. BlackBerry is well behind, but their numbers are beginning to climb. Also, it was recently announced that the BlackBerry Playbook is expecting to allow implementation of Android apps in late fall of 2011. Lastly we come to the HP TouchPad. UPDATE: As of right now (Friday, September 16, 2011), it’s future is uncertain. Although HP cancelled the TouchPad on Thursday, August 18, 2011, there’s reason to believe that the product may in fact, not be dead. Only time will tell on this one.
Screen Display: Power Consumption/Battery life/Size
This next topic involves your tablet’s display screen. From a user point of view, the screen is the primary interface to your tablet. It’s also the primary power draw. Eons ago (3 to 5 years back) many flat screen computer monitors were backlit using cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs). CCFLs have always been considered to be fairly energy efficient. They still are, however they’re not quite as efficient as LEDs. Therefore, many manufacturers are switching to LEDs for backlighting. Apple iPads for example, use LED-backlit displays with IPS technology. That being said, some tablet producers still use CCFLs. Anyway, it’s all about power draw. Less power draw equals longer run-time for the tablet (without a charge).
As a power source, most tablets use some form of lithium polymer battery, which is a powerful, reliable, long-running power source. Here’s a short list of run times you can expect from specific companies:
Operational Battery Life:
- iPads: Up to 10 hour battery life
- Samsung Galaxy Tabs: Up to 14 hour battery life
- Acer Tablets: Up to 8 hour battery life
This will be short and sweet. Tablets essentially come in one of two sizes. The screen dimensions of the smaller format are typically around 7” X 4”. The larger format ranges in the proximity of 10” X 6-1/2”. So if you’re not keen on lugging around a larger (and heavier) tablet, the smaller size may be your preferred format. The HP TouchPad falls into the “smaller” tablet category. On the other hand, you may find the smaller format to be too restrictive in terms of reading articles and/or game playing. The choice is yours.
Wi-Fi: What the heck is Wi-Fi?
I understand that for many of you, the answer to this question is dead obvious, but be patient, some of our readers are not in the loop when it comes to terminology like this. So, if you own a tablet, or plan to own a tablet, it will be equipped with Wi-Fi. With the exception of the computer cradle, Wi-Fi is a tablet’s main access to the Internet.
As defined by Wikipedia, Wi-Fi is defined as:
a branded standard for wirelessly connecting electronic devices. A Wi-Fi device, such as a personal computer (tablet PC), video game console, smartphone, or digital audio player can connect to the Internet via a wireless network access point. An access point (or hotspot) has a range of about 20 meters (65 feet) indoors, and a greater range outdoors. Multiple overlapping access points can cover large areas
Wikipedia Source: Wi-Fi
So if your home is not equipped with Wi-Fi than you’ll need to make it so; that is, if you want to use your tablet to surf the internet at home. To do this, you’ll need two things. First you’ll need an Internet service provider (ISP) and plan. If you’re already there, great. Next you’ll need some form of wireless router. Wireless routers can be purchased just about anywhere, however your best selection will be found at electronics retailers. Wireless routers typically start at around $30.00 and go up from there.
Many coffee shops, restaurants, and bookstores offer free Wi-Fi. You can also find free Wi-Fi in airports, and hotels, so you’re good to go in these locations. However what if you want to surf the net on the go, say as a passenger in a car, or while walking down the street? Then my friend, you’re going to want either 3G or 4G, which is what we’ll get into in the follow up to this series in “A Guide for Finding the Right Tablet for You (Part 3)”.
Stay tuned sports fans.