Comments Off on A Guide for Finding the Right Tablet PC for You Part 3 Tablets & Technology

3G, TFT-LCD, 32GB, 1GB DDR2 memory, Built-in 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) wireless LAN, USB 2.0, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with ASDP stereo support, NVIDIA Tegra dual-core processor T20…

In short…WTF!?

Tarzan like tablet. Tarzan want one. City man speaking with fork-tongue make Tarzan ANGRY! *Pounds Chest*

Have to admit, I’m kinda siding with Tarzan here. Have you shopped for a tablet lately? The terms… the nomenclature… the lingo… HELP! Well, that’s exactly what we’re doing here at Let’s Talk Tablets. In fact, we’ve already started with:

A Guide for Finding the Right Tablet for You Parts 1
A Guide for Finding the Right Tablet for You Parts 2

In our last episode, we left off at 3G. Hey look, here’s the title:

3G/4G: Hunh!?

So, what exactly is 3G/4G? Good question. We’ve established what Wi-Fi is, and how you can be limited by the availability of Internet hotspots. So, now you want to hit the road, and still surf the Internet. Yes sir, if you had your way you’d have your tablet surgically implanted into your head sort of like iPad Head Girl (see video below), and you’d be a human-terminating, Internet-accessing, Tour de Force. “You’ll be back!” Thanks to the built-in GPS. (Let’s face it, otherwise you get lost in the mall).

According to Wikipedia 3G is defined as:

…a generation of standards for and mobile telecommunication services… Application services include wide-area wireless voice telephone, mobile Internet access, video calls and mobile TV, all in a mobile environment

In vary basic terms, 3G/4G allows telecommunications and Internet access via a system of telecommunication (cell phone) towers. If you find yourself in an area that has cell phone access, you can also surf the net. To further quote Wikipedia:

A new generation of cellular standards has appeared approximately every tenth year since 1G systems were introduced in 1981/1982. Each generation is characterized by new frequency bands, higher data rates and non-backwards compatible transmission technology

This should help explain all the buzz about 4G. In the most basic terms, 4G equates faster transmission rates, which result in faster/more responsive Internet access. As of right now, 4G is not available in Canada. Furthermore, few tablets if any, are currently 4G compatible, with the exception of the Dell Streak 7 4G Android Tablet, and perhaps a few others. Nevertheless, this trend isn’t likely to go away. Many manufacturers of tablet PCs have already announced that their products will soon be 4G compatible. These include the following:

  • The Motorola Xoom
  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab
  • The BlackBerry PlayBook
  • The HTC EVO View 4G

While this list is not exhaustive, I’m sure that the majority of manufacturers will follow suit. Furthermore, rumors abound about the iPad going to 4G (LTE). Tast-tay!

Are You Tied to Any One Data Plan?

The answer to this question isn’t a simple yes or no, so let’s break it down. If your tablets isn’t 3G or 4G, fugetaboudit! You don’t need a plan, unless you want to pay for a service that you won’t be using.

Nevertheless, it is possible to purchase a tablet with 3G/4G without being tied to any one data plan, however it will most likely cost you significantly more at the time of purchase. That’s okay, because you’re not bound by a contract. Many large electronics retailers sell 3G/4G tablets without a telecommunications plan. So, what would be the point of that? Excellent question. Two words: SIM cards.

SIM Cards

SIM cards (Subscriber Identity Modules) are removable integrated circuit memory chips used in a variety of telephony devices such as mobile phones, laptop computers, and tablet PCs. Telecommunication companies use the small device in part, to identify their subscribers when they are on their mobile communication devices. The lightweight and portable devices also hold personal identity information as well as a host of other information, such as phone numbers, text messages and other personal data.

SIM cards offer numerous advantages. First, you can purchase “pay-as-you-go” SIM cards. For example, if you are going overseas, you can purchase a “pay-as-you-go” card there. Obviously domestic carriers do not offer telecommunications coverage overseas. So, buy a SIM card there, and you’re all connected. Mind you, this is a more expensive way to go, minute by minute, however it can solve problems in the short term. For that matter you can also purchase a “pay-as-you-go” SIM card domestically in order to avoid having to sign up for a long term contract. This again is more expensive by the minute, however it can save money if you use it wisely.

Secondly, SIM cards can be easily transferred between mobile devices. So, if you’ve recently purchased a new smartphone and are dreading the idea of having to re-enter all those phone numbers, text messages, etc., you can simply remove the SIM card from your old phone and transfer it to your new one. It’s that simple. Lastly, if the battery in your mobile device is depleted, you can remove your SIM card and insert it into a nearby smartphone, tablet, etc. Now you can make a call from your friend’s device without using up your friend’s minutes. Carriers will apply the charges to the SIM card, not the device from which it is being used.

Not all tablet PCs accept pay-as-you-go SIM cards, so it’s important to inquire about this feature if it’s something you want or require.

Internet providers for 3G and/or 4G

If you plan to do a lot of calling and/or surfing the Internet, then signing up with a carrier is the way to go. Some of the advantages of going with a carrier would be cost. You can typically purchase a tablet for significantly less if you sign a contract. In comparison to purchasing a “pay as you go” SIM card, the rate per minute can be much lower.

I would be mindful of how you plan to use your tablet. For example if you plan to do a lot of surfing, than look for a program that offers unlimited monthly Internet access. If you plan to use your device as a phone, pay close attention to the rates in this department. Are there discounts if only certain people are called? What are the long distance rates like? Lastly, I would suggest that you also pay special attention to the length of a contract. The last thing you want is to be saddled to an expensive carrier for three to five years.

So, that’s it for today. Stay tuned for the conclusion to “a Guide for Finding the Right Tablet for You (Part 4)”.

UPDATE: A Guide for Finding the Right Tablet for You Parts 4

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