Tablets: Tablet buyers' guide What is a tablet?
Slim and lightweight, tablets are a new type of internet-enabled computer that work in a similar way to smartphones, with touchscreens and downloadable apps.
They first became mass market products in 2010 with the launch of the very first Apple iPad.
Since then various competitors have also released tablets including Samsung, Google and Amazon, though Apple remains the market leader and the name most people think of when considering a tablet.
Do I need a tablet, laptop or smartphone?
Although tablets are capable of running work applications they are mainly useful for entertainment on the go.
If you’re after a device that you can work on comfortably for long periods of time, or can store lots of large files, you might be better sticking to a laptop, and there's plenty you can do with a smartphone just as well as a tablet.
Take a look at the table below to work out what is the best option for you.
|Tablets vs Smartphones vs Laptops|
|Tablets||Quick to turn on|
Easy to use
Lots of apps to choose from
|Can be expensive|
Not all have expandable memory
Some lack 3G connectivity
3G tablets require a data plan contract with ongoing expense
Touchscreen typing can be difficult
Often necessary to buy a screen to protect from scratches and cracks
Cannot make phone calls or send texts.
|Portable entertainment and quick web browsing|
Playing games, taking notes.
|Smartphones||Pocket or handbag sized|
Can make calls and send texts
3G connectivity to access the web when you're out and about
Lots of apps for everything from work functions to games.
|Small screens can make web browsing, watching video and reading difficult|
Web browsing can drain the battery
Typing on a small touchscreen can be slow and uncomfortable.
|Multifunctional device you can easily keep with you when out and about.|
|Laptops||Great for all work functions, from spreadsheets to emails|
Full sized keyboard makes typing easy and comfortable
Very large storage capacity - around 500GB is typical (compared to 64GB offered by larger tablets)
Keyboard and trackpad can make photo-editing easier than on a tablet.
|Bulkier and heavier than a tablet or smartphone|
Can be slow to start up compared to tablets
3G connectivity requires a 3G dongle as an extra expense.
|Work functions such as Word and Excel|
Storing large files such as photos, films and music.
What can a tablet do for me?
As well as being simple to use and easy to carry around with you, tablets turn on quickly, providing almost instant access to the internet or your apps.
Apps can be downloaded to add an enormous range of functions, from drawing to games and work based activities like Word and Excel.
Here's a list of the most common uses for tablets:
- Reading books, newspapers and magazines
- Browsing the web
- Playing games
- Watching catch-up TV
- Sending and receiving emails
- Making video calls