Choosing a Tablet

Need a few pointers about what to look for in a tablet? Check out the video – or make your way down the page.

Identification

There are three key types of operating system (the software platform which runs all the apps and functions on your tablet).

1. iOS

Apple’s own dedicated system, designed for its range of iPads and iPhones.

2. Android

Apart from Apple and Microsoft, this is the system used by most manufacturers. Versions are named after types of confectionery (such as Jelly Bean or Honeycomb).

3. Windows RT

The first Windows operating system built specifically for mobile devices. Found on tablets like the Microsoft Surface RT.

 

Size

Tablets vary in size, with touchscreens usually between 7 and 10 inches.

Smaller tablets are light and easily portable, and are generally fine for things like browsing the web, watching TV and reading...

...but larger tablets make active tasks like word processing or photo and video editing much easier.

Connectivity

All tablets allow you to connect to the internet via wireless broadband.

That’s fine if you’re mainly using your tablet at home or at work, but if you’re out and about all the time, look for a tablet with 3G or 4G connectivity.

3G tablets work in the same way as the internet on your smartphone. You'll need a data plan with a mobile provider – this will typically cost about £10 per month.

Tethering

If your tablet doesn’t have built-in 3G, you can sometimes tether it to your mobile phone, sharing the phone’s 3G or 4G connectivity.

Storage

How much memory you need depends on what you’ll be using your tablet for.

If it’s just for browsing the internet and sending the odd email, you can get by with as little as 16GB. But if you’re interested in storing videos and photos and downloading lots of apps, that memory will soon get used up.

As a rough guide, a two hour HD film uses about 3.6GB, while 12 albums of music will take up about 1GB.

Increasing storage

On many tablets, there is a memory card slot - useful for expanding the memory of your device.
If you find you run out of space, you can also save
content to the internet (cloud storage).

Energy

Tablets have in-built batteries, which are recharged by plugging the tablet into the mains.

But battery life can vary dramatically (between three and thirteen hours) so if you’re going to be on the move a lot, you’ll need a longer battery life or some kind of remote charging device.

Cheap tablets sometimes have a shorter battery life, but you can find inexpensive models that will allow you to watch video for as much as nine hours.

Resources

Working out your budget in advance will help focus your options.

Tablets can cost between £90 and over £700.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD (16GB) and Google Nexus 7 (also 16GB) are both good tablets from dependable brand names. Both cost less than £200.

Top tip

Many manufacturers offer refurbished models
that are often 10% to 20% cheaper.

Need some more pointers? Try Which? for £1

Which? has spent hours putting over 70 tablets through their paces – and each one’s gone through scores of different tests.

As a Which? member you can read our reviews and recommendations in full. You can find out what our Best Buys are as well as discovering the tablets to avoid.

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