Choosing a Tablet

By now you’ve become very attached, perhaps even addicted, to your smartphone. The convenience of having access to your mail, facebook, meetup, calendar and all the fun apps in a tiny device still boggles my mind. For most of us, it means less time booting up the home computer. Our pc may have already lost its place of honor on the kitchen table, and be back on the desk in the office where it belongs.

If you’ve been suffering from tablet envy lately, you’re not alone. By April 2012 Apple had sold 67 million iPads. It reminds me of that saying about spiders, that at any given moment there is one within 10 feet of you. Now we can just about say that about iPads. At every playdate I take my daughter to, at least one mom pulls an iPad out of her diaper bag!

There Are Other Options

Since the debut of the iPad in January 2010, several manufacturers have introduced a tablet pc in various sizes and with different operating systems. To figure out which one is best for you, figure out the most important criteria.

Size Matters

Depending on where you will be using your tablet and the kind of bag you are generally carrying around, size will be a consideration. The iPad is pretty thin and light but still takes up a lot of space if you are used to carrying a small handbag. The moms I know who carry them, think nothing of stuffing them into their diaper bag and taking them everywhere. There are some much smaller tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Blackberry Playbook and the smaller models of the Nook at Barnes & Noble. Lenovo is launching a 7 inch IdeaPad powered by the Android operating system.

WiFi or Cellular Data

You will pay more for a tablet that has a cellular data, 3G or 4G connection and some people can’t live without constant access so this is an important feature for them. If you think you will need the cellular connection but don’t want to sign up for a monthly contract, you can get a pay as you go data plan for times when you are travelling. My parents travel by RV or motorcycle a few times a year and buy a pay as you go plan from AT&T for their iPad just for those trips. The rest of the time they are always using it near a WiFi source.

Operating System

You may already be a fan of one of the operating systems because of your smartphone. The two main ones, iOS and Android, offer the most apps. Blackberry, which was a big contender in the smartphone market until recently, and Windows, both have great operating systems but are way behind in the app race.

Price

Most tablets offer a relatively inexpensive base model with a small amount of storage and no cellular connection. The fully loaded model may be nearly double in price. Watch out for tablets that are discounted when you sign on for a two year cell contract, the discount won’t be worth it if you mostly use it on WiFi.

About the Author: Jennifer Goode is a technology expert and tablet nerd who loves to write about the best technology around.

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