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Tablets Buying Guide

Do you need a tablet for work, for your kids, to carry everywhere you go, or just for leisure? This buying guide covers the basics you need to know, and more!

Types of Tablets

General Purpose Tablets

You would have the widest range of tablets to choose from this category, ranging from cheap to expensive, from small sized to very large ones. You may use your tablet to surf the internet, edit documents, play music and watch movies. Majority of tablets on the Ghanaian market can perform these tasks to some extent.

Tablets for Business

Whether you want to use it as a laptop replacement or to conveniently run your work applications out on the field, several capable options are available including the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Apple iPad Air 2 and the Panasonic ToughPads series.

Gaming Tablets

Gaming enthusiasts have the option to play high-end graphics games on their gaming tablets, either on the move using the touch screen or at home using a gamepad. The Nvidia Shield gaming tablet is android-based and the Razer Edge gaming tablet is Windows-based.

Tablets for Kids

Few brands, like Amazon Fire Kids Edition, VTech and LeapFrog, make educational tablets specifically for kids aged 5 years and younger. However, many older kids would be comfortable using normal consumer tablets. In such cases, you have to install the appropriate apps and parental control features on the device. It is also advisable to get toughened cases, like the Armorbox Kido Series, which can withstand physical stresses a kid might subject the device to.

eReader Tablets

If you would use your tablet mainly for reading and maybe surfing the web, an eReader may be just what you need. Popular eReaders are Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Features to look out for in a Tablet

Tablet Operating System

The most popular tablet-based operating systems are Google's Android, Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows 10.

Google Android

Google's Android tablets have the biggest price range, the most varied hardware choice, and the widest flexibility for installing and managing apps. Google Play is the main store for browsing the huge app collection available for download. Also, Amazon's Appstore market is accessible by installing the Amazon Underground app. However, apps on android tablets aren't always optimised to fit bigger screens.

Apple iOS

Apple's iOS Tablets have the best standardised hardware, the most familiar software menus and a better user experience for upgrading the operating system. Apple's App Store has the biggest app collection.

Microsoft Windows 10

The advantage Windows 10 tablets have is they run the same operating system and applications found on Windows laptops and desktops. The Windows Store tablet apps collection is also big but not as comprehensive as Apple and Google's store.

Screen Size and Screen Technology

Smaller, more portable tablets are sized around 6 inches. Most tablets would be sized from 7 to about 10 inches and will be suitable for many purposes. Tablets bigger than 10 inches are also available, such as the 18.4 inch Samsung Galaxy View tablet. Additionally, tablets with higher screen resolutions, like 2,732x2,048 pixel, have sharper displays. The screen technology on the tablet is particularly important because of how you will manipulate the menus and also as the screen is more susceptible to break when the tablet falls. Available screen display technologies include LCD, retina and OLED display. Gorilla Glass and Sapphire are screen glass damage resistance technologies, with varying degrees of toughness. Tablet accessories like tempered glass screen protectors and tablet cases can offer extra screen damage protection.

Tablet Processors

Tablet processors are either based on ARM or x86 architecture. Types of ARM processors (aka System-on-Chip or SoCs) include Cortex-A Series, Nvidia Tegra K1, Apple A8X, Qualcomm Snapdragon and Samsung Exynox. x86 processors are generally used in Windows tablets. AMD and Intel manufacture x86-based processors. Usually, a processor's performance is judged by its clock speed. But other core elements of a tablet processor include the number of cores, the GPU type and 32/64 bit capability. Generally, but not always, the bigger the processing numbers the faster the tablet works, and the newer the processor version the longer the battery would last.

Tablet Memory & Storage

The memory capacity of a tablet affects how it can be used. The memory size installed by manufacturers range from 1GB and upwards. For example, ASUS ZenPad Z580CA has 4GB of memory. A bigger memory generally improves the tablet's capability to run several application concurrently. The size of your tablet's internal storage determines the number of applications and media files it can store at a time. Sizes could range from 8GB to as big as 256GB and beyond. Except tablets like the iPad, many devices also have micro-SD card slots to extend their storage capacities.

Tablet Camera

The more megapixels the camera has, the better the picture quality may be. But equally important is the camera's sensor size. Sometimes a tablet would produce better pictures, especially in dim areas, if it had less megapixels and a bigger sensor size. Another consideration is if the camera supports HD video recording and at what frame rate. Also consider other features like the camera's aperture size and if your device supports optical image stabilisation, flash, autofocus, panorama, etc.

Network Connectivity

Several tablets have the option of selecting a Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with cellular network version. Cellular versions are usually 4G and/or 3G capable. Choose a tablet based on your preferred network connectivity, otherwise always get a tablet that has Wi-Fi and cellular access.

Other Tablet Features

Other features you may want to consider before purchasing a tablet are: - Tablet keyboards: magnetic, foldable, touchpad, etc - Battery life: A good battery should last at minimum 7 hours of normal use - Stylus compatibility - Fingerprint scanner: Used in applications like biometric authentication - Wireless battery charging - Heart-rate monitor - NFC (near field communication): Used in sharing information between with other devices which are in close proximity and in making mobile payments. - USB Type-C: A USB connector shape compatible across several hardware devices including Notebooks, Tablets, Smartphones, Hard drives, USB flash drive, Hubs and Monitors. - Dustproof and water resistance

What’s your Budget

eReader tablets are generally low budget devices. But Android tablets cover the widest price range, from very cheap to very expensive. Apple tablets usually feature higher-end hardware and command higher prices. The higher the size or the specifications of your device, the higher the price, and the closer the tablet mimics a laptop.