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Shopping Tips on Choosing a Tablet

Deb Miller Landau iQ Managing Editor

With so many tablets to choose from, here are some tips to help determine which ones are right for you.

Between pop-ups and banner ads, TV commercials and endless emails promising spectacular deals on all things electronic, buying a tablet these days can be challenging, if not confusing when you realize how many different models are available today.

To help ease the guesswork, it helps to know what you want and what fits your needs.

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Here are some tips on how to find a tablet that is right for you.

Before you start shopping, ask yourself these questions:

Do I want performance? Performance matters. For a fast, responsive experience on your tablet when you’re accessing the web, playing a game or switching between apps, you need a processor that will keep up with you. Look for a tablet with an Intel processor to ensure you’re getting the best tablet performance whether you chose a value tablet or a performance tablet.

Are screen size and resolution important? Inches matter. Seven-inch tablets are much different than 10-inch tablets. If you’re into watching high-definition movies and playing the latest games, consider bigger screen sizes and higher resolutions.

What operating system am I most familiar with? Android, iOS, Windows — the kind of operating system you choose determines the types of applications you’ll be able to run and games you’ll be able play.

How much memory will I need? While many tablets offer cloud-based storage, you might need more memory on your tablet, depending on how you plan to use it. If you plan to download large files, such as movies or high-definition games, more memory is a must. While it will come at a higher price, getting more memory allows you to access files even when you’re not connected to the Internet.

How much am I willing to spend? Let’s face it, price is a big factor, and prices vary dramatically. Tablets can be great for social interaction, movie watching and playing the occasional video game. If you’re looking for a better performing tablet with extra memory, or if you’re looking for higher resolution, the price will be higher than the sub-one-hundred-dollar devices. Consider your needs before being bedazzled by bigger price tags.

Test Your Tastes on These Tablets

Whether you’re a gamer, movie enthusiast, grandparent, kid or a workaholic, this list has something for you.

 

Asus_memo2

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 ME181C

Great for: Social Media Junkie

This lightweight (11.2 oz) little tablet gets up to 9 hours on a full charge. You can go with basic black or spruce things up a bit by choosing white, purple or gold. The bright screen (1280 x 800 pixels) makes it good for both scouring social media channels and watching reruns of “Mad Men.” Comes with headphone jack, micro-USB port and microSD card reader.

Screen Size: 8 inch

OS: Android, bolstered by Asus ZenUI

Processor: Intel Atom Z3745

Memory/Storage: 1 GB/16 GB

Camera(s): Front (2 megapixel) and rear (5 megapixel)

Price: $169*

 

Asus Transformer Pad 10.1 TF103C

Great for: Entertainment Binger

This hybrid tablet-slash-laptop has a vibrant (1280 x 800 pixel) screen, which makes it nice for gaming or watching movies. It’s a little heavy at 2.43 lbs, but the detachable keyboard is worth the extra weight. The heft also makes it feel durable and tough. There’s also a full-size USB port on the base, which is handy and unusual in many straight-up tablets.

This is a very affordable, reliable hybrid.

Screen Size: 10.1 inch

OS: Android, bolstered by Asus ZenUI

Processor: Intel Atom Z3745

Memory/Storage: 1 GB/ 16 GB

Camera(s): Front (0.3 megapixel) and rear (2 megapixel)

Price: $249*

Acer-Tablet-Iconia-Tab-8-A1-840FHD-gallery-03 

Acer Iconia Tab 8

Great for: Video Game Enthusiast

Weighing in at just 12.7 ounces, this highly portable tablet has a shiny aluminum back panel and fits easily into one hand. It offers up excellent resolution (1,920 x 1,200 pixels) for such a small device, which makes it a leader when it comes to graphics. It has a headphone jack, micro-USB port and a micro-HDMI port, which is a rarity on today’s tablets.

Screen Size: 8 inch

OS: Android

Processor: Intel Atom Z3745

Memory/Storage: 1 GB/16 GB

Camera(s): Front (2 megapixel) and rear (5 megapixel)

Price: $179*

 

Dell Venue 8 Pro

Great for: Commuter and Windows User

This is a very affordable tablet that is both compact and powerful, comparable in size to an iPad mini. It’s a slick little machine that runs Windows 8.1, which is nice for Windows users but has some functionality nuances (e.g., the main Windows button is on the upper right, instead of on the front, which takes some getting used to).

It has a long-lasting battery and impressive resolution (1,280×800 pixels) which makes it great for playing games and watching movies. You can also add an attachable keyboard, which helps with navigation.

Screen Size: 8 inch

OS: Windows 8.1

Processor: Intel Atom Z3740D

Memory/Storage: 2 GB/32 GB

Camera(s): Front (1.2 megapixel) and rear (5 megapixel)

Price: $149*

 

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Great for: Business Traveler

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is technically a tablet and a laptop with a detachable keyboard. The ample screen and HD resolution (2,160 x 1,440 display) make it a good choice if you plan to play games and watch movies.

If you’re looking to do any type of actual work on a tablet, this one can handle just about anything your desktop PC can — which is why you get the heftier price tag. It has a multi-position kickstand and comes with a stylus for scribbling notes. It has a USB 3.0 port, microSD support and a Mini DisplayPort. It is built to do work.

Screen Size: 12 inch

OS: Windows 8.1 Pro

Processor: Intel 4th generation Core i3

Memory/Storage: 4 GB/64 GB

Camera(s): Front (5 megapixel) and rear (5 megapixel)

Price: $799*

Kurio_7X_front_BIG

KD Interactive Kurio Xtreme

Great for: Kids

Designed especially for kids, this tablet comes pre-loaded with games, educational content and built-in parental controls. Users can add up to eight unique profiles, customizable for a variety of ages. It allows parents to set time limits keep content control over each user. The screen is protected by a cheery rubber bumper.

While the resolution pales in comparison to slicker tablets (only 1024 x 600 pixels), it is likely kiddos won’t care — they’ll just be psyched to have their own device they can load with their favorite books, games and apps. There’s a headphone jack, mini-USB port and microSD card slot, and a front-facing camera to allow Skyping with the grandparents.

Screen Size: 7 inch

OS: Android

Processor: Intel Atom Z2520

Memory/Storage: 1 GB/16 GB

Camera(s): Front (0.3 megapixel) and rear (2.1 megapixel)

Price: Starting at $129*

AARP_real

AARP Real Pad

Great for: Grandma or Uncle Luddite

For anyone new to tablets or easily overwhelmed by technology, this awesome 14-ounce tablet has an easy-to-use, intuitive interface and comes loaded with free user editorial guide, 24/7 access to customer service and a QuickFix Feature in case “control Z” isn’t enough.

It is truly ready to go right out of the box and is geared for an older generation, with larger text and icons and excellent tutorials, including how to easily use Wi-Fi and access your e-reader.

Screen Size: 7.85 inch

OS: Android

Processor: Intel Atom Z2520

Memory/Storage: 1 GB/16 GB

Camera(s): Front (2 megapixel) and rear (5 megapixel)

Price: $189*

 

When shopping for a tablet, take your time and get your hands on different devices in order to figure out what works best for you.

Test drive them. Ask yourself how it feels in your hands.

Play games, watch movies, send a tweet.

How does it feel?

Does it respond to your needs?

There are many great tablets on the market, but with a little determination you’ll find best one for you.

*Prices based on lowest price on date of publication.

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