Information
By Darryl K.

Tablets are extremely popular and it is not hard to see why. They are convenient, easy to use and very mobile. However, buying a tablet is not easy. Some popular options include the Surface Pro, iPad, Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7, Dell XPS, Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700, Lenovo tablet and Samsung Galaxy Note tablet. Additionally, there are some cheap Android tablets that you may want to consider.

Before you choose a tablet, you should know a bit about the most common features and amenities. Following is a guide to some features that are included in most popular tablet models.

Operating System
The four main operating systems are Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows. These operating systems have their own display panel and programs. Most apps are made to be compatible with a single operating system.

If you use certain apps regularly, then you will want to make sure that these apps are compatible with the operating system on the tablet you are buying. You can jailbreak some tablets so that they can use apps that are not usually compatible with the system, but doing this voids the warranty on the device.

Connectivity
Nearly all tablets come with Bluetooth. However, there are three forms of internet connectivity to choose from: Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G. Wi-Fi is standard connectivity and comes with most tablets. Unless you really need to be online every minute of every day, Wi-Fi will probably be good enough for you.

Those who really need to be online all the time will want 3G or 4G connectivity, but it is important to be aware that this form of connectivity comes at a very high price. At the same time, 3G or 4G connectivity is a must for those who rely on GPS apps.

Processor
The processor is very important. It determines how fast the system will load and operate. Simply put, the faster the processor, the better the tablet. Common processing speed ranges from 1 GHz to 1.6 GHz.

Screen Size
The screen size on a tablet ranges from seven inches to eleven inches. However, 7 inch and 10 inch tablet screens are the most common.

7 Inch Tablet versus 10 Inch Tablet
There are pros and cons to each size. A 7 inch tablet is light and will easily fit in a pocket, purse or handbag. Such tablets weigh about 14 ounces. Ten inch tablets weigh from 1.3 lbs to 1.6 lbs and may be a bit too bulky for a small bag. At the same time, a larger screen makes it easy for a person to use the on screen keyboard for typing.

Touch Responsiveness
Tablets are meant to respond to touch. However, some tablets respond faster and better than others. It is a good idea to buy a tablet that has a high level of touch responsiveness, just as you would want to invest in a regular computer keyboard or mouse that does what you want to do, when you want it done.

Battery Life
The reason you are buying a tablet in the first place is because you want a mini, mobile computer that you can use while you are out and about. A tablet with a low battery life is pretty useless, to say the least. If you intend to use your new tablet a lot, then invest in one that has a long battery life.

At the same time, be aware that it is impossible to predict just how long a battery will last. A lot depends on what you do with the tablet. Watching a video or listening to music takes a lot more battery power than browsing the internet or reading an e-book.

Memory
The memory determines how much stuff you can store on your tablet. Some tablets come with 16 GB of memory space, although many have 32 GB and some models have up to 64 GB.

Having as much memory as possible is ideal. However, the more memory the tablet has, the more it is likely to cost. If you are not storing video, audio or graphic files on your tablet, then a 16 GB tablet may suit your needs just fine. If you need to store large files on the machine, then buy a device that has at least 32 GB.

Camera
All tablets now come with a camera that can film and take pictures. You will just want to make sure the camera has zoom, auto focus and flash so that pictures and videos are clear. If you are really into filming and taking pictures, then consider a device that has forward and backward facing cameras. These can be a lot of fun to work with, although a dual camera is certainly not one of the most important features to look for in a tablet.

Warranty
Always check the warranty terms and conditions to see how long the warranty lasts for and what it covers. Most tablets do not last as long as regular computers because they are taken out and about and so tend to wear out faster than a desktop or even laptop computer. The average warranty time for a tablet is one year.

You should check the warranty conditions to see what is and is not covered. In some cases, the manufacturer will simply replace a defective part. In other instances, the entire device can be replaced if it malfunctions. Other terms and conditions cover what forms of damage are and are not covered, who can do the repair work, etc.

Must Have Tablet Features
As you can see from the above list, there are many features to choose from. However, some are imperative while others are simply nice to have. A decent tablet needs to have Wi-Fi connectivity, a minimum 1 GHz processing speed, built in e-reader, decent speakers, a decent camera and a battery life of at least 8 to10 hours. A minimum one year warranty is also a must.

Darryl is an owner-partner at North Star, Inc. for Denver IT Consultingand Support, specializing in providing quality and reliable IT support for Denver and the surrounding areas of Colorado, and have been doing so since 1992.

North Star offers a complete IT department ideally suited for full outsourcing of your IT needs or for specific projects you need to implement in your business.