How to Choose the Right Tablet for Your Lifestyle

by Bert Markgraf

Tablets fill the gap between smartphones and laptops. Many people discover that they often need a larger screen and more power than is available on their mobile phone, but they don't need a full-featured computer. Depending on the kind of tablet you get, you can use it like a smartphone, read books on it, write and edit documents and tweak photographs that you take. The key is to decide how you are going to use your tablet and get one that has the corresponding characteristics and features.


Portability is an important factor in the choice of a tablet. Most tablets range in size from 7 to 10 inches, measured diagonally across the screen. Check the actual height and width of the tablet itself, which may be slightly larger due to edges and buttons. Consider a case or cover if you think the screen will need protection. Some 7-inch tablets will just fit into a jacket pocket or small purse, but you may have to carry the 10-inch tablets separately.

Operating System

The operating system determines how well your tablet performs and what apps you can run. Apple's iOS is powerful and easy to use but, as of the date of publication, is only available on the 10-inch iPad. Android-based tablets are available in many models and sizes but performance, ease of use and quality vary widely. The Blackberry Playbook tablet is designed to work with Blackberry phones and performs well if you already use a Blackberry phone. Windows tablets are becoming more common and have the advantage of running Windows software on your tablet.


The operating system determines what your tablet can do, but the software available lets you carry out particular functions. If reading books is important for you, you can get one of the inexpensive e-readers. Apps can carry out many functions but, if your files are in Windows, you have to check whether they are compatible. Some tablets only allow the installation of approved apps while others let you install other software. If you are going to use the tablet for your work, make sure it can carry out the corresponding tasks.


The resolution of the tablet display is independent of its physical size, although larger tablets look grainy with low-resolution displays. Displays range from 1,024 by 600 pixels to 2,048 by 1,536 pixels. A high-resolution display looks sharper and smoother but costs more. Since personal preference plays a large part, it's a good idea to physically examine the model you are planning to buy.


Front-facing cameras let you use video chat such as Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts. Rear-facing cameras take other photographs or video. If you want high-quality photographs, get a tablet with a high-resolution, rear-facing camera. Check for high-definition video capabilities if you need that feature.


A tablet has limited functionality if it is not connected to the Internet. All tablets have Wi-Fi but many can't connect to cell phone networks. If you must have continuous connectivity, choose a model that has 3G, 4G or LTE capability, depending on your mobility service and the speed you need.

Battery Life

Most tablets can operate for a full day without re-charging, but battery life depends on how you use the tablet. Manufacturer's specifications range from five to 11 hours. Cell phone connectivity and video use a lot of power. If you plan to use your tablet extensively or with high-power applications, get the longest possible battery life.

About the Author

Bert Markgraf is a freelance writer with a strong science and engineering background. He started writing technical papers while working as an engineer in the 1980s. More recently, after starting his own business in IT, he helped organize an online community for which he wrote and edited articles as managing editor, business and economics. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from McGill University.

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