The tablet craze has finally come to the West Coast. Do we really know what it’s all about? Do we really need one instead of ‘wanting’ one? Is this something that we have to have to keep up with the neighbour?
This information is for the newbies and the undecided with which we hope you will be able to make an informed decision when taking the big step.It is indeed a big step as a decent, branded tablet cost money. And if you’re going to go with a cheapie import, take note, investigate and ask the right questions before parting with your hard earned money.
There are a multitude of brands and models available, so making a choice won’t be easy. As with any so-called gadget, this can be a serious tool if purchased for that reason but the tool must fit its purpose otherwise you’ll be sitting with another useless piece of junk.
First and foremost – what do you need it for? Is it for leisure, work or education? Will you use it for e-mails, web browsing, social networking, watching movies, playing music and taking the occasional snapshot? Will it be all of this and document handling such as e-books, work documents and business? The last (education) falls into the ‘work’ category.
The second in your decision making will be the brand / make. Here we have two primary markets – grey imports or locally distributed brands. A local “we’ll buy your unwanted stuff” store sells tablets for just over a thousand Rand but as with most of these “unknown” brands, there’s always a catch. In this case the only 3G modems supported have been discontinued some time ago. Even though the Wi-Fi units are cheaper than the 3G units, you’re left stranded with limited access.
Another consideration – what if something does go wrong? Is there local support to carry your product warranty? Is it compatible with our local cellphone networks and 3G modems as offered by our cellphone network providers? If it is 3G/4G capable, was it approved by ICASA (South African standards on wireless communications)?
Now that we’ve established the basic criteria for our tablet, where do we go from here? There are two choices regarding brand – Apple or Android? Todays common tablets are mostly more powerful and have a better display than the iPad available, and in general also cheaper (depending on it’s capabilities). The iPad operates on Apples’ system (iOS) which binds us to the way Apple does business. Downloadable applications exceed a 140 000 but in most cases these have to be purchased through the Apple i-Store. There is also a compatibility issue with Microsoft documents – but you can buy an “app” for that if you need it.
Other than the Blackberry QNX and the Windows operating systems, the most common one in use is Android. Most modern phones come equipped with some version of Android so this might be the easiest choice you’ll be making. And if you familiar with Android you will already be aware of the multitude of “apps” available in paid for and free versions.
The last of your crucial decisions would be the capability of the unit. Do you need 3G or will Wi-Fi suffice? What is the battery life and re-charge time and can you get another battery down the line? As mentioned, 3G units are more expensive but offers portability of a cellphone. Does it have to have a big screen or do you need a smaller more portable unit?
Two choices are most common amongst screen sizes – starting at the bottom is a 7″ display with 10″ (or 9.7″ as is becoming a standard these days) at the top. Nothing in between. The technology used on the touch screens is not that important for you as a user, as long as it does what your fingers says it must. Look at built-in storage capacity, camera front and back (if needed) and blue-tooth capability (for speakers, headsets, keyboards and the like). And cable connectivity like USB slots, HDMI and memory card expansion.
A good idea is to use the traditional ‘walk-in’ store for a test-drive. Go and ‘feel’ the different models and sizes. See what’s too heavy, too big or too small. Investigate online, talk to friends or sales staff to get a better understanding of the pros and cons on specific models.
If you’ve set a budget for your purchase, consider carefully if the desired unit is more expensive. Bargain hunt because that extra you want and don’t need right now, might come in handy in future. Look at the price of accessories for the unit, a car charger perhaps or a gaming add-on.
We hope that the above will come in handy in your decisions and not confuse you more. If in doubt, give us a call – our advice is free.