In order to help you decide on a tablet, here is a list of 10 things that a tablet must have for you to even consider buying it.

  1. Big display: By big display I mean a display that is big enough for you and for your intended use of the tablet. If you intend to do mostly web browsing and stuff like that, a 7 inch screen would be big enough. If, however, you intend to watch video’s with the family or do photo editing or play high resolution games, then a bigger screen size would perhaps suit you better. The intended mode of transport must also be taken into consideration. If you intend to carry it around in your handbag, then it must typically be smaller than your handbag. If, however, you are going to carry it around in a briefcase or its own carry case, then go as big as you like. Just remember that with increased size comes increased weight, and the heavier it is the less comfortable it will be to use for extended time periods.
  2. Good Operating System: Can the tablet’s operating system do what you want it to do? At the moment, the most proven operating systems are the iOS from Apple, and the Android 2.2 and Android 3 (or Honeycomb) from Android. Until they can successfully convince the critics, rather stay away from Windows 7 or webOS for the moment.
  3. Lots of Applications: The availability of applications is a major must-have for any tablet. Applications extend the functionality of the device and typically provides more entertainment and productivity. Apple has a huge collection of apps available for its iPad and iPad 2, some free and others not, so you don’t have any worries there. Android also has more than enough apps available, and isn’t as strict as Apple when it comes to accepting new apps, meaning you could easily write your own apps and make it available to everyone else for free or at a cost.
  4. The Right Price: This is something only you can decide on. It is important to keep in mind that you most often get what you pay for, so it is best not to go for the cheapest no-name brand made in China. That being said, the most expensive ones are also not always the best. Compare features and functionality, then bring in price.
  5. Value for Money: This one is a follow-up on the previous point. Is it worth its price? Does its features and functions justify the price? This all depends on what you value most. If you value luxury more than practicality, be prepared to pay for it.
  6. Two Cameras: Only if you want it. It does add value (and price) to the device. Use it for video calling, taking video’s and pictures, etc. If you don’t need two cameras, you can consider a cheaper tablet with just one or even no cameras. Once again, it depends on what you value.
  7. Excellent Virtual Keyboard: Since a tablet uses a touchscreen interface, the only way for you to communicate with it and through it is by using its virtual keyboard. Therefore, it must be easy and comfortable to operate. The virtual keyboard must be very responsive without making a lot of mistakes. Test drive a few tablets’ virtual keyboard to see which one is more comfortable and efficient for you.
  8. 3G connectivity: An absolute must if you live in South Africa or any country where Wi-Fi hotspots are not readily available or not in your neighbourhood. Even if you are lucky enough to have Wi-Fi hotspots close by, a tablet is meant to be a mobile companion and 3G connectivity is crucial to achieving that.
  9. Flash Support: If you plan to use your tablet as a partial computer replacement, this is a must. Many websites today use flash, and if your tablet doesn’t support it, your web browsing experience will be seriously crippled. Apple decided that Adobe’s Flash is a potential security risk that it does not need, hence the iPads don’t support flash. Android, on the other hand, have shown them that they actually do need it, and Android operating systems from version 2.2 onwards support flash.
  10. Good Battery Life: Once again, a tablet is meant to be a mobile companion. You therefore don’t want to be limited in that mobility with a power cable every few hours. Depending on what you intend to use your tablet for, you should consider what kind of battery life you require and can settle for. The longest is obviously the best, but comes at an increased price. Whatever you decide to do with your tablet, you must be able to get at least a few hours of work out of it before it needs recharging. Remember that web browsing uses more battery power than just running applications. Most tablets have separate battery life specifications for web connected and non-connected activities.

So that is my list of must-have features for a tablet. I hope it proves to be helpful if you are looking at buying a tablet.


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