Buying a New Tablet? Here are some considerations.

Posted Dec 21, 2012 at 12:52 pm in Threads > Smartphones & Tablets

I was in Best Buy the other day and overheard a conversation between the salesperson and a customer. Not once did I hear the questions that should have been asked. No surprise there, it was Best Buy. However, being in the Christmas spirit, I decided to assist the customer while the sales rep ran off to see if there were any Minis in stock.

Here were the questions I asked the customer to help them decide rather than have the salesperson pick for them.

1) How much do you want to spend?

Really a simple question, but there are hidden aspects to the question. Are you willing to have a monthly bill for 3G or LTE connectivity? Do you need to pay for that connectivity? If you have a hot spot option on you phone, you don’t need to add that monthly bill. Have you looked at the prices in the various app stores for the apps you are most likely to use? Which leads to question number 2…

2) Are you already heavily invested in a application market or e-book service?

For anyone who has owned an iSomething, Android device, Kindle or Nook. Chances are you have made some purchases. If you have dropped some serious coin into a specific vendor, start looking there unless you are fed up with that service. Also remember Amazon AppStore purchases can be loaded on any Android device by loading the Amazon AppStore application. If you have owned a Nook, but only purchased books, they can be read on Android or iOS by installing the Nook reader.

3) What are you planning to use the tablet for?

Remember, a tablet will not replace a desktop or laptop. However, from personal experience, I can use my tablet for 90% of what I would normally do on a PC. I have found I can use the tablet for almost everything I do at work. My situation is likely different than most as I work mostly from the command line on Unix systems. The office applications available on Android are very usable, some I find more intuitive than the latest release of Microsoft Office.

If you are looking for something you can take anywhere, look into the 7 inch form factor. If you are looking for a coffee table addition, something you wont take out of the house often, look into the 10 inch/larger tablets.

The 7 inch tablets, for the most part, fit into a jacket pocket, jeans pocket or cargo shorts/pants pockets easily. The one big exception is the iPad Mini. It is too large to fit in most pockets. Check the size of the device depending on what you are planning to use it for. Also remember, you will likely get a case which will add some size to the tablet. If it is a tight squeeze without a case, it won’t fit with one on.

4) Do you like to tinker and customize?

If you answer yes here, chances are you want Android.

If you answer no or are unsure, spend some quality time with the display unit. Make sure you feel comfortable with the layout. Ask questions on how to organize applications. This is one of my biggest gripes with the Fire, Nook and iDevices. Initially it is easy to find apps when not much is loaded. When you start adding to you devices portfolio of apps, things become quite cluttered and hard to find. Especially if it is a shared device among family members.

5) Storage options

While it is great to have cloud storage, it may not always be accessible. Local storage is a must. Even if you don’t think you will need all that space, spend the extra $30-$50 for a little more storage. Especially if the device does not have a SD card option. It is always better to have it available and not use it than realize you need more and can’t add it.

My personal taste?

I bought a Nexus 7 16GB, the 32GB wasn’t available when I purchased mine. I was heavily invested in the Play Store thanks to my large collection of Android devices. I own or have owned a Droid Incredible, Viewsonic G-Tab, Acer A100, Galaxy Nexus (Verizon), Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (Kids) and my Nexus 7. We also have an iPad 2 that was given to us for the kids to use. I rarely touch the iThing, except to plug it in/put it away when the kids leave it laying around.

I have found the battery life in my phone has improved greatly due to me using the tablet for everything. Rarely do I get on my PC at home since getting the N7. It makes a great second screen when viewing TV. It is the perfect size to read books on especially in bed. It is also great for watching Netflix or any other streaming service.

My biggest advice.

Think before you buy and avoid the no-name brands.

There is no sense in taking a chance on an offbrand when Asus, Acer, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and some others stand behind these devices pretty impressively. I have had repairs done by Acer on the A100 nearly a year after purchase still under warranty. Asus has just as awesome of hardware support on their devices. If you didn’t know they made tablets, chances are you don’t want that tablet. It doesn’t matter how good their toasters are.

If you are looking at Android, at a minimum look for something with Ice Cream Sandwich but preferably Jellybean.

If you are looking at a Mini, I would recommend waiting until Gen 2. I personally can’t justify the price tag for the right to own something with and Apple on it. (Sorry, I let my personal opinions sneak in.)

If you are looking at a Surface/Windows RT tablet. Remember it will not run the same programs you have on your PC. Wait for the “Pro” version if you are looking for a Windows tablet that runs programs you already own. Be prepared to spend some cash on a “Pro” version as it will be essentially a ultra book.

And the last thing, if the salesman says “it can run Flash”. Ask to speak to someone else. Flash went the way of the dodo on mobile devices. You would need to side load it in Android and load a browser that supports flash. Forget about it with an iPad. Thanks to Walmart for that piece of advice, from a different trip to a store.

  • Thomas Biard

    Excellent write-up! I think this is something a lot of people don’t think about and they either go out and overbuy just because they saw a commercial for it, or they underbuy because it was on sale and only $99 and has a cute picture of an Android shaped Ice Cream Sandwhich in the corner of the ad.
    You sir get major plus points for contributing such a great article to the threads.

    • dharr18

      Thank you for the plus points. :D

      • WlfHart

        Well written post indeed! Thanks for the contribution.

  • justineats

    Excellent…..I did this same thing with my friends wife. She wanted to surprise him with a tablet for Christmas and I found out everything that he wanted and determined the Transformer Infinity was his best choice. When she went to purchase it at Best Buy they kept trying to talk her out of it and to get the IPad instead. It was ridiculous she was text me and I assured her that I had done my homework for her. The salesman was sad when she denied him. He didn’t even ask these simple questions.

  • ldouglas64

    Great information. I have seen too many people buying a tablet because its they saw it in an ad or because its the latest status symbol (ie iPad) and get angry because it didn’t meet their expectation / needs. By following the advice in this thread, anyone who is not tech savvy, will save themselves a lot of grief, anger & frustration.

  • wickedme

    Nice and helpful! I think a lot of people need to read this, especially when there is so much hype about those ithings.

  • scubabum

    Good article.
    My take: iPads are simple to use. Androids allow personal customization. Windoze8? furget-bout-it. Get an Android tab with SD card slot (hint: Samsung or Asus).

  • thymeless

    While I think #2 is certainly something to consider, it’s also the starting point for both the Sunk Costs dilemma and the Sunk Costs fallacy.

    Mostly it’s about software purchases then as books and such are, or can be made platform independent. Most people aren’t as tied to a platform as they might think at first glance.

    • tkarel

      “…or can be made…” re-inforces point 4. Unfortunately, the people who need dharr18’s wisdom most are least likely to tinker.

  • digvijaya07

    Great… Helpful to many of Buyers :))

  • impromark

    Really nice writeup man! This sort of thing is what they need to show the Best Buy “experts”. They can read your writeup in five minutes and be better equipped to sell a tablet then whatever training they actually take!


    • amIT29

      for what i knw they just keep ranting press kit n wateva d ads says.

  • amIT29

    Excellent tips…i wud even check for hdmi n usb host support (lower range tabs)
    battery size and is it replaceable or dock with extra battery
    lastly do hold test tosee how comfortable n easy to handle in ur hand

    • dharr18

      The funny thing there, I rarely use HDMI on any of my Android devices. Usually I do it once, and then never again. That could be just me, but I have a few Roku I use for streaming to TVs.

      USB Host Support is something I have used many times. A little trick I have learned. You can use the USB Host adapter to boot into recovery if you do not have a PC available with the Nexus 7. I cracked the USB port on my original N7, it was replaced by Google/ASUS. The N7 would not be recognized by my PC, but I still could get into recovery by using the USB Host adapter.

      Another neat trick, I can use the USB Host Adapter and run ADB commands from my tablet to my phone or vice versa.

  • Luke Haviland

    I think the people that need to read this…probably never will

    • dharr18

      Unfortunately true.

  • JayB95

    I’m hoping for a Asus tf300 for Christmas. If I don’t get that then I’ll be looking for some good deals on the Nexus 7 32gb.

  • Puzzled by Choice

    Good write up bro. Only thing I would add as a consideration is to look at accessories available. Accessories such as docks, keyboards, pens, etc. can really add some functionality to your tablet or frustrate you if you discover there are none for your particular tablet or inferior ones compared to other brands.

    Lastly, I alway challenge people to avoid rushing into anything… wait for some of the reputable reviews to come out and do some homework.

    Thanks for the info. I will be in the tablet market again sometime soon. Trying to be patient and build my budget back up.

    Plus for you!

    • tanman888

      I agree. Some people are heavily invested with particular accessories (particularly Apple based devices) that if they decide to make the switch, it would render their existing (and sometimes expensive) accessories useless.

  • pol biswas

    Indeed awesome tips.

  • lou2cool88

    This was great! I’d also consider whether the OEM has a good history of updating if its important to you. My Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a great tablet but Samsung hasn’t been the best about updating it.

    • Balaram Vineeth Venugopal .P

      In my opinion Samsung’s stuff have good support by custom ROMs. For example my galaxy mini got 4.2.1 CM rom.

  • redraider133

    I agree and in the case of the iPad mini waiting will make the current mini cheaper anyway and who knows what google will unveil this year maybe as a sequel to the nexus 7

  • LadyDi

    I purchased a tablet based on app usage moreso than e-reader. I wish I would have had a list like this to help me on things like storage, ram, USB port and to not buy generic. I will definitely save the information for future reference (in the event I don’t win one some were on this large net world of ours). Thank you!!

  • kelltrash14

    Solid advice. One objection… flash not so dead. Wish it was. Sideloading it is easy and useful. .. And needed to approach the full Web experience. Win RT has good flash support too.

  • tanman888

    dharr18, these question one should ask potential buyers as they are valid non-product bias points. Your post delves into what consumers “need” from a functional/necessity/fit point of view, rather than what one “wants” (ie. fastest processor, highest res screen, etc).

    Often the rational thinking & decision making aspect is blinded by promotions, great marketing campaigns and mob mentality.

  • sonicdeathmunky

    Great write up :)

  • chethu

    If you wanna buy a Tablet make sure you are ready to carry it across :) that is the hardest part ever…

  • Ezy03

    i really want a nexus 10