A dear friend recently asked for some suggestions about buying a tablet for her partner. She wrote in part “…He travels a lot so I want him to be able to read papers, mags, books, FB, YouTube… He has WiFi and I guess all airports and hotels have it too…” – pretty standard requirements. As it happens I do have some thoughts on the topic, but figured would make it a more general post in the hope it might be of use to others :)
It’s pretty much a two horse race – you get an iPad of some persuasion or something running Android. With the former your only choice, for better or worse is Apple, for the latter there are any number of manufacturers, personally I’d be looking at Google, Samsung, LG or Sony.
Which horse to back – in my view it’s simple – if you are at all interested in creating music or multimedia content (as distinct from just listening to or watching it) – get an iPad. At the time of writing, alas, Android simply does not have good enough (read: any) support for low latency audio or MIDI – this is the technical underpinning required to allow a tablet to function as a musical instrument you can play in real time or “live” It’s the only reason I have an iPad instead of an Android tablet – the musical apps are excellent – to the point where I could play a gig using just sounds from one if there was a need to (with an external keyboard and amplifier of course!) If your entire house is already Apple-centric – buy an iPad.
If music/video content creation isn’t a serious need, then any of the recent offerings from Google, Samsung, LG or Sony are worth a look. It’s an insanely fast moving market, but today Samsung and Google (who have their hardware made by 3rd parties anyway) look pretty good. One of many recent reviews that discusses the current crop can be found here.
Other things to consider ?
- I really like having built in 3G/4G for the convenience, despite the fact I basically always have a phone with me that I could tether to. It’s just so convenient to have it work straight away, and all sensible devices still fall back to WiFi if it’s available.
- I choose, with some philosophical reluctance to use Telstra in my iPad – they have the best but most expensive network. For my usage it works out ok and I’ve got Optus in my mobile phone which sorta offsets the cost.
- Storage capacity – 16GB will probably suit most people unless you’re gonna want to have lots of video on there, in which case go 32GB or 64GB. If it’s mostly music and magazines, 16GB is probably ok. If it’s for a teenager, 32GB minimum.
- Buy a cover, ideally one that flips over to protect the screen
- Buy a screen protector too…
It’s a bit of a buyers market at the moment, you won’t go far wrong with offerings from any of the known brands and as always, Google is an excellent resource for getting reviews on specific models.