Woman_with_TabletThe tablet market is continually changing. New tablets are out almost every week. The question many have as they look at entering the tablet market is which one? The interesting thing is that the answer is constantly changing. It depends on your needs, and the very changing market.

How can you choose the right one? Here are 10 tips to help you select the right tablet:
1. Understand the three base platforms.

There are three primary OS platforms to consider: Apple/iOS, Google/Android, and Microsoft/Windows8. These platforms each have their strengths. Apple/iOS is easy for less tech-savvy users to learn and adapt to. It also has been around the longest, so typically has more mature apps available from the Apple Store. Google/Android came along next, and is typically attractive to more savvy users because it is more flexible and lets the user tinker and change things more. Application support is nearly as good as Apple/iOS, but may be not quite as robust. Finally, Microsoft/Windows 8 is the late comer to the market. There are fewer apps available and the ones that are available, typically are not as feature rich as Apple or Android. However, the big advantage with Microsoft is that their full Windows 8 tablets allow users to do pretty much anything a full Windows 8 laptop can do, including connecting to business networks and running Windows based software.

2. Review your likely uses.

The device that will work best for you is really dependent on how you expect to use it. Any of the three base platforms will allow you to read email and browse the web, which is 80% of the useful purpose for business. If you want it to act as a desktop or laptop replacement and connect to your network, the Microsoft platform is likely the right choice. If you have an Apple or Android phone, you may want to keep it simple and get the same type of tablet.

3. Put your hands on some devices.

It is really hard to pick a tablet without holding one in your hands. This is a more personal device than your laptop or computer. You hold it in your hands, you may sit with it in your easy chair. You want it to be comfortable. It is kind of like new clothes, it helps to try them on before you buy.

4. Evaluate quality requirements.

I like quality and tend to buy the more expensive device. I figure it will last longer and I will be happy longer. However, there are some applications where the low cost device might be appropriate. In a dirtier environment like a shop floor, you might want to use a no or low-brand Android device. If the device is likely to be abused or dropped, you might want to choose a cheaper unit, and buy a big protective case for it.

5. Consider the need to transfer and share data.

There are a multitude of applications for syncing data to these devices, so if simple sync to the cloud from a PC and back to the tablet is all you need, pretty much any of the devices will work with Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, Box, or a similar service. However, if you want direct access to your network data, the easiest solution is the Microsoft/Windows8 Pro tablet. It will simply logon and access your data.

6. Check what apps you might need.

If you are working with a specific piece of software that has a tablet app, make sure you pick the tablet that is best supported by that software. For instance, your construction software may have an app, but they may only have an app for the Apple/iOS Platform, in which case, your choice is easy.

7. Determine the size, weight and brand of device.

This is helped greatly by looking at the devices as mentioned in step 3. And, some of this is personal preference. I have both an Apple iPad and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 device. This is because the Surface Pro 3 is just a bit too big and heavy for using in meetings to take notes. And I use the Surface Pro 3 instead of a laptop or PC. Make sure the weight of the device is not too heavy for your type of use. Make sure the screen works for your eyes and your purpose. Make sure the brand is something reputable and the touchscreen responds well. Some devices cost more, but they may also have more memory and a faster processor. Buying high, just like with PCs, will likely make the device useful for longer.

8. Physical or virtual keyboard.

Make sure whatever device you choose has the right kind of keyboard available. Most devices have an add-on keyboard if the virtual (on-screen) one is not enough. However, it is worth considering the whole package and checking out the keyboard before buying the device.

9. Consider the budget.

The great thing about the tablet market is that there are choices in the $150 range all the way up to $1600 range. If you just want to get started using a tablet and aren’t sure if its value to you, you can start with a low cost unit and upgrade later. However, I can’t say I have ever heard someone say that they bought a tablet, but don’t really use it. If you do go for a less expensive unit, make sure it is robust enough for you. Test it out in a retail store and make sure the screen is responsive enough. Try to stick with a recognizable name. The no-name makers often cut corners.

10. Choose based on your tech comfort level.

If you are not that tech-savvy and expect to need help, you may want to pick the same device as a friend or coworker who can help you out. You may also want to choose an Apple Device as they are more intuitive to some. On the other hand, if you like to customize, change, and like tech, an Android device is the right choice as they allow you more latitude to customize. If you want your device to work like your Windows machine, or replace your laptop, the Windows8 Tablet is the right choice for you.

Tablets are everywhere, and choosing the right one is the first step. Once you have that new tablet in your hands, give it a chance. Tablet computing is different than using a desktop or laptop. You have to adjust to that new touchscreen, learn gestures to control your screen, and find new apps that fit your needs and interests. It takes some time to adjust to that new device.

And, if you are using the tablet for business, consider using it to go paperless. There is a process to training yourself, but the rewards are huge. It works great for taking notes, getting digital signatures, and sharing data. But that is the subject of another article! Enjoy your tablet!

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