What Tablet Should You Buy?

Answered: What Tablet Should I Buy?

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Staff Editorial #: 457316526

There have never been more options when it comes to tablets. Which means there have never been more headaches when trying to decide exactly what to buy. The first decision is the type of tablet you want, with tablets ranging from the ever-popular iPad to cheaper Android and Amazon solutions to the hybrid tablet/PC devices running Microsoft Windows. We'll take a look at each and point out the good and the bad.

The Luxury Car of Tablets: iPad

There is little doubt Apple leads the way when it comes to pure tablets. The iPad Pro is a beast, with a processor as fast or faster than most laptops and a gorgeous display capable of HDR video playback. The iOS operating system has evolved to the point where the iPad has a capable file system and can run two apps side-by-side on the screen.

The iPad Pro is also the most expensive pure tablet, with the current generation 10.5-inch model starting at $649 and the 12.9-inch model starting at $799. But you don't need an iPad Pro to step into an iPad. The "5th generation" iPad, as Apple calls their newest 9.7-inch model, is only $329 and supports the same multitasking capabilities as its bigger brother. It may not have the longevity of the faster iPad Pro models, but at around half the price, it doesn't need it.

The iPad is best for those who want a great tablet experience, including the best apps that are designed for a tablet's larger display.

The newest iPad's $329 price tag is cheap compared to other Apple products, but still expensive compared to Android and Amazon alternatives.

The Compact Car of Tablets: Android and Amazon Fire

Android has come a long way in recent years, but the operating system shines brighter on smartphones than on tablets.

It's not that Android runs poorly on tablets, but few manufacturers have taken the Android tablet to that next level that Apple has climbed with the iPad Pro.  

Android tablets tend to be cheaper than an iPad, and for most of them, they lag behind in terms of processing speed, graphics capability, battery life, etc. They can be great for browsing the web, checking Facebook and other simple tasks. And Android tablets like the Nvdia Shield can be quite good at gaming.

This makes Android tablets great for those who want a home-use tablet good at gaming and streaming video without some of the added enterprise-level features or hardware sported by the iPad.

Amazon Fire tablets are Amazon's version of the Android tablet. While they run a version of the Android operating system, they are generally locked into the Amazon ecosystem, so you won't get access to the full Google Play marketplace without unlocking the device, at which point you are better off just buying an Android tablet. Amazon Fire tablets are recommended for those who aren't going to use their device for much more than reading books, streaming video, browsing the web or checking Facebook.  

The Utility Vehicle of Tablets: Microsoft Surface and Windows Hybrids 

Microsoft may have lost the war for the mobile operating system, but they have finally settled on a good strategy.

After all, there's no need to win the mobile war if mobile devices are becoming as powerful as our laptop and desktop PCs.

The Surface tablet leads a pack of hybrid tablets that operate best if you also buy a keyboard and mouse. The Surface is great in tablet-only mode, but to use it as smoothly as an iPad, you need use tablet-style "metro" apps. The great thing about Windows is how it supports so much software, even software and games from years ago. But to use the older desktop-style apps, you'll often want to hook in that smart keyboard with the touchpad or a keyboard/mouse combo. 

Hybrid tablets are best for those who are tied to a particular piece of software that only runs on Windows, such as an app used for work, or for those who aren't quite ready to take that dive into the tablet-only world.

They are also great for those who enjoy PC gaming but don't feel the need to spend $1500+ on a top-end gaming rig.

Surface tablets range in price from the same $799 as a 12.9-inch iPad Pro to $1599, with the more expensive models performing as well as the best laptops.

Read more about the Surface Pro verses the iPad Pro.

Was this page helpful?