Tablets Demystified

tablets-montageThe question on a lot of minds, especially as we enter into the frantic buying season of the year, is what is all the hoopla about tablets? Do I need one? What can I do with one? What can I not do with one? Will it replace my laptop? The litany of questions goes on and on. In this article I will paint a picture of what tablet technology is all about, and some of the pros and cons of tablet use. If you are a smart phone user, you are well on your way to understanding tablets. In essence, a tablet is a large smart phone, that does not make phone calls. However, even phone calls are possible using third-party software such as Skype or TextMe.

Tablets come in various shapes and sizes, the smaller sizes range in the neighborhood of seven inches viewable screen to twelve inches viewable screen. Tablets rely on touch screen input and typically do not have a mouse or keyboard associated with them. However, those devices can frequently be added for desktop use with blue tooth technology. Generally tablets will give you all the functionality of a laptop, and then some, without all the weight and size issues. Most all tablets provide a data plan which makes this fully accessible to the internet, and thus your cloud storage, anywhere you can get a signal. Most laptops do not come with a data plan and a third party peripheral known as an “air-card” has to be purchased to stay connected when away from a Wi-Fi source.

Generally, a tablet permits you to do most everything you can do on a laptop. If you want a smaller device that will allow you to surf the web, send and receive email, and perform actions with a productivity suite of software than a tablet will fill your needs. Most tablets have a smart phone counter part. Software applications (Apps) that are available for a smart phone are also available for a tablet. Most of the Apps you need can be downloaded an installed for free from an App store provided by the tablet vendor. In many cases, the only difference between a free App and a paid for app is once paid for, the software no longer displays ads. Additionally, the major players provide free and ad free productivity suites to use on your device. Recently Microsoft even released free versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and One Note for use on an IPAD. I just installed those Apps and will report on them in a later Blog.

The three major players in the tablet wars are Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Apple provides both the 10 inch IPAD Air and the seven Inch IPAD Mini. Microsoft provides the Surface in several sizes and configurations, and Google provides the Android operating system which is used on a myriad of devices by a myriad of manufacturers. A word of caution about the Microsoft Surface. To purchase a fully fleshed out version of the Surface, with maximum internal storage of 512 Gigabytes and a high-end processor can run you upwards to $2000. Additionally, the Surface does not come with a data plan as an option. The only time you can get connectivity is if you have Wi-Fi access. In my opinion the Surface is nothing more than a laptop in a smaller form factor. If you have your heart set on a tablet that will run Windows 8.1 there are other manufacturers that not only provide Windows on a tablet but it is a fully functional tablet that can be purchased with an associated data plan, such as Dell and HP. One other warning about the various models, if accessibility features such as text to voice or full screen zoom are important to you, and IPAD is the way to go.

There you have it, tablets demystified. So the only question that remains is, do you want one or do you need one? It is better to determine your needs and then to acquire technology that will fill your need then to acquire the technology and then try to come up with a reason why you need it. It will end up on the shelf collecting dust if you do. I hope this helps to clear up the mystique of tablet technology. If you have further questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below or use the feedback form if you wish to submit your question privately. I promise I will either find an answer for you, or I will make something up.

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Tom Lind

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