Tablet, phablet, slider, hybrid — the tablet computer world has grown into a diverse and complex place. If you are ready to give into the tablet trend, but still aren’t sure which direction to move, it is time for a quick course. This tablet guide sets out all the models and their individual quirks. Read on to see which option is the best pick for your life.
These are the traditional mobile computer options. From the iPad Air and Surface to Samsung’s Galaxy tablet line, you have probably seen examples of these tablets often. Memory varies between 32 to 128 GB or higher, wireless and data plan options are available, and the device is almost always the size of a common piece of ledger paper. Pick this original option if you want a casual computer to use on the sofa or in meetings, instead of carting a heavier, bulkier laptop around, and if you do not have to do much typing. Prices here have the highest range, between $250 and $800 depending on what specs you want.
If you want a keyboard, however, you’ll have to buy an attachment or free-floating keyboard and a prop for the screen, which could grow awkward. The other problem is mobility – tablets weigh between 1 and 2 pounds, which doesn’t sound like much unless you have to carry it around one-handed all day and start feeling the wrist pain. If you envision yourself always on the go with your tablet, consider opting for a mini instead. As general tablet guide advice, if you cannot make up your made what kind of tablet to get, pick the traditional version. It occupies a safe middle ground for most uses.
Mini tablets downsize the device to about book size, bigger than your phone, but quite a bit smaller than a piece of paper. Google’s Nexus line, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Note Devices, the iPad Mini and similar devices fall into this line. Yes, the screen is smaller, but these mini-options are perfect for toting around and getting things done in short order. They may be a lot friendlier for on-the-move office work or kids, too.
However, the smaller versions also invite some downsides. In addition to a smaller screen, they tend to have fewer features, lower battery life, and less storage space (often down to around 16-32 GBs). This makes it harder to save a lot of documents or music on the devices. If you are curious about minis, a hands-on experience is key. Find some you can play with and pick up in a store. Are they comfortable in your hand? Is the grip sufficient? Do they come with the capabilities you need? Keep in mind that prices may be a hundred dollars lower or so, but are likely to stay similar to original tablets.
A hybrid tablet or laptop is a device split in two. There is the tablet side, which functions just like a traditional tablet. Then there is the keyboard side, which can be connected physically to the tablet to turn the whole thing into a laptop. The Surface 2, Asus Transformer, HP Pavilion and other brands are all popular examples. On the plus side, screen size, battery life and sometimes even hard drive space are likely to be much larger on a hybrid, and that real keyboard has a lot of room for ports, a trackpad, and extra features. This could be an ideal solution for a flexible business computer.
However, hybrids also have trouble finding their place. They can prove as expensive as tablets ($350 and higher), but struggle to offer any useful additional features. Many screens may be too large to comfortably use as a traditional tablet except in emergencies. The line between the best and the worst of both worlds is a slim one. Again, personal experimentation is needed.
This is a subset of the hybrid line, like the Sony Vaio line, offers a slim, attached keyboard but allows it to slide in behind the tablet screen when not in use, making it a lot easier to cart your tablet along with you and switch from laptop to tablet functions at top speed. The Lenovo Yoga line also fits into this category, although, it technically flips and twists more than it slides. This is primarily beneficial in an active business setting. The screens on sliders are likely smaller than on the average hybrid, but they also tend to weigh less. Other specs are largely the same. If you want a slider over a normal hybrid, it should be immediately apparent, graphic design and marketing workers often find them attractive.
Phablets are phone-and-tablet hybrids, or extra-large phones that have trouble fitting into pockets, but offer an extra-large screen. Some of the Samsung models, like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2, fall into this category, and we can expect other models such as the ZTE Iconic and HTC One max to offer serious competition. Make no mistake, phablets barely belong in a tablet guide, they are so similar to normal smartphones. Their hard drive space is usually in the 8 to 32 GB range, and document support is often limited. However, if you love watching media and typing emails on your phone, a phablet may be great for you — especially if you feel no need for a full tablet.
These are tablets that started as e-readers but morphed into tablets or mini-tablets somewhere along the way, like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the Nook Color. They can handle email, social networks, websites and many different forms of media (movies, shows, music, etc.), but they tend to be a bit more limited than traditional tablets. Document support and app options struggle to compete with Google, Android or Apple offerings, for example. If you want upgrade your e-reader into a more complex device used primarily for entertainment, these are good options. Otherwise, pick another option.
Do you have more questions about tablets that we were unable to answer in our tablet guide? Drop them below and we’ll be happy to help you out!