Tablet Shopping: 7 Tips To Avoid Buyer's Remorse - InformationWeek

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11/28/2014
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Tablet Shopping: 7 Tips To Avoid Buyer's Remorse

From 8-inch Windows 8.1 slates to iPads to phablets, tablet shoppers have more options than ever this holiday season. Follow these tips to avoid a mistake.

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Shopping for a new tablet used to be easy. There was the iPad, some nice Android tablets from big companies, and some cheap Android tablets from companies you'd never heard of. That was about it. But that's not the case anymore.

Today, you can choose from five iPad models if you buy new, seven if you are willing to consider a refurbished one. At the top of the line, the iPad Air 2 costs more than $800, but with the iPad Mini now available for less than $250, the range of iPads is not only the biggest ever but open to a wider range of budgets than before.

In the meantime, the iPad's main competitor, the Android tablet, has also exploded in number of choices. Android slates now come in all shapes and sizes, from inexpensive 7-inch tablets to pricey models with laptop-size screens. The nicest Android tablets come with fancy technology and extra software to rival the iPad.

[Will your smartphone become drop proof? Read Gorilla Glass 4: Better Smartphone Drop Protection.]

The increasing diversity of Windows tablets further complicate your decision. Early Windows 8 two-in-ones, a.k.a hybrids, such as the original Surface Pro, were expensive and clunky. Now, budget Windows two-in-ones cost less than the cheapest iPad. Expensive hybrids are thinner, lighter and more powerful than ever, challenging the notion that tablets and laptops need to be separate devices. Hybrids not your style? Windows 8.1 tablets with 8-inch screens sell for less than $200.

Apple's iPads set the tablet standard, but some Android tablets have caught up.
Apple's iPads set the tablet standard, but some Android tablets have caught up.

The options are dizzying -- and we've barely scratched the surface. But fear not. We've outlined the big points you need to consider before pulling out your credit card.

1. Cost isn't everything.
Most people shop with a budget in mind, which can make it tempting to go for the biggest discounts or cheapest devices. But beware; if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Rather than letting the lowest price tag guide you, consider what you want to get out of your purchase.

If you're in the market for a single, do-it-all device, you might be tempted by one of the new fleet of cheap Windows 8.1 two-in-ones, several of which run well $300. Some of these devices will handle light productivity just fine, but few of them, despite their support for desktop apps, offer the computing power of a traditional PC. A $200 tablet can complement your existing PC or provide entertainment for the kids. But if you're hoping a budget tablet will give you the

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
1/29/2015 | 3:18:53 PM
Re: The purpose of tablet ?
@angelfuego I'm on your side with this one. Phablets are an awkward size and too big to serve the same purpose as a smartphone. Personally, I like my phone to fit in one hand and my iPhone 4 (prehistoric, I know) does the job just fine.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
12/1/2014 | 12:22:03 PM
Tablet buying
This was the first Thanksgiving weekend where I heard people discuss the wisdom/lack of wisdom in buying cheap tablets at drugstores. The electronic kind of tablets.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
11/30/2014 | 6:38:59 PM
Re: Phablets
I hate that term too -- always made me think "faux tablet" when I first heard others throwing it around.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
11/30/2014 | 6:37:57 PM
Re: Phablets
Agree on the travel point. A lot easier to transport and lug around than a laptop.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
11/30/2014 | 6:36:26 PM
Re: The purpose of tablet ?
I found myself in a similar situation when I purchased my iPad. I had it for a few months but still couldn't figure out why it's more useful than my laptop and my smartphone. It's a nice to have, not a need to have for me.
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