We are living in the age of smartphones. A smartphone is, in basic explanation, not just a communications device but a mini-computer you can hold in the palm of your hand. Think of all of the different apps you use when you fire up your smartphone! They all take a bit of computing power.
But we all still use laptops and desktop PCs as well, don’t we? There’s nothing can really substitute these devices as they are a lot more powerful and, obviously, built for capability and serious use. Working on them for complicated or demanding tasks is so much easier than trying to work on a smartphone. You can see properly, for a start! No squinting at a tiny four or five-inch screen is such a welcome bonus when you have hours and hours of concentration required, and a very busy workflow.
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if there is some sort of device which bridges the gap between a laptop, a notebook and a mobile phone? Something which is easier to work on, and which provides a slightly more comfortable computing experience? Something which is a device for when you’re ‘on the go’ (on a train or plane journey, for instance), or for more casual use (such as when you’re sitting on your sofa with a cup of tea in the evening and just want to check the day’s news, or catch up on your socials). But something which is also capable of tackling many of your everyday tasks, such as word processing and the like?
Well, there are. Tablet PCs.
A tablet computer is more commonly just referred to as a tablet, so that’s what we’ll call it here. In terms of size a tablet is, basically, the midway point between a smartphone and a laptop. A tablet offers the portability of a smartphone, because its compact enough to carry around with you. A tablet is also a touchscreen device, so you will find that it’s very easy and convenient to use. No need for messy peripherals such as a keyboard and a mouse. It can also be used in a landscape or portrait orientation, meaning it’s extremely suitable for many different needs. Reading documents in portrait mode, and watching movies in landscape mode. Brilliant!
What’s the best screen size on tablet PCs?
The size can vary upwards from what is known as the ‘mini’ standard (with a screen size of approximately 7 inches, such as an iPad Mini, or a Google Nexus 7) to larger tablet devices such as the Microsoft Surface Pro (around 12 inches).
As a note, here, we should probably explain the way screen sizes are measured on tablet PCs (in fact all screen devices). The size of the screen which you see advertised as 7” (for example), doesn’t mean the longest edges of the device are 7”. It means the length of the device’s diagonal, which is the distance between diagonally opposite corners of the viewing area, the screen, is 7 inches. This is also sometimes called the physical image size.
Though mini tablets are popular for people who like to be able to slip the device into their coat pocket or handbag, the general and most-favoured tablet screen size seems to be 10” – which is perfect for both relaxing and working!
This popular tablet screen dimension of 10” offers plenty of screen space to be able to see what you are doing without any discomfort.
A 10” tablet also means if you have access to video streaming sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube, you will be able to enjoy your favourite television programmes and films without feeling like you are watching them on a screen that is way too small.
Although 10” doesn’t sound as if it is a particularly large screen, the 10” screen size of a tablet can also offer plenty of scope for working on text documents or photographs. The 10” sized tablets are great for meetings. If there is no formal presentation going on, a 10” tablet is the perfect ‘easily handled’ size for you to pass around when you have something for those in attendance to look at, such as PDFs, text documents or photographs. With everything in front of you in a handy, attractive and user-friendly little device beats firing up a laptop and running a presentation to a big screen from it.
To round up on the size of tablets… A larger screen on your tablet definitely means more comfortable internet browsing, task working and movie-watching. But smaller tablets are much more portable and they are far easier to carry around with you wherever you go. When considering whether to buy a ‘mini’ tablet or a standard tablet, you should think about how you’ll use it. If it’s just a device to be used at home, either just by yourself or as a device for the whole family to enjoy, it is probably worth investing in a larger device. A smaller tablet is ideal for taking in your bag daily.
Either way, there’s nothing quite as convenient as curling up in bed with your tablet and watching a movie. You don’t have to worry about physical discomfort and trying to position yourself to be able to look at a TV screen over there in the corner of the room. You can just move your tablet about to whichever position feels most comfortable. And, of course, the different screen sizes available all just mean you can move the device further away from you, or nearer, and you’ll end up with the same sized screen in your line of vision as you would with a conventional TV set. It’s all about perspective and depth of field, eh?!
Can I connect to the internet with my tablet PC?
In this very busy interconnected world, being able to hook up to the internet so that you can stay in contact with your colleagues, friends and family, and keep on top of your social media profiles, is absolutely crucial. So your tablet needs to be internet capable – and, handily, almost all of them are. Nearly every tablet currently on the market is wi-fi enabled. It would actually be pretty strange to come across one that isn’t.
But, here’s the important thing to remember when thinking about your tablet’s internet capability. Not everywhere has Wi-Fi coverage. For example, if you’re enjoying a day down at the beach and want to download a bestseller to read while you lounge about in the sun, you may find there is no Wi-Fi connection available because the location is remote.
If you need a tablet that goes one step further, a tablet you can use absolutely everywhere, you should buy one which has the option for 3G or 4G mobile data coverage (just like your smartphone has). Be warned, though. Not all tablets just let you insert a SIM card and get cracking with your connection. Those that have SIM facility will be a bit more expensive than the models that don’t. If you opt for a SIM-enabled tablet you will also need to get yourself signed up to a mobile data plan with the network provider of your choice.
If you choose the Wi-Fi only option, which is generally the case for most tablets on the market, don’t forget that there are millions of Wi-Fi hotspots all over the country for you to connect to quickly and easily. When you are in range they will be easy to find in the Wi-Fi settings of your tablet. Indeed, your tablet could even have some sort of a ‘Wi-Fi hotspot notification’ protocol which lets you know there is a hotspot nearby for you to connect your tablet to. It may even just connect automatically, once you return to the same beach café!
Interactive via a touchscreen
Though tablets obviously don’t need ports so that you can connect a keyboard, a mouse and a monitor, they are still highly interactive in terms of the way you use them. Just like any smartphone worth its salt, a tablet has a touchscreen. This means that you use the end of your finger, or a plastic stylus, to control what is going on on-screen, and which programs you interact with. You simply slide and tap (depending on what function requires which ‘input) and away you go!
The touchscreen feature is particularly useful when you are ‘on the go’ as it means everything you do is ‘self contained’ to the tablet. It means carting less kit around with you than you might if you used a laptop with USB peripherals. The compact nature of tablets and the neat way users interact with them is one of the most appealing features.
Will my new tablet have much storage space?
Though tablets obviously don’t have the same sized memory as a powerful desktop PC, you will find an option which is suitable for you. But you should definitely think about how you are going to use the tablet before you commit. There would be nothing worse than investing in a tablet to support your photography hobby, and then finding out the storage capacity isn’t enough to hold the 20,000 photos you want to take!
When you’re investigating the possibility of buying a tablet, you should consider whether you will be using a lot of apps, too. If you want to store lots of apps, games, photos, music and movies on your tablet then you’ll definitely need one with a lot of built-in memory. One of the important things to remember about tablets is that almost all of them don’t have any kind of physical connectivity. In simple terms this means that your tablet won’t have a USB port into which you could slot a flash drive full of photos etc.
We’d seriously advise getting a tablet with at least 32GB of storage if you have a lot of memory-intensive files which you want stored on the deviceyou’re your needs are more straightforward and you just prefer to stream music or video content over the internet, then you would probably be safe investing a 16GB model of tablet.
The amount of memory advertised sometimes differs from what you can actually use, so make sure to read the product details carefully. You will find that some tablets on the market have an SD card slot, which will allow you to insert a memory card so that you have extra storage space. However, even if you do have a low storage capacity tablet, there is usually the option for cloud storage. You can find services such as BT Cloud or iCloud which let you store photos, videos and more types of document online. Obviously, though, your files will only be accessible when you’re connected to the internet and online though.
Which OS (Operating System) will my new tablet run?
A very popular operating systems among smartphone devices is Android, which was developed by Google. This OS is also prevalent on many non-Apple tablets – mostly on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Included in the Android operating system is an array of apps such as Maps, Calendar, Chrome, Music, etc…
For iPad users things are slightly different (as you might have come to expect, by now, from Apple). Users of the iPad tablet, in whichever size or model variant, will be interfacing with Apple’s own iOS. Currently it supports around 1,000,000 different apps. Some are standard on Apple devices, but most can be chosen and downloaded from Apple’s App Store.
If you are intent on having an extremely simple system, something really ‘clean’ and efficient, then Apple’s iOS might be the answer – which means an iPad is the tablet for you. However, Android is also easy enough to use.
You will find that some tablets run quite close to using standard computer software. On a Windows tablet you will be able to use Microsoft Office, Skype, and other Microsoft programs. In addition, there are around quarter of a million apps collected in the Windows Store to use on your tablet. However, it’s worth remembering that Windows tablets are generally a bit less powerful than iOS or Android yet they are more expensive.
What are the key points about tablet PCs?
- Lightweight and portable
- Internet connectivity
- Touchscreen interactivity
- Cheaper than a laptop
- Excellent media players
- Handy for workplace presentations
- Great for kids
So, tablets then… What’s the general round-up?
If you’re looking for something every day, so lightweight and compact and easy to slip into your handbag, man-bag or work-bag, just a device to keep track of your socials and the news, and perhaps watch a film, then something in the mini size might be perfect.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more bite, but equally lightweight and portable, something on which you will be able to complete work tasks and give presentations or display documents, then something a little bit bigger and with more storage capacity would be the ideal choice.
All-in-all, a tablet is the perfect way to bridge the gap between a smartphone, a notebook and a laptop. When you get a new tablet, you’ll find it so tactile and easy to use that it will definitely become your constant computer companion.