These days the market seems to be inundated with tablet style computers.  The iPad, Amazon Fire, and Samsung Galaxy are all household names. Google is even releasing an upgraded operating system, nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich, for their tablets in the coming months!  Before you jump on the tablet bandwagon, here are the ten commandments you should know about tablets when considering a purchase.

I. Thou shalt be mobile and portable

Laptops have dominated the mobile market for computing for years, but now tablets have come to challenge them.  Usually four pounds or less, the tablet computer is made to operate while being hand held.  Laptops are generally designed to work best when placed on a flat surface.  The less clunky design is optimal for easy storage and transportation of the device.

II.  Thou shalt come in different forms.

 Even though it seems like tablets are the “big new thing”, Microsoft actually introduced the first tablet in the early 2000’s.  It wasn’t until the popularity of the iPad that tablets really hit mainstream. Now, before we get carried away with the tablets, remember that there are several different types of devices that fit into the tablet category.

i.      Slate tablet-pad type device without a keyboard   attached

ii.      Convertible tablets- a base and screen that can move around to be a note pad

iii.      Hybrid tablet- like a slate, but with a detachable keyboard

iv.      Booklet- dual screened tablet that can open and close like a book

v.      Rugged tablet- great for extreme conditions, great if you travel to multiple climates.

Make sure that you think about what you would like to do and where you would like to use these devices when planning a purchase.

Courtesy of gadg.com

III. Thou shalt be versatile in action

 

So what can you do with a tablet computer?  Just about anything!  Tablets can do anything from being a mobile media center to typing and sharing files.  There are plenty of apps and programs that will allow you to increase productivity and meet your needs in a creative and innovative way.

 IV. Thou shalt have access to apps

 Thousands upon thousands of applications (apps) exist in the mobile universe these days.  “There’s an app for that” has pretty much become a loving and running joke at this point!  Apps to help the user do anything from count calories to save the world from pigs by flinging birds at them are in existence.  Some apps are currently only available through certain medium, like iTunes.  Be sure to research what type of medium is accepted by the device before purchasing.

 V. Thou shalt have touch screen capabilities

Courtesy of cartoonstock.com

This is a big one.  Everyone looks for the opportunity to use the touch screen when it comes to tablets and the markets are clamoring to oblige.  Considering that one of the aforementioned benefits to a tablet is that it is hand held, it is only natural that a touch screen be provided.  There are several types of “touch screens” you can choose from depending on your needs.

i.      Active Digitizer- doesn’t recognize touch, only a special pen (think about the credit card machines at the grocery store or pharmacy).  These are not really touch screens, but seem to be lumped in to the same category.

ii.      Resistive digitizer- can sense touch, but needs exact placement of touch making a stylus required for the precision needed.

iii.      Capacitive digitizer- this is what most people think of when you mention touch screens (think iPad).  It can be used with a stylus or finger.

 

VI. Thou shalt have connectivity

One of the huge draws of the tablet is that you can access your files or libraries from anywhere.  To be able to do so, you must have a form of connectivity, or a way to access the internet.  Some tablets offer options like 3G or Wifi capabilities.  3G and 4G are data plans offered by wireless service providers for which you will need to pay a monthly fee. Tablets offer multiple options for connectivity depending on the level and reliability that you are looking for.

 VII. Thou shalt have limited storage

 One of the downsides to a tablet is that it has limited storage capabilities. Ranging from 16GB to 32GB, most tablets are not meant to hold many files, but more to allow you to access your files from various locations.  Web based programs, like Dropbox, allow you to share your files in a cloud and access them from multiple devices, including your tablet computer.

VIII. Thou shalt have a million accessories

 A teenage girl doesn’t have as many accessories as a tablet computer has!  The previously mentioned apps are just the start. There are also add-ons such as covers, skins, and external features.  You can get a keyboard to hook into your tablet.  Additional power and storage adapters.  Speakers and headsets.  Portable stands and cases.  You can even get a joystick to add on to your tablet for serious gamers!  If you can think “Gee, it would be neat to have [fill in the blank]”, someone probably already has it on the market for you.

Courtesy of cartoonstock.com

 IX. Thou shalt have varying power capabilities

 No matter what type of tablet you decide to go for, make sure that the battery life is going to be sufficient for your usage.  If your battery life is too small, your tablet could be less helpful and more of a hurdle by tethering you to the wall when you wanted to remain mobile.

 X. Thou might become addicted to it!

 In a study of tablet users:

  • 43% of tablet users say that owning a tablet has improved their lives.
  • 60% use it on a daily basis
  • 45% show it off to their family and friends
  • And 27% admitted to using their tablet in the restroom!