With Valentine's Day on the horizon, many people are scrambling for the perfect gift to give their loved one. A tablet may seem impersonal and lacking in the romance department, but that's just not true. Have a long-distance love? The best tablet will allow you to Skype, or quickly send a love note when you're thinking of your significant other.
Tablets make great gifts for any occasion because they're multiple presents in one package. If your valentine is a devoted bibliophile, you can load his or her new tablet with books from the Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook apps. Preloading music is simple with most tablets, so consider loading an MP3 "mix tape" onto the device. You can also preload movie- and TV-watching apps, games and photos of your favorite memories together.
Trying to decide which tablet to get is always the most difficult part of the process. Tablets are all similar in many aspects, but the best ones have defining features. Take for example, the latest from Lenovo, Amazon and Apple. Lenovo's Yoga Tablet is one of the few with a convenient built-in kickstand so you can comfortably use it with a keyboard, or just prop it up to watch a movie. What's really standout about the Yoga is its 18-hour battery life. You definitely won't find that in any other tablets on the market right now. The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" has one of the best display resolutions and an impressive 12-hour battery life. The Apple iPad Air is a thinner, lighter version of the popular tablet. The A7 chip is extremely fast so you can quickly move from app to app without experiencing lag.
To make your shopping experience easier, we've provided helpful tablet reviews and have articles on tablets for you to peruse. Be sure to visit the reviews for our top rated tablets: Toshiba Excite, Google Nexus and Sony Xperia.
Deciding which tablet is best for you is relatively simple. All you have to do is consider for what purpose you'll be using the tablet and what features are most important. Several tablets offer entertainment features with high screen resolution, HDMI ports, video chat capabilities and strong graphics. Others include multitasking capabilities, a fast processor, long battery life and multiple inputs and ways of connecting to the internet. Our side-by-side comparison chart and objective reviews can help you find a tablet with the features you're looking for.
Below are the criteria we used to compare the best tablets.
This section examines what functions you'll want to look for in a tablet. Top-rated products include features such as a high camera resolution, long battery life, a music player, video chat and HD recording capabilities. The operating system is an important aspect, as it's what makes your tablet run. If you're familiar with the Android or Windows operating systems, you'll enjoy a smooth transition to tablets that use them.
Battery life is significant because it adds more freedom to any small, lightweight device. Tablet batteries last hours longer than those in laptops and most smartphones, so bringing along your bulky charger or searching for an outlet won't be an issue. The battery life on a good tablet will last up to nine hours, at least, whereas most average laptop batteries run out of juice after just four hours.
The best tablets come with both front and rear cameras and can record HD video. The main reason you'll want a good front-facing camera is to video chat. Rear-facing cameras are designed for taking still shots and recording video. The best tablets are capable of taking 8MP photos. While this can't compare to top-of-the-line smartphone pictures, remember that the primary use of tablets isn't taking photos. While it's likely you won't be using a tablet to record videos more than a couple of minutes long, it's nice to have those memories preserved in a high-quality format.
The tablet's hardware is what makes it run. You need to look at the processor to ensure it offers the speed you need. Overall, a quad-core processor will run faster than a dual-core. You may see a tablet with 2.5GHz processor and think that seems fast, which it is. However, if it's a dual-core, it won't run nearly as fast as say a 1.8GHz quad-core processor.
Also, you want to consider how much RAM and storage space a tablet has. On average, tablets come with 1GB of RAM, though 2GB is quickly becoming the norm, with some even going as high as 8GB. More RAM means your tablet will run faster and be more responsive. The best tablets feature expandable storage space up to 64GB with an SD card so you can store more music, movies, photos and files, but a few do not. If you don't expect to store a lot on your tablet, this won't be an issue. If, however, you're a big music fan, or takes thousands of photos, it'll be an inconvenience when you have to delete media or move it off your tablet to create space.
Another thing to pay attention to is the extra hardware on the tablets you’re considering. Look for items such as speakers, a microphone and USB and HDMI ports. These are generally standard, but there are some tablets that don't have these extras.
The display is often the deciding factor of a tablet, since it affects the way your experience looks and feels. Some people require a fast processor, but for many the display is most important. If you use your tablet to read, watch movies or play games, then you'll want a dynamic resolution so everything is vibrant and full of brilliant color. iPads now offer Retina display, which is amazing, but what you might not know is that other companies have surpassed this with resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600.
Though a lightweight device is an obvious choice, you want to decide what screen size and shape work best for you. Some of the tablets we reviewed have extra-large screens that are great for reading or watching movies, while others are smaller and can fit easily into a purse or backpack.
No Wi-Fi connection or mobile broadband on your tablet? Congratulations, you just purchased a pricey paperweight. A tablet is at its best and most useful when you can quickly look up information and use the internet no matter where you are. Tablets that can connect to the web via a cellphone provider are even more portable and useful on the go.
Help & Support
Having customer support when you need it is critical. It's also preferable to have support options that are comprehensive and easy to use. Look for a manufacturer with customer service and tech support available via email, phone, live chat and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Many manufacturers have video tutorials on how to use their devices posted on YouTube, as well as downloadable user manuals. FAQs are always helpful, and generally, those pages have the answers you're looking for.
Choose a tablet with all of the best features listed here, and you'll have a device that provides instant communication, organization and entertainment in one slim package.
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