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To help you decide on a tablet, here is a list of 10 things a tablet must have for you to consider buying.

  1. Big screen: By large screen I mean a screen that is large enough for you and for the intended use of the tablet. If you intend to primarily browse the web and things like that, a 7-inch screen would be big enough. However, if you intend to watch videos with the family or edit photos or play high-resolution games, then perhaps a larger screen size will suit you better. The intended mode of transport must also be taken into account. If you intend to carry it in your purse, it should generally be smaller than your purse. However, if you are going to carry it in a briefcase or in its own carrying case, make it as large as you like. Just remember that with increasing size, you increase the weight, and the heavier it is, the less comfortable it will be to wear for extended periods of time.
  2. Good operating system: Can the tablet operating system do what you want it to do? At the moment, the most tested operating systems are Apple’s iOS and Android 2.2 and Android 3 (or Honeycomb) from Android. Until you can successfully convince the critics, better stay away from Windows 7 or webOS for now.
  3. Many applications: The availability of applications is a must for any tablet. Applications extend the functionality of the device and generally provide more entertainment and productivity. Apple has a large collection of apps available for your iPad and iPad 2, some free and some not, so you don’t have any worries there. Android has more than enough apps available too, and it’s not as strict as Apple when it comes to accepting new apps, meaning you can easily write your own apps and make them available to everyone else for free or paid.
  4. The right price: This is something that only you can decide. It is important to note that most of the time you get what you pay for, so it is best not to go for the cheapest no-name brand made in China. That being said, the most expensive aren’t always the best either. Compare features and functionality, then enter the price.
  5. Value for your money: This is a follow-up to the previous point. Is it worth its price? Do its features and functions justify the price? This all depends on what you value the most. If you value luxury over practicality, be prepared to pay for it.
  6. Two cameras: Only if you want. Add value (and price) to the device. Use it for video calling, taking videos and photos, etc. If you don’t need two cameras, you can consider a cheaper tablet with just one or even no cameras. Again, it depends on what you value.
  7. Excellent virtual keyboard: Since a tablet uses a touch screen interface, the only way to communicate with and through it is by using its virtual keyboard. Therefore, it must be easy and convenient to operate. The virtual keyboard should be very responsive without making a lot of mistakes. Try the virtual keyboard on some tablets to see which one is more comfortable and efficient for you.
  8. 3G connectivity: An absolute must if you live in South Africa or any country where Wi-Fi hotspots are not available or not available in your neighborhood. Even if you are lucky enough to have Wi-Fi hotspots nearby, a tablet is destined to be a mobile companion and 3G connectivity is crucial to achieving this.
  9. Flash support: If you plan to use your tablet as a partial replacement for your computer, this is a must. Today, many websites use flash, and if your tablet doesn’t support it, your web browsing experience will be seriously impaired. Apple decided that Adobe Flash is a potential security risk that it doesn’t need, therefore iPads don’t support flash. Android, on the other hand, has shown you that you really need it, and Android operating systems from version 2.2 onwards support flash.
  10. Good battery life: Once again, a tablet is destined to be a mobile companion. So you don’t want to be limited in that mobility with a power cord every few hours. Depending on what you intend to use your tablet for, you need to consider what kind of battery life you need and what you can settle for. The longest is obviously the best, but it comes at a higher price. Regardless of what you decide to do with your tablet, you should be able to take at least a few hours of work out of it before you need to recharge it. Remember that web browsing consumes more battery than just running applications. Most tablets have separate battery life specifications for online and offline activities.

So that’s my list of must-have features for a tablet. Hope you find this helpful if you are thinking of buying a tablet.

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