Consider size, content, support and price when purchasing

The holidays are here and tablet computers are bound to be one of this season’s hottest gifts. This year, shoppers have a wide variety of products from which to choose. While there’s no “one size fits all” approach to selecting the perfect tablet, here are four key areas to consider before you make a purchase. by: SUBMITTED - The library has books on several popular tablet models to help you figure out the bells and whistles.


In general, current tablets come in three size groups: large (around 10” diagonally), medium (around 7”) and small (around 4”). Some manufacturers offer devices in all three categories (for example, Apple has the iPad, iPad Mini and iPod Touch), while others only offer a single size (Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, for example, only comes in “medium”). Before making a choice, think about how you’d prefer to tote your tablet (backpack? purse? pocket?), and whether you’ll want/need the larger screen; viewing photos or videos generally works well on screens of all sizes, however, some may find it difficult to read an e-book or browse the Web on a small device like the 4” Samsung Galaxy Player. 

Apps and content — availability and compatibility

While all tablets come pre-installed with some basic software (Web browsers, email programs, etc.), you’ll probably want to load them up with apps (different programs like word processors, games and more) and content (e-books, movies, music). When selecting a device, be aware that availability of apps can vary widely: For example, Apple’s iTunes Store, which has been around for several years, boasts more than 700,000 available apps, while the relatively new Microsoft store (which provides apps for the Surface tablet) currently only has around 25,000.

Also, keep in mind that digital content you’ve already purchased from one vendor may not transfer to another vendor’s tablet. For example, if you’ve purchased Kindle e-books from Amazon, don’t expect to be able to read them on arch-rival Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet.

Training and support

Will the tablet’s new owner need hands-on help learning to use it? Vendors with physical stores (like Apple and Barnes & Noble) offer regular classes, workshops and training sessions. By contrast, learning to use your new Kindle or Google tablet may be a more self-directed process, involving reading online or printed manuals and tutorials.


Between different sizes, manufacturers and features, there’s a tablet that fits just about any budget, from the sub-$200 Galaxy Player to the $800+ top-of-the-line iPad. In general, tablets with larger and/or higher-resolution screens will cost more, as will tablets with larger amounts of built-in storage.  

To help stretch your budget, you may want to consider purchasing a vendor-refurbished tablet, frequently available on a special section of the vendor’s website. Refurbished items are generally returned/exchanged items that the vendor has restored to like-new condition. Refurbished items are typically discounted by 10-25 percent (or more), and frequently carry the same warranty coverage as a brand-new item. Vendors sometimes offer specials on older models as well; older models may not have all the latest features, but they can offer solid performance at a more affordable price.

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