Personal Small Business Enterprise

How to Choose the Right Tablet

With a growing selection of choices available, many prospective tablet buyers are left with a lot of factors to consider: Do I buy an iPad or go with an Android tablet? What about RIM’s PlayBook or the new Microsoft Surface? Should I just wait until next year before making a decision with my company’s capital budget?

Here are a few considerations to help you make the right choice:

Screen size. Choose your screen size based on how you plan to use your tablet.  For example, a larger 10-inch screen is preferable for many work tasks, such as editing documents or updating spreadsheets. But, you can certainly get by with a smaller screen if you’re utilizing your tablet for tasks like inventory management or video conferencing. A smaller screen is also ideal if you’re always on the go, as it  fits easily within purses, shoulder bags and brief cases. If you plan to do a lot of reading with your tablet, and want to be able to hold it with one hand (like you would a book) a smaller format may be the way to go.

Operating system.  If you already have a Bell-powered smartphone, you might want to match its operating system with the tablet you’re going to acquire. Not only will there be less of a learning curve, which could hamper productivity, but you’ll be able to purchase and utilize apps on both your smartphone and tablet. If you are an iPhone user, consider the the Apple iPad. If you have an Android phone, look to an Android-based tablet from manufacturers such as Samsung or Acer. A Windows RT or Windows 8 tablet provides seamless integration with Windows smartphones and computers, so staying within the Windows ecosystem might be the way to go. If the operating system sounds like a major consideration for you, then you may want to read one of my previous posts that explored the impact of software (including operating systems and apps) on tablet choices.

Connectivity options. From a connectivity standpoint, most tablets offer two choices. The first is a Wi-Fi version, which lets you connect via your home or office wireless connection, or through a Wi-Fi hotspot. The other, is to buy a tablet that offers both Wi-Fi and 3G/4G connectivity. There are a wide range of tablets on the market now that support Wi-Fi and 3G/4G connectivity, which allow you to roam and stay connected. For your mobile sales force, this capability can provide considerable gains in productivity.

Productivity. Many business owners consider technology prices while keeping an eye on their bottom line, or wonder if they should wait another year until the prices come down. While it’s true that you’ll get more tablet for your dollar at this time next year, you’ll also be missing out on the benefits a tablet can afford your business for the next 12 months. The choice to consider here is this: Will the marginal cost savings you gain be worth the cost or loss in productivity? The answer is most often no.

The bottom line. Given all the considerations, remember that your choice of tablet is as personal as your choice of computer or smartphone. If you’re suffering from options paralysis, it helps to visit your local technology retailer (such as The Source) and test drive a few different tablets to get a feel for what’s right for you.

Are you a tablet owner? What choices or considerations did you make to help you come to a decision? We’d love to hear from you.

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