What should I look for when buying a tablet?

Buying Guide Of Tablet

Bigger than a smartphone, lighter than a laptop, the touchscreen tablet has found its place in our daily lives. Apple and Samsung are the main players in the market, but other manufacturers, notably Huawei and Lenovo, are doing well. Here are the criteria to consider when choosing a tablet that is right for you.

What to choose test: Touch tablets comparison

  • SUMMARY:
  • Apple and Samsung have very good tablets, but other manufacturers, like Huawei and Lenovo, offer interesting alternatives.
  • A 10-inch tablet is more comfortable, but logically more bulky than an 8-inch tablet. Choose according to your use.
  • To store your data, 32 GB appears as a bare minimum. A memory card port will expand storage as needed.
  • No, a tablet can’t really replace a computer. A hybrid tablet, yes, but these models are very expensive (minimum € 1,200!).
  • With a 4G connection, you will be able to connect to the Internet without being within range of a Wi-Fi network. But you will have to take out a specific subscription.
  • APPLE, A PIONEER WITH ITS IPAD
  • Before the touchscreen tablets we know today, several digital tablet concepts had already emerged, without real success, in the 1990s (Keyport 300, Newton MessagePad, or even Amstrad PenPad).
  • With its iPad , launched in 2010, Apple has created the first consumer touchscreen tablet useful for everyday life.
  • In two months, the manufacturer has sold 2 million copies worldwide! This success, he owes first to the multipoint touch screen inaugurated on his iPhone, the smartphone launched a little earlier, in 2007.
  • This screen turned out to be the ideal interface for browsing the Internet, writing e-mails, looking at photos, watching films, etc. In short, the touch screen responded well to multimedia uses offered by the tablet, themselves supported by a coherent software environment.
  • The iPad runs on iOS, an ergonomic operating system, and offers many applications in a dedicated store, the App Store.

SAMSUNG, FIRST SERIOUS COMPETITOR

Samsung was the first to draw a plausible alternative to the iPad with the first Galaxy Tab, launched in 2011. For this powerful and responsive tablet with a good touch screen, Samsung relied on Google and its software environment: the system operating system Android and its application store Google Play Store.

Other manufacturers then launched tablets under Android, in particular Archos or Toshiba. But these tablets rather positioned mid-range or entry-level, therefore sold cheaper than the iPad and the Galaxy Tab, were also significantly less efficient.

LENOVO AND HUAWEI STILL IN THE RACE


After several years of growth, the tablet market is declining. Several factors explain this disenchantment on the part of consumers. First, once equipped, no need to change the tablet for a long time because they change little. Then iOS and Android software updates provide maintenance for at least 5 years. Finally, not all users find the ideal device in the tablet for their own use, preferring the laptop or smartphone .

As a result, several manufacturers have deserted this market. Today, Huawei and Lenovo are almost the only ones to offer new products to stand up to Apple and Samsung. The Lenovo Tab P10 and the Huawei Mediapad M5 Lite are just two models among those that pleasantly surprised us in our lab tests .

WHICH TABLET SIZE TO CHOOSE?


The offer is segmented into two main families: on the one hand, “small” tablets with a 7 or 8 inch screen, on the other, tablets with a 9 or 10 inch screen. These are more comfortable in use, but automatically heavier. The larger formats (around 12 inches) are more of a hybrid.

Three tablets of different size: 7, 10 and 12.9 inches.
Resolution
The most high-end models have a high-resolution screen, that is to say very dense in pixels and therefore offering a high-precision display (1668 × 2224 pixels for the iPad Air 2019 , for example). Beware of resolutions that are too low (768 × 1024, for example), whose blurry display is annoying in use.

STORAGE AND MEMORY CARD


All touch pads offer storage in the form of SSD flash memory (as opposed to conventional HDD hard drives). This is also what allows them to start and wake up quickly, like a smartphone. Choose a model of at least 32 GB. First, because the operating system occupies a significant part of this space (more than 7 GB of the 32 GB of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 , for example). Then because the content (applications and their data, photos, videos, etc.) also take up space. If the device has a memory card slot, you may be able to increase the storage space of your tablet.

OPERATING SYSTEM: IOS OR ANDROID?

Two operating systems coexist. Apple iPads work with the iOS system while other manufacturers (Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo, Archos, etc.) offer Android tablets (Google). These two systems offer comparable ergonomics. The interface is simple and well designed in both cases. Both offer an online store for downloading apps, listening to music or renting movies. These are the App Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android. We advise you to opt for the same system as that of your smartphone, for the sake of software harmony and to facilitate daily use (user account, file transfers, etc.). Thus, iPhone users will easily find their way around an iPad, and Samsung enthusiasts can find their way around a Galaxy Tab.

THE DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF IOS AND ANDROID SYSTEMS

Apple and Google regularly update their operating system with new versions intended to improve it (ergonomics, security). These updates are available free of charge to all users with fairly recent tablets. Apple assures that its tablets will be updated for 5 years. As for Android, it all depends on the manufacturers. Most update their fairly high-end models for several years, but abandon their basic models (adapting OS updates is expensive for the manufacturer…).
Make sure the tablet does not come with an older version of Android or iOS. Between two major releases, Apple and Google regularly release interim updates to fix bugs and improve security. When they are available, install them (from the “Settings” menu of your tablet).

A TABLET FOR WHAT USES?

A touchscreen tablet allows you to browse the Internet from a browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.), but also to take and view photos, watch films or even listen to music (it is better, however, to add a Bluetooth speaker to improve sound quality). The applications available in the App Store (iPad) and the Google Play Store (Android) multiply the uses to infinity. Thus, you will be able to download games, magazines, video editing and digital reading applications (even if an e-reader , whose screen is not backlit, is more suitable for long-term reading), cooking recipes… And these are just a few examples among thousands!

Computer software publishers, such as Microsoft or Adobe, have also declined their software in the form of applications. So you can buy Word, Excel or Photoshop and use them like on a real computer. Well almost because, unless you equip yourself with a keyboard and a mouse, your tablet cannot really replace a computer. And again, a hybrid tablet will actually be better suited.

FROM MULTIMEDIA TO IT: THE HYBRID TABLET

The tablet has shaken up the laptop PC market. First, it popularized the family of ultrabooks , light and powerful devices (quite expensive, too) with instant start (you can leave them on standby, like a tablet or a smartphone). Then, she encouraged the development of hybrid tablets , so named because they are positioned halfway between traditional touch tablets and laptops. We have dedicated a buying guide to these hybrid tablets. They work most often on Windows 10, like laptops. They were designed for use with a stylus and / or keyboard, often sold as an option. The advantage is modularity: without the keyboard, you benefit from a touchscreen tablet and with a “real” computer. The ergonomics of Windows 10 will adapt automatically thanks to its tablet mode. Disadvantage: their exorbitant price. The star of the genre, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 , costs € 1,069 in its cheapest version, to which it will be necessary to add at least € 150 for a keyboard (Microsoft also offers a keyboard at € 180), € 110 for the stylus and 35 € for the mouse. That is a total of € 1,364! Samsung ships the SPen keyboard and stylus in the box, but its 12-inch Galaxy Book sells for € 1,229.

Apple’s iPad Pro are also included in this category. The iPad Pro 2018 11-inch and iPad Pro 12.9 inch 2018 run on iOS, Apple simply modified connectors, replacing its traditional port Lightning owner via USB Type C, more universal.

NETWORK: WITH OR WITHOUT 3G OR 4G

Apple, Samsung and others generally come in two versions, with and without a SIM card slot. Tablets with a SIM card port are generally more expensive (100 € difference with the model without one), but they allow you to connect to the Internet when no Wi-Fi network is within range (in the car, for example ). To do this, you need to take out a specific subscription with your mobile operator. Note that it is possible to share the mobile connection of your smartphone with your tablet (the function is accessible in the settings of your smartphone). This avoids paying for two mobile plans.

Please note: at Apple, Wi-Fi tablets without 3G or 4G do not have a GPS chip either. You must be connected to Wi-Fi to be located on a map.

PROCESSOR, CAMERA: PERFORMANCE

Little mystery about the overall performance of touch tablets: they are directly related to their price. Manufacturers reserve the most efficient components for their top-of-the-range models (from 500 to 700 €): screen, processor, graphics circuit and other elements must work in harmony. But do you need an ultra-sophisticated model? Your turn to judge. The mid-range models of the big manufacturers (from 250 to 400 €) generally offer a good quality / price ratio. Our laboratory tests , updated regularly, should convince you of this. Avoid models that are too low-end, which will not bring you satisfaction and will probably stay in a drawer.

Camera


If you plan to take photos with your tablet, consider the two sensors (front and back) and their resolution. If you are adept at video communications by Messenger, Facetime or Skype, make sure you have a front sensor of sufficient quality.

WHAT ARE TABLETS UNDER 150 € WORTH?


Tablets sold around € 150 are easily found on the market ( Acer Iconia One 10 , Archos 101b Oxygen , Lenovo Tab E10 , Huawei MediaPad T3 , etc.). Their overall performance is fairly average, first because their screen is often small (8 inches) and therefore uncomfortable, then because their storage space is often limited (16 GB), and finally because their components (processor, graphics chip) , screen) make them slow and unresponsive devices.

TABLETS FOR SENIORS, A GOOD IDEA?


Several manufacturers have specialized in touch tablets for seniors. These models have a simplified interface, made up of icons to the main functions (e-mail, photos, games, Internet browsing). The offers are unequal in terms of ergonomics, performance and ancillary costs. Our buying guide will help you choose a model, our test to avoid some really badly designed tablets. Rest assured, we have also found some very well thought out products!