Tag Archives: tablets

Tablet Tips – A short buying guide

TIP: Before we begin, don’t even think about buying an E-reader. For the same money you can get a full-fledged tablet that will let you read books PLUS just about anything else you can do with a computer. So tablets only, no E-readers.

When tablets first came out, we thought they were a fad, let’s say a flash in the pan. They were cute, small and not very powerful. As time went by, however, tablets grabbed their share of the marketplace. Although a tablet will never replace laptop or desktop computing, we’ve realized that they do have a place in our daily computing world. Here’s why.

1. Instagram looks much better on a tablet than it does on a smart phone. That’s number one for us. For some reason, Instagram looks better on our seven inch Samsung Galaxy tablet than on our slightly smaller Nexus 5. Photos seem to jump out from the screen making the viewing experience much nicer.

2. Reading books is much easier on a tablet than anything else we’ve tried, including the books themselves. First, tablets provide their own light. No min-booklight needed here. Second, a tablet is lighter than a hardcover book and much easier to handle than a paperback since there’s no need to put your thumb in the middle to keep the pages open. Purists hate e-readers but we love them. Sure, we still have thousands of books but we try to read on our tablets whenever possible.

3. There’s no lid. A laptop is great for portability when you need to do some real computing. A tablet, on the other hand, is much easier to start, usually has better battery life and can supply you with news, reading, games and video in a simple, easy to carry device. Almost all tablets come with Bluetooth so there’s no need for a wired earphone set. Laptops don’t usually come with Bluetooth, right? Plus there’s that lid that gets in the way. When you’re on Facebook or Instagram, how often do you use a keyboard anyway? As cell phones move away from keypads, we’re all getting used to tapping out words on a touch screen.

Photo of Playbook
Our first tablet was a Blackberry Playbook. We enjoyed it but found that there weren’t many apps we could use on it.


Before you buy a tablet, here are a few tips:

1. Get a brand name. Samsung, Apple, Dell, HP, they’re all good. Don’t go for a generic device, no matter how good the price is. You won’t get support or updates or much of a warranty, in spite of what the store tells you. If the tablet is made and sold offshore, you’re going to find a warranty useless. Stick with a company that stands behind what they sell.

2. We would suggest getting an Android device. Why? They’re cheaper than Apple’s iOs  models and have just as many apps available. Apple products have what’s known as the ‘Apple Tax’ on them. You’re paying more simply because they’re made by Apple, not because they’re any better. That goes for everything Apple makes.

3. It seems crazy that a tablet wouldn’t come standard with WiFi but we’ve seen some out there that don’t. You have to load the apps through a USB connection. Make sure that the model you’re looking at has WiFi built into it. Don’t simply assume that it does.

4. Make sure you can add extra storage via a flash card of some type. If you’re traveling and want to watch a movie or two or three, you’ll need a few extra gigs of storage. Our Samsung has a slot for a 32 gigabyte card, enough for many movies or a couple of seasons of a TV series. None of Apple’s products come with this feature, just so you know.

5. You can get a very decent tablet for well under $200.00. We’re not associated with Samsung in any way but we love our Tab 3 Lite. It’s on its way out now but we’ve seen it on several sites for under $130.00. While it has only 8 gigs of storage, you can add up to 32 gigs via it’s micro-SD slot. Here’s how it looks:

Photo of Galaxy Tab
This inexpensive tablet has everything you need for a good price.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading! Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook 

Tablets vs. Laptops

Some experts say that the PC is dying, if it isn’t already dead. Tablets and touch (as in touchscreens) seem to be taking over the market. Here are our thoughts on all of this.

Our Experience

1. In the past two months, we’ve had two tablets lock up completely on us. One was a Samsung Galaxy II, the other was a Lenovo 10″ tablet. When we say they locked up, they were dead, completely unable to boot or be recognized when hooked up to a computer. We returned both products to where we bought them. We replaced the Lenovo with two Blackberry Playbooks, one 16 GB and one 32 GB, which have, so far, been stalwart devices, ready for anything we direct their way.

Photo of Playbook
A BB Playbook. These are very solid tablets that aren’t, unfortunately, sold anymore.

2. As far as laptops are concerned, we’ve never had to replace one. Batteries get old and stop charging, chargers need to be replaced (Dell chargers are bad for that) but we haven’t had major problems with any of the dozen or laptops around here.

3. Our newest addition, the Nexus 4 that we purchased from Google Play, locked up this morning but we were able to get it working again after plugging it in to its charger. The battery was at 89% but the on/off button wouldn’t work. We’ll see how it goes from here.


DIY Repairs 

Laptops can be repaired fairly easily. Tablets? Not so much. There are ample resources out there for quick fixes on laptops of all kinds. With a tablet, there is nothing that a user can do except return it to the vendor or manufacturer or, if it’s out of warranty, dispose of it. There are no user serviceable parts on a tablet but even a non-tech person would find it fairly easy to replace a hard drive or add more RAM. For this reason alone we would suggest purchasing a laptop instead of a tablet.

Typing and interaction 

Microsoft came to the tablet party much later than anyone else. Their new Surface is marketed as a competitor to the Apple iPad. Since the introduction of the Surface, there have been major price cuts. Now Microsoft is offering cash to Apple owners who turn in their ‘gently used’ iPads on the purchase of new Surface tablets.

Photo of Surface RT
Microsoft seems to be in the dark about tablets and their users.

We’ll deal with PC and Android tablets here since our readers seem to be more PC people than Apple users. Consider how much actual work you’d be able to do on a tablet. Even the simple task of writing an email would be tough if you’re using a tablet. Sure, you could add a keyboard, USB or Bluetooth depending on which tablet you buy, but that’s  extra cost for something all laptops already have. Microsoft’s ads for the Surface show it with a separate, and optional, keypad and a device to make it sit upright. Laptops already have these things as standard equipment, right?

Screen protectors? Laptops don’t need them, tablets do. A whole new industry has evolved around tablets and mobile devices. You might want a cool bag to carry your laptop in but you sure don’t need a sleeve for it. As far as the screen goes, just close the lid and walk away. Many laptops, including a Lenovo we recently purchased, have water-resistant keyboards, too. No extra protection needed.


We’ve had great luck with our netbooks as far as carrying them around is concerned. A netbook has a hard drive and keyboard, same as a notebook, but doesn’t have an optical (CD/DVD) drive. Tablets, specially the larger ones, are slippery and the screen won’t stand up on its own. We can set our netbook screens at any angle and, when we’re ready to move on, they fold up to half the size they were before. Additionally, tablets are not as light as you might think. The glass screens add a fair bit of weight that a laptop, with a plastic LED/LCD screen does not have.

Photo of Netbook
They are small but not quite this small. Screen size is 10″ on most netbooks.

These are some of our thoughts on laptops versus tablets. Many of you probably use smaller mobile devices such as cell phones or smart phones for your portable computing and social networking but you might be considering something larger. For most of our uses we’d stick to a laptop. As we’ve said before, tablets are toys more than tools, great for photo sharing or social networking but useless (and expensive) for day to day computing. We can get a fully functional laptop for under $300.00, complete with an optical drive and a very large hard drive. Even with the price cuts, Microsoft’s Surface is more expensive.

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