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Come and talk to me about tablets...

(11 Posts)
BandersnatchCummerbund Wed 26-Dec-12 15:01:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nannynick Wed 26-Dec-12 15:58:40

I got an iPad Mini for Xmas and so far I have used it to watch iPlayer, play a game (Bridge Constructor) and write this message on Mumsnet.

so very early days in my use of a tablet. I have a WiFi version so can not be online out and about unless public WiFi available.

A Bluetooth keyboard may make word processing easier as takes time (at least for me) to use the touch screen keyboard.

NaokHoHoHo Wed 26-Dec-12 18:58:54

Think of it as a larger smartphone. They're great for consuming media but not great for typing - writing emails etc is fine, but I wouldn't want to write an essay on one. If you want to browse the internet, read and reply to email, read books, watch videos etc, they're great. Wordprocessing can be done on them but I'd only rely on it for incidental use that way, not as the device's main purpose.

BandersnatchCummerbund Wed 26-Dec-12 23:55:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NaokHoHoHo Thu 27-Dec-12 00:09:53

Ah I don't actually have one, didn't mean to imply I did - precisely because I already have other devices that do the necessary jobs (smartphone, laptop, desktop, kindle) and thus such a purchase would be entirely frivolous!

I wouldn't want to write an essay on it because of the keyboard issue (which, to be fair, you can manage to some extent with a bluetooth keyboard, although those tend to be quite small and thus not as comfortable for long term typing), because of the screen position (you'd have to get a stand so you're not hunching over it), and because of the faffiness of editing and limited facilities of mobile word processing apps - then again, maybe other people like editing on a smartphone/tablet; I sure as hell don't. I don't even like editing on my laptop and tend to save it for when I can get to my lovely huge screen and full size keyboard on the desktop. To be honest, by the time you've bought the necessary accessories to turn it into a portable workstation rather than a media/internet device, you might as well have bought a laptop.

I think you need to decide what you want its primary purpose to be - if you want to go online, watch stuff, listen to stuff, read emails, and occasionally do some work, get a tablet. If you want to be able to do work and occasionally do 'fun' stuff, get a laptop.

As for the internet issue - ask yourself, how often do you need to access the internet away from wifi, be it your own or publically available? On some of those occasions, could you tether your smartphone to get the access instead? You actually can make calls on tablets generally, but you'd have to use Skype or a similar voice over IP service, and it wouldn't use your minutes, obviously - you'd either be calling someone else who also has Skype, or paying for separate credit in Skype and calling their landline/mobile. If you want to be sure you can go online at any time, anywhere, you'll need a 3G capable tablet and some form of data plan/pay as you go sim to go with it; if you think you'll be using it fairly incidentally away from wifi, I wouldn't bother.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Thu 27-Dec-12 11:02:42

To specifically answer your questions:

“Are they basically a crossover between an e-reader and a mini laptop?”
Not exactly. They are more like a convergence between mobile phones and laptops. They do more than a phone does (for the most part) but less than a laptop. They are primarily best used for consuming media, i.e. Internet, news, watching videos, checking email, etc. They do have e-reader applications allowing you to read ebooks, but they are not, by any means, the same as a dedicated e-reader with an e-ink screen. So it’s more like how reading on a laptop screen would be.

“I would want to use mine to read e-texts, to check email/browse internet when out and about, and to do basic wordprocessing when travelling or out and not with a laptop (I presume I'd need one with a keyboard for this...). Is a tablet going to work well for this?”
If you are wanting to browse internet and check email, etc. when out, you will need an internet connection. There are a number of ways you can achieve this. WiFi at home is the best way, but when you are out, you can either tether your tablet to your mobile phone and use your phone’s internet on the tablet (this obviously uses any data allowance you have on your phone), some tablets come with a SIM card slot, allowing you to have a separate contract for your tablet to use mobile internet. Or the final option would be to use WiFi hotspots which are becoming more and more commonplace. If you have BT or Sky at home then you are automatically able to use OpenZone and Cloud WiFi hotspots respectively using your home account. In terms of a keyboard, if you are planning on doing more than the occasional short email, then a keyboard is a must. Bluetooth keyboards have been mentioned, but they are often awkward as you have to carry them around and you can’t fix them to the tablet for typing so you need a tablet stand for them to be much use. So it might also be worth having a look at one of the ASUS Transformer Pads which have a detachable keyboard, allowing them to be used as tablets and as a form of netbook. The currently available models are the Transformer Prime, the TF300 and the new Transformer Infinity. These tablets currently offer the best tablet/laptop crossover.

“And why the massive variation in price between say a Kindle Fire and an ipad?”
Ok, ignore the iPad in terms of price comparison. In typical Apple fashion they are hugely overpriced for what they are and also come with a ton of restrictions which you don’t want to be worrying over. In terms of the remaining candidates, there are generally three big features which contribute to their prices. Firstly, screen size, there are two main categories, 7 inch and 10 inch (although some manufacturers are producing some variants in 8-9 inch options now as well). Bigger screens cost more generally, as do those with higher resolutions (good to have a look at a few different resolutions in the shops to see what you are happy with as high resolution screens do look gorgeous!). Secondly, processor speed, the top models are packing quad-core processors running at around 1.5-1.7 GHz, mid-range models tend to be dual core with speeds between 1-1.5 Ghz. The faster the processor and the more cores it has, the more expensive it will be. Finally, internal memory, typically most tablets will have at least 8GB of internal memory and at the moment range up to about 64GB. Depending on what you use it for, 8GB may be sufficient or it may not. Try to aim for a tablet which has an SD card slot as this allows you to expand the memory by inserting an SD card. This is a much cheaper way of increasing memory. Companies who offer different versions of their tablets will charge more for the extra memory than it would cost you to buy an SD card of the same value. Again, Apple are the worst for this, e.g. buying an iPad with 64GB will cost about £100 more than the 32GB version, but to buy a 32GB SD card will cost about £15 (of course iPads don’t have an SD card slot, so another reason to avoid them).

“How does getting internet when out and about work? Do you have to pay separately for this, and if so who is your account with/how much do you pay?”
As mentioned above, you have a number of ways to get online. But if you have a 3G enabled tablet, then you simply pop a SIM card in like with a phone. You would use a regular phone plan, so would just be a case of buying a SIM card with a plan, or PAYG, etc.

chickydoo Thu 27-Dec-12 18:24:59

Gosh some of you are so knowledgeable.
I am looking to get a tablet/E reader
At the moment I have a bog standard samsung lap top, ( it's a biggie, too heavy to lump around)
I also have an iPhone which I love & adore. My life is on it. Have had an iPhone for 5 years, use it for mumsnet, music, emails, apps, podcasts, phone & text.
My eyesight is not good, and am finding everything very small. I would like to use something as an E reader, but also watch I player & a bit of googling.
Should I go for Kindle fire
Nexus 7
Or stick with the familiar & go for iPad. Mini.
Just not sure, any advice much appreciated.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Thu 27-Dec-12 19:29:00

Nexus 7 without a doubt.

BandersnatchCummerbund Fri 28-Dec-12 00:53:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NetworkGuy Mon 31-Dec-12 00:50:50

Was going to point out that relatively few mobile contracts are tethering friendly, which does limit access.

The times I most want to use my tablet (7" Archos that cost 100 quid 12/2011) out of the house are when I see what might be a bargain in some shop (and then I find it is often a bit cheaper from various online suppliers), or to check the specifications if something I am looking for is not actually mentioned (esp when comparing mobile phones - gsmarena.com has a pretty comprehensive database of smart and not-so-smart phones).

Uses I make for the tablet - quick glance at e-mail (easier to view on a bigger screen when there may be images included, eg latest results of Ebay searches, or newsletters from stores), the odd game, checking e-mail, or listening to radio (sleep timer, alarm clock, so often starts and ends the day in bed[room])

NetworkGuy Mon 31-Dec-12 00:57:24

Also worth mentioning, some tablets have a smaller HDMI socket so you can plug into a modern flat screen TV. My little Archos can therefore display content on a big screen from micro-SD card, for example.

I also spotted (and bought) a 30 quid Android unit that has HDMI socket on it (plugs straight into TV) so with a USB mouse and the home wi-fi internet connection, it's a complete 'PC' on a significantly bigger screen (42") though I don't yet have a suitable keyboard, so best for displaying off the web/ photos etc downloaded via wi-fi.

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