Guide to iPad and other Tablet Devices : Part 9
Other Issues to Consider in Choosing the
Best Tablet/iPad for Your Needs
valuable and not necessarily expensive accessory to add to
your tablet device might be a free standing Bluetooth
keyboard, but note that not all tablets will necessarily
support Bluetooth keyboards.
So, after applying the matters
discussed in the preceding eight parts of this series, you might
think you've now identified the ideal tablet for your needs.
But, wait - there's more!
Other accessories and addons, supported by some tablets but not
others, can extend still further the value and use you get from
your new device.
Whether it is the best way of
synching your tablet to your other computers, being able to
print out from the tablet (surprisingly, not always an easy
thing to do), or wishing to type into it more quickly and
conveniently, there are still many more issues to factor into
your buying decision.
What Else to Consider
Phew! Have we left
anything out? Well, maybe a couple of other things might
also be worth commenting quickly on.
Synchronizing/Sharing with a
The chances are that you'll
want to share and synchronize data between your tablet and your
main computer - things like contact lists with phone numbers and
email addresses, website favorites, appointment calendars,
account logins and passwords, and who knows what else.
There are various ways this
can be done, and increasingly Google (and other companies too)
offer cloud based ways of doing it more or less automatically
without any need for formal synchronization between devices.
This is usually the best solution, although beware that
sometimes these programs (including Apple's over-priced and
under-supported 'MobileMe') may 'eat your data'; incorrectly
synchronizing older data over the top of newer data, or may
start creating multiple copies of the same thing (such as I
suffered with Sugar Sync), filling all your storage up with
repeating copies of the same data.
Manually synchronizing seems
to be the most robust, albeit least convenient, way of ensuring
such things don't erupt out of control.
Some tablet devices might
support synching wirelessly via Wi-Fi. Others (notably
iPads) require an old fashioned and surely these days
unnecessary physical cable connection.
Apple has famously declined
to support the Adobe Flash animation software in its web
browsers on the iPhone and iPad.
Most people know nothing
about Flash, but that doesn't mean it is unimportant. It
simply means that Flash animations are played seamlessly and
automatically by most web browsers - and when I refer to a Flash
'animation' I don't mean some sort of cartoon (although it
certainly could be). I am referring more to some of the
more clever and interactive things you see on web pages such as
maps and tables and charts that change as you move your cursor
over them - things that greatly extend and enhance your web
Although it would be good
practice to code all web pages with a non-Flash alternate
version, the reality is because just about every web browser
does support Flash, and because it becomes so difficult to
create some sort of weak fallback interface if Flash isn't
supported, most web sites that use Flash don't bother, and only
provide a Flash based interface.
Estimates vary as to how
many websites use Flash, and happily such is the growing
importance of iPhone and iPad web browsing that some websites
are slowly moving away from using Flash, but for sure, from time
to time (and inevitably on pages you most want to access) you'll
find an ugly icon telling you that the web page can't display
the information you want because your browser doesn't support
So what is the practical
impact on having a Tablet device that doesn't support Flash?
It really depends on the type of websites you visit. In
particular, if you visit sites with 'clever' animated pages, and
websites that show video, there's a good chance that they are
using Flash. If you want to, you could disable Flash
support in your regular computer's browser and then check if the
websites you visit the most use Flash or not.
To disable Flash in Internet
Explorer, go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Programs -> Manage
Add Ons. In the window that opens, in the Toolbars and
Extensions, highlight Adobe Flash and disable it.
The lack of Flash support is a definite
disadvantage for the iPad, and assuming that the other tablet
devices you are considering do support Flash, it is a factor to
be considered in your final decision.
No tablet has a decent
keyboard. The onscreen keyboards are small and their
'keys' are unyielding, and usually the keyboard only has
letters, you have to flip to a different screen to use numbers,
and possibly a third screen for symbols.
If you want to use a tablet
for more intensive and more efficient keyboarding, you really
need an external keyboard, connected in some way to the tablet.
A Bluetooth connection would be the most convenient, but not all
tablets will have the necessary Bluetooth profile to support a
keyboard, and some tablets might not support Bluetooth at all.
Another issue is how do you
print from your tablet. Maybe you want to print a boarding
pass, a web page, an email, or who knows what else.
Ideally you'd want your tablet to be able to connect, via its
Wi-Fi connection, to a network aware printer on your LAN.
Surprisingly, it is
currently very difficult to print from an iPad. This is
promised to be addressed in an upcoming new release of the iOS
software, but it shows that you shouldn't assume or take for
granted functionalities which you might think would of course be
Your Special Needs
Last, but absolutely not
least, maybe you have a special purpose in mind for the tablet.
In that case, you need to confirm the software you need is
available for the tablet you wish, and that the tablet has the
capabilities to perform as expected/needed in that special
Maybe your special need
isn't so much 'special' as it is simply defining. For
example, in my case, the most valuable purpose I've put my
tablets to have been as a repository of electronic notes when
traveling, for which I needed software able to display Word
documents, pdf files, and other various things, and as an
entertainment device for my daughter when flying
internationally, for which I needed some 'nice' games, plenty of
storage for video, and really long battery life.
Decide what your own special
needs may be and make those factors higher on your selection
The Bottom Line
The bottom line can be found
at the bottom of the spreadsheet, if you chose to do the scoring
calculation. This will of
course be only an approximation, but it will give you a quick
heads-up for which the best choice for you may be.
We continue to believe that due
to the rapid evolution of tablet technology at present, the best
choice of all is to buy nothing and wait a few more months.
With something over 23 different manufacturers all racing to get
tablet devices to the market, you know there is going to be a
pricing blood-bath just as soon as there's a good range of
tablet choices open to you.
Not only are prices bound to
drop. We expect a very fast escalation of features and
capabilities to occur concurrently, both in operating system
capabilities (because both iOS and Android were originally
designed for the much more limited capabilities of cell phones),
in terms of hardware, and in terms of ultimate application
software (we're all still searching for the 'killer app' that
makes tablets into a 'must have' product).
But if you really do want to
treat yourself or someone else to a tablet sometime soon, please
use this massive buying guide and associated spreadsheet to help
you in your decision.
The good news is that by the time
you've worked through the 10,000 plus words in this series,
you'll not only make a better choice, but you'll probably also
have uncovered new uses and ways to enjoy and get value from
your new tablet.
of a multi part Buyers Guide to iPad/tablet devices.
Please visit the other parts of this series - links at the
If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.
29 Sep 2010, last update
28 May 2011
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.