So you’re looking for a new tablet? What should you keep in mind?

There are many tablets out there, but which is right for you?

Much has been written about how tablets are not “needed,” but are rather just fun toys. I must say I agree with this, to a point. I feel that there are many great use-cases for tablets. They are lighter and more portable than any laptop (yes, even the MacBook Air) and last longer. Devices such as the the Transformer Prime (with keyboard dock) have extremely long battery lives as well great production (not just consumption) capabilities. Tablets have access to their (respective) app stores, which offer far more software applications (at lower cost as well).

So you’re looking for a new tablet – where to start?

The first choice one must make, is cost. If you are looking for a $250 or less tablet, there are plenty of Android options. As well an iPad 1G is a possibility (but I would recommend against it just due to age). Of the sub-$250 Android options, Amazon’s Kindle Fire is the best at the moment, but the forthcoming Google Nexus Tablet is definitely worth the wait (alleged June/July release). Also, it is very possible to find a lightly used/refurbished Android Tegra 2 10″ tablet at this price range.

If you’ve got a little more cash (say up to $500) your options really open up. It’s extremely easy to find any iPad 2 you desire, or even the lowest end of iPad 3rd generations (though I’d advise against as many iPad apps are over 1GB – 16GB will go fast!). First generation Asus Transformer tablets are available used (with the keyboard dock of course).

Amazon hit the spot with the $199 Kindle Fire

When you go over $500, The new 32GB iPad at $600 is a good contender, but keep in mind you’ll need around $100 for a reasonable keyboard and accessories. The Asus Transformer Prime at $650 with keyboard dock is the best Android tablet available (plus the keyboard offers 15+ hours of battery life). If you truly need data on the go, a tethering plan on your mobile is more practical than upgrading to a tablet with data (especially because carriers do not subsidize iPads).

But First.

But the biggest question before you buy a tablet is – Do I REALLY need this? If you are unsure, I would suggest dipping your toes in on the lower end of the spectrum (they Kindle Fire is a great piece of tech) before going whole hog with a $600 purchase.

Tablets can really improve the way you work (and play) but without a good implementation strategy, they will just cost you money for little added value. If you’ve got any questions on tablets please leave them in the comments (or if you think I missed a good value).

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Chris Cairns

I use the Kindle for reading and the iPad for web browsing. Beyond that, all other functions are performed on my PC.