How to choose the best tablet for you

ZARA BAXTER
Last updated 05:00 31/10/2012
iPad mini

MiNI ME: The rise of the tablet computer continues.

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OPINION: If you're thinking about buying a tablet, you may be wondering how to choose between a seven-inch tablet and a 10-inch tablet, and whether Apple's iOS or Google's Android is more suited to your needs.

ANDROID OR IOS

How do you know if you're more suited to Android or iOS? Go into stores and try out some key tasks in each. Most people use a tablet for just three things: email, internet browsing and games. So if you try to send an email, browse the web and play a game, you'll see how intuitive each interface is. But there's a caveat - each Android tablet is slightly different and no two Android tablets handle things exactly alike.

Apple's iOS primarily works in apps. If you want your tablet mostly for gaming, email and internet, and can't imagine using files or folders, then iOS is a great choice.

If you know you want to work with files and folders on your tablet, then Android is a better choice. It uses file and folder storage similar to that of Windows or Mac OS. Apple's iOS, on the other hand, requires that you store files in the cloud - otherwise you can't transfer them onto other devices.

7-INCH OR 10-INCH TABLET

Price: A seven-inch tablet works out cheaper, usually priced between $300 and $600, rather than the $500-$1100 of a 10-inch tablet.

Function: Seven-inch tablets are great for reading eBooks, and perfect for emailing. A 10-inch tablet can feel a bit big for eBook reading, but it's less likely to trim webpages to fit on the screen. Games on a 10-inch tablet feel more easily playable, simply because there's more space to use your hands on the touch-controls.

Portability: Seven-inch tablets weigh around 300 grams, whereas larger tablets weigh 500g or more. You can generally hold a seven-inch tablet comfortably in one hand, but a 10-inch tablet may need to be rested on your knees, a table, or gripped with both hands.

Quality: Many smaller tablets use poor-quality screens. You have to be more careful shopping for a seven-inch tablet, to be sure you'll get something useable.

BEST TABLETS

The Google Nexus 7 is the best seven-inch tablet I've seen, and it's great. I expect the 7.8-inch iPad Mini to be just as good, if not actually slightly better.

In 10-inch tablets the iPad is outstanding. However, if you'd rather have an Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Sony Xperia Tab are solid.

IN-CAR TECHNOLOGY

Getting technology into cars is trickier than it first appears. I saw my first in-car computer around 2009. It was running Windows XP because, I was told, it takes five years from car technology conception to execution. But everyone expects technology in cars: just last weekend a friend asked why there are no cars with USB ports.

But there are cars with USB ports. Cars can include such standard technology without taking the risk of investing in obsolescence.

The Honda Civic IMA, which is a hybrid I've had for a week as a loan to test the tech, stashes a USB port in the console. If you plug your phone in via a USB cable, you can access all the music and podcasts using the entertainment controls on the steering wheel. It's not the only car with USB and easy playback, but it does handle it neatly.

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The car also manages Bluetooth pairing, so that you can use your phone handsfree.

In the future in-car technology will likely consist of wireless, USB and large LCD displays - even touchscreens. Wireless can be added to some cars using a USB dongle - as long as the car has a suitable USB port - but could soon be included as an optional extra at purchase. Even better, while upgrading any tech in your car used to be a matter of replacing hardware, it is now getting to the point of upgrading just the software that controls everything instead.

Zara Baxter edits New Zealand PC World and has been reviewing gadgets for more than 15 years. Visit pcworld.co.nz.

- The Dominion Post

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