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What Matters Most in a Tablet?
If you have to take notes while you are walking around or on the go, you'll likely want a tablet that's lightweight and has a long-lasting battery. If you live for movies, a tablet with streaming-video capability and a larger screen than your smartphone could be far more important. High-end tablets cost upwards of $600, but you can buy a low-end tablet for considerably less: the Kindle Fire, which dominates the lower end of Android sales, costs under $200 as of February 2012.
If you intend to write a lot on your tablet, choosing the right interface is important. The touchscreen keyboard works well for hunt-and-peck typists, but if you touch-type, your work speed will drop when you switch to a touchscreen. You can buy a keyboard for many tablets, although that makes them less portable. Styluses are also available for writing on Android and iPad tablets. Some tablets, such as those using Ice Cream Sandwich, Android's 4.0 operating system, offer voice-controlled typing. Another important consideration when working on long documents is screen size: a smaller screen reduces how much you can see without scrolling.
If you expect to use your tablet to view mobile media, the shape of the screen matters. According to Consumer Reports, a tablet with a wide horizontal screen will display movies and high-definition television with higher quality than the iPad's square screen. Choosing a tablet with excellent screen resolution and brightness also matters. Wi-Fi, which you can use to watch video without a 3G/4G data plan, is now standard on tablets; in fact, MSNBC estimated that in 2011, as many as 75 percent of tablet owners used only Wi-Fi. CNet recommends the Kindle Fire tablet because Amazon makes new releases available for streaming sooner than Netflix does.
Internet and Email
A 2011 Nielsen Company survey found that 42 percent of tablet owners use them to go online while watching television, primarily to read email but also for social networking and general Web surfing. According to Consumer Reports, the iPad's square screen is better suited for reading email, as it shows more of your inbox at a glance than a wide, rectangular screen does. If you use your tablet mainly at home or work, you can access the Web 24/7 via Wi-Fi; however, if you travel often and plan to take your tablet on the road, there's a definite advantage to having a tablet enabled for 3G/4G.
If you are debating between an iPad and an Android tablet, the shape of the screen is certainly not the only difference to consider. The iPad 2 has no USB ports or flash-card slots, so to back up your data, you have to send it to your laptop using either Wi-Fi or an adapter and USB cable. The iPad's iOS system doesn't support Adobe Flash, which means some Web images won’t display properly