Making a new tech purchase can be a nerve-wracking process. There are dozens of brands to be aware of, lots of models to choose from, tons of tech terms that you may or may not understand, and even more mistakes that are way too easy to make. (Just take a look at our list of common computer-shopping mistakes for an idea of how easy it is to go wrong.) Shopping for a tablet can be a similarly complicated undertaking, but once you understand the basics of navigating the process, you’ll be much better prepared to make a good decision.
The easiest way to figure out how you should shop for a tablet is to be aware of the mistakes you shouldn’t make. Read on to learn from the six mistakes that people make way too often when they’re buying a tablet. Having a little bit of preparation and foresight can help you avoid wasting money on a tablet that isn’t right for your needs and struggles to meet your expectations.
1. Ignoring the software that powers a tablet
Just like when you’re buying a smartphone, the operating system is one of the first things you’ll need to decide on when you’re buying a tablet. Are you an Apple fan who wants a tablet that’ll play nice with your iPhone or your Mac? Then an iPad, which is powered by Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, is probably your best bet. Similarly, if you’re an Android fan or a Windows Phone user, you probably already know which operating system you might want in a tablet.
However, it’s important to look closely at the capabilities of the software you’re considering. That applies both to choosing an operating system carefully, and paying attention to which version of an OS a given tablet uses. For instance, iOS has some (albeit limited) multitasking features, while Android Marshmallow offers none to speak of, and Android N is expected to bring some split-screen capabilities. If a new version of Android offers a feature that you really want, make sure that you don’t buy a tablet that ships with an older version of the OS and likely won’t get an update anytime soon.
It’s also important to ensure that the Android tablets you’re considering don’t restrict access to the Android app store, impose limitations, or make other changes to the OS that will prevent you from making the customizations that you want. Similarly, if there are specific apps that you’re envisioning using on your brand-new tablet, check out the developer’s website and figure out whether there’s a tablet-optimized version of that app, or whether you’re simply going to be looking at a blown-up version of the smartphone app. You can access the Play Store and the App Store online, so it also pays to look around at a platform that you’re unfamiliar with to see what kinds of apps you’d be able to load on a given tablet.