Tablets

At Inishowen Computer Systems Ltd we supply all makes of tablets for your needs from all the leading manufacturers.

There are still plenty of good reasons to consider buying a tablet. Maybe you want a device to occupy your free time or to supplement your TV watching with Twitter. Maybe you don't need a full-fledged laptop, but need something that's bigger than a Smartphone. Or maybe you're looking to buy an easy-to-use device for the technophobe in your life.

Whatever the reason, there's a tablet out there for you. Read on and we'll help you find the right one for your needs.

Convertible or Stand-Alone Tablet?

When it comes to tablets, you have a choice — do you go with a standard tablet or do you go with a “convertible” tablet?

Stand-alone tablets take the form of oversize smart phones: They consist of one large touch screen, a handful of buttons on the case, a charging connector and little else. They usually weigh between 1 and 2 pounds and are typically less than half an inch thick, so they're super compact and portable. You control them using the touch screen, but you can usually pair them with a Bluetooth keyboard.

Convertible devices try to combine the flexibility of the PC with the convenience of a tablet. These 2-in-1 devices either come with a detachable keyboard or they're really just a full-size laptop that features a touch screen.Detachables look and work like stand-alone tablets, but snap on to a specially designed keyboard attachment, and you can use them as laptop replacements. Some detachables come with the keyboard, while others require you to buy the keyboard separately, like with the iPad Pro and its $169 Smart Keyboard.

Microsoft's Surface Book takes the concept a step further, in that it's a full-fledged laptop with a detachable display that you can use as a stand-alone tablet.

Which Size?

Tablet screen sizes range from 6 inches on the low end, all the way up to a gargantuan 18.4 inches on Samsung's Galaxy View tablet. You'll find that most tablets fall into the 7- to 10-inch range: If you're looking for something small and light that you can take with you anywhere, a small tablet such 7-inch  tablet is the way to go.

Tablets in the 10-inch range, provide a good balance between portability and productivity: They aren't as easy to use with one hand, but they're still plenty light and compact. Larger tablets, such as the Galaxy View or the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, are less portable, but they can make for suitable laptop replacements.

Notebook-tablet hybrids typically feature screen sizes around 11 to 13 inches, but they tend to be bulkier, so they aren't ideal if size and weight are your main priorities.

Which Operating System?

iOS 9

The latest and greatest version of Apple's mobile operating system is iOS 9. It powers all of Apple's current-generation iPad models (as well as smart phones). And it comes with a number of additions that give your iPad a little extra flexibility, thanks to new split-screen multitasking features.  Your hardware options are limited with iOS, relative to Android and Windows, since you have only Apple's iPad line to choose from. The options include the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 4 and iPad mini 2. On the other hand, iOS users have hundreds of thousands of apps at their disposal through the App Store.

Android

When it comes to Android tablets, you have no shortage of options — both in terms of hardware and software.

While Android is, ostensibly, Google's mobile operating system, there is no unified Android. The company releases a new update to the OS every year or so, and some tablets get updated while others do not. Plus, most tablet makers customize Android to suit their needs, or add in features to differentiate their tablets from the competition. Samsung tablets, for instance, come with a customized interface that integrates a number of Samsung-specific apps and features. Amazon's Fire tablets run a heavily customized version of Android that Amazon calls Fire OS.

Windows 10

Windows 10, the newest version of Windows, builds upon the foundation Microsoft laid in Windows 8 and 8.1. The new OS is easier to use on traditional PCs than Windows 8 was, and it makes using Windows on a tablet much more seamless than before. Windows 10 offers several concessions to tablet users, such as large, touch-friendly window controls and buttons, a Tablet Mode (which expands the Start menu to fill the whole screen) and various touch-screen gestures.  Windows remains heavily oriented around the keyboard and mouse, though, so some apps and features may be awkward to use via a touch screen. It makes sense, then, that many Windows tablets are of the convertible kind.

How Will You Use It?

At Home

For general home use — such as Web browsing, email, listening to music and so on — most any tablet out there will fit the bill. You probably won't need to go with a super high-end tablet.

For Work

If you plan to use your tablet as a business machine — or as a laptop replacement — you'll want one with at least a 9-inch screen. ($649 and up) are very good options. Each of these comes with handy multitasking features, optional keyboard attachments and pen-input support.

For the Kids

With tablets for children, you'll want to consider size, price, durability and parental-control features. A 7-inch tablet will be more suitable for small hands, and given the risk of a broken tablet, you'll want to stay on the lower

For Media Consumption

Any of the tablet ecosystems are good choices for watching movies or TV shows and listening to music the 8.9-inch may be for you.

What About Apps and Content?

All three major tablet operating systems provide digital storefronts from which you can purchase and download apps, music, movies and other kinds of content.  On iOS, the App Store is the only real way to get apps for your iPad. Apple keeps pretty tight controls over what apps you can buy through its store, which reduces the risk of downloading something malicious, but somewhat limits the sorts of things apps can do. The iTunes Store lets you purchase music, movies and TV shows, while the iBooks app manages all things pertaining to e-books. Meanwhile, the Music app lets you listen to your own tunes or stream music via the Apple Music subscription service.

Google Play is your official one-stop shop for getting apps, music and other content on your Android tablet. But Android's more open nature means it isn't the only way to get apps and other content, and Android device manufacturers sometimes bundle their own digital store on their devices.  

On Windows 10 devices, you can purchase apps, music and movies through the Windows Store. Because this is Windows, however, you can download apps from just about anywhere. Still, certain software titles may only be available via the Windows Store, and since Microsoft vets everything in it, you're at a lower risk of malware infection if you go through the Store.

Which specs matter?

Tablet specs can be tricky to discern, since not all manufacturers fully disclose their devices' innards. Here's a quick rundown on what you might see, and what it all means.

Processors

Apple uses its custom A-series chips inside its iPads. Current models use either the A7, A8, A8X or A9X processors: Higher numbers denote a newer processor that offers better performance, and the X suffix indicates a more powerful version of a given processor. The A8 is newer than the A7, for instance, while the A8X is a more powerful version of the A8.

Android tablets pack processors from a variety of manufacturers. Samsung's Exynos chips and Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors are the most common: Nvidia's Tegra processors are found on Nvidia tablets, and you'll find some Android machines with Rockchip CPUs.

On the Windows front, you'll find mainly Intel processors, including the Core m3, i5 and i7 processors. Tablets based on Intel Core processors tend to be higher-end devices, and will generally cost you more. Lower-cost Windows tablets and convertibles often use Intel Atom processors.

RAM (Memory)

RAM isn't quite as big a selling point on tablets because of how iOS and Android manage memory. Generally speaking, however, the more you spend, the more RAM you'll get, and on most tablets, you can expect anywhere between 1GB and 4GB of memory. Laptop/tablet hybrids and other Windows-based convertible tablets, like the Surface Pro 4, typically offer more memory, sometimes up to 16GB of RAM. More RAM often equates to snappier performance.

Storage and Expandability

Stand-alone tablets typically come with 8 or 16GB of storage on the low end, and up to 128GB on the high end. Convertible Windows tablets often have storage capacities more in line with typical notebooks, so it isn't unusual to find one with 256GB of storage or more. Some tablets include SD card readers that allow you to expand your device's storage capacity. Unless you don't use your tablet much, you may find 8 or 16 GB to be a little too constraining for your needs, so you'll probably want to pay a little more and get at least 32GB of storage space — or look for one with an onboard SD card slot.

How About Battery Life?

Many tablets will get you all-day battery life, but as our testing shows, tablet battery life can still vary greatly. We recommend you look for a tablet that runs for no less than 7 hours on a single charge.

Is the Price Right?

You can pay an awful lot for a tablet — but you don't have to. Tablets range from more than €1,000 on the high end to less than €100 on the low end, so you have plenty of options, regardless of how much or how little you want to spend.