Comparing tablet computers


The almost instantaneous success of the first iPad led to predictions that tablets would be the future of computing, and the end of the road for conventional desktop and notebook PCs. And it's true that sales for traditional computers haven't been strong for a few years, as users, especially young people, gravitate to smartphones and tablets for both work and play. However, tablet sales have also started to drop off. Why?

The theory is that most users are happy with older tablets, if they still work, and they don't feel compelled to rush out and upgrade. (That isn't true for smartphones and many upgrade every two years or so, prompted in no small part by their phone contracts.) But while we may not need the latest models, it's hard to argue with how compelling tablets are on the whole. They feel great in your hands, enable convenient and portable pursuits - web browsing, email, social media, videos, games, books - and are more affordable than ever.

What is it? PendoPad 7-inch tablet How much? From $99 Pros: Kids are drawn to tablets, but watch how much they use them! And you can't trust them not to drop these slim, easily breakable tech pieces, so budget ones (or hand-me-downs) are best for kids. This Pendo tablet may not win awards but it's a fully capable unit for simple games and education apps. Often heavily discounted in supermarkets and retail chains. Cons: Don't expect premium performance at this price.


What is it? Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8-inch 16GB wi-fi How much? From $299 Pros: Between budget models like the Pendo and the heights of the iPad stratosphere, is a buyer's market of name-brand, quality tablets, especially in mini sizes (usually 7- or 8-inch displays). Samsung's 8-inch wi-fi model is a strong package for the price. Also available in a 9.7-inches, with optional extra 4G connectivity. Cons: Compare sizes in store to see what suits you best.

What is it? iPad Air 2 How much? From $619 Pros: Apple didn't invent tablets but it was the first to take them mainstream. The iPad Air 2 is the sleekest, fastest and most powerful model yet. The A8X chip and 2GB RAM give it plenty of power and some 375,000 tablet-optimised iOS apps spoil you for choice. Cons: The most important caveat is Apple's 2015 versions are just around the corner, including the much-rumoured larger 12-inch model (most probably).


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