We live in an era where there’s no shortage of various gadgets available to us at any moment. One of those gadgets are tablets, which some consider to be an essential tool in their digital arsenal, while others shrug at the thought of spending money on one.
With that in mind, a lot of people consider whether or not they should get a tablet nowadays, and if the answer is ‘yes’, which one to get. To answer those questions, and a few more, let’s take a look at where the tablet market is at the moment, and whether or not it’s worth getting one today.
What are tablets, anyways?
In its simplest form, a tablet is a smartphone with a larger display. Now, the line between tablets and phones has become blurred recently. A couple of years ago, phones had a screen diagonal of no more than 5.5 inches, whereas tablets started from 7 inches. Today, things are a bit different.
Tablets still start at around 7 inches (even though you won’t find many of them), but phone displays are increasingly larger, and there is certainly no shortage of phones with displays larger than 6.5 inches. This does blur the lines quite a bit, especially when you factor in that tablets oftentimes have much larger bezels than smartphones, which means they’re physically a lot larger. This is somewhat of a necessity, though, because this way there are no accidental edge touch issues like some modern smartphones have.
Another major differentiating feature is that most tablets don’t have the ability to make phone calls. They don’t have a SIM card slot, and they don’t have the required radio and modem to be able to connect to a cellular transmitter tower. You will find some that have this capability, but it oftentimes comes at a price premium.
What are they useful for?
When they first appeared, companies promoted them as productivity tools. They were basically lightweight computers, and they were pretty good alternatives if you couldn’t drag a weighty laptop with you. The larger screens made them a bit easier to work with than smartphones.
However, with today’s evolution of the smartphone market, a modern smartphone is just as good as tablets were when it comes to lightweight work tasks, such as replying to emails and working with text documents and spreadsheets. A smartphone is oftentimes even more powerful, and you won’t notice that many problems and slowdowns.
That’s not to say the tablet industry has been sleeping. They have evolved as well, and quite a bit I might add. Today you’ve got advanced tablets that you can use as graphic design tools, that support input from pressure-sensitive pens, and that have very powerful hardware and easy-to-use software. But not a lot of users buy them for that.
The main thing that a tablet is useful to the everyday consumer is media consumption. Whether it’s social media, or watching your shows and movies, a tablet will make that experience a lot better. This is especially true when it comes to tablets with displays with a diagonal of 10 inches or more, which is most tablets nowadays.
Either get a good one or don’t get one at all
This is one thing that’s remained true for all these years, ever since tablets first started coming out. If you get a budget tablet, there’s a very high chance that it’s going to cause you more problems than it’s going to solve, which makes it a not-so-smart investment. If you’re going to use it, you should spend a bit more money on it, it’s definitely going to be worth it.
A couple of years ago, if you asked someone who knew things about buying a tablet, you would’ve heard “Either get an iPad or don’t get one at all”. And while Apple’s iPad lineup covers most, if not all use cases, there are some pretty good competitors on the market nowadays. Unfortunately, that only applies to “general use” tablets, and there aren’t too many of them – Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 is one example.
When it comes to tablets that you would use for professional use cases, such as graphic design, photo editing, or illustration, Apple’s iPad Pro series is unparalleled. When combined with the Apple Pencil, you’re looking at an excellent tool for productivity.
Whether it’s worth it is up to you
If you’re trying to decide whether or not to get a tablet, there are two main things you’ll want to consider – your needs, and your budget. These are the two things that will decide whether or not you should get a tablet, and which one.
As far as your needs go, you either need it for productivity, in which case the iPad Pro is the one to go for, or you need it for media consumption, what I referred to as “general use” earlier. If it’s the second, you’ve got a bit more choice. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 is a premium option with an excellent display, great speakers, and support for their S-Pen, but you could save some money with the S5e, which sacrifices a bit of performance and the S-Pen, or the S6 Lite, which sacrifices the display but does keep the S-pen. Huawei has some good options you could take a look at as well.
The other factor is your budget, and this can be significantly limiting when you’re shopping. If you need a tablet for productivity, but you can’t get a high-end model, you’re better of not getting one at all. It’s not going to work as you want it to, and chances are it’s going to cause you a lot of problems. Your call, though.