Specs for a budget tablet

Nafisa Akabor Cache This, Latest

Buying a tablet today can be tricky given the sheer number of models available. From iPad’s six different screen sizes to Samsung’s confusing choice between class (Active, S, A) and variation (lite, +, e, FE). Then there’s also Microsoft’s high-end Surface that costs more than a laptop.

To help you navigate the myriad of options, take a look at these considerations:

Purpose

What will you use the tablet for? Entertainment (social media, video streaming, gaming), productivity (work from home, editing, designing with a stylus) or educational (course work, school). Narrowing it down will help when deciding on screen size and storage.

Size and design

A good rule of thumb is to choose a screen size somewhere between your smartphone and laptop, so it doesn’t make either device feel like it’s being replaced. For example, if you own a phablet that is 6.8-inches, it makes no sense to buy a tablet that is 7.9-inches. If your tablet is going to be a portable work device when you’re out and about, it should be on the larger side (8-11 inches) which still makes it smaller than a 13-inch laptop. If you don’t own a laptop, a 12-inch tablet makes sense. When it comes to design, consider how the tablet sits in your hand. Does it need to be rugged because of accidental drops? How big would it appear if you need to add a Bluetooth keyboard?

Specs and storage

You don’t need a lot of storage in the following scenarios:

  • If you’re saving work to the cloud,
  • If you are primarily streaming content, or
  • If your course work or school requires you to upload files via a browser or app.

Storage does become a priority when you’re doing graphic intensive work with a stylus, if you are creating or editing videos, or if you use your tablet to play music, games, movies or TV series offline.

Pay attention to RAM for things like graphic intensive work, editing, switching between apps or gaming.

And if the device will be used for any form of video calling or meetings, get an HD camera.

OS and apps

It’s a bit of a given that Apple’s App Store has a wider and better selection of tablet-specific apps when compared to Android (there are over a million iPad-only apps). If you own a Macbook and iPhone, an iPad is a no-brainer with iCloud. If you own an Android phone, you’re better off buying an Android tablet – even though the selection is a bit limited and mostly high-end. But this route is recommended if you want the devices to talk to each other and share content via Google Drive. Unlike Apple, the Play Store isn’t as stringent when it comes to approving apps. So there’s a chance of downloading an Android app that may be malicious (especially if kids are doing the downloading).

Price

Whether you’re buying a tablet for school, work or play, it ultimately comes down to price. There’s a big Rand difference between WiFi and cellular/LTE models. If you plan to use it primarily at a location with WiFi, then skip the LTE version. Otherwise, check for (e)SIM support if you need to work from anywhere.

Two excellent options to consider are Nokia’s first-ever tablet, the T20 released this month. The T20 is Android Enterprise Recommended and Google Kids Space ready and retails at R3,999. The other option is the iPad 10.2-inch, released in October 2021, and features Touch ID and Apple Pencil support at R6,499.


Cache This

Technology is an ever increasing part of our lives and let’s be honest, many of us like gadgets. There is also an abundance of new online services and apps taking over the traditional services we use. Nafisa Akabor has been covering everything tech for well over a decade and she’ll be writing on how we can do tech within a budget and reviewing some of the new online services. Cache This is published on the last Tuesday of every month.



Meet the Just One Lap team at these live events

Subscribe to the Just One Lap weekly newsletter here