How to Choose a Slate or Tablet PC

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Book Reading

There are a number of display types coming to market for tablets. Some will be better for reading than others, with electronic paper still the best display type for reading. If you read a lot and want this feature, try the device outside for at least a couple chapters and see if you enjoy the result and don’t get headaches. This can be as much a function of your eyes as it is the display, but if you intend to use this to read books, there is no point in getting a device that sucks at book reading. By the late fourth quarter, we should have devices that work well for both books and multimedia. Depending on your need to read, you may want to wait for some of them to show up before you buy into this segment.

Application Content Store

If you want to play games or perform other tasks on your device, which is likely, you’ll want to look into the related application store to see if there are things you find compelling. There is nothing worse than being locked into a two-year data plan with a device that doesn’t have the applications you want to play with. On the other hand, if you tend to just use the core stuff that your phone or PC ships with, and don’t load much, then you may want to focus on other areas to help make a decision. However, keep in mind that content is critical. If there is a shortage of easy-to-buy and use content for the device, it is likely to sit on your shelf and be a waste of money. Depending on how you intend to use the device, look for things you want to watch, read, or enjoy on the device to make sure there is enough stuff you want to enjoy to keep you interested.


Often, accessories make the device. Charging stations, covers for protection, and accessories you can use to get more use out of the device are important to your being able to enjoy the device over a long period of time. Some vendors do a great job of this, most do not. These things allow you to use the device in the gym, extend the battery life, connect it to other things (like your car) and make it more portable. Accessories also suggest vendor commitment, and there is nothing worse than paying a lot for a device only to have the vendor abandon it a few months later.

Wrapping Up and Price

Recall that the first iPhone cost over $500, and was vastly more limited than the current iPhone, which runs under $200. The same will likely happen here: The first generation of devices will be very expensive and comparatively limited when compared to later generations. In a few years, the data plans for these devices will drop substantially as well, as 4G networks continue to roll out. If you are going to use the device heavily, it will be worth the higher initial price. I don’t regret buying any of my three Kindles, for instance, and many who bought the first iPhone enjoyed it greatly. However, if you expect to be a light user, you may want to wait, or pick a lower cost data plan to go with the device.

With two-year data plans, many of these slate or tablet devices will cost in excess of $2,700 over their two-year useful life. That’s a lot of money for something that sits on a shelf. But if you having a lot of fun with it, then an extra $100 a month isn’t that bad. Before this latest feeding frenzy starts, make sure you know what you want, and what you are willing to pay for it. That will help you with both when and what you will buy.

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