You get what you pay for when it comes to tablets, and £500 is a price worth paying for one of life’s computing luxuries. Just make sure you avoid the cheap imitations.
Tablets are here to stay, and not just for Christmas 2010. Earlier this year Apple’s iPad created and defined the trend, showing people that a touchscreen device needn’t be clunky and dowdy – it could be inspirational.
Millions of people have already bought them, and Apple Store tills will no doubt be racking up record pre-Christmas sales over the next month.
There are good and bad tablets
Up until now the tablet race has been run by just one horse, albeit a thoroughbred. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is a worthy competitor, but based on my experience, it’s best to ignore the rash of cheaper imitation tablets on the high street.
Next was first with its 10-inch Tablet – how long before Primark gets in on the act? I wouldn’t buy a tablet from a clothing retailer, just like I would be hesitant to buy a TV from Tesco.
So yes, there are good tablets and bad tablets, just like there are good cars and bad cars. And that’s one of the reasons Which? exists – to weed out the dross from the distinguished.
Tablets offer the best of both worlds
Like Ceri Stanaway, I’m also lucky to have both a smartphone and a laptop. Certainly, it’s hard to justify buying a tablet in that situation, but tablets offer another choice.
For playing the occasional game of Angry Birds, or updating Facebook on the sofa, I’d choose a tablet every time. Unlike netbooks, it turns on instantly, and unlike smartphones the screen makes watching videos a practical reality rather than an exercise in squinting. I’d wager that a tablet is on Ceri’s shortlist when her laptop expires and her smartphone’s contract is up for renewal.
Tablets are what touchscreens were made for – give someone an iPad and they intuitively know how to interact with it. The famous 86-year-old Dutchman is a great example. He didn’t know he wanted a tablet until he got one, but now he loves it!
Tablets remove the computer from computing tasks, unshackling people from the keyboard and mouse that may hold them back. True, it’s a simplified and slightly limited computing experience, but one that’s free of crashing applications and virus risks.
Not much more than a smartphone
It’s also easy to forget the price of tablets relative to smartphones. Some smartphones retail for upwards of £350 and the only reason most of us think we can afford them is because we pay for them in instalments on contract.
The iPad will soon be priced similarly, according to T-Mobile and Orange, meaning any complaints about a high price will cease to exist. As tablets basically tack a larger screen onto the innards of a smartphone, personally I think it’s reasonable they come at a higher price than their little brothers.
Finally, there are young professional women sitting just over the partition from me at Which? HQ who think nothing of spending over £500 on a handbag. And that doesn’t run Flash, although I suppose it does potentially allow multitasking.
Both designer handbags (or manbags!) and media tablets are undoubtedly luxury items. It’s up to you which of life’s luxuries you choose.
Read Ceri Stanaway’s argument against tablets in ‘Tablet PCs are inessential playthings‘.
Do you think Tablet PCs are any good?
No, they're inessential playthings (37%, 143 Votes)
I don't give a monkey's (33%, 127 Votes)
Yes, they're inspirational gadgets (30%, 115 Votes)
Total Voters: 385