Tablets forum

General discussion

Is a tablet right for me? If so, which one?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / August 26, 2011 9:43 AM PDT


Is a tablet right for me? If so, which one?

I recently attended one of your tablet-related live chat events with CNET editors and it was great overall. However, while some of my questions were answered, many were not. I'm in the process of looking to buying one and I'm looking to you for some answers before I make a decision on one. Can you help me out?

Can you explain the principal differences between a Netbook and tablet? Can a tablet be used as a laptop replacement--why and why not? With so many tablets out, what separates the good- from the bad-quality ones? Are Android tablets created equally? What are the major differences between Android and iPads--advantages, disadvantages? Can I use a Tablet for word processing or Excel spread sheets? I think iPads are the ones that cannot display Flash, is that a major issue? What are the specific things I should be looking for when choosing the right tablet for me?

Sorry for all these questions. I'm trying to wrap my head around the whole tablet scene and see if it is a device that is right for me. Thank you for all the advice you can offer.

--Submitted by: Sheila J.

Here are some member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Tablets, Netbooks, & iPADs.. Oh My!--Submitted by: XSYLUS

A huge subject with no right answer --Submitted by: mal_aus

Not a computer --Submitted by: haf canadian

Great question, actually! --Submitted by: Thunderbuck

Thanks to all who contributed!
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Is a Tablet Right for Me?
by Zortop1 / August 26, 2011 11:03 AM PDT

Hi Sheila
I have recently purchased a "Dreambook W7" which is a tablet put out by Synrgic and runs Google. I too did a lot of research before purchasing and chose the "Dreambook W7" because I can download direct from my Windows PC. It takes a 3G sim card for messaging and internet, and also Bluetooth, Wireless, Roaming. It has "Accelerometer which means your "Dreambook" moves with you. It also has touch screen gestures, a mini USB port, headphones port, camera, HDMI port the list is endless. With "Quickoffice" I can create documents, spreadsheets, etc and send them to my PC with Bluetooth. After playing on an IPadE, I am sold with my tablet which gives me connection to my desk PC.
Hope this is of some assistance to you.
Submitted by Gail

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Here is a comparison of which tablet is the best
by elearningshow / September 2, 2011 8:14 AM PDT
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7 inch tablets are cool! Suli MY-7i
by beatodermatt / September 2, 2011 3:15 PM PDT

I just bought a 7inch Suli MY-7i from and I am very impressed. I have also a Kindle for reading booksonly. The Suli MY-7i is ideal for me as it fits into a car glove box, centre console and coat pocket. It would also fit into a ladies handbag. I had a look at many many netbooks and tablets and I finally decided to bye it. The iPad and similar devices seem to be to big to take into the car and for travel, but too small to do any real wortk. I alsready have a laptop and a desktop computer, it means the small Suli MY-7i fill s a gap. It runs on Androids, has a good GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-fi etc. It has a capacitive screen like an iPad. I think it is the best gadget on the martket and for less then $250.00 is also affordable.

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(NT) 7-inchers are the way to go! I do a lot of typing but also a
by rogeralex / September 2, 2011 7:09 PM PDT
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Agree on the size of a tablet
by lbeberdick / September 4, 2011 4:29 AM PDT

My wife offered to buy me an Ipad for Christmas, i wanted Nook Color instead. With the 8 GB built in memory and 32 GB expansion slot, that is plenty for me. Only needed WiFi anyway as i have a hot spot already. i fly alot and find that the Nook Color fits better on the coach class trays than the I pad. i also find the size more convenient for reading, puzzles and games. the web expeience is as fast as WiFi can go. they say that it tops out at G speed, my entire house is N Only on the router and it works just fine and quickly. The addition of the APP store is nice, but not the primary usage of the device. i seriously doubt that tablets will replace a laptop anytime soon, as a real keyboard and mouse are still quite useful for work activities other than E-mail. however a tablet is just fine for liesure activities including E-mail, and the Nook Color features, performance an price make it an easy decision.

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Tablets, Netbooks, & iPADs.. Oh My!
by XSYLUS / August 26, 2011 11:35 AM PDT

Okay, so I'll try to provide some insight into the questions you asked:

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If you have to ask
by janitorman / August 26, 2011 12:04 PM PDT

then a tablet probably isn't right for you. They're basically toys, not powerful enough or having enough features to replace a laptop or even a netbook. If you just plan to use it for an e-reader that's fine, but e-readers are typically only about 100 dollars now and have a much longer battery life.
If you want a tablet that actually is useful, at all, write to HP and have them bring back the Touchpad, it was the best of the lot, if that's what you were looking for. They were available for 7 weeks at about $450 dollars, then for ONE day at about $100. If they could continue to produce these and sell them for $100, all would be solved.
If you're planning to run business applications on one, think again. To do that, you'd want to move up to an HP Slate if available, about $17000.

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Yes your'r right-
by morrie 52 / August 27, 2011 1:15 AM PDT
In reply to: If you have to ask
It seems like from every thing that has been printed this was the one tablet that was better than the IPad.On release it was buggy but being hackable some people sorted these bugs out and made it the best,but HP execs lost there nerve.
As to selling at $100 no way,for the hardware alone was over $250,the cheapest good tablet is the Advent Vega at $300 but still does not have as good spec's as the HP.
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sorry, $1700 not $17,000
by janitorman / September 2, 2011 11:51 AM PDT
In reply to: If you have to ask

Major typo there!
Yes, it cost more to produce than the fire sale pricing. Did it need to cost that much? Could production of these be brought to the $100 level? Could an iPad be sold for that? Yes, eventually. New technology typically drops in price and increases in power and usefulness after a few years. I do think, even the current generation of touchpads are pretty much hype and not NEEDED by anyone, but if you WANT rather than NEED something you'll buy it anyway.
I do resist them, as every touchpad device I've tried just isn't useful. The "slide" gesture on most, don't work for me. Also, you don't want to TOUCH the screen of something you are viewing, getting it all dirty (as mentioned elsewhere) and this is my biggest turn-off to them.
Maybe that's old school conditioning, but if someone comes in and touches my laptop screen I drive them away and WIPE it OFF right away!

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A huge subject with no right answer
by mal_aus / August 27, 2011 9:54 AM PDT

Netbook Vs Tablet - First of all for things like managing music, videos and photos and heavy work like creating reports or long emails etc. or in your case Excel spreadsheets/word processing, the ideal is a PC or laptop but for portability and general consumption such as ebooks, gaming & movies a netbook or tablet is a popular choice.Netbooks are basically light-weight compact laptops, they do basic computing and are for surfing the internet. Light weight and small size so they are very portable. Screen size will always be an issue. Usually priced lower than either a laptop or a tablet.Tablets usually have touchscreens so are not suitable for touch typing and have limitations on operating systems. Ipad does not recognise flash which most web sites use but an Android OS will. Sreen size is also an issue.See also Cnet report I think netbook days are numbered for two reasons. One is the ability of manufacturers to produce slimmer, lighter and cheaper laptops making a laptop a better choice. The other is the popularity of tablets such as the ipad. Tablets, although too small for serious work, are highly portable, easy to use and are rich in apps and other devices making them a great choice for visual products. You need to look at what your major use will be.Ipad Vs Android - there is one major difference, ipad is pretty much locked into Apple while a number of manufacturers are using Android which opens up a greater range of products. However you won't be able to run many of your PC programs on either. The latest ipod is lighter and thinner than the nearest equivalent, a Motorola (recent aquisition by Google). The Motorola has more RAM and better camera's. Latest reports say Android is outselling ipad 2 to one so there must be other advantages. If you have a current PC I suggest you wait a while before looking at small screen units as there is real competition between the brands and that means inovation. Who knows what we will be using next year. Read all of the reviews you can.

Message was edited by: Lee Koo (ADMIN) to fix link 09/01/2011 2:23PM

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ipod or ipad?
by Kathleen C. / September 3, 2011 1:37 AM PDT

You say "The latest ipod is lighter and thinner than the nearest equivalent, a Motorola (recent aquisition by Google)" ---- did you mean to say "ipad", not "ipod"?

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by bugman / September 12, 2011 5:11 AM PDT

What are you talking about: " Latest reports say Android is outselling ipad 2 to one so there must be other advantages."
A recent market share data by Strategy Analytics published on January 31, 2011:
Global Tablet 4Q10 OS Shipments:
iPad: 7.3 million
Android: 2.1 million
Others: 0.3 million

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by andrewjz / September 2, 2011 8:52 AM PDT

I understand IPads have a very limited ability to print. As far as I know, they only print to HP printers and recently a few Epson printers have been added. I have a Brother MFC and it looks lile the only way I could print from an Ipad would be to e-mail the document as an attachment to my computer. How are Android tablets at printing?

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(NT) Same.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 2, 2011 9:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Printing
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What about Dell's Inspiron Duo - Tablet/Netbook Combo?
by aliceflinn / September 2, 2011 8:59 AM PDT

I am really interested in this system. I have a Dell Netbook and have loved it for 2+ years. But my thinking says that a newer Netbook WITH a Tablet would be delicious. I'd love some input/help as I consider such an acquisition!

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It didn't sell.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 2, 2011 9:20 AM PDT

I'm seeing them in the clearance and firesale places like

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Thanks for you input! I checked out . . .
by aliceflinn / September 2, 2011 11:29 AM PDT

The thing is, the machines offered are refurbished and still priced at ~$400. Although I consider refurbished items for purchase (and often will purchase same)when I plan heavy usage of an item, I like to start with new. Are there other vendors selling new for that ~$400 price? A brand new system is only $499 list and there are often pretty good coupons/discounts available. Let me know!

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Comments On Both
by naluli / September 2, 2011 10:48 AM PDT

First let me say that your answers were very clear and provide good insight into the advantages and drawbacks of both the iPads and the Android devices. I own both and iPad2 and a Motorola Xoom. The difference is I have 3G on my Xoom and my iPad needs a wireless connection. My Xoom works better with my Motorola Android phone when I transfer photos and videos that I take on my cell. When I transferred the photos to my iPad they were not clear. My Xoom also takes clearer photos than my iPad2. The speed on searching seems to be the same and since for me the internet searching is what I use both tablets for I am happy with the way both tablet operate.

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Some corrections and additional comments
by rnys / September 2, 2011 1:52 PM PDT

A good overall assessment, however...
-You can run any number of apps on an iPad at one time...switching back and forth between them is simple and fast
-It is possible to connect an iPad to an external monitor or projector in a variety of ways with more to come in iOS 5. Just check the website for iPad accessories and check out the news about iOS 5 features.
-With more "cloud" storage coming (and lots available now with tools like Dropbox, etc.) a thumb drive is pretty much becoming old technology. I haven't felt the need for one in over a year.
-I have both Android and iOS devices that I use daily...if I had to choose one, I'd definitely choose the iOS.
-Other tablets besides iPads don't run Flash either. I've not missed Flash at all in three years of using iPods and iPads. Unless you're a big time gamer, it's likely you won't either...but even if you are, there are so many great game apps, I'm betting you'll never miss Flash either.

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by brummie00 / September 4, 2011 2:42 AM PDT

Very useful

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Tablets, netbooks, and laptops
by stringboy / August 26, 2011 1:14 PM PDT

Hi Sheila,

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Is a tablet right for me?
by Yugnuf / August 26, 2011 1:36 PM PDT

Hello Sheila,
I recently bought a Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 10" Windows 7 Pro tablet with a 620 GB HD so I can travel light and not have to carry around my 17" laptop.
This tablet does everything that the laptop did. I do a lot of Excel work on the road and this tablet handles everything superbly. I use Sharepoint a lot and that is why I chose a Win tablet. When looking for a tablet I tried everything from an Android to BlackBerry. None of those operating systems could connect to my work servers. It is easy to try out the demos in the various stores. That might be something you might consider. The battery last a good 5 hours when I'm working on the tablet. Reading a book, the battery lasted 8 hours.
I found netbooks totally under powered and not capable of doing what I needed them to do.
There is a bit of a learning curve to use a tablet as the keyboard is on the screen. I got a Bluetooth mouse and a small portable USB keyboard, and a USB DVD drive and the tablet now is very much like a full functioning laptop.
The price might be a bit prohibitive, but in essence, you are buying a pretty powerful computer.
I looked at a lot of netbooks and tablets and the above is what I settled on. This might be too much of a computer for you, but if you're looking for something small and light, that tablet might be something to consider.

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Great question, actually!
by Thunderbuck / August 26, 2011 1:40 PM PDT

Tablet, netbook, or laptop? Decisions, decisions...

My mother recently faced that same question. I am an IT professional, so of course she asked me for my opinion. The first thing I asked her is: "what do you plan to use it for?", and she told me that she would probably do some web-surfing, e-mail, and maybe watch the odd YouTube video. Oh, and she said she wanted something that she could use in bed comfortably.

The bed part screamed "tablet" to me; anything that has a keyboard gets ever-so-slightly awkward in bed. And when I suggested a tablet she was open to it. She didn't want an iPad (I'm not sure why, but Mom's got a strong contrarian streak). I went to visit a couple of months ago, taking my new Blackberry PlayBook. She thought it was pretty cool, but she felt its 7" size was a bit too small, so we took a look at an Android tablet (an Acer Iconia A500).

Long story short, she's gotten a LOT more use out of her tablet than she has her PC.

That worked for her, but I have to admit I wasn't nuts about the Iconia's Android operating system. My Playbook has great performance and a fantastic user interface. There aren't TOO many apps available for it yet, but there are getting to be more every day, and it actually comes quite well-equipped, including Dataviz' excellent Docs to Go suite of apps for MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files. And it's my understanding that the Playbook is going to be tied into Microsoft's new Office 365 online offering. You can also open and edit Excel files on Skydrive.

Maybe, the biggest question you need to ask yourself is "how much will I need a keyboard?" If you're planning to write a lot, stick with at least a netbook. Otherwise, try out a few tablets.

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Tablet or netbook or laptop
by chiky1959 / September 2, 2011 12:10 PM PDT

Ihave been reading your thread on this and contemplating a tablet and your mother sounds very much like question is can you not hook up a keyboard for these if you want too.?

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What is right for me
by ralphie411 / August 26, 2011 2:16 PM PDT

Hi Sheila,

I 've been asking myself the same thing as I'm an accounts manager, a tablet would me show what my clients need to see or not. Also a laptop would be handy for writing report on the run.

So after all my to & froing i came up with the Asus Transformer as you have the best of both worlds. You have a tablet to take around with you then connect it to the keyboard and then you have a laptop/netbook. But once you have connected it to the keyboard you have the bonus of extra battery life as the keyboard has a battery in it aswell.
They clam up to 16 hours when there both connected.

Good Luck

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Netbooks, Tablets... WHY???
by Flatworm / August 26, 2011 9:41 PM PDT

A netbook is basically a laptop with a lot less functionality and power, with its sole advantage being that it is generally smaller, lighter, and cheaper than some laptops.

A tablet is basically a smartphone without the camera and phone parts, and they're a lot larger than cellphones. Apple's products (i-anything) can't display Flash and that's a real problem with many popular websites that require it, notably YouTube.

While I understand that a lot of people are deeply susceptible to hype and so find these products irresistibly attractive, I have never understood the purpose of either. Netbooks, at least, can help the poor obtain Internet connectivity and generally do most of the things laptops do, with the absence of a disk drive and an acceptable level of performance being their chief shortcomings.

Tablets give you some of the computing power of a smartphone and all the portability of a laptop, without being an actual phone, camera, or computer, and they exist only because television advertising has told you that they're the latest thing and you need one to be considered with-it.

Get a laptop. Or a smartphone. Or both. In any event, forget these products that exist only because companies CAN make and market them without regard for whether or not they should.

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Just an FYI...
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 2, 2011 4:12 AM PDT

You can watch YouTube video on an iPad and iPhone.

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Netbooks...Why Not???
by Lila Wagner / September 3, 2011 8:16 AM PDT

If the biggest drawback to the netbook is absence of a disk drive, get an external USB drive. I've moved from an antique desktop to a netbook so the "acceptable level or performance" doesn't really weigh very much in my world.

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Tablets vs netbooks
by lowndesw / August 26, 2011 11:08 PM PDT


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The tablet that is also a PC
by sdroadster / August 27, 2011 2:03 AM PDT

Sheila, I own an Asus EP 121 Slate. It is the only tablet in a market that is also a PC. It is slightly bigger than the iPad, and it comes with Windows 7 and it incorporates Wacom technologies touchscreen; it uses an Intel Core i5 mobile processor. I have Microsoft Office 2010, Adobe Lightroom, and Dragon NaturallySpeaking (which I am using right now to dictate this reply.) I absolutely love this tablet because I can do everything that my desktop PC does, and at 2.5 pounds, I can take it anywhere. The touchscreen is wonderful for editing pictures in Lightroom. You can use the on-screen keyboard for social media or e-mails, or the included and lightweight external Bluetooth keyboard. I highly recommend this tablet PC. The only negative I have found on this tablet is the two-hour battery life. Not long enough to get through a movie on an airplane.

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