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Posted: 5:28 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, 2013

Tablet buying guide



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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Buying a tablet has become both more confusing and a lot more favorable to you than it was a year ago thanks to tablet variety and price point.

Android vs. iOS

In the Apple orbit, you may be wondering about the new iPad Air for $499. It's a very fancy device, with a high-end screen, camera, and any of a number of other features. But if you're really price sensitive, the iPad 2 is essentially the bargain tablet. It has a street price of $399.

If you want an iPad Mini, Apple recently announced they were rolling out a new and improved version for $399 with Retina display and other features. Meanwhile, the older iPad Mini will be now be available for $299.

But the real price action and the innovation has been in the Android world. For my money, there are 3 solid choices in the Android orbit.

My three favorite tablets

1. The new Kindle Fire HDX is getting rave reviews for $229 (7 inch). The techies haven't liked it, they've LOVED it, but it's not a true Android tablet. Amazon doesn't allow you in the Google Play store and limits what kind of content you can use on the HDX. Having said that, it is the perfect machine for someone who is an Amazon Prime member and consumes a lot of Amazon products.

2. The new Nexus 7, which is different than the old one but has the same name, is $229 as well and is an extraordinarily great tablet. You'll know that you're looking at the new Nexus 7 if you to go Google.com/Nexus7.

3. The new Asus MeMO is a great value at $99. It's a very solid tablet, certainly not the best in the marketplace, but very, very good for the money. It's good if you want an absolute bargain and a good product, though it's not as the level of the prior two.

Samsung may be the biggest player in Android tablets and many times has a great screen, but it's a very confusing choice because there are so many different models. If you do decide you want a Samsung, take some serious time studying the tablet and its specs. And be sure to play with it in a store before you buy. Finally, don't forget to comparison shop for your tablet on multiple sites.

Memory

I have always bought the lowest amount of memory on a tablet and never had a capacity issue, but if you plan to consume a lot of video, you need to think about memory. With the iPads, the memory you buy is what you get. With many of the Android tablets, you can add memory after you purchase with flash memory, which is very cheap -- about $9 for a 16GB flash drive.

Screen size

Tablets tend to come in three main screen sizes: 7, 8, and 10 inch. It's really a matter of personal choice and how you want to use a tablet that should drive which one size you choose to purchase. Consider whether you will hold it or put it on a stand. Also will there be times you're going to want to hold it with one hand and type with the other?

In general, if you will be very much on the go with your tablet, then smaller is better. Yet if you plan to be stationary and watch a lot of video, I'd advise you to go larger on screen size.

Showrooming


Showrooming is a term for using your smartphone while out at a store to comparison shop right then and there for whatever it is you're thinking of buying. It's a booming trend in the world of retailing and one that can save you big bucks. Here are some sites you might want to comparison shop at while you're out and about:

 


General info



   Should you buy an extended warranty?



   Clark's favorite website for online electronics deals



   An introduction to "showrooming"