Emailing on a smartphone can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but it's not always ideal to carry a full-size laptop around. Tablets are a great in-between that can be outfitted with accessories like styluses and keyboards for added functionality. Manufacturers offer dozens of models and sizes with varying capabilities.
The sheer variety can be overwhelming to even the most experienced business shopper, and that's where we come in. This three-step buying guide to pro tablets should help you narrow your search.
Step 1: Define your user type
Some entrepreneurs use tablets as a supplement to a primary desktop or laptop, while others opt for powerful hybrid tablets (these usually come with a detachable keyboard and possibly a stylus) as their primary machines. The type of user you are will help determine which type of tablet you should buy and how much you should spend. Before you set a budget, ask yourself these questions:
- How often do I plan on using my tablet? If you have a reliable smartphone and laptop and only plan on using your tablet occasionally, you can opt for an inexpensive model. If you're planning on weekly or daily use, you may want to spend a little more for increased processing power and a better display.
- What types of tasks will I be performing on my tablet? It's tough to choose (or justify buying) a tablet when you're not sure how you'll use it. If you're going to use your tablet primarily to process payments and email invoices, you can probably get away with something high quality but small. If you plan on watching movies or doing a lot of typing on your tablet, you'll want a larger screen with higher resolution.
- Do I want to use a stylus or keyboard with my tablet? If you want a stylus or a detachable keyboard, you'll have to opt for a higher-end pro tablet. Many manufacturers sell these accessories separately, so before you click the buy button, make sure you're clear on what's included in the purchase price.
Step 2: Choose your budget
Tablets have an expansive price range. Some cost as little as $30, while others can run into the thousands. It's a good idea to nail down your budget before you start shopping. Here's what you can expect from different budget ranges:
- Less Than $100: If you're on a shoestring budget, you can snag a tablet for less than $100, but it will probably be small, say 7 to 8 inches. (It's also likely to feel cheap and feature a low- resolution screen [1024 x 600 pixels]). Tablets that ring in at less than $100 are best for those who already have reliable smartphones and laptops.
- $100 to $299: There's an immediate jump in performance and quality when you move to the $100 to $299 price range. We recommend starting your search in this range. You can get a 9- or 10-inch tablet with decent battery life and a solid feel.
- $300 to $599: Here you'll get a nice screen size (9 to 10 inches) with good resolution (2500 x 1600 pixels, for instance) and sturdy construction. If you lean toward $599, you can score a machine that comes with an optional stylus and/or keyboard. If you plan on using your tablet regularly for emailing, posting on social media, processing payments and things like that, then this price range will likely meet your needs.
- $600 and Up: If you want a pro tablet that's as powerful as a laptop, has touchscreen features, stylus capabilities, and the option for a nice full-size keyboard and large 12-inch screen, this is the price range you should choose. This price range is best for those who intend on using their tablet as a hybrid laptop on a regular basis.
Step 3: Make your selection
Once you know the size and type of tablet you want, and how much you're willing to spend, you can start shopping. There are two approaches you can use to find the right work tablet for your business.
Search based on your budget and compare specifications
If you want to dig into the specs of each tablet and compare your options, your best bet is to use Google Shopping or the search function on an electronics site.
First, filter your tablet options based on price. Once that's done, eliminate any tablets that don't suit your needs based on size, display quality or accessory compatibility. When you have a few good options, delve into the specs and compare them to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
Consult a trusted source
If you want to skip the nitty gritty tech comparisons and get right to the good stuff, you can consult a trusted source for tablet recommendations. We regularly update our selection of best work tablets and best work tablets with styluses so you can view our favorites to find one that suits your needs and your budget.