A beginner's guide to tablet PCs and what to look for when you buy

Jan 12, 2012, 10:20 a.m.

The great thing about advancing technology is that it's becoming easier and easier to wrap your head and your hands around. In the past, every new development made computers more complicated and more difficult to use, but now every new development is in the name of user friendliness. Tablet PCs are the newest wave in accessible user technology. Rather than a complicated interface, using a tablet is as easy as rearranging your desk. The only tricky part is, well, picking which one to buy. Here you'll find what to look for in a tablet and how to narrow the selection down in three simple steps.

Set Your Budget

Set a rough budget and stick to it. If you set your budget at, say, $600, there's nothing wrong with buying a $610 tablet PC, but you need to have an idea of what you're willing to spend. We can't guess at what tablet PCs cost at your local computer store or what they'll cost by the time they come out with a newer version, but as of the time of this writing, there are plenty of tablets available at less than five hundred as well as several that cost more than a thousand.

Determine Your Needs

Are you taking up Photoshop or do you just need something to browse the web and email with? Once you know what you want to do with your tablet, you know what it needs to do. In general you want to look for higher memory and a more responsive touch screen as well as a larger size the more graphic intensive your needs where something more modest will handle regular use such as writing, browsing and so on.

Read the Reviews and Test Drive

By now you should have your selection narrowed down to a much smaller pool of tablets. Now it's a matter of reading the reviews. It's a good idea to cross reference a few reviews as you never know who's a paid corporate writer and who's being honest. Of course, if you can take a tablet for a test drive at the store, then you don't need to bother with reviews in the first place, just find something that feels right to you.

Whenever you buy any new piece of technology you can follow this basic formula: Set your price, know what you need and make the final selection after doing a little research. Tablets are a fun and exciting new piece of technology, but the shopping process is the same as ever.

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