published Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Phillips: In buying tablet PC, note operating system

by Ellen Phillips

Q: I’m in the market for a tablet PC, but I don’t know where and how to start. Any tips? — Barry Beginner

A: Dear Mr. Beginner: Since I find myself in the same shape as you, I’m glad you asked this question. I’ll share what I’ve learned through research for just the right tablet.

• First off, it’s important to know whether to go small or large. Sizes range from the 5 inch Dell Streak to the 9.5 inch iPad 2 with several sizes in between. If you’ll mostly be using the tablet as a personal at-homer (larger is probably better), you’ll need to research differently than if it’ll go with you everywhere (a day planner size of around 7 inches may be a better choice here).

• What do you want to do with your tablet? A basic Wi-Fi-only iPad costs $499 but the 3G model jumps to $829. You’ll certainly want applications (apps), and their accessibility depends upon the operating system your tablet runs: Apple iOS, Android, Windows 7, Blackberry RIM, or HP’s WebOS.

If you buy an iPad, you have to shop for apps at the iTunes store; even though iTunes offers the most apps, if Apple doesn’t like a certain app, then it’s not available through iTunes.

• The way you hook your tablet up to the Internet is important.

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at under Local Business.

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