It’s that time of year. We are all starting to make our Christmas lists, both for the things we are hoping for and also the things we want to give to others. So many lists this year have a tablet of one sort or another on them, but with so many options it is sometimes difficult to know which one is really the best choice.
As with so many things in this life, it’s all about having the right tool for the job. What is best and works well for one person may not be ideal for the next. So with that in mind, how do you choose?
Take for example, two ends of the popular tablet spectrum, the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle Fire. For the most part, the two tablets are barely even competitors. Sure they both fit into the broader tablet category, but they really are so dissimilar that they can’t be compared in an apples to apples sort of way.
The Amazon Kindle Fire is a fantastic little device. The small 7″ form factor and low price point make it a great entry level option as both an eReader and light-duty tablet. With access to the Android Marketplace allowing you to extend the device with useful and relevant-to-you apps (though we have been told that many apps will not work without modifications), this Kindle Fire will surely impress you and won’t break the bank.
The other end of the spectrum has us looking at the Apple iPad. With a much larger 10″ screen, the device is suitable for more heavy-duty tablet use from word processing to higher volumes of web browsing. This tablet has full access to the Apple App Store, allowing for the same extension of usefulness by letting you customize based on your own interests.
Sure there are downsides. The user interface on the Kindle Fire has been reviewed as lacking the finesse and finishing touches seen on the iPad but is it so bad that it warrants paying more than twice the price to move to the iPad? Both devices are good choices but each one suits a very different end user.
Having been in the tech industry professionally for over 15 years now, I’ve been asked a time or two for my advice on what people should purchase. Before I offer suggestions or recommendations my first question has always been, “What are you going to use it for?” If you are buying a gift for your mother-in-law who really just wants to be able to read her favorite author while sitting on her patio at the lake and again in her doctor’s office and may, with your help, install an app or two to help her look up new Christmas dinner recipes then a Kindle Fire is likely ideal. Now, if your gift will be given to your girlfriend who wants to be able to read her university textbooks, take notes in class and work on her latest paper plus she also has an iPhone and would benefit from a single app pool for both devices and would love that her calendar syncs natively and wirelessly across them, an iPad is ideal.
You should also consider those around your gift recipient (or yourself if this is a treat just for you this season!). If all of your close friends and family have a device of a certain type it may be nice to benefit from a shared user experience and cumulative expertise. If your best friend is technologically hopeless but his son is an Apple whizkid, it might be best to go with the tablet he can most easily get assistance with.
Lastly, give some thought to where they will use it most. Do they need 3G? Is WiFi enough? Will it have to fit in a purse to be carried around and used or is size not an issue? Is their favorite book store actually Barnes and Noble and maybe the new Nook would be ideal? Are they militant about their love for BlackBerry and might like a PlayBook best?
Whichever one you choose, avoid purchasing it from the trunk of a car in some parking lot somewhere and chances are good your loved one will be grateful and delighted to receive it!