How to Choose the Right Tablet for your Needs
Tablets are far more than just a smartphone with a bigger screen. Whether in the office, on the move or on the sofa, tablets are excellent multi-purpose devices that offer a wide range of benefits for a wide range of users.
There are many makes and models on the market to suit all needs (and budgets) – to help you decide which is best for you, we have created a comprehensive buyer’s guide with the following topics:
Why you should own a tablet
Whether you’re a creative professional, a gamer, or a casual user, tablets offer a larger touchscreen for a better video and gaming experience, as well as a mobile sketchbook or notepad functionality.
There are several reasons to own a tablet:
* Functions as portable workstations – tablets nowadays have become so advanced that they are considered as mobile workstations for office use. With an attachable keyboard and mouse, you can transform your tablet into a laptop. It is a great tool in presentations, or communicating and documenting key points in meetings. The Surface Pro, iPad Pro (2021), and Samsung Galaxy tablet are as powerful as they are portable, and a very useful business tool.
* Ideal for creative professionals and power-users – thanks to the large touchscreen display, tablets are great for artists, illustrators, and graphic designers. With a stylus, you can express creativity and efficiently communicate concepts. You can download apps like Medibang, Clipstudio, Photoshop, and even ProCreate for the iPad for sketching.
* For movies, video games, and reading – the big display also offers a richer media experience, whether watching movies, playing video games, or reading even your favorite books. Most tablets have integrated PDF or EPUB (electronic publication) for easy reading, along with a “reading mode” for a more comfortable viewing experience.
* For online class – pandemic or otherwise, online classes are now more popular than ever. Students can enjoy the portability and the convenience of a tablet, plus it is much more affordable than buying a new laptop. There are Android tablets on the market today for parents or students who are on a budget.
What should you look for in a tablet
Before you start looking into all the technical specs, first consider what you’re mostly going to be using the tablet for. Its purpose plays a crucial role when choosing the right model, as some tablets are better suited to certain tasks than others. For example, many consider the iPad Pro a choice tablet for illustrators thanks to the exclusive ProCreate app. This sketching software is considered one of the best in the market and many illustrators would not hesitate to get an iPad Pro purely to use this app.
Unlike smartphones, camera quality is not a big factor in choosing a tablet. This might seem surprising, but it makes sense: they are pretty awkward to hold and capture photos with! Cameras on tablets are useful features – for video calling, for example – but not something you buy a tablet for.
When choosing the right model, here are some factors that you should consider:
An operating system is a software that manages all systems and processes of the device. It serves as your main interface and will inevitably determine what brand of tablet you will get. One tip is to choose a tablet that uses the same OS as your smartphone. This will help you get familiar with how the tablet works and makes it easier to connect the two devices.
There are three major operating systems to choose from:
* Android – the operating system used by Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and other well-known Android brands. Android tablets have more flexible price points and provide more options than any of the other operating systems.
* iOS – used exclusively by iPads and other Apple products. The iOS features simpler user interface and better-quality apps. iPads are the choice of tablet for digital illustrators and creatives for apps like ProCreate or Garageband. If you are currently using an iPhone or a MacBook, an iPad would be a good choice.
* Windows – the operating system found on Surface tablets from Microsoft as well as other 2-in-1 laptops from Dell, Lenovo, Acer, and other big laptop brands. You get the benefit of having a full Windows OS into a touchscreen tablet which makes it perfect for productive office work.
The biggest (literally) factor that sets tablets and smartphones apart. There are several specs that define a tablet’s screen performance:
* Size – how big your screen is from one corner diagonally to the opposite side in inches or centimeters. Tablets can range from “mini” tablets with 7-inch screens (17.8cm) to large 10.1inches (25.6cm) or larger.
* Aspect ratio and resolution – both these specs indicate the quality of the image displayed on the screen. Aspect ratio refers to the screen’s width in relation to its height. For example, a 4:3 aspect ratio is more commonly seen on square screens while 16:9 is seen as rectangular.
Resolution, on the other hand, specifies the number of pixels on the screen’s height and width. In any gadget, a screen is divided into small squares called pixels. The more pixels a screen has, the more detail it can display. Pixels are distributed in rows and columns across the screen, and resolution is calculated by the number of pixels horizontally and vertically. For example, 1920 x 1080 simply means there are 1920 pixels horizontally and 1080 pixels vertically.
To avoid unnecessary stretching or compression on the screen, a specific aspect ratio only works for a specific resolution. Here’s a quick guide on the relationship between aspect ratio and resolution:
* 2048× :9
* 1280×720 (720p)
* 1920×1080 (1080p)
* 2560×1440 (2K)
* 3840×2160 (4K)
* 5120×2889 (5K)
* 7680×4320 (8K)
* 5120× :9
* Refresh rate – how many times your screen updates every second in Hertz (hz). For example, a 60hz screen refreshes 60 times every second. Screens with high refresh rates have smoother and more fluid graphics. In most gadgets, including tablets, you can change your maximum refresh rate settings to conserve battery.
If you’re a gamer or a power user such as a 3D modeler or illustrator, we recommend high refresh rates at 120hz to 144hz. This way, your tablet would be able to handle the amount of visual information for games or heavy applications. For casual users, 60hz to 90hz should be adequate.
* Brightness – the maximum screen brightness a screen can produce, measured in nits or nt. The higher the nits, the higher the brightness. This is important for individuals who use their tablets outdoors or simply want less glare in their screen. We recommend tablets ranging from 200 to 300 nits, but some premium models can go as high as 1000 or more.
Performance is all about your tablet’s processing power and how fast it runs programs. There are four specs to consider: chipset, CPU, RAM, and storage.
* Chipset – or Systems on a Chip (SoC) is the integrated circuitry within the tablet. It manages the flow of data between different parts of the system such as processors, memory, screen, and so on. Each year, companies like Qualcomm create newer generations of chips, with each generation faster than the last. The latest chipset for Android tablets is the Snapdragon 888 while Apple has the A15 Bionic for their latest iPads.
* CPU or Central Processing Unit – this is the part of the chipset that performs the actual data processing. A CPU has “cores” in which it processes data simultaneously. The more cores a tablet CPU has, the more data it can process. Most of the tablets you can find today have octa-core or eight processors. This means that a processor divides data eight times to be processed simultaneously.
* RAM or Random Access Memory – memory used to store temporary data for easy access to the CPU. Before information is processed, data needs to be stored in the device’s system RAM. When RAM is at its capacity, it sends some information back to the hard drive. This process eventually causes lag since the processor does not have immediate access to the data it needs. In tablets (or any mobile device), the higher the RAM, the lesser the lag. For tablets, we recommend at least 8GB RAM, especially if you are a power user. If you have the budget for it, always opt for a variant with higher RAM.
Another important spec you should consider when buying a tablet is the battery. Measured in milliampere-hour or mAh, battery life refers to how much power cells can hold for every full charge. Because tablets have larger screens, they require more battery capacity than a typical 6-inch smartphone. Thankfully, the large hardware also means manufacturers can fit more power cells into these gadgets.
When choosing tablets, keep in mind that your usage habits also play a role in its battery life. High brightness, high refresh rates, and (rate in which CPUs run), can result in the batteries draining faster. For casual users, a battery capacity of at least 5,000mAh is recommended, and for power users, at least 7,000mAh.
It is common to find manufacturers inflating the battery life on their products that don’t reflect real-world situations. Make sure to read reviews that look closely at the battery capacity using different settings. This will give you a better idea of how long the battery lasts for a particular tablet model.
Best tablets of 2021 in Malaysia
Although tablets are similar to smartphones, these gadgets are known for their big touchscreens and performance. With a keyboard and a mouse, a tablet is more like an ultra-portable laptop. To help you with your search for the perfect tablet, here are our top recommendations on the best tablets of 2021 in Malaysia:
Best tablet for office productivity – Microsoft Surface Pro 7
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is effectively a laptop in a tablet-shaped body. It has a powerful Intel Core 10th generation in various processor families (Core i3: Dual-core processors. Core i5: Quad-core processors. Core i7: Quad-core processors). Despite being released in 2019, the model still remains relevant as one of the best office productivity tablets today. Keep in mind that the stylus and the detachable keyboard are sold separately.
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 at a glance
12.3” PixelSense™ Display, 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI)
128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1
10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G4
10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7
4GB / 8GB / 16GB
Windows 10 Home
Best tablet for creatives – iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)
This may just be one of the best (and most expensive) tablets in the market today. Created for professionals by professionals, this iPad model has powerful desktop-level performance. Coupled with its 2K Retina display, the iPad Pro 12. is a true creative’s tablet.
The iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) features the first-ever Apple M1 chipset which is specifically designed for the iMac and the latest MacBook Pro. It is estimated to be one of the fastest chips today. Along with the 8GB and 16GB variants, this model is truly a beast when it comes to performance.
iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) quick specs
2.9” Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED LCD (2048 x 2732), 120hz
128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
8GB / 16GB
iPadOS 14.5.1, upgradable to iPadOS 15.1
Best tablet for students and online classes – Xiaomi Mi Pad 5
If you’re a student looking for a tablet for your online class, the Xiaomi Mi Pad 5 is one of the best affordable options out there. It is a sleek and modern-looking tablet with an 11” screen with a maximum refresh rate of 120hz. It also has a decent 8,720mAh battery capacity. Plus, you can also attach a stylus and keyboard to make this tablet into a portable laptop which will allow you to take your online classes anywhere.
Xiaomi Mi Pad 5 quick specs
11″ IPS LCD, 1B colors, 120Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 860
128GB / 256GB
Android 11, MIUI 12.5
Li-Po 8720 mAh
Best tablet with a stylus – Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
Samsung’s entry on this list comes in the shape of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+. It is one of the best tablets with a stylus and is known for its great build-quality, immersive 120hz AMOLED display, the textured S-Pen, and 5G connectivity. It is a perfect all-around tablet, especially if you prefer Android devices.
Besides the screen, the best thing about the Tab S7+ is the textured S-pen, which feels as natural as if you are writing on paper. This is ideal for anyone who prefers the touch and feel of real paper, especially if you are an illustrator or a designer, as an alternative to the iPad. Though it may not have the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset, the 865 is also exceptionally fast especially with 8GB RAM. If you want a Samsung tablet with the latest chipset, we recommend waiting for the Tab S8 series coming late this year or early 2022.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 quick specs
12.4” Super AMOLED (1752 x 2800) 120hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G+
128GB / 256GB / 512GB
6GB / 8GB
Android 10, upgradable to Android 11, OneUI 3.1
Tablets have become a commonplace gadget in and out of the office. Many creatives, professionals, and gamers have jumped on the tablet bandwagon for its large touchscreen and laptop-level performance. Before you do your research, decide what the primary use of your tablet will be, so you can find the right size, performance, and battery life to suit your needs.
There are tons of tablet models with different brands and price points out there. If you want to get the best deals on tablets, you’re in the right place. We’ve compared and listed the best prices from the best online vendors in Malaysia. Here, you can compare, shop, and save!
Marjorie Mae Mendoza
iPrice Tech Writer
Marjorie (MJ) is iPrice Tech Writer in Residence. Always on the hunt for the inside scope on the newest smartphones, computers, and electronic devices, MJ provides a no-holds-barred analysis on what’s hot (and what’s not) in the latest tech releases. In her free time, MJ enjoys first-person video games and digital illustrations.