Choose Your Next Device Based on Need
There are so many new gadgets out there, it is hard to stay on top of what is offered as well as know when to turn yours in for a newer model. People are always asking me, "What should I buy? Should I get a Kindle, a Nook, an iPad or some other device?" If you are not sure what you want, here are some things to consider before making your decision. Please note I am not advocating one manufacturer over another or one type of device over another.
First and foremost, what do you plan to do with it? If all you want is to play some games and read books, than an e-reader might be the best deal. Things to consider are:
a. How easy is it to read on the screen?
b. Can you share books or get them through the library as well?
c. How much do you read? If an occasional reader, you probably don't need an e-reader. But the more you read, the more your savings, and the easier it is to always have something to read.
d. Can you get your favorite authors and are the e-books from the supplier competitively priced?
e. Can you read the screen in bright sunlight? Can you read with sunglasses on? (If you like to read in the car or on the beach, many tablet screens will not work for you. Some screens glare, some actually disappear when viewed through polarized lenses). On the plus side, most e-readers fit in a large Ziploc bag so you can even read them in the bathtub or at the beach without worry.
f. Can you change the font size?
g. Do you want it to look like you are turning a page (the iBooks do this) or is pushing a button fine (as the Kindle does).
h. Do you want access anywhere using a 3G or 4G network (no charge for this) or can you manage with access to a wireless network for downloading new books?
i. Do you often want to highlight, read ahead, or reread sections? Spend some time trying this with the device. It takes some getting used to and frankly, for very technical reading, I still revert to the paper books and highlighters. But for everything else, I appreciate the advantages of thousands of books available at the click of a switch and never having to carry a load of books. And when I have nothing to read, a new book can appear in seconds.
j. If you do have an e-reader, can you get an application that allows you to read the books on additional devices (tablets, phones, computer) at no extra charge?
k. If you want to read magazines or newspapers on your e-reader, do they have access to the ones you want? Try reading one and see if you are satisfied with the screen and the ability to read different sections.
If you want to use your device for access to the Internet and email, then you might want to pursue a tablet. But, if you are an occasional email reader/surfer perhaps a smart phone is enough. (There is a monthly fee for this on a phone. With a tablet you can opt for monthly 3G or 4G fee or wireless with no fee.)
b. How often will you need document writing, spreadsheets, or presentation capability? While tablets have this capability, some features available on the computer programs are not yet available on the tablet. I find it easier to run these programs on a computer but the ease of syncing with my tablet and having them available to read when I am not at home is great.
c. Do you ever need to present your work on a digital projector? Most tablets do not have this interface capability.
d. How often do you need to print your work? With a tablet, you will need to download your documents to a computer or purchase a wireless printer.
e. What apps do I want and does the device I am considering have them? Apps are generally less expensive than computer programs (many are free) and they can do things you never even knew you wanted to do until you try them. Take some time to explore the available apps if you are purchasing a tablet. Not every tablet offers the same apps so if there is something you really want, make sure your choice offers it.
f. How easily can you use these apps from device to device? For example, my calendar app syncs with my computer, with my husband's computer, with smartphones and is also accessible through email.
g. Are you comfortable typing on the screen? Will you need a separate keyboard?
h. How portable do you need my your device to be?
i. Can you read the screen in daylight, in the sun and at night? Can you adjust the glare? Will fingerprints on the screen drive you crazy?
j. Do you want access to a computer at home? There are programs for netbooks and apps for tablets that will allow you to use your home computer directly from the device. Also, as with e-readers, do they have access to the papers and magazines you want? Try reading one and see if you are satisfied with the screen and the ability to read different sections.
k. Do you want to watch television, movies, or listen to music on your device. Check out whether you can stream to your device and whether it is something you want.
l. Will you be sharing the device with anyone else? What are their needs? Should you buy more than one? By the way, there are apps for even very young children. I watched a 20-month-old play a game of naming animals on his mother's tablet and my granddaughter's first grade class has iPads as well as computers in the classroom for learning.
Whether you buy an e-reader or a tablet (or a computer) always consider the availability of technical support and the reputation of the manufacturer. If you have a problem, the quality technical support can often solve it in a few minutes.
Finally, you might want to look into a notebook computer. They weigh more, have fewer apps, need more expensive software, but they have most of the capability of larger computers. Even Steve Jobs admitted that you will still want that workhorse for commerce, business and the things you need to drive. If you already have a home or business computer, than considering another device for convenience, portability, and additional capability makes sense. Someday there may be one device that does it all but until then, choosing what works best for you is a combination of all the considerations above and of course, price, both initially and any monthly fees.