Your choice of operating system—iOS, Android or Windows—may be driven by what you already have in your business (although it doesn’t have to be). Each operating system has some pros and cons. Apple offers streamlined simplicity and a wide array of apps; however, its tablets lack expansion capability or user-sharing features. Android tablets offer customizability and affordability, but are more susceptible to malware. Windows tablets offer the most “business-friendly” functionality—including the ability to run the full version of Windows 8—but are expensive.
The functionality you need will affect your choice of operating system. What do you want your tablet to do? What applications do you need? Research available apps for each operating system; read user and professional reviews.
Tablets come in a range of sizes. Generally, 7-inch tablets are considered small; 10-inch tablets are large. Bigger screen sizes boast better display quality, resolution and readability, but also weigh more.
Even if you use cloud-based apps to store and access data on a tablet, you can only access to that data when you have an Internet or cellular connection. For maximum productivity during times you don’t, choose a tablet with enough internal storage to handle your data—and then some. Consider the types of files you store, and don’t forget that apps take up space, too.
The higher the processor’s “-core” designation, the faster it is—for example, quad-core is faster than dual-core. In general, you’ll want the fastest processor you can afford.
Depending on how you plan to use the tablet, you may need external USB ports, HDMI ports or slots for memory cards to expand internal storage.
Wi-fi Only or Cellular Connectivity
Some tablets are Wi-Fi-only, but for more flexibility, look for a tablet that lets you get cellular service from a wireless provider. If you want to use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot for your tablet, choose a tablet that can do this.
If you will type a lot on your tablet, you’ll probably prefer an actual keyboard to the on-screen keyboard. For graphics applications like sketching or jotting notes in handwriting, consider a a model with a stylus built in.
Multiple Accounts/User Logins
If different users need to share the same tablet, make sure you choose one that allows multiple users or logins.
Battery life is especially important if you’re frequently on the road, use your tablet for long stretches at a time or use battery-intensive apps. Manufacturers’ battery life estimates are generally best-case; read user reviews for a more realistic estimate.
Consider the environment in which you’ll be using the tablet. A tablet that’s used on construction sites must be tougher than one used in corporate conference rooms.
As tablets gain storage space, screen size and functionality, they often gain weight, too. It can get tiring to tote a hefty tablet in your bag or hold it up to view. When assessing weight, factor in cases, keyboards and other attachments.
Budget is a big consideration—but don’t skimp on tablet features to save money. Buy a late-model tablet so it won’t become outmoded quickly, and choose one that offers a bit more than you need now so it can grow with your business. If you’re on the fence, assess whether a tablet is truly a “need” for your business or just a “want. ” Perhaps a laptop and/or a smartphone can serve the same purpose.