Carla Note- This is Part 3 of a Tablet Buying and Information series for quilters and creative people. To begin at Post 1, please click here
Today, we.will continue with more factors to consider when purchasing a Tablet for creative application. Part 1 covered the Operating System (OS), and Part 2 covered such areas as budget, use, size, and the software you plan to use with the tablet.
Today, I plan to help you wade through some of Technical Specs- such as your Processor, Memory, Storage, Battery, and digitizer/screen needs. I will explaining some of the details so you understand what to look for when comparing one tablet to another.
What Processor Will Meet Your Needs?
Without complicating this topic, know that the majority of Tablet PC options have Intel inside, to re-use their old motto. Look for Intel Core i3, i5 and i7. i7 will be the most expensive and i3 will cost less. All will be appropriate to meet your processor needs and have excellent performance. I do want to mention that a family member works for Intel, but aside from this, Intel’s processors are the best choice when purchasing a Tablet PC.
Some Tablet PC’s have Intel’s Atom processors, however, the Tablet PC with Atom processors typically have 2 GB of system memory, which imho, is not enough to handle the heavy workload of large programs. This is important to know if you plan to use larger sized programs like Photoshop. More about this topic below.
In the Android Tablet field, the two main competitors are ARM and Intel. Both will meet your needs. Apple’s processor used in their iPad models are done internally, they have high quality processors.
What are Your Memory Needs?
I will simplify memory into 2 areas- system memory and storage:
System memory- The quick definition of system memory is this is your local, high speed, temporary memory the CPU uses like a scratch pad. Often referred to as RAM (random access memory).
What system memory should you look for in a tablet PC? I recommend 8 Gigabyte (GB) or higher. If all you can afford is 4GB, know you may have some slowing and performance issues, especially with larger programs. 4 GB will certainly work, however, If it is in your budget, go for 8GB or larger.
Storage– Most Tablet PCs have a Solid-state Drive (SSD) for their memory storage capacity. The reason for this is that SSD’s are less prone to physical shock, and quieter than traditional hard disk drives. The SSD will boot your system, store your programs and your personal files. When shopping for a tablet, look for the SSD tech spec, it typically will be between 64 GB and 1 Terabyte (T).
If you are looking at a Tablet PC, I recommend 256 GB or higher, if it is in your budget. If not, another option is to add external storage by purchasing an external hard disc drive (HDD), these days you can pick up 2T of HDD for $120 US or less. By the way, external SSD are very pricey for a lot less GB storage. I recommend an external HDD to also back up your Tablet PC, too.
For an Android or iPad tablet, storage is still very important. If buying an iPad or Android tablet, purchase the largest memory your budget will allow. Nothing is more frustrating then to run out of storage capacity on your iPad, which happened to me.
How Important is Battery Life to You?
The expected battery life of a tablet is certainly important, especially if you plan to work and travel with your tablet. No one wants to be in the middle of a special project and lose power, or be watching a movie, only to run out of battery power.
You will see a wide variety of battery performance in the tablet market. If a long battery life is important to you, then be sure to look at battery performance during your comparison. This applies for all types of tablets sold.
Does Your Tablet Need to Have any special Input/outputs?
You will want to consider if you need to have any special slots, ports or other input/output on your Tablet. Most of us use the USB 2.0 port and thumb drive to move files around, hook up peripheral devices, and other basic tasks. Many Tablet Slates, including the Surface Pro 2, do not come with this port. Instead, they only have USB 3.0, however, the good news is that USB 3.0 are backwards compatible, which means you can still use your older USB 2.0 with them.
I was helping out a quilting teacher to choose a new tablet, and I knew she needed a VGA slot on her tablet so she could hook up her projector for classroom applications. This did limit her selection a bit, but in the end we were able to locate a Tablet PC Convertible that met her needs. So remember to consider what slots or ports you cannot live without, and then look at the technical sheet of any tablet you are considering.
Another tip on this subject. If the Tablet of your dreams does not have the slot or port you need, try searching to see if an adapter or docking station is available.
Will You Be Using The Tablet Inside or Outside?
Your display screen may or may not have special anti-glare properties, so if this is important to you, look for a tablet with this feature, otherwise, know you can purchase a Screen display protector with anti-glare features and add it after your purchase.
Pen/Finger Input Preferences?
Behind or in front of the display will be your active digitizer. I won’t go into the details for how this technology works, but know that your active digitizer will require the use of a special pen to interact with the display and draw.
The two main digitizers available are manufactured by Wacom and N- Trig. Wacom is used by the majority of Tablet companies, and would be my first choice. Some Wacom digitizers have touchscreen capability, too.
N-Trig is a newer, smaller company, and in comparison tests, they do not rate as high as Wacom.
In addition to the active digitizer, many Tablet PCs and all the Android and iPads also have touchscreen capability, also called a passive digitizer. Touchscreen in tablets started when the iPad was released, and now you will find it in ultrabooks, monitors and other computing applications. What is Touchscreen? It is where you use your fingertouch to control what you see on your display.
If you have never seen a touchscreen tablet or computer, my advice would be to visit a computer retailer in person to try it out. You may love it or feel you can live without it. This feature is personal preference. Once again, Wacom and N-Trg are the two largest companies manufacturing touchscreens, and I recommend Wacom.
What type of pen do you prefer?
Tablets are pen enabled devices, and most come with a stylist pen or offer it as an add-on purchase. What is important to know is that in tablets sold, Wacom digitizer pens do not work on N-Trig digitizers and vice versa. Also, if you own a Wacom plug in device (such as Bamboo, Graphire, Intuos or [most] Cintiq), their specialized pens will not work with Tablet PC Wacom digitizers.
However, since 2002, any pen made for a Wacom Tablet PC digitizer will work on another Wacom Tablet PC digitizer. This is helpful if you happen to own several Tablet PC with Wacom digitizer and often misplace your pen, like I often do. I use both a HP and Toshiba pen on my Fujitsu with no problem.
I do recommend pens for tablet drawing, so my advice is to buy a Tablet PC with Wacom digitizer, and also order at least 2 pens. More, if you misplace them like me. 🙂 Every tablet PC manufacturer will have their own pen for their brand, plus Wacom makes 2 compatible pens- a Bamboo Feel ($39 US) and the Bamboo Feel Carbon (79.95 US). Both links have a helpful list of compatible Tablet PCs.
I also recommend pens for drawing with both Android and iPad tablets. Right now, the best pen for drawing with your iPad is the Adonit Jot Touch 4, priced at $89 US. In the Android market, some tablets ship with pens and some don’t. For this reason, I recommend purchasing a pen if your tablet doesn’t come with one. Just ensure that the pen is compatible with your Android tablet before you purchase.
… you should know what features you desire in a Tablet. You are bound to have questions, so if you do, please leave me a comment. I want you to shop around and make an informed decision as to what is the right Tablet for you.
To help you buy a Tablets if you are on a tight budget, the next post in this series will provide you with several options for budget tablet buying.
Take care, Carla