If you’re a fan of tablet computers, then you may have considered buying a Windows tablet. Today’s Windows tablets offer a totally different experience from iPads and Android tablets. Some people like this new experience, while others do not.
But before you buy any type of Windows tablet, there are some important things to consider. Don’t even think about buying a Windows tablet if you haven’t researched the following things:
1) Windows RT versus Windows 8
This should be the first decision you make when you’re researching Windows tablets. And it’s a relatively easy decision because Windows RT – as it stands now – is not a great mobile operating system.
Windows RT is a smaller companion to Windows 8. It only includes the Metro UI and RT users can only download apps from the Windows Store – you can’t install regular desktop apps. Plus, Windows RT has a pretty stupid-sounding name.
Meanwhile, Windows 8 users can switch between Metro UI and desktop mode on the fly. You can even disable it entirely if you want (using third-party software). There are only four Windows RT tablets on the market today, and there are dozens of Windows 8 tablets.
Our recommendation? Buy a Windows 8 tablet and avoid Windows RT tablets unless you’re very familiar with (and okay with) the restrictions.
2) Memory limits
This is something that many computer users may not consider before buying a tablet, but it’s important nonetheless. As a 32-bit operating system, Windows RT can only support 4GB of RAM, as will tablets that feature the Intel Atom Clover Trail chip.
But Windows tablets with Intel’s Core processors (i3, i5, and i7) are all 64-bit, which means they can support as much RAM as you could ever want or need (the limit is 512GB and I’m not exaggerating). 64-bit also makes it easier to expand storage space on your tablet or add more memory.
Our recommendation? Buy a Windows 8 tablet that includes an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor for maximum memory and storage support.
3) Battery life
Battery life is one of the most important things to pay attention to when buying a Windows tablet. Windows RT tablets have surprisingly good battery life that competes with the iPad 2 and top Android devices. Take a look at these test results compiled by Engadget:
Don’t expect Windows 8 tablets to have battery life of over 9 hours. But if you care more about battery life than app support, you should buy a Windows RT tablet.
Our recommendation? If battery life is important to you, Windows RT tablets like the Surface RT are your best choice.
4) Screen resolution and size
Windows 8 is an operating system built on clean, crisp corners and colorful tiles. Some people like this design, but others don’t. Whether you love it or hate it, the best way to view Windows 8 is on a sharp high resolution display.
Windows tablets come in two main resolutions:
HD Windows tablets are significantly more expensive than those running at 1366×768. A 10 inch screen or larger is ideal for Windows tablets. You should also try to make sure pixel density (PPI) is above at least 200.
Our recommendation: Look for a Windows tablet with a screen between 10 to 11 inches in size that has a resolution of 1366×768 (unless you’re willing to pay a few hundred extra dollars for a full HD screen, in which case you should upgrade.)
5) Hardware limitations and port connectivity
Some Windows tablets might seem like a perfect option – they meet all of the other requirements listed here and then some. But many people forget to check connectivity and port options. Windows RT tablets have USB 2.0 ports which are noticeably slower than the new USB 3.0 ports (which are found on most Windows 8 tablets).
You should also decide if you want HDMI connectivity, how many USB connections you need, and any other possibly ports you want. But in most cases, your Windows tablet will come with between 2 to 4 USB ports, an HDMI slot, and possibly a microSD slot.
Our recommendation: Most people are fine with having two to three USB ports and an HDMI slot – that’s all you really need.
6) Support for accessories and peripherals
Some manufacturers release a bunch of different accessories that complement their Windows tablets. Others don’t care enough to do that, or rely on third-party companies to build accessories for them. Before buying a Windows tablet, take a quick look through its accessory options online. Here are some important Windows tablet accessories that you may want to buy:
-A sturdy case
-A Bluetooth keyboard (if you buy the Surface you can purchase the Touch cover which doubles as a keyboard and as a case)
-Bluetooth printer (if you plan on using your Windows tablet as your main computer at home or for work)
Our recommendation? Thus far, the Microsoft Surface is likely your best choice when it comes to Windows tablets with good accessory support. The Surface is compatible with most third-party devices and Microsoft has also released a range of useful accessories.