One of the most important decisions that must be answered when choosing which tablet to buy is the question of screen size. Would you be happier with a full-size, mid-size, or small tablet?
In reality, there are quite a few factors that go into this decision, like what operating system you prefer, your budget, and what you intend to use your tablet for.
Before deciding on screen size, you should read "How to Choose the Right Tablet Operating System". This is an important step because the OS will have an effect on which size devices are available to you.
Those who prefer Apple iOS or Microsoft Windows will have to pick a mid-size or full-size model, as there are no small tablets running either of these. The only option for those who want a 7-inch tablet is Google Android.
As a general rule, the larger a tablet is, the more expensive it is. Those who are looking for very low-cost devices will have to get a 7-inch one. These can be found for less than $200... sometimes much less.
Full-size models, with displays larger than 9 inches, start at around $500 and go up from there. Some of the high-end Windows models can be $1,000 or more.
If you intend to carry your tablet everywhere, you might think that the smallest tablet is the best, but that's not necessarily true. No model is small enough to be easily pocketable, so some kind of bag or case is required for every tablet. Which means there's not as much difference between the real-world portability of small and full-size devices as you might think.
What you intend to do with a tablet should have a much larger effect of the size you choose. Some things are better on a bigger display, while a smaller device is more appropriate for other things, and some tasks can be done just as easily on a small screen as a large one.
eBooks: Smaller tablets are lighter and therefore easier to hold for long periods of reading. Still, larger screens can hold more text, leading to a better reading experience.
Email: No matter the size of the tablet, email is always far easier to read and write on a tablet than on a phone. This is something even a 7-inch model does well.
Games: Most casual games, like Angry Birds, were designed to run on tiny smartphone screens, so they are just fine to play on small tablets. More advanced games, like RPGs and FPSs, mimic the experience of consoles -- some are even ports of console games -- and are much better on screens of 10 inches or larger.
Handwritten Notes/Drawing: Using a tablet as a note-taking or drawing tool is becoming increasingly common. Even a small tablet is useful for taking notes, but full-size devices are often better options. There are limits, however: too large a tablet can be awkward to hold while drawing. For this use, whether a device has a pressure-sensitive screen is more important than size.
Typing: There are two ways to use the on-screen keyboard of a tablet. One involves holding the device between the hands and pressing the keys with the thumbs. A small or mid-size screen is the better option for this. The other option is to lay the device on a table and type with the forefingers -- this is the best option for large displays. Regular touchtyping with all ten fingers on an on-screen keyboard is virtually impossible.
Video: Watching full-length movies and TV shows is always better on a larger screen, especially if you expect to occasionally want to watch with another person. Short YouTube-type videos on smaller screens are quite acceptable, however.
Web: This is something where bigger is better, as a full-size tablet allows you to use the full desktop versions of web pages. Small tablets are often better off using the versions of websites designed for smartphones, which frequently don't have all the features of the larger ones.
Word Processing: Those who want to be able to make small edits to an already-existing document or spreadsheet can do so on any size display . However, anyone looking for a serious content-creation tool needs a larger screen -- and probably a clip-on keyboard.
People looking for a device that will be a companion to another computer, one that is only used primarily for email, web access, and light gaming, might be better off with a smaller tablet, as these are less expensive.
Full-size models are best for those who intend to make frequent use of their tablet, either for work or personal use, despite the higher prices, because the larger screen is better for a wide range of tasks.
Mid-size models are either for those looking for a compromise, or people who want the smallest, least expensive iPad or Windows tablet they can get.
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