With so many tablets on the market, it can be hard to choose one. We take a look at how to determine which one will help your business the most.
Everyone wants a tablet.
In 2013, according to the International Data Corporation, the tablet market is expected to grow to 165.9 million units, up from 117.1 million in 2012.
But how do you choose the right tablet for your business? It depends, says Ramon Ray, editor of SmallBusinessTechnology.com.
"Don’t just say, ‘let me get the iPad because it’s cool, or let me get the Windows [Microsoft Surface] because it’s cool, or Android because I like Google," he says. Instead, consider how you’ll use a tablet in your business, making a list of the features you want, and then compare that list with the features each tablet offers.
Before discussing the pros and cons of each tablet, take note: Consider what kind of platform your current technology already is running, and try to stick with compatible tablets, Ray says.
For example, if your employees have iPhones, it could create a technological road bump to furnish them with tablets operating on Android.
1. The iPad with iOS: sleek tablet with a lot of apps
"It clearly has the most apps," Ray says. And it’s a sleek, well-designed machine, too, he says. "Apple wins points with the design, the usability. Apple is known for being really simple to use."
Options for the iPad span from $329 to $829, depending on storage, features and whether your can add a data plan.
2. Android Tablets: economical tablet that works well with Google Apps and Android-powered phones new product
When it comes to Android-powered tablets, their biggest difference with the iPad is cost, Ray says. If you’re looking for an economical solution, an Android—which includes models made by brands ranging from Asus to Samsung—could be best for you. A Google Nexus 7 with 16 gigabytes of store, for example, starts at $199, whereas a 16 gigabyte iPad Mini will set you back $329.
Also, if you use applications such as Google Drive or Gmail, an Android tablet could be a good decision. "Everything Google builds is going to work seamlessly on that tablet," he says.
And the platform is growing: Androids are expected to have about 30% of the tablet market in 2016, compared with Apple’s projected 11%, according to IDC.
3. Microsoft Surface/Windows Tablet: new product, trusted brand
Microsoft Surface is a brand new interface, and it’s aimed, in part, at attracting business owners who have trusted Microsoft applications—Powerpoint, Word, Excel—to run their businesses for years. And it boasts security, too: "For those companies that are looking to have enterprise, control of the device is where Microsoft shines," Ray says.
Drawbacks include a less expansive app ecosystem, Rays says. But according to IDC, Window tablets are expect to grow in market share from one percent in 2011 to 11% by 2016—meaning more apps could be around the corner.
Surface has models from $499 to $899.
4. Amazon Kindle Fire: solid multimedia, email and document capabilities
Amazon Kindles are known as great e-book readers, but the Kindle Fire models are the most advanced Kindle products, offering features such as e-mail and calendar capabilities and support for several document formats for attachments. It’s ideal for businesses that need to review documents and check email, but those looking for more robust productivity tools may want to consider other tablets. Some users complain about the limited selection of apps available.
The Kindle Fire models range from $159 to $499.