Are iPads better than Windows tablets

Tips for buying a tablet: iPad, Windows or Android?

Tablets come in a wide variety of sizes and designs. Finding the right device is not that easy due to the large number of models. For some users, the Apple iPad is still the most prominent representative among tablets, but there are also a large number of Android devices or tablets with the Microsoft Windows operating system. Therefore, there are a few questions to clarify before buying a tablet. We give tips on how to find the right model for your needs.

More important than the question of the display diagonal of a tablet is the decision as to which operating system the device should run with. In addition to Google's Android system, you can also choose from Apple iPadOS and Windows, which is familiar from PCs. Tips for buying a tablet
Image: Pixabay

Pioneer and trendsetter: the iPad from Apple

If users opt for an Apple iPad, the selection of possible models is enormously limited in one fell swoop. After all, Apple offers iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air and iPad Pro display sizes between 7.9 inches and 12.9 inches. In addition, the iPads allow pen operation via a stylus called "Pencil". With all iPads, buyers can choose between WLAN-only devices and iPads that also support LTE. The LTE models then have the additional designation "Cellular".

For many users, Apple's iPad is the epitome of a tablet, and the retina display familiar from iPhones can also be found on the flat devices. The hype surrounding the Apple tablets is perhaps also due to the fact that the iPad was the device that helped flat computers make their breakthrough. When it appeared in 2010, the first generation got the tablet hype rolling and "the iPad" is still used as a reference model for many tablets. This is mainly due to the good cooperation between hardware and software. Both components come from a single source and can therefore be precisely matched to one another. Smooth operation, intuitive operation and regular and quick firmware updates are the advantages. iPadOS on the Apple iPad
Image: Apple

iPadOS: Own operating system

Multimedia features such as the playback of videos and music via iTunes or music services, but also games, are in the foreground with the iPad. Due to the large number of apps from the app store, the tablet - especially in the Pro version - can also be used well for office work with the appropriate programs. In this case, separately available keyboards are helpful.

For this purpose, the iPad even received its own operating system in 2019 with iPadOS. IPad OS differs from iOS for iPhone in that it is more geared towards productive work. Apple wants to increasingly establish the iPad as a laptop alternative.

One of the main disadvantages of iPads is the lack of compatibility with common multimedia standards. In contrast to Android devices, the display cannot easily be transferred wirelessly to the TV - only the Apple TV can help here.

In addition, the iPad is not for the small budget: Current models in the smallest memory versions still cost at least 300 euros. The extensively equipped iPad Pro models with up to 1 TB of storage even cost over 1700 euros. You can find more information on the devices mentioned and their small and large predecessors on our iPad overview page.

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Android, the adaptable all-rounder

Google's Android operating system runs on the majority of tablets. Users who opt for an Android tablet are sure to find what they are looking for, because almost every display size is covered, the devices are also available in a wide variety of price ranges. However, as with no other system, you have to pay attention to the hardware equipment the device has. Because the technology used has a decisive influence on the applications for which an Android tablet is suitable. A Samsung tablet with Android
Image: The choice of size is less important. The smallest tablets usually have a display diagonal of 7 inches. The next larger format is the 8-inch range, followed by 9.7 and 10.1-inch tablets. But there are also display sizes of 12.2 inches and more. The larger the screen of a tablet, the more space it offers for videos and games. In contrast to the small 7- or 8-inch devices, these giants are less mobile because they require more space in the pocket and are often significantly heavier. So if you want a particularly mobile device, you should opt for one of the small formats.

Android versions and special cases like the Amazon Kindle Fire

Android 11 is the current Android version, but it has hardly been used on a tablet so far. Tablets with the previous version Android 10 are more common. If you choose a tablet with Android 9.0 Pie, you may save on the purchase price, but you must expect that you will no longer receive an update to a newer version.

The manufacturers often cover the Android system with their own surface, which explains the slightly different look of the home screens of the individual models. One consequence of the individual adjustments, however, is the sometimes long wait for software updates - or the lack of updates. Amazon tablet with a heavily modified Android interface
Image: Amazon The Amazon Fire brand shows what effects the adaptation of the user interface in the menu navigation can have. The basis of the Amazon operating system is Android, but Amazon has adapted it so much that users hardly see anything of it. The complete design of the Fire OS is based on Amazon's own services, and the online retailer also offers its own app shop. Fire tablet users officially do not have access to the Google Play Store or the stores of manufacturers such as Samsung, and the interface cannot really be adapted either. The Fire tablets are therefore only suitable for those who frequently use Amazon's services and are willing to commit themselves closely to the online retailer. Numerous well-known apps are not available in the Amazon app store.

The cheapest Amazon tablet is already available for well under 100 euros. The larger Fire HD models are often better equipped, but they also cost significantly more. The kids editions of the Fire tablets are specially designed for children.

Inexpensive or do you prefer high-end?

In contrast to Apple's iPads, problems with the interaction of system and hardware can occur with Android tablets. Because the open system architecture of Android is resource-hungry and therefore requires more performance from the technology. A precise coordination of system and hardware is also necessary, which the manufacturers do not always succeed in, especially with very cheap Android tablets. The classification into categories is not as easy with tablets as with smartphones, for example, because the display plays an extremely important role alongside the processor. You might find fast octa-core processors in cheap tablets, but savings were made on the screen.

There are a few very cheap Android tablets for well under 100 euros. However, users should keep their hands off these models. Too often there is poor workmanship, a system jerking due to sloppily installed drivers, or simply too weak hardware with a low-clocked processor and only tiny RAM. Very cheap displays are also often installed, which not only have a low and therefore very pixelated resolution, but also offer a poor viewing angle.

Nevertheless, there are also Android devices in the low-price segment around 100 euros, which are definitely suitable for users who only want to surf the Internet from time to time and play simple games.

In the mid-range price range between 200 and 400 euros, devices dominate, most of which have processors with eight cores. The main memory here is usually 4 GB to 6 GB. The internal memory should be at least 32 GB, better 64 GB or 128 GB. The tablets of this category master multimedia and gaming applications as well as surfing the Internet. The displays are usually much better than those of the inexpensive entry-level tablets, offer resolutions from around 800 times 1280 pixels or full HD and have a more stable viewing angle. This makes watching films much more fun than with the low-resolution cheap tablets. No lasting success: Tablet as a game console from Nvidia
Image: Nvidia

Tablets for the discerning

The powerful octa-core processors with up to 8 GB of RAM, good graphics units and a Full HD or QHD resolution (1440 x 2560 pixels) are available in the Android upper class.

The devices, which are often 10-inch or larger, can score points with additional functions such as pen input. If users want a real gaming tablet or a workhorse that can open many applications at the same time, this is the right place for them. Prices of 600 euros to 1500 euros and more are not uncommon for these tablets. Special gaming tablets were particularly powerful, but often also required sophisticated cooling, were not as handy as standard tablets and have therefore disappeared from the market again.

The office heroes with Windows

While the Android tablets show their strengths primarily in multimedia applications, tablets with the Windows operating system are the office professionals among flat computers. Windows has been adapted for touchscreen input for this purpose.

Windows 10 is the operating system that is used on both tablets and desktop PCs. Tablets with this system are therefore suitable as a full-fledged desktop replacement. The special thing about Windows 10: It runs from desktop PCs, tablets and notebooks to set-top boxes for televisions on various types of devices. The office professional: Microsoft Surface
Image: Microsoft For a long time, the classic representatives of Windows tablets were Microsoft's Surface devices. Surface Book, Surface Laptop and Surface Studio are now complementing Microsoft's product range. But other manufacturers such as Acer, Asus, Lenovo, HP and Samsung have added Windows tablets to their range. Often there are tablets with a clip-on keyboard, a so-called keyboard dock, which makes writing on the devices much easier. Windows tablets have long been powered by "classic" processors from Intel (Core i3, i5 or i7). This showed that the models were deliberately developed as a desktop or laptop replacement and correspondingly high performance.

In the meantime, however, there are also Windows tablets with processors based on ARM. These offer the advantage of a longer battery life and, like smartphones, have an always-on mode. In some cases, however, not all Windows software can be installed on Windows tablets with an ARM chip.

Windows tablets with an Intel Core processor usually cost over 500 euros. Much cheaper Windows tablets are equipped with the Intel processor families Pentium, Atom or Celeron. Windows tablets with these processors are completely sufficient for surfing the Internet and watching movies.

Stationary vs. mobile use

It is not just the system and size that play a decisive role when buying a tablet. The aforementioned display quality as well as aspects such as battery life, processor performance, WLAN and cell phone interfaces and possible cameras should also be taken into account.

Use at home:

If users use their tablet primarily at home, they can easily choose a larger model that is slightly heavier. The battery capacity is also less important with the home tablet, as the way to the socket is not far. More space on the display makes it easier to use, although here, too, attention should be paid to a high-quality screen with high resolution and strong colors. A resolution of 600 by 1024 pixels is a bit low even with models only 7 inches in size. It is best to choose a device with a resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels or even Full HD, especially if the display is 8 inches or more diagonally. To get an impression of the display before buying, it helps to go to the shops. But we also describe the display quality of the tested models in detail in our test reports.

Mobile use:

If tablets are to be used primarily on the move, completely different rules apply. A long battery life of eight to ten hours or more as well as a light, compact housing are essential here. Attention should also be paid to the connection to the Internet. Every tablet can dial into the WLAN, but dialing into the network via LTE or 5G is even more practical on the go.

The display of tablets used on the move should be as bright as possible so that it can be easily read in sunlight. A screen protector such as Gorilla Glass, which reduces the risk of scratches, is also helpful.

Especially with tablets used on the move, it is worth taking a look at the camera. Because more and more often you see people on the go taking photos with their tablets. In contrast to smartphones, tablet manufacturers are still a long way from installing triple or quad cameras with 16 or more megapixels. Instead, many upper-class models rely on the classic 13-megapixel notch. For a snapshot, however, models with a 10 megapixel main camera are also sufficient. When it comes to front cameras for video telephony, models with a resolution of 5 to 8 megapixels dominate. Tablets can be upgraded to PC with accessories
Image: Pixabay

A brief summary of important tips

The greatest demands on a tablet are made by tasks such as playing 3D games or cutting films. If you want to do this mainly, you should pay particular attention to the processor and the display. Resolutions of less than 720 by 1280 pixels are taboo. Full HD displays or a QHD resolution are better for video playback, as users can clearly see the difference to simple HD displays with videos and games. A good assessment of the display quality also allows the specification of the pixels in which the resolution is set in relation to the display diagonal. 300 ppi or higher are good values.

The processor should never have fewer than eight cores and a clock rate not below 1.5 gigahertz. A RAM from 4 GB, better still 6 GB to 8 GB, is an advantage - most upper-class tablets offer 8 GB. 16 or 32 GB of RAM is only available in expensive Windows devices with a keyboard, which actually belong to the convertible notebooks, but still have a touchscreen. It is also worth taking a look at the graphics. If the image is to be transferred from the tablet to the television, an HDMI connection is helpful. Transmission via USB-to-HDMI is also possible, if the tablet supports it. But wireless transmission technologies such as DLNA also have the desired effect.

For prolific writers, there are models on the tablet market where the keyboard is already included in the price. But there are also convertible tablets that are reminiscent of a mixture between laptop and tablet - in this case the keyboard can be folded back or removed using a hinge. As an alternative to these convertibles, third-party manufacturers also offer a range of keyboards that can be coupled with the Android tablet or iPad.

Our tablet search will help you find the right tablet.Various tablet tests that give you more information about the performance and processing of a specific model can be found in our test overview.

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