The Tablet Buying Guide (For Those Who Are Not Into iPad)

The iPad is a pretty nice tablet. It has a lot of features that tie into the Apple ecosystem really well. But what if you aren’t part of the Mac cult? The long list of alternative tablets can make a person go nuts trying to get an idea of which ones are worth your money.

If you are looking at alternative tablets and have no idea which one to choose, here is a list that is categorized with useful parameters. All of these comparisons are based on the 32GB iPad with Retina Display selling for $599 (Wi-Fi) and $729 (cellular connection/WiFi) as listed on Apple’s site currently.

If cost is your concern …

Just about any of the tablets on the market can currently beat the iPad in price. However, some of the really cheap tablets also have limited features. Some features to be potentially lacking on a cost-effective tablet could be: lower screen resolution, no access to the Google Play Store, smaller internal storage, slower processors, and lesser quality build materials.

1. Nook HD


The Nook HD is a pretty simple device. While there is no access to the Google Play Store, the Nook can be rooted fairly easily to allow the installation of Google Play Store application. The Nook HD 8 GB model comes in at just under $200. If you are not really looking for anything overly fancy and just want something for reading books and other entertainment options, this could be a great device for you. You can even set up different user profiles which is not common on Android devices.

2. ARCHOS 70b Internet Tablet


The ARCHOS 70b is a fairly good tablet in the $200 range. Its features include TV output, access to the Google Play Store and Honeycomb 3.2. While it may not be a brand as talked about as the others out there, it is a good low cost option.

If portability is your concern…

A 7-inch tablet is a lot more portable than a full-size iPad. Not to knock the size of the iPad, though; a 10-inch Android tablet is equally as difficult to carry around. Below are some smaller screen tablets with a lot of features that are much more portable than a full-size iPad.

1. Nexus 7


You can’t write a tablet article without mentioning the Nexus 7. This brilliant 7-inch screen and lightning-fast tablet make it a great choice for everyday use. Being a Google Nexus device, it also has the benefit of receiving upgrades faster than all other Android devices. The 7-inch screen size makes it small enough to fit in the back pocket of a pair of jeans or a coat pocket.

2. Samsung Tab 7.7


The Samsung Tab 7.7 is a great size for everyday use on the go. Slightly bigger than the Nexus 7, it is great for watching a movie or reading a book while in a waiting room.

3. iPad Mini


If you like the iPad, but not the size, then the iPad Mini is going to be your ideal solution. It’s almost exactly the same as an iPad, except for a smaller screen (7.9 inch screen without retina display).

If you plan on typing often

Many of the tablets on the market have very similar features (e.g. a front camera, great resolution screen, ability to download apps, etc.). The two tablets below were chosen because they had a feature others didn’t have – a good physical keyboard.

1. Microsoft Surface RT


I brought the Surface to this list because it is a pretty good middle ground between a Windows computer and a tablet. The reason for this is the Microsoft Surface RT is usable through a touchscreen w/ stylus and has a detachable keyboard. To get a keyboard with an iPad, it’s an additional cost and third-party accessory.

2. ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700


The Asus Transformer series is very popular for those who prefer a tablet with laptop capabilities. The ASUS TF700 is a great everyday tablet because of the brilliant HD screen and the very usable convertible keyboard dock. While the resolution on a full-size iPad is a little better than the TF700, for the same price as an iPad, you’ll save money and headache trying to find a keyboard perfect for the tablet.

If you need a tablet that can do everything

For the person who has no specific needs in a tablet, the two Android tablets below are great general-purpose devices. They’re not too big, not too small and priced well.

1. Kindle Fire HD 8.9


As you may or may not know, the Kindle Fire HD cannot access the Google Play Store, only the Amazon AppStore. For the person who is looking for more of an entertainment device to read books, watch movies, download a few games and surf the web, this is a popular choice. If the time comes when you’d like to get more from it, you can always root it.

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9


The Tab 8.9 is a WiFi and cellular device so you can have access anywhere if you opt for a wireless plan. The peppy processor speed makes it a great all-round tablet. One thing, though it is still running the older Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), but it shouldn’t deter you from doing anything on it.


As you can see, using alternative tablets has advantages and disadvantages over iPads as well as other devices on the market. When making the choice, you can make a more informed decision. If you aren’t going to be using all the features of an iPad, there is no real sense in dropping more money on a device that doesn’t fit your needs..

Image credit: Google Nexus 7 Unboxing

Trevor Dobrygoski
Trevor Dobrygoski

Trevor is a freelance writer covering topics ranging from the Android OS to free web and desktop applications. When he is not writing about mobile productivity, He is coaching and playing the world's greatest game... Soccer.

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