Tech Guides

HardwareZone's Tablet Buying Guide Essentials

By Seow Tein Hee - 22 Nov 2011

Connectivity Options

Having the Right Connections

Being well-connected comes with the tablet package. Thankfully, most tablets come with a standard set of connectivity options, some of which are higher up on the priority list. To give you a better idea of the wireless features you'll need on your tablet, here's a quick scan of the connectivity options that matter to your tablet experience.


Wireless Fidelity, or commonly known as Wi-Fi, is perhaps the one and only feature that must never be left out in any mobile devices. Acting as the conduit to connect your tablet to the vast internet realm, your Wi-Fi connection is also categorized according to the speeds and range it supports. To date, most mobile devices have moved onto the draft-N protocol, supporting faster download / upload bit rates.


High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), otherwise known as 3.5G, picks up the pace when a Wi-Fi connection is not available. This is a selective feature that is not common amongst most tablets. However, be prepared to fork out more cash to include this additional option to connect your tablet to the web at any given time or location.

HSPDA aside, long term evolution (LTE) will be the next standard that promises faster download speeds of up to 75Mbps on the cellular network. Apple took the first step to introduce its new iPad with LTE connectivity. Unfortunately, the new iPad utilizes the 700MHz and 2100MHz frequency band, which is different from those used by service providers outside of the United States.


By far one of the most common connectivity features, Bluetooth is widely used by not just tablets, but mobile phones to create a bridge between your device and its accompanying peripherals. Such accessories could come in the form of a Bluetooth headset to enjoy your music collection, or a wireless keyboard for those who prefer a physical tactile input over the virtual on-screen keyboard

HDMI / TV-out

Tablets are meant to be portable, but it would be nice to have the option to enjoy your tablet content on a larger screen. Should you wish to have this feature, certain tablets such as the Motorola Xoom comes with an HDMI-out to extend its display onto a HDTV. In terms of priority, you can probably make do without this feature.

3G Connectivity - Yes or No?

One question that comes to mind, is whether a mobile user requires a constant internet connection on-the-go. Smartphone users won't have this dilemma to answer, given that most of these devices bound customers to a 2-year contract with the telcos. More importantly, the subscribed price plans usually come with a data bundle, which gives smartphone users instant connectivity to the internet via a HSDPA connection.

Tablet users, however, will have to decide between a slate with a Wi-Fi connection, or one that comes with an additional 3G connectivity option. Chances are, a tablet user is a smartphone owner. The significance lies in a common feature in smartphones - the creation of mobile wireless hotspots using the 3G connection. This feature exists on two of the most prevalent mobile platforms in Singapore, Apple iOS and Google Android. As such, it stands to say that you won't need to worry about getting connected to the internet on your tablet, so long as a smartphone is within reach.

Tip: If you own an iOS or Android smartphone, you won't really need 3G connectivity on your tablet.

To simply things, here's a flowchart to help you determine if you'll need to subscribe to a data plan for your tablet:

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