Tech Guides

HardwareZone's Tablet Buying Guide Essentials

By Seow Tein Hee - 22 Nov 2011

Memory & Storage Capacity

Sheepish RAM

Processors are only a chapter in the full tablet story. Another component that will aid in the overall performance of the tablet, lies with its memory. We are talking about random access memory, or RAM for those who are familiar with the term.

As tablets get faster, app developers will want to take advantage of the speed with bigger and flashier apps. In turn, these apps will require more RAM to perform smoothly on these tablets. With tablet OSes now capable of multi-tasking (which varies in performance according to each OS' coding), having more RAM equates to a device being able to run more apps concurrently and is apt at handling app switching.

Recent tablets start with at least 512MB, such as the iPad 2. Though the final performance also depends on how the app is coded, it never hurts to see a higher number associated in the RAM department. And that's where most Android tablets come in with 1GB of RAM, giving more leeway for a better multi-tasking performance.

The current portfolio has seen an upper limit of 1GB, but by 2012, word has it that there will be devices such as Lenovo's upcoming quad-core tablet that'll come with 2GB of RAM. What you'll have to decide, is the worth of spending the extra amount to get more RAM, or hope for developers to optimize their apps to work with minimal memory.

Tip: The typical range for memory now stands at 512MB to 1GB, which is sufficient for current needs. While more RAM translates to better performance for multi-tasking, don't get sucked into the numbers game.


We Need More Storage

Tablets are usually preloaded with internal storage, which comes in steps of 16GB, 32GB and the largest at 64GB. Similar to RAM, a higher number is definitely preferred, though the likely barrier stopping you from going all out for storage is the cost of it.

Early tablets (and we're talking about those that date before the iPad and uses Microsoft's Windows operating system) have adopted the standard hard disk drive with mechanical parts. Thankfully, with technological advancement and the widespread adoption of flash storage, most tablets have adopted these non-mechanical options. The benefits of flash memory storage are aplenty, including:

  • Data integrity - without moving parts, any knocks and hits to your tablet will have a less likely chance of data loss or corruption.

  • Lower power consumption - the absence of mechanical parts also means less power is required to activate the moving parts. This is especially important to improve power efficiency for tablets.

  • Faster access speeds - flash memory comes with a much faster access speed, thus reducing loading times for apps.

  • Compact - flash memory and its lighter and smaller form factor translates to a much slimmer and lighter tablet.

Storage expandability is also one other way to toss more files onto your tablets. The recent tablet lineup has seen a few options with either SD or microSD expandability, though this route will cost you a little bit extra.

Expandable storage options such as microSD and SD cards will resolve your storage limitation on tablets.

Tip: Check your existing expandable storage. If you have more microSD over SD cards, you might want to consider choosing your tablet accordingly.

But do you really need that much storage space? In this case, it depends on what you'll be doing with the device. If you wish to have your large multimedia collection within easy reach, a 64GB storage capacity is the preferred choice. If you look at this from the perspective of someone who doesn't wish to perform file management too often, a higher storage capacity also means you won't have to worry about making space for more files.

If you're just someone who wants to play games and the occasional soundtrack, 32GB should be plenty. People who fit neither of the above categories, or just want to save some money, should go for the 16GB version, but note that there's a need for storage management to make sure you don't run out of space.

Tip: Identify what you'll be using the tablet for. Basic web surfing and emails won't require a higher storage capacity, while large amounts of multimedia files will see the need for the highest storage or/and an expandable storage option.


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