If you're still thinking about buying a tablet and want to know more, read our article on:What to look for in a tablet PC
Different tablets use a range of operating systems including Apple iOS, Google Android, and Windows RT. There are several differences between them, with the variety and number of apps available being one of them. You'll have a choice screen size, generally between 7" and 10.5", a storage capacity from 8GB up to 64GB, plus the option of either wireless only or with 3G or 4G mobile connectivity.
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|Apple iOS||Google Android||Windows RT|
This OS is found on the Apple iPad with the App Store being the main attraction. Features include iCloud which safely stores your content across all your Apple devices and the Notification Center that keeps track of your notices in one place.
Apps: The Apple App Store has over 375,000 apps available for the iPad. You can access the App Store from the home screen by clicking on the app icon. To download apps you'll need to create an Apple ID and have an internet connection. All the apps you download will be stored on the home screens and can be opened by double-clicking on them. Double-clicking on the Home button will show you your most recently used apps.
Video & Music: The iPad only supports certain video and music formats (.mov, .mp4 etc...), so you'll need to sync the iPad with your computer and use iTunes to download these. Another option is to try and convert the files to a playable format; there are several apps available to let you do this. With a fast internet connection, you can also stream videos on the iPad from various apps; BBC iPlayer for example.
Customisation: You can tailor the iPad to fit your needs by creating additional home screens, rearranging icons, creating folders or simply by changing the background wallpaper. Clicking on the Settings icon will take you to several options including setting the time/date, configuring network connections and changing notifications.
Remember to frequently check for operating system updates. To check Go to Settings /General/software Updates.
The Android OS can be found on a variety of tablet PC's, which includes the Advent Vega, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Sony Experia.
User Screens: The home screen is made up of a series of five changeable pages, all of which can contain shortcuts to apps and widgets. Typically, the main screen (hub page) will have pre-loaded icons e.g. date & time, browser, messages etc and the two pages to the left and right will be blank. To customise these pages, go into Settings and then Personalize. You can also drag and drop applications from the main menu.
Apps: At the top right of the screen there should be a button labelled 'Apps'; from here you'll be directed to the Android Market. The Market is host to thousands of free and paid apps, music, films, television shows, games and books. Not everything in the Market is compatible with tablet PC's because of the larger screen, so you'll need to check before you download the app. To download from the Market you'll need to create a Google Checkout Account and have an internet connection.
Google Account: When your Android tablet is turned on for the first time you're advised to sign up for a Google Account. The reason for this is all your information, e.g. contacts, apps etc are remembered through the Google Account meaning it's backed up if needed and there's no need to constantly sync your information with a PC.
Music & Video: Most file formats are supported, which includes MP3, AAC, WAV, WMV and DivX but is dependent on the make/model of the tablet PC. To transfer files from the computer to your tablet PC, simply connect them together using the USB cable. You can also buy music and videos from the Android Market.
Operating system updates will automatically be sent to the device but you can manually check by going to Settings, About Tablet and then clicking on System Updates.
Getting in on the act more recently is Microsoft's own version of the tablet called Surface. Microsoft Surface tablets run on the Windows RT operating system and are essentially a scaled down version of Windows 8. Features include a pre-installed full version of Microsoft Home Office and Student. You have a choice of either the Surface model, the Surface or Surface Pro. The Pro version has a more powerful processor and can run Outlook Office (sold separately).
These tablets feature a range of connectivity options such as full-size USB ports, Bluetooth and video inputs.. Apps and programs are downloaded from the Windows Store. Accessories include a keyboard touch cover and kickstand and HDMI compatible cables for streaming movies, games etc.
Account: You will need a Microsoft email and password (formerly Windows Live ID) and you can then sign in to other Microsoft services such as Hotmail, Messenger, Sky Drive, Xbox Live, Ourlook.com or Windows Phone.
Music & Video: Surface comes with apps you can use to play, display and edit many common file types. You may be able to use files in other formats by installing other apps from the Windows Store.
Updates are automatically installed, but you can manually find updates by going to Change PC settings/Windows Update/Check for updates now.