Sunday, 13 April 2014

Buying an Android tablet for a non tech savvy relative

When buying a new tablet for ourselves its easy to know what must have features we want. Having to decide for a relative who is not technically savvy can be daunting. This guide gives a proven method to ensure the correct tablet is purchased. Top tip is making a survey for your relative (sample given at the end)!

Screen Size

  • The main options are either 7, 8 or 10 inch screens
  • Considerations
    • How do they feel about their current mobile phone size?
    • Is a larger screen size a preference?
    • Would they use it on a table or prefer to be hand held?
    • Does it have to fit into a particular bag size e.g. hand bag?


  • The larger screens inevitably lead to more weight
  • Considerations
    • Will the tablet be carried a lot e.g. for commuting?
    • If the tablet is to be used for reading is the preference to be able to hold the tablet like a book?


  • Not all tablets have front and rear cameras
  • Considerations
    • Will the tablet be used for video calls (front camera required)?
    • Is there a need for taking good quality photos or apps that require back camera e.g. scanning bar codes for shopping apps?


  • One of the main functions of a tablet can be using it as an e-reader e.g. with Kindle or Kobo
  • Considerations
    • How often will the tablet be used as an e-reader?
    • Would the user prefer a large easy to ready screen, or a lighter, smaller tablet?

TV Connectivity

  • Connecting the tablet to TV can be great for sharing or playing content. Using an HDMI connection is easiest but there are adaptors available for tablets without HDMI connection e.g. USB and 30 pin to HDMI are available
  • Considerations
    • Does your current TV have any HDMI connections?
    • Are there sufficient available HDMI connections on the TV or will an HDMI splitter be needed?
    • Is there a location the tablet can be placed (e.g. a shelf) to connect to the TV?

Video Calls

  • One of the most common reason for buying a relative a tablet is for video calling using Skype or Google Hangouts so a forward facing camera would be required
  • Considerations
    • Is the quality of the video playback and sound good enough for video calls?
    • Does a particular application require to be supported e.g. Skype. Worth checking on reviews to see if other tablet owners have successfully used these apps.

3G or WiFi only

  • Wifi only is significantly cheaper. 
  • Considerations
    • Do they need 3G? 3G models also tend to weigh slightly more than their wifi only counterparts


  • If the tablet is to be used for maps outside the home GPS may be useful.
  • Considerations
    • Some GPS on tablets have "Assisted GPS" which relies on a data connection

Clumsy or Careful Owner

  • How rugged does this tablet need to be? 
  • Considerations
    • Will it be bumped, dropped or roll around in a bag? 
    • Models with Gorilla glass are tougher and less likely to be scratched but if you suspect rough treatment a good padded case and screen protectors are a must. 
    • Cheaper models may not have so good build quality. 
    • If possible feel them in store for flex and check out some reviews.

App Usage

  • What type of app's will your relative be interested in e.g. news, games, YouTube, music.
  • Considerations
    • Does the OS version matter. Are they familiar with a version of Android already? 
    • App compatibility with certain versions of Android.
    • Certain types of apps may display better on a larger screen and some apps were developed for mobile so look odd on a big screen.


  • Accessories are important to most tablet owners
  • The person receiving the tablet might like to immediately accessory their latest tech gadgets with cases, screen protectors or speakers.
  • Considerations
    • While you might like to buy the latest model with great features for your own use bear in mind it might not be possible to buy accessories right away for new release models. 
    • The person receiving the tablet might like to immediately accessory their latest tech gadgets with cases, screen protectors or speakers.
    • Does the tablet have USB connections or bluetooth?
    • Do they want to use USB accessories or bluetooth keyboards and headphones? 

Getting the correct answers...the easy way!

  •  As there are so may things to consider speaking with a relative it can overwhelm them 
  • I would recommend taking 15 minutes to create a customized survey for your relative using something like SurveyMonkey which has a free service
  • With the survey approach the relative can think about what they really want on their own time & give you all the answers!

Sample Survey

1. Do you want to read e books?


Not sure

2. What size screen would you prefer?

7 inch
8 inch
10 inch
Other (please specify)

3. Do you want to use the tablet to take photos?

Not sure

4. Do you want to connect to tv via HDMI?

What is HDMI?

5. Do you want to make VoIP calls on tablet i.e. Skype or Google hangouts

Not sure

6. Will you want to use tablet for sudoku and crossword apps?  


7. Is device likely to be used outside home?


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