Holiday Shopping; Lots of Tablet Choices, Oh My!

Time for a tablet? People tend to hold onto tablets longer than smartphones, so take time to weigh your options. A major consideration is what phone you or your gift recipient already has. Although it's possible for Android owners to have Apple's iPads, for instance, there are advantages to sticking within the same system. You often can buy apps just once and share them across both devices, and you don't need to learn two different systems.

Here are some buying tips organized by system. Prices listed are for base models. You can typically spend more for additional storage or LTE cellular connectivity.

Apple's iOS

The iPad remains top of the line among tablets. The selection of apps designed specifically for it is unmatched. Those who already have iPhones will appreciate the ability to start email and other tasks on one device and finish on the other. You can even make phone calls from iPads, if you have an iPhone on the same Wi-Fi network.

The downside is the $499 price tag for the latest full-size model, the iPad Air 2. Many Android tablets are cheaper. You do get a light and skinny device for the price, with a camera that matches the iPhone's 8 megapixels (though the iPad still lacks a flash). The new Air also has a fingerprint sensor to bypass security passcodes and to authorize online purchases using Apple Pay. It won't work with in-store payments, though.

If you are on a budget or want a smaller device, consider last year's iPad Mini 2 for $299. This year's Mini doesn't have many improvements over last year's model, except for the fingerprint and Apple Pay capabilities. The convenience might not be worth spending more for the $399 iPad Mini 3.

You might consider putting the savings toward a mid-tier or higher-end model. With both the...

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