According to the Consumer Electronics Association, more than 240 million smartphones and tablets will be sold in the United States this year. And if you factor in the millions of more cameras and other hand-held devices, this would roughly equal a new gadget for every man, woman and child over the age of 12 in 2013.
To help you make the best choices, here are four considerations from Consumer Reports:
E-reading is rapidly becoming readily available on many tablets and phones; you may not need an e-reader per se (such as Amazon's Kindle or the Nook from Barnes & Noble). But e-readers per se are still a good deal; that's because the best are lighter and cheaper by half than even a small, light tablet. And e-readers are much better for reading in bright light and can run for weeks-and with some, even months on one charge (how cool is that?).
Did you know that Apple's iPads and iPhones have the most apps and the most variety of them?
Google Play and Amazon's Appstore carry most major ones, but Apple usually carries them first. Apple was the first in design innovation as well, but no more. More phones and tablets are now matching or even beating the Apple models; the most dominant alternatives to the Apple devices are several phone and tablet lines (or products) from Samsung (but don't write off Apple yet; its iPhones and iPads still rank as consistently high performers and are by far the most-owned brands of mobile devices. And one of the company's great strengths is the awesome iOS operating system.
Longer battery life has become an absolute essential (and it's not just batteries that are being extended and maximized; software, circuitry and more are also being “jazzed up”). A great example is the new 11-inch MacBook Air (it's pricey, though-$999!); the low-power i5 chip allows nine hours per charge!
If you bought a phone, tablet or laptop more than two years ago, at some point you may want to consider upgrading to one that has a long battery life; it will be well worth it!
Displays are getting sharper and wider. As a result of manufacturers packing more pixels into each square inch of phone and tablet displays, sharper type and images are now readily available (including videos that meet the 1080p resolution spec of full HD TV screens).
Sources: “From Consumer Reports-How to make great choices in technical gadgets”-The (Sunday) Vindicator, July 28, 2013 and “What to do with $1,000 Dollars now!-Upgrade Your Tech” by Carolyn Bigda, Ismat Sarah Mangla and Ian Salisbury-Money magazine, Oct. 2013