How to Pick the Right Tablet
By: Adam Swimmer
6 Min Read
October 17, 2022
When setting up a tablet kiosk, digital signage or other mobile application, choosing the right tablet is paramount.
You’ll likely want the tablet to be inexpensive, especially if you are building more than one installation for your business. At the same time, you will want it to be resilient enough to perform the tasks you need it to do.
This article will provide a few questions to consider to help you decide which tablet is right for you.
What size screen do you need?
Tablets usually have displays somewhere in the range of 7 and 15 inches but the more popular tablets tend to be 8 or 10 inches in size. (Tablets with 12- or 13-inch screens are also common but they tend to be on the more expensive side.)
While not huge, a display of 8-10 inches is usually large enough for tablet installations where the user stands directly in front of it.
It should also work for digital signage in small to medium-sized spaces. However, if you are building digital signage for a larger space where the information displayed needs to be seen at a distance, you might need a larger screen. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra’s (SM-X900N) 14.6-inch screen might suffice, depending on the room, or you may need a larger smart monitor.
For more information on building digital signage, see our guide.
Where will you be installing the tablet?
Will you be using it in an area where there is a great amount of vibrations or there is a danger of something falling on it – such as in a factory, warehouse or a moving vehicle? If so, you will likely want to go for a rugged tablet that can handle vibrations and shocks better.
If it will be used in a high impact environment consider using tablets with higher Ingress Protection (IP) ratings, such as IP68. (In high vibration environments, you might also consider using an enclosure or mounting system to reduce vibration if the tablet does not have extra toughness built into it.)
The Samsung Tab Active3 (SM-T577), for example, is built for harsh environments. The 8-inch device has both an IP68 rating and MIL-STD-810H certification. IP68 means it is protected against dust, and can handle being in up to 4.9 ft (1.5 m) of water for up to 30 minutes. MIL-STD-810H is a U.S. military standard that tests the device against 23 specific environmental conditions, including transit drop, temperature, dust, shock/vibration, and low pressure/high altitude.
The Tab Active3 can handle drops up to 3.9 ft (1.2 m) – or 4.9 ft (1.5 m) when used with the provided cover. That being said, for extra protection, it may be worth investing in an additional enclosure for extra protection if the rugged tablet will be constantly stressed by shocks, dust particles and other undesirable conditions.
Are you planning on adding peripherals or Ethernet?
If you are a building a tablet setup that needs to have a scanner, printer or other peripherals connected to it, or you want to add a wired Ethernet connection, you will need to attach the tablet to an adapter or hub.
However, not all tablets work with all adapters. Different USB-C devices, for example, vary in their functionality as not all manufacturers implement all the necessary hardware and firmware for them to work to their full potential.
If you want to use a powered hub that can provide both power and data, such as a LAVA nSynC adapter, the tablet needs to have the USB-C Power Delivery (USB-C PD) specification implemented. USB-C PD ensures the power direction is no longer fixed, meaning the tablet can charge through the adapter and access data through it at the same time. LAVA calls this SimulCharge.
While this is far from a complete list, you can see list of mobile devices that LAVA has successfully tested for compatibility with nSynC adapters as all of these devices have the USB-C PD specification implemented.
Alternatively, you can use the tablet in OTG mode as most USB-C devices have that capability. Here, the mobile device runs off its battery and can both communicate with and power the OTG adapter and peripherals.
If you wish to run a mobile setup in OTG mode, you will want a tablet with a large battery capacity so you don’t run out of power before you have a chance to charge it. You may also want to shut down unnecessary apps and dim the screen a bit to reduce the strain on the battery.
To get the best of both worlds, you could check out LAVA’s oSynC adapters, which have both SimulCharge and OTG. The board-only oSynC-3U OTG (with three Micro USB ports for peripherals) is the first adapter available in this line but more port configurations will be coming in the future.
Will the tablet be connected to power all the time?
If your tablet is being used in a permanent installation, there’s a good chance it may be connected to power 24/7.
However, lithium-ion batteries don’t do well when they’re constantly receiving a charge. It will speed up battery degradation and in extreme cases will lead to battery swelling or bloating, where the battery literally expands from overcharging, which can cause severe damage to the device.
It’s best to pick a tablet that is compatible with an adapter that provides overcharge protection, such as the ones from LAVA’s eSynC line.
The eSynC series is LAVA’s top-tier line of SimulCharge adapters for select USB-C Android devices. In addition to simultaneous charging and access to data, these adapters feature RBM’s Battery Modulation which protects the mobile device from overcharging and battery swelling.
Through the accompanying LTM app, you configure upper and lower charging boundaries. When the mobile device hits the upper boundary, the adapter turns off charging and lets the device discharge until it hits the lower boundary. Then the adapter starts a new charging cycle.
RBM creates the optimal charging and discharging cycles for a lithium-ion battery, keeping it healthy longer. With Battery Modulation, you will get another two or three years of use out of the tablet.
It’s true that certain mobile devices come with their own overcharge protection. Some offer the ability to turn off or delay charging after it hits a certain percentage. Samsung recently introduced a Protect Battery feature to Samsung’s One UI 4 (Android 12), that turns off charging at 85%. Lenovo offers a similar feature that stops charging at 60% when connected to continuous power. Meanwhile, iOS has Optimized Battery Charging that delays charging past 80% in certain situations.However, even if your Android tablet has built-in battery protection, an eSynC adapter can provide an extra level of protection as lithium-ion batteries like the “exercise” of being regularly charged and discharged without exceeding a full charge or dropping to zero.
Thought about ditching the battery?
While not incredibly common at the moment, there are a few tablets that can run without a battery. The Lenovo Tab K10 (Batteryless) (TB-X6C6NB), for example, runs entirely off of a power supply. (12 volts or higher is required.) In contrast, the Galaxy Tab Active3 and the new Galaxy Tab Active4 Pro (SM-T636) do come with batteries but they are removable. Both devices can be used in what Samsung calls, “No Battery Mode,” where they run off power independent from the battery.
Much like a TV or monitor, the Tab K10 and the Galaxy tablets in No Battery mode require an external power source to operate. As such, there is no fear of overcharging these devices.
These are just a few of the questions you might want to consider before purchasing a tablet for your kiosk or other mobile application. To find out more about how a LAVA adapter can help you, or have questions about your setup and things you should consider, check out our website or give us a call at 1-800-241-5282.