The Best Tablet PCs Money Can Buy

The Best Tablet PCs Money Can Buy

When Apple unveiled the first iPad in 2009, it drew some scorn. “It’s just a big iPhone,” said critics. “Who’s going to want it?” As it turns out, a lot of people. The iPad’s popularity drove other smartphone manufacturers to develop their own tablet computers and now there’s a huge selection at shopper’s disposal. But which are the best tablet PCs money can buy? Good question: The answer depends on what you want to do with the devices in question, and which operating system you prefer—not to mention your personal budget. All tablets are extremely convenient for mobile surfing, games, applications, and e-book reading, but some boast specialties as well. 

Here are the five best tablet PCs currently on the market: 

Apple New iPad (aka the iPad 3) – The iPad remains the best-known tablet, and it’s not hard to see why. It utilizes iOS, the same operating system that runs the iPhone and iPod Touch, which makes it comfortably familiar to use. The iPad’s universal interface also makes it a snap to download new applications: Everything is done through the App Store, same as the iPhone. The iPad’s connection to the App Store and its plethora of software programs makes it the number one choice for music, movies, productivity, TV, games and more.

Asus Transformer Pad – Unfortunately, the Transformer Pad doesn’t turn into a little robot on command, but it’s still a good tablet. It runs on Android, and can typically for under $400 USD. It’s a more economical choice for anyone looking to pick up a tablet for work and web browsing. 

Sony Tablet S – The Sony Tablet S also runs on Android, and it’s an excellent alternative for anyone who’s not a fan of iOS. Fans of retro PlayStation games will especially appreciate the tablet’s ability to download and play certain PSOne and PSP titles, including Crash Bandicoot, Wild ARMs, and Jumping Flash. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 – The quality of Samsung’s mobile offerings is enough to keep Apple on its toes, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is no exception. It’s light, it’s thin, and it’s 1280 by 800-pixel resolution screen makes it ideal for web surfing and e-book reading, as well as enjoy killer multimedia content.

Kindle Fire – Amazon’s Android-based Kindle Fire eReader is smaller than the iPad, but far cheaper too (typically selling for $199.99 USD). Its portability makes it easy to tote around as an e-book reader, to say nothing of its direct access to the Amazon Appstorem and ability to play video and music on-demand. The Kindle Fire can also be used to surf the web and play games, making it a worthy iPad alternative that costs far less.

For more a detailed breakdown of these tablets, visit: 

Best 5 Tablets on CNET

How to Buy the Best Tablet at PCMag.com

Side-by-Side Tablet Comparison at Popular Mechanics

How to Recycle Gadgets and Electronics

How to Recycle Gadgets and Electronics

With new phones, tablets and laptops debuting every month, rapid advancements in technology can quickly turn a beloved tech device into an outdated waste of space.  Bu although throwing them away is a convenient option, the impact of the billions of pounds this e-waste could have on the environment are frightening. So whether your computer has stopped to functioning or you’ve simply decided to upgrade, here’s a look at top options for how to recycle your electronics.

Greener Gadgets  – Presented by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Greener Gadgets site is designed to help you easily find areas where you can recycle your old electronics simply by entering your zip code. Greener Gadgets is part of the organization’s “eCycling” effort to facilitate the recycling of one billion pounds of electronics every year. In the first two years of service, the number of eCycling centers has grown by more than 50%, and the number of pounds collected has nearly doubled.

The Greener Gadgets site also offers lots of information on ways to cut down your consumption and educate yourself about using less power and resources. In addition to tips for “Living Green” and “Buying Green,” the site features a handy calculator that helps you figure out how much your electronics usage costs, encouraging you to cut back on your consumption.  You can quickly tabulate your monthly and yearly power costs for dozens of different devices.

uSelluSell offers a chance for consumers to make a few dollars as they put their still-functioning devices directly into the hands of buyers who are experts at refurbishing and reselling electronics. The site lets you list your cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, tablets, game consoles and eReaders up for auction, and once a buyer is secured, you receive free mailing materials and shipping to send it along.

Goodwill – In partnership with Dell, Goodwill accepts most forms of electronics at their collection sites, regardless of brand or condition.  Simply make sure you find a nearby location that accepts them, and drop your item off and receive a tax-deductible donation receipt. 

Manufacturer Sites – AT&T and Verizon offer customers the chance to bring in any cell phones or other accessories to their store for recycling, with the Verizon program dedicated to providing refurbished phones to victims of domestic violence.  LG’s Ecomobilize site allows you to find easy ways to either drop off or mail in your device, including the ability to request mailing info simply by texting a message to LG.

Retail Sites –Best Buy allows consumers to bring in up to two items a day per household into any of their US stores for recycling.  Office Depot sells small, medium and large boxes for $5 – $15 in which you can place however many electronics you can fit and bring it back to the store for recycling.  Staples offers in-store collection bins for small items, and will accept larger items such as monitors, printers and copiers, with a limit of six items per day.

Additional Electronics Recycling Resources

Earth 911 – Helps you find recycling centers for many types of goods, including electronics.

Call2Recycle – Offers a map of locations to recycle old cell phones and rechargeable batteries

eRecycle.org – A site set up specifically for California residents to find information and locations for electronics recycling

How Much Screen Time is Enough?

How Much Screen Time is Enough?

Even before their first birthday, most kids these days are intimately familiar with images and entertainment presented to them via screens.  Whether it’s the TV, a tablet computer or a smart phone, screen time is almost an inevitability for youngsters, especially if they have older siblings – hence the reason parents need more information and tips on kids and screen time, including answers to the #1 burning question about it: How much is enough?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for kids under age two, and limiting an older child’s use of TV, movies, video and computer games to no more than one or two hours a day. While this system may fit into the lives of preschoolers, these guidelines must be adjusted as kids grow older. And this isn’t even to touch on the debate about “bad” screen time vs. “good” screen time, although certainly a case could be made that a toddler watching Signing Time DVDs or a middle schooler watching a documentary about healthy eating habits is more valuable than time spent watching meaningless cartoons.

Looking to better manage the role of high-tech devices in your kids’ lives? Here are five tips to help your family keep an eye on screen time

Establish Ground Rules

Kids need to understand that time spent in front of high-tech toys shouldn’t be provided as an inalienable right, but rather earned as privilege.

Specify the exact days, times and circumstances when it’s okay for your kids to be on the computer , using the smartphone or playing video games.  Are homework and chores done?  Is their usage interfering with a family event?  Establish these guidelines ahead of time so there are no questions as to what is acceptable in your family.

 It’s also a good idea to start your quest to limiting screen time at a young age.  Allowing a half hour a day of tech-related screen time for preschoolers, separate from TV watching, works for many of the modern parents we’ve spoken to.

As kids grow older, many families push the daily screen time allowance up to one or two hours and add or subtract time as a reward or punishment for good or bad behavior.  Some families choose to lump all screen time together, while others may specifically call out TV time, computer time or video game time.  Beginning at a fixed base level, such as an hour per day, can make a good starting point, giving you some wiggle room to add or subtract time based on children’s behavior.

Consider Common Areas and Curfews

Where possible, make sure all devices and Internet connections are located in common areas of the house.  Doing so not only allows you to keep abreast of online interactivity, usage patterns and who kids are interacting with as well as how. It also lets you be present when devices are used, monitor playtime and keep kids (or Dad) from secretly sneaking online to play World of Warcraft at 3AM on a school night.

Setting an electronic curfew in your house may also help curtail late night use and improve your family’s overall health by encouraging everyone to sleep when they should.  Choose a time such as 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., depending on your kids’ ages,  after which there’s no more use of electronics.  Create a common docking station for all devices in your bedroom, where all digital devices must be checked in before bed time, and assign a curfew for each one of them. 

Set Device-Free Times

Also, make sure to set aside device-free times that the entire family can spend together.  Parenting experts such as Richard Rende, PhD, associate (research) professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, suggest that the use of technology isn’t necessarily what’s dangerous for kids as an impediment to healthy development.  Instead, problems can arise if all the technology and connecting is done at the expense of other proven developmentally healthy and necessary activities.

Many parents require kids to experience one hour of outside time for every one hour of video game or screen time. We encourage you to experiment and find what’s right for your family. 

 Set a Good Example

Setting a good example is potentially more important than establishing these rules.  Make sure you don’t get caught up dedicating your focus to your phone or other screens over your kids.

Whether it’s at the dinner table, or during a weekly Friday night movie or game night, being present and engaged for your kids will ensure a more engaging and rewarding family activity, and show them that it’s okay to disconnect from their screens and connect with others.

Translate Screen Time into Real Life

Play along and engage with your kids about the activities they’re doing on-screen.  They’ll love telling you about what they’re watching, and treasure the time you are able to play together.  Many parents would love to chat with kids about books, but fail to see how games, apps and TV shows also engage their imagination.

If possible, translate the games and activities kids are doing in real life.  If they are enjoying an alphabet tracing app, prepare some worksheets that highlight the same skills.  If they’re playing Angry Birds (or watching you), set up your own Angry Birds course in the house.  If they’re watching Dr. Who, consider working on a project based on a theme of the show.  Screen time’s positive or negative effects are often all what you make of them.