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The 10 Commandments of Tablets

Follow these rules and enjoy digital salvation.


1. Thou shalt not covet another man’s tablet.
Commit to one that’s right for you. Seeking an easy-to-use, gorgeous piece of hardware with more apps than the rest? Get hitched to Apple. But if you desire an “open” relationship, try a hacker-friendly device running Google’s Honeycomb OS, like Motorola’s Xoom.

2. Thou shalt not use a tablet just for the sake of using a tablet.
Whoa, you downloaded an app for controlling the temp of a BBQ?! And another that generates celeb DJ playlists? Step. Away. From. The tablet. Now use those free hands to grab a beer, pick your nose, or do something else useful.

3. Thou shalt feel the need for speed.
Want to stream videos and minimize your load-lag time but can’t pony up for 3G, let alone 4G coverage? No prob. Comb the wi-fi specs: Tablets rocking the 802.11n standard (not just 802.11a/b/g) will be a bit more rapid-fire.

4. Thou shalt get your head out of the cloud.
Screw storage that requires a Web connection. Tablets pack decent on-board memory. If a 64 GB iPad 2 won’t cut it, consider a device with an SD or microSD slot, like the Archos 101. Swapping in extra memory cards stocked with content is super convenient if you’re traveling. Or stockpiling cute kitten videos.

5. Thou shalt not buy an oversize cell phone.
We don’t care if the Dell Streak 5 fits in your pocket–squinting to watch Top Gear on a five-inch screen isn’t worth the headache. Neither is flinging “angry birds” with a toothpick. Everything’s much more pleasurable when you’re handling at least 9.7 inches. Just ask your girlfriend.

6. Thou shalt consider your ports.
Viewing an HD movie in your hands? Awesome. Screening it on your buddy’s 60-inch flat-screen? Totally awesomer. With an HDMI out (see LG’s G-slate), you can run a cable, and therefore flicks, direct to an HDMI-ready TV. No port? No dice, unless you buy a pricey
dock adapter. No thanks!

7. Thou shalt not dock around.
Touchscreen keyboards suck. Duh. But don’t buy a geeky combo dock-keyboard built just for your device. Any standard Bluetooth keyboard will not only work like gangbusters; it can also pull double duty on your home computer. Plus, it’ll be compatible with any other brand of tablet you might buy down the line.

8. Thou shalt junkbomb™.
Google for an image of a “baloney pony.” Display it life-size on your tablet (see No. 5). Hold the screen in front of your crotch. Now shimmy, just a little. Wait for hilarity to ensue.

9. Thou shalt consider your image.
Whether you plan to use a Webcam to video-chat with Mom or a Belarusian skank, you must have a front-facing camera. But skip single-lens devices like the HP TouchPad. By upgrading to the iPad 2 or BlackBerry PlayBook, which sport rear cams as well, you can also send pics and HD videos to anyone interested in your face.

10. Thou shalt wrap it up.
Protecting your touchscreen from cracks and scratches is a no-brainer—
especially with the iPad 2’s magnetic Smart Cover. But if you even think about sliding yours into a leather satchel or knitted case (even as a joke), you’re off the team! There’s only one option: a black neoprene sleeve. They’re tough, water-resistant, and fit for a Navy SEAL.

Check out the rest of the 2011 Tech Buying Guide.