The growth of Tablet PCs has been a truly remarkable thing to witness. Tablet PCs, as we recognise them today, have only been around since 2010 - when the first iPad launched - and now they're probably the most desirable piece of technology you can buy. If you're looking to get one, then you'll want to know where is the best place to buy a tablet PC is. See all tablet PC reviews.
Before you start looking at where the best place to buy a tablet PC is, you should really assess what sort of tablet PC is right for you. A lot of people think the iPad is the tablet they want and there is nothing more to it than that. However the iPad is a bit of a beast, and an expensive beast at that, so if you're just looking for a tablet to watch moves on and to do some light browsing with, then you can get a tablet that suits your needs for up to £300 less. Take a look at look at 'What tablet should I buy?' for a full break down of what tablet is right for you. Take a look at Group test: what's the best tablet PC?
So, providing you know what tablet you really want, it's time to take a look at the best place to buy your tablet PC.
Best place to buy a tablet PC: direct
Most of the popular tablet PC manufacturers' - iPad 4, Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD - all sell tablet directly from their own websites. The main reason that you should consider buying direct from the manufacturer is that they will offer the tablets at rock bottom prices.
However, it's worth checking around as, for example, the Nexus 7 in its 32GB form can be found cheaper than the £199 price on the Play Store.
Take a look at the Google Nexus 7 for example. On Google's Play Store offers the 16GB Nexus 7 for £159.99, whereas other retailers such at Tesco offer the same product for £189.99. It's a bit of a no brainer. See also Group test: what's the best cheap tablet PC?
The iPad4 and mini, however, seems to be more uniformed with its pricing. It's the same price in most major high street shops as it is on the online Apple Store. The only real benefit of buying this through its own store, rather than on the high street, is that Apple offers free engraving on its iPads, which is nice if, er, you like that sort of thing. Visit Microsoft Surface RT vs iPad 4 comparison review.
The one pretty big problem of buying direct from the manufacturer's website is that you won't get to have a bit of hands-on time with the device before you buy, like you can in some high street electronic shops. So it's hugely advisable to read up as much as you can on the device you're looking to buy before you take the plunge.
Best place to buy a tablet PC: online retailers
Although manufacturer's themselves are nearly always the cheapest place to buy a tablet PC from. It's always worth checking the other major technology outlets. In some cases you may find significant discounts to the product's RRP. Take the google Nexus 7 32GB for example, at the time of writing it is available to buy from the Google Play website at £199, however if you do a little bit of snooping around the usual electronic outlets - Currys, Dixons, Argos, John Lewis, Carphone Warehouse, Clove, Expansys and Handtec to name but a few - you'll notice that Carphone Warehouse is offering the same tablet £20 cheaper than the Google Play store is. (Try and figure that one out!)
Of course this isn't always the case. Carphone Warehouse do not offer the 16GB tablet any cheaper than Google. But if you're prepared to put in a little bit of effort then and shop around a number of internet retailers, then you have a fair chance of finding others site that are running a promotional offers.
If you're stuck for time, then it's always worth checking price comparison sites such as PriceRunner.co.uk or even Google Shopping. These sites cover a wide range of websites and accept up-to-date.
Best place to buy a tablet PC: high street
There are some very obvious benefits of buying tablet on the high street. The most obvious is that you can buy the tablet you want and walk away with it immediately - avoiding postage costs and failed delivery etc.
Perhaps the most important reason you might want to buy a tablet in store is so you can try the device before you buy it.
Another important advantage that some high street shops may offer is improved warranty. While most shops only replicate the warranty the manufacturer is obliged to give you by law, some go the extra mile to win your business.
The most impressive seems to be that offered by John Lewis - buy from it and you will get a two-year warranty for all tablet PC purchases at no extra cost. John Lewis also offers many of its tablets for the same price as the manufacturer's, which in many ways makes it the best place to buy a tablet PC.
Best places to buy a tablet PC: auction sites
If you're looking to pick up a tablet at the cheapest possible price then you might consider buying from an internet auction site, such as eBay. Sites like eBay are used for smaller retailers who often offer 'as new' tablet PCs for a considerably reduced price.
There's a pretty apparent downside to buying from these sites though, and the main worry would be that you are not buying from a big trusted brand. You often find tablet PCs on auction sites that come with shortened, or in some cases, no warranty at all. This is one of the major reasons that the 'as new' tablet PCs are on sale at reduced prices.
However, if you're desperate to buy a tablet PC at the cheapest possible price, regardless of the dangers, then the auction sites such as eBay, could definitely be the best place to buy a tablet PC.
Best places to buy a tablet PC: recap
To recap, you can't go too far wrong with buying direct from the manufacturers'. They'll offer you the cheapest price for a brand new device, and will be always the first and last to have the device in stock. However you will not be able to try the devices before you buy it.
Buying a tablet PC in store may be more expensive in some instances, but at large the main retailers offer the same price at the manufacturers'. The major plus points of buying from a high street store is additional warranty in some cases (John Lewis) and also the ability to get some hands-on time before you hand over your money.
Auction sites are a bit more like the Wild West. Tablets come fast and cheap here. There are obvious disadvantages though, such as second hand products, opened boxes, reduced warranty. But should you time it right, you could pick yourself up a real bargain via an auction site.