Even if you plan to purchase your tablet online, it's a good idea to head out to your local Apple store or other electronics retailer to get a closer look at the tablets you're considering. Before you go, give some thought to the tablet size you're looking for, if you haven't already.
Do you want the largest screen possible, or do you want a tablet that easily slips into your purse or backpack? Do you need something a little bit rugged that you can take into the field for work, or do you want a tablet that's as thin and light as can be? Will it be used only by adults, or will you want to let your 3-year-old use it to learn her letters?
You may already have an idea as to whether you want the biggest, the smallest or something in between, but there's really no substitute for getting your hands on the tablet to see how it feels. Tablet screens range in size from 7 inches to about 10 inches, and weights vary from slightly less than 1 pound to more than 2.5 pounds, but chances are one of the models you hold will just feel "right" to you.
Do the case and the controls feel comfortable and sturdy in your hands? Is the touch screen responsive? How's the virtual keyboard? If possible, look at a few models next to one another to see how their screen brightness and resolutions compare. Once you've settled on a favorite, or at least narrowed it down to a few, there's still one very important aspect to look at before you buy. We'll discuss that next.