There is one question I get asked more than any other these days: Which tablet should I buy for my _____? You might fill in the blank with son, daughter, mother, father, friend, grandma, grandpa, or any other person in your life. And with the holidays just around the corner, some stores are already announcing  Black Friday deals. So out of the mountain of different tablets, how can you possibly know which one to buy?

This question is really hard to answer on its own. Like I’ve mentioned before, there are a couple of prerequisite questions that you need to answer first before you can figure out which tablet is best for you. Some of these questions are dependent on the others, but I’ve narrowed it down to three main ones. Let’s take a look at them below.

1. How much do you want to spend?

If your funds for this tablet are limitless, then you don’t have to worry about this question. However, for most of us, this is the most important question, and can dictate the answer to the next two questions. I like to think there are three categories of tablets when it comes to price: low budget tablets ($250 or less), mid budget tablets (in the $250-$450 range), and high budget tablets (over $450). I could go on about the price, but since it dictates the next couple questions, let’s just move on.

2. What size tablet do you want?

There are basically two main sizes of tablets: 7-inch and 10-inch. While the actual screen size might be something like 9.7-inches it falls into the 10-inch category. The amount that you want to spend weighs heavily on the size you are going to get. If you are in the low budget category, you are pretty much limited to a 7-inch tablet. Mid budget will get you better 7-inch tablets and low end 10-inch tablets. And the high budget range will get you whatever size you want.

7-inch tablets are very portable and more pocketable than the larger tablets. They are very easy to fit into a purse, or even a jacket pocket. Seven inches is still big enough to easily see any app, as well as read any book without having to strain your eyes. They are pretty easy to pull out while waiting in a doctor’s office, or at the bus station, and pick up reading that ebook exactly where you left off.

On the other hand, 10-inch tablets – with their larger screen size – are great for a lot of different kinds of apps. More screen makes it easier to read certain types of materials, like magazines. Using the on screen keyboard on a 10-inch tablet leaves more screen to see while having a larger keyboard to type on. Things like drawing apps are much easier to use on the larger tablet. Granted, they are a little harder to carry around as you can’t as easily fit them into a pocket, but most of the time it’s worth the trade off. When watching movies or TV shows, it’s also nice to have the largest screen possible, at least in my opinion.

As a quick aside here, you can get some tablets that are smaller than a 7-inch, but generally speaking, they are not good tablets. They are a funny size and usually found on the shelves of places like Kohls or Rite Aid. If you can get a tablet for under $100, it would probably fit into this garbage category. They are made cheaply, the touch screens are terrible, they run old versions of OSes and almost never get updated. It is typically a good idea to stay away from any tablet for this price.

3. What OS do you want to use?

The first choice you have to make when deciding on an operating system is whether it matters to you or not. Some people don’t care what OS their tablet has, as long as it will do what they want it to. Some people are also very loyal to a certain OS and won’t stray out of that choice, even when buying for someone else. And some people won’t really have a choice of OS due to their answers to the previous two questions. The three major tablet OSes are Android, iOS, and Windows 8. (At the point, Blackberry doesn’t warrant mentioning.)

Each OS has its pros and cons. If you don’t need something specific like a certain app, any of the OSes will work well for you. If you are like me, who needs use of a certain app, or even a certain genre of apps, you might not have a choice of OSes. You’ll need to find which OS does what you want it to, and then choose a tablet that has that OS. Generic things like games, reading, web browsing and writing can be done on any OS.

Now that you have the answers

In summary, once you find out what your budget is for a new tablet, then decide on what screen size you want, and then pick which OS you want, you are well on your way to picking out the perfect tablet. But if you need even more help, look for our Holiday Tablet Buying Guide, coming soon, for more specifics on exactly which tablets to buy.