TIME Tablets

Watch Apple’s New Oscars iPad Ad Featuring Martin Scorsese

It features Martin Scorsese

Five years after Apple’s first iPad ad debuted during the Academy Awards in 2010, its new iPad Air promo will again screen during the Oscars on Sunday and tout its filmmaking abilities.

The one-minute spot features students from Los Angeles County High School of the Arts as they make films using iPads—from writing to shooting, scoring to editing—while famed director Martin Scorsese narrates, via excerpts from his inspirational commencement speech to the NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2014.

“It’s the same for all you, all of us,” Scorsese says. “Every step is a first step. Every brush stroke is a test. Every scene is a lesson. Every shot is a school. So let the learning continue.”

Read More: Modern Family Episode Shot Almost Entirely on iPhones

TIME Parenting

Parents, Calm Down About Infant Screen Time

KNUTSFORD, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 29: In this photograph illustration a ten-year-old boy uses an Apple Ipad tablet computer on November 29, 2011 in Knutsford, United Kingdom. Tablet computers have become the most wanted Christmas present for children between the ages of 6-11 years. Many parents are having to share their tablet computers with their children as software companies release hundredes of educational and fun applications each month. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Christopher Furlong—etty Images

Christopher J. Ferguson is associate professor and department chair of psychology at Stetson University

Too much of the wrong kind of media can hurt infants, but that doesn't mean you need to practice total abstinence

Parents of infants face hard choices about how to raise their children, and sometimes misleading information can get in the way of their decisions. Take screen time: readers of the Guardian were recently treated to the claim that allowing toddlers to play with iPads or other small screens could damage their brains. It turned out, however, that the story (since corrected) was not based on an actual research study, but a press release regarding a commentary in the journal Pediatrics. The story was one in a series of claims in recent years that tablet use hurts infants’ development—scary headlines that too often mislead readers about research that is much less clear or consistent than claimed.

Both journalists and scholars are responsible for needlessly scaring parents. For instance, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long called for complete avoidance of screen time in infancy. Yet a number of scholars and commenters have criticized the AAP for being both unrealistic and ignoring data that doesn’t fit their scarier message. One of the top experts in this area, Deborah Linebarger has said that the AAP should present all data on screen time rather than ignoring data that suggest positive benefits of media while sensationalizing flawed studies that find negative relations. So what does the research really say on screen time for infants?

Well, it’s complicated. First, claims that exposure to screens (including television) is associated with reduced cognitive development in childhood are controversial. In one of my own recent studies with coauthor M. Brent Donnellan, we found that total abstinence, that is to say families following the AAP’s recommendations, was actually associated with lower cognitive development, not higher. But this doesn’t mean that anything goes—no one is suggesting that we sit baby down for a Terminator marathon.

The non-profit group Zero to Three recently released screen time recommendations for infants. As they note, it really is not so simple as to say that screens are or aren’t good for infants. Nor is abstinence the answer. It’s more about using screens in a quality way, as when caregivers engage with infants while they watch and explain what they are seeing. Screens such as iPads or smartphones can actually be used in ways that promote babies’ cognitive and social development. But as they write, moderation is key: “the need for limits is still important because research clearly shows that it is active exploration of the real, 3-D world with loving, trusting caregivers that is most critical for healthy early development.”

In another recent study, presented by Deborah Linebarger at the American Psychological Association conference in 2014, researchers found that parent-toddler interactions around media were most crucial for toddlers’ language development and that media that shows real characters in real situations is associated with better language development. Too often newspaper headlines and the AAP present media and parenting as a kind of zero-sum game. But media can be intelligently incorporated into smart parenting.

Who the media was designed for in the first place is important too. One 2010 study by Rachel Barr and colleagues found that infant exposure to adult-oriented media was associated with less cognitive development, but exposure to child-oriented media was not associated with any cognitive outcome.

So, given that the data is often complex and contradictory and even scholars debate these issues, what should parents do? Is it ok to let the little ones have a bit of screen time? Probably, so long as it’s not replacing interactions with parents and it’s using media that is educational or geared toward children and shows real characters in real situations. Don’t think of media as an either/or but something you can use with children and talk to them about. Sure, if you’re letting your infant watch CNN alone for hours on end, you’ve probably got media wrong. But total abstinence for toddlers isn’t necessary. Pressuring parents with total media abstinence, particularly with nonsense claims of damaged brains isn’t good science. It’s just frightening and shaming parents.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME the big picture

The One Huge Thing Everybody Gets Wrong About Tablets

Apple iPad AIr 2
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images An attendee inspects new iPad Air 2 during an Apple special event on October 16, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

The "tablet market" is really lots of little markets

The news Monday that tablet sales dropped off for the first time last quarter are bound to accelerate the “tablets are dead” punditry we’ve seen around the web over the past few months. But the vast majority of commentators writing about tablets get one big thing wrong: The tablet market isn’t one big market, it’s many small ones.

The car industry gives us a somewhat imperfect analogy. Automakers lump annual sales of all motorized cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, RVs, and more into a single statistic. The point of this figure is to show how many motorized vehicles were sold each year. Yet, to truly speak accurately about the automotive industry, it’s more helpful to see the entire category broken out into each distinct segment — growth or declines in each category tell us more about the market than simply lumping all of them together.

But that’s exactly what’s being done with tablets today. When many people think “tablet market,” for instance, they think “iPad.” But Apple’s iPad is only one kind of tablet. And still its performance gets lumped in with cheap kids’ tablets. The two are entirely different in their usage, yet spoken about without appreciation for each device’s key functionality.

I have consistently tried to look at the diverse ways the tablet market is segmenting. Below is a chart I use during my presentation on the category:

Ben BajarinTablet Market

When I see a forecast saying the tablet segment will be up or down in 2015, I like to ask, “which segment?” Will gaming tablets be up or down? Computing tablets like the iPad? Tablets that get stuck on walls at retail? Which ones are growing and which are not? No good answer exists to these questions, because the people projecting these numbers aren’t looking at the market this way. That makes their predictions less valuable.

The Rise of Appliance Tablets

With this in mind, it’s important to highlight something fascinating happening in the sub-$100 tablet segment. Most observers never anticipated the way these low-end tablets wound up being used. Under $100, tablets become a cheap, almost disposable piece of smart glass. Walmart sells an RCA 7″ Android tablet for $59.99, for instance. Shoppers can buy one, stick it next to their bed and use it as an alarm clock with widgets for weather, stocks and more. You could buy one and put it in your workshop as a TV. Or buy four and have them in your car for the kids to use on long drives.

The other fascinating trend in tablets is how often they’re being shared by more than one person. Over a year ago, I was among the first analysts, if not the first, to highlight data showing over 40% of people we asked said they shared their tablet with at least one person. Our most recent research, conducted near the end of 2014, showed that number had grown to over 50%. Each group of sharers — those sharing with two people, three people, and four people — grew in percentage in our recent data. The most striking result was how many people said they shared their tablet with four or more people. At the end of 2013, 7% of respondents indicated they shared their tablet with four or more people. By the end of 2014, that figure hit 21%.

What does that mean? Tablets are looking more like the household computer, shared among family members or roommates. If that’s true, it would help explain why tablet shipments were down last quarter — Tablet sharing means households need to buy less individual units.

Regardless, tablets have been a fascinating category to watch. The heavy segmentation being driven by the sub-$100 category could actually boost tablet sales this year, assuming more hit the market from recognizable name brands. How these devices will be used is hard to predict, but as we research the market and hear from consumers themselves how they use these products, it will help us understand the tablet market at a much deeper level.

Ben Bajarin is the Director of Consumer Technology at Creative Strategies, Inc., a market intelligence and research firm. He focuses his analysis and research on all things consumer technology. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, early adopter and hobby farmer.

TIME Gadgets

Tablet Shipments Are Officially In Decline

Apple Unveils New Versions Of Popular iPad
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images An attendee looks at the new iPad Air during an Apple announcement at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

People bought 3 million fewer tablets last quarter than a year ago

The once-booming tablet market has hit some turbulence.

Year-over-year shipments of tablets declined for the first time ever in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to research firm IDC. 76 million of the devices were shipped worldwide during the fourth quarter, down from about 79 million a year prior.

The decline of Apple’s iPad has been well-documented: The device tumbled 18% in year-over-year unit sales during the fourth quarter and 4% for 2014 overall. But this isn’t just an Apple problem. Sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets fell a staggering 70% during the fourth quarter, from 5.8 million during that period in 2013 to 1.7 million in 2014. Samsung tablet sales also fell 18%, from 13.5 million to 11 million.

The shift away from tablets can likely be blamed in part on the growing size of smartphones: Owning a bigger smartphone means you might have less need for a tablet. Apple just had its most successful quarter ever largely thanks to blockbuster sales for its jumbo-sized iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. People also tend to hold on to their tablets longer than their phones, at least in the U.S., because tablets are generally not subsidized by wireless carriers.

Despite recent trends, overall tablet shipments in 2014 did manage to grow slightly from 2013, climbing 4% from 220 million to 230 million. IDC projects that shipments will increase again in 2015 thanks to new devices running Windows 10 and the growing popularity of large tablets with screen sizes topping 10 inches.

TIME Gadgets

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 Tablets Just Got $100 Cheaper

The move comes as sales of the tablet surged past the $1 billion mark

Microsoft has temporarily slashed $100 off of the retail price of its Surface Pro 3 tablets as sales of the 2-in-1 device, which can connect with a keyboard and double as a computer, have surged to a record high.

Prices at the Microsoft Store now range from $799 for the 64GB version to $1,849 for the 512GB model, and the deal includes a free protective sleeve with every purchase. The discount will last until April 5, 2015.

The move comes as Microsoft’s sales of the device surged past the $1 billion mark last quarter, marking a new milestone after earlier models failed to gain traction.

TIME Tablets

Here’s How to Pick the Best Tablet For You

Apple Unveils New Versions Of Popular iPad
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images An attendee looks at the new iPad Air during an Apple announcement at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

What to look for—and what to avoid

Five years ago, no one knew quite what to make of the tablet. Was it the future of the laptop? Was it made for creation or consumption? And in the end, was it just a bigger version of the smartphone? For the next several years, we saw almost every device you could imagine, from a 2.8-inch micro-tablet (the Archos 28) to a 27-inch beast (the Planar Helium). A few new ideas stuck. Most flopped.

Jump ahead to 2015, and the market has largely settled. Customers seem to want one of three kinds of tablets, and the best devices almost all fit neatly into one of these categories.

In that spirit, we’ve broken down these three tablet groups, then picked a handful of products we would recommend for each. We’ll let you know what to look for—and what to avoid—depending on your preferences. Finally, we’ll highlight a few trailblazing tablets that don’t belong in any of these categories.

1. The General-Purpose Tablet

Pros: Can do a little of everything
Cons: No obvious strengths
Typical screen size: 9-11”
Typical starting price: $400-500

The most popular category for tablets, these models are jack-of-all-trade devices, designed to do a little bit of everything. Want to snap family photos? Each of these models comes with a decent camera. Need to give an off-site presentation to a client? You’re getting a nice mix of lightness and screen size. Just want to share status updates and YouTube comments? Post away.

The only problem: none of these tablets truly excel at any one thing. Products in this category tend to be just a bit too big for a purse or coat pocket, but a little too small for completing serious work.

So grab a general-purpose tablet if you plan to use it for all sorts of tasks, but consider another category if you have one or two particular uses in mind.

(Read more: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review)

2. The Mini Tablet

Pros: Extremely portable, great for reading
Cons: Underpowered and bad at productivity
Typical screen size: 7-8.5”
Typical starting price: $200-400

The mini tablet is the ultimate travel and leisure device. Pop it in your backpack, slide it out for some poolside browsing, or place it on your nightstand for some bedtime reading. They’re so light you’ll forget you’re holding a tablet, and thin enough to squeeze in almost any nook, pocket, closet or cranny.

Better yet, they’re the cheapest tablets on the market. The iPad Mini 3 is Apple’s least expensive new tablet, while Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 7 has a price tag under $150.

But you also get what you pay for. Miniature tablets tend to be the least powerful models, less capable of running high-end mobile games with a smooth, consistent experience. And forget about productivity. Trying to update a spreadsheet or compose a presentation on a mini tablet is frustrating and time-consuming.

Finally, consider that smartphones are getting bigger every year. Do you really need a 7-inch tablet if you plan to buy a 6-inch phone next year? The biggest phones and smallest tablets are practically becoming the same device, and you certainly don’t need both.

So consider a mini tablet if you want something leisurely and affordable, but make sure that’s all you want — or else you’ll wish you purchased something bigger and more capable.

(Read more: Hands-on with Apple’s new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3)

3. The Productivity Tablet

Pros: Gets work done
Cons: Expensive and bulky
Typical screen size: More than 11”
Typical starting price: $600-1,000

The answer to the mini tablet is the productivity tablet—a device built for getting work done. Typically equipped with massive screens and sold with optional accessories (ex: keyboard and stylus), tablets in this category are designed to replace your laptop.

The best customer for these tablets is the on-the-go professional. You can work up a client presentation at your desk, slide the tablet into your briefcase, then travel to an off-site presentation, all with just a couple pounds of technology in tow.

On the flip side, are these devices really good enough to replace a laptop? Sure, they might be the most productive tablets available, but most laptops still do the same tasks just a bit better, making the productivity tablet a hard sell for seasoned business people.

And then consider leisure activities. Even if you don’t plan to use your tablet for fun very often, those few moments will quickly become obnoxious as you attempt to hold up a 900-gram device through all 58 minutes of Game of Thrones.

So buy a productivity tablet if you’re serious about getting work done (and don’t need or want a laptop), but save the fun and games for another device.

Bonus: The Trail Blazers

Pros: Creative, outside-the-box
Cons: Unproven

Microsoft Surface Hub
Nvidia Shield Tablet

You might say the tablet market has matured, but Microsoft and Nvidia aren’t convinced. Microsoft’s freshly announced Surface Hub comes in two massive sizes—55- and 84-inches—an office touchscreen designed to reinvent brainstorms, conference calls and collaborative meetings. We’ve never seen anything quite like it, complete with Skype integration and stylus compatibility. The device is set for release sometime later this year.

Meanwhile, Nvidia isn’t satisfied with angry birds and crushed candy: the company’s Shield Tablet wants to bring the power of expensive, modern gaming to a tablet device. As such, the tablet comes packed with a 2.2 GHz, quad core processor—the sort of internals you’d normally expect only on a laptop. While it’ll be tough to lure PC and console gamers from their keyboards and Dualshock controllers, Nvidia is committed to the cause.

It’s entirely possible that both Microsoft’s and Nvidia’s pioneering devices will flop. But if either hits, we’ll be looking not at three, but four tablet categories in 2016.

This article originally appeared on FindTheBest.

More from FindTheBest:

MONEY best of 2014

7 Ways Tech Made Your Life Better in 2014

A new reason to ditch your cellphone contract, safer credit cards, and five more bright ideas that can help you save money in the year ahead.

Every year, there are innovators who come up with fresh solutions to nagging problems. Companies roll out new products or services, or improve on old ones. Researchers propose better theories to explain the world. Or stuff that’s been flying under the radar finally captivates a wide audience. For MONEY’s annual Best New Ideas list, our writers searched the world of money for the most compelling products, strategies, and insights of 2014. To make the list, these ideas—which cover the world of investing, retirement, health care, college, and more—have to be more than novel. They have to help you save money, make money, or improve the way you spend it, like these seven tech innovations.

  • Best Side Effect of the Hacking Mess

    Chip and Pin credit card transformed into a lock
    Image Source—Alamy

    Safer Credit Cards…Finally

    Chip-and-PIN credit cards include a special chip that makes them harder for hackers to replicate. Though you’re legally protected from having to pay most charges when a card number is stolen, more-secure plastic can save you a lot of hassle. Card companies had been slow to roll out chip-and-PIN—until millions of credit card numbers were stolen from major retailers such as Target and Home Depot. “The frequency and size of the breaches absolutely are driving more rapid adoption of the technology,” says Paul Kleinschnitz of First Data, a payment technology firm. Here are two more things to know about the new cards:

    They don’t eliminate all your risk. Chip-and-PIN makes it harder to create fake plastic but doesn’t stop numbers from being used at online stores. So you should still check your statement regularly for weird charges. Chip-and-PIN is already common in Europe; the new cards work in automated machines there that don’t accept old-fashioned plastic.

  • Best Smartphone Savings

    No-Contract Plans

    Old way: Commit to a contract and pay $200 for a smartphone that really costs $650. Of course, you still pay for the phone as part of your monthly bill.

    New way: Wireless companies are making it easier to separate the cost of the phone and the price of service.

    You can shop for a new plan with your old phone. Low-cost players and now the big carriers offer no-contract plans, which may be $100 cheaper per month for a family. Check with carriers for phone compatibility; look up network quality in your area at rootmetrics.com.

    Or get a new phone. You can buy a phone outright or on installment, and combine that with a no-contract plan. Sometimes, but not always, the total price beats the comparable contract option, so run the numbers. If you do go contract, mark your calendar: After 24 months, switch to no-contract if you don’t care to upgrade.

  • Best Reason to Rent, Not Own, Your eBooks

    Amazon Kindle

    All-You-Can Read Subscriptions

    As with music, books are moving toward an all-you-can read subscription model.

    The Services: The service you pick will hinge on the device you prefer to read with. Scribd ($8.99 per month) lets you read an unlimited number of books, and it quintupled its library this year to 500,000, with 30,000 audiobooks. The service now includes many titles from the big publishers Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins. Works on: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire (but not e-ink readers), Nook tablets.

    Though Scribd is the better service overall, it doesn’t work on Kindle e-ink readers. If you’re devoted to that device, Amazon has its own options. With an Amazon Prime subscription, you can choose from thousands of titles to read for no extra charge (one per month). Kindle Unlimited ($9.99) is like Scribd, but customers and reviewers say it’s hard to find books from the “Big Five” publishers. Works on: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Kindle readers.

    The Gadget: Phone and tablet apps are fine for many readers, but e-ink devices provide a more booklike experience. The new Kindle Voyage has a screen that’s 39% brighter than its predecessor.

  • Best Reason to Rent, Not Buy, Your Music

    Streaming Services

    Why buy songs that you’re rarely going to listen to in a few months? What if you could listen to just about anything—except for a few famous holdouts, like Taylor Swift and the Beatles—for less than the price of one CD per month? (Remember those?) A smart new pricing plan could make 2015 the year you make the switch from buying music to legally streaming it.

    The Service: Spotify lets you listen to any song you want in its vast catalogue. A free version, with ads, works on desktops or allows you to play artists or albums on Shuffle on your phone. Paying up for Spotify Premium ($9.99 a month) gets you no ads and total control on any device. Spotify has rolled out a family plan that lets you add new users for $4.99 each; that way two people in your family can play their own tunes at the same time. Works On: iOs, Android, desktop

    The Gadgets to Listen On: Docking stations are easy to use, with no setup or wires required. The $130 iHome iDL48 works with most iPads and iPhones. A portable speaker lets you get your music off your little earbuds and carry it to any room. The reliable Jawbone Mini Jambox ($130) connects to smartphones, tablets, and most computers through Bluetooth. If your existing stereo has an auxiliary input, an easy fix (in you’re not a hi-fi purist) is to run a cable from the headphone or line-out jack on phone, tablet or PC. Cords are $5 to $10 at Monoprice or Amazon.

  • Best Retro Tech

    2015 Ford Focus
    2015 Ford Focus

    Dashboard Knobs are Back!

    For years cars have become more tech-laden, with systems to let you make phone calls, find local pizza joints, or answer email. Which is nice, unless you prefer to keep your focus on driving. Interiors became a maze of numeric keypads and other control points. Ford says its research shows drivers don’t use or want all that tech. Now it’s retro time. For the 2015 model year Ford Focus, the automaker has eliminated many buttons, and added old-fashioned knobs to systems such as heat and A/C. In the next Fusion, the company is even getting rid of touch screens. — Bill Saporito, Time assistant managing editor, car reviewer at Money.com

  • Best Online Security Fix

    Two-Factor Verification

    Worrying about bank and brokerage hacks is understandable. But money can be replaced—and you have legal protections. What you should worry about is a hacker mining your more vulnerable iCloud photos, Facebook page, or email account and impersonating you. Two-factor verification, a login protocol, makes it vastly harder for hackers to steal your digital life. Here’s what you need to do to set it up:

    Select “login approval” or “two-factor verification” under settings at sites you want to protect. The first time you visit that site on a new computer, you will have to enter a code that’s texted to your phone. (You only need to enter this code the first time you log in from a new computer.) In case you lose your phone, you can print out backup codes, which work once. Once you’ve done this, a hacker would need to guess your password and have physical access to your computer in order to steal your data.

  • Best Apps to Get Before You Travel

    Chi Birmingham

    Taxi Apps

    It’s not always easy to scare up a cab in an unfamiliar city. (Where are the best streets to try to hail one? Should I find a taxi stand? Call ahead?) But smartphones are making it much easier to get around. The Uber app can summon a for-hire private car in numerous cities in 45 countries (though the service has recently come under fire in a few cities). In some big towns, like New York, it will also hail a traditional taxi. Curb and Flywheel also grab regular cabs—check first if they work in the town you are visiting. Want help navigating subways and metros? Hopstop has stop-by-stop directions and travel times, as do the transit directions on the Google Maps app.

TIME Tablets

This Is the Best Tablet You Can Buy Right Now

Apple Unveils New iPad Models
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images An attendee inspects new iPad Air 2 during an Apple special event on October 16, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

It's Apple's iPad Air 2. Here's why.

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com

the wirecutter logo

The new iPad Air 2 is the best overall tablet for most people. Apple’s new iPads are always better than last year’s, and the things that have made all the iPads strong tablets — like unbeatable app choices — are still present in this generation of the tablet. But with the latest update, the iPad Air 2 is thinner, lighter, and faster than the previous version, plus it gained fingerprint identification features, making it an even better user experience. And right now, the iPad (and iOS ecosystem) still offer the best overall customer experience when compared against Android.

Who Should Buy This?

If you bought the 2013 Air and are a heavy user and content-creator, the faster processor and expanded RAM of the iPad Air 2 will help with performance. If you bought the Air and use it for email, web browsing, and lighter tasks, you can hold off. If you have the original iPad Mini, then the Air 2 will be barely larger, but much faster with better Wi-Fi and Apple’s fingerprint authentication feature, TouchID.


Why we like this above all else

The 2014 update has hardware that makes it faster, thinner, and more versatile than last year’s model or the new iPad mini 3. The iPad Air now has fingerprint authentication, and is thin and light enough to hold one-handed as you would a paperback. It has the best selection of tablet-dedicated apps thanks to iOS. If you’re not particularly into Android or tinkering with your setup, there isn’t a better choice.

Why the iPad Air 2 over the updated iPad mini 3? The iPad Air 2 has a higher-quality camera that can do panoramas and burst mode, and it has the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard which allows for faster file transfers and improved range. The iPad mini 3 did not receive the faster processor that was added to the iPad Air 2. For $100 more, you get a lot more features, faster overall performance, and a larger, nicer screen with the Air 2.

But what about other, non-Apple tablets? For service and support, it’s difficult to beat Apple today. Their Apple Stores and Genius Bars are equipped to handle almost all tablet repairs on the same day. Our own experiences with the Genius Bar have seen my iPhone screen and a MacBook Air battery replaced within 30 minutes. Other companies might have as long a warranty, but they cannot do the instant turnaround that Apple can.

Most importantly, though, is Apple’s iOS ecosystem. Though the Android (Google Play) ecosystem is catching up, Apple continues to offer the largest selection of high-quality, dedicated tablet apps. While the selection of tablet-designed apps is constantly growing, that ecosystem and extremely clean user experience is still behind what iOS offers to its users.

Flaws (but not dealbreakers)

The iPad Air 2 is more expensive than its closest competition. The closest non-iPad competition is probably the $400 16GB Nexus 9. The iPad Air 2 starts at $500 for the Wi-Fi 16GB version, but 16GB is barely enough for most people and makes installing updates harder down the road, so you should probably get the the 64GB version at $600. Siri is still not as good as some Android voice control systems, and Google Now (which gives you an overview of your day and things you care about) is great if you use Android. But these are just nits to pick.

In Closing

The iPad Air 2 is the best tablet because choosing it means you’re not compromising on anything. The hardware is fast, thin, and light, it has a great, upgraded camera with useful video capabilities, TouchID, and the best tablet software ecosystem on the market today.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Wirecutter.com

TIME Gadgets

This Is the Best E-Book Reader You Can Buy

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Amazon Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

It's the $120 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

the wirecutter logo

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com

The $120 Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is our favorite e-book reader because it has a backlight for reading in the dark and Amazon’s amazing book selection, which is unsurpassed by the competition.

How we decided

There are other good e-readers out there, like the Kobo and the Nook GlowLight. They all share similar specs, but comparing hardware misses the bigger picture.

We prefer Amazon because it has the biggest and best selection of e-books and the best prices. Its also a company you can bank on to keep the updates coming while you port your ever-growing library of books to better and better hardware through the ages. If you look at it like that, you’re not really buying an e-book reader. You’re buying a cheap window to see into a vast library that you will keep for the rest of your life.

Our pick

The Paperwhite has not changed drastically in the last two years, but that’s okay, because Amazon has had a good thing going for a while. If you have the 2013 edition, you can easily stick with that model and not feel like you’re missing out on too much. If you have a Kindle older than that, you might want to upgrade.

The current Paperwhite model’s battery can run for up to eight weeks at a time, even with the screen light running. In summer 2014, Amazon doubled the Paperwhite’s internal storage from 2GB to 4GB, making room for more than 1,000 e-books. It has a bright front-lit screen, a black on white e-ink display that’s crisp and makes text very easy to read even outdoors, and a processor that makes page turning smooth.

The Paperwhite supports illustrated children’s e-books and has some baked-in parental controls. Amazon Prime members can access the Lending Library, and any Kindle owner can sign up for Kindle Unlimited, a $10-per-month subscription that provides access to 600,000 e-books and audiobooks.

The Kindle Paperwhite is priced squarely in the middle of all Amazon’s e-readers, starting at $120 for the Wi-Fi only version with ads. The ad-free version is $140, while the 3G-enabled Paperwhite is $189 with ads and $209 without them. (The ads don’t pop up during reading, but for $20 more, I’d opt out.) We prefer the Paperwhite over the basic $80 Amazon Kindle because it can store more books and runs for longer on a single charge.

The Upgrade

The Kindle Voyage is an even better e-reader than the Paperwhite, with a 300 DPI e-Ink screen, a backlight that adjusts brightness automatically, and a touchscreen with a body you can squeeze to turn pages. But at $200, it doesn’t offer enough over the Paperwhite to justify spending an additional $80 for most people. The pixel density of the Voyage is double that of the Paperwhite, but text on the Paperwhite is already easy to read and the difference won’t be noticeable to most people. The adaptive backlight is nice, but the standard backlight on the Paperwhite is fine. The Voyage’s squeeze action to change pages is better, but most people will probably be fine with the controls on the Paperwhite.

It might be worth upgrading to the Voyage if you read a lot of graphic novels or comics, because the higher resolution display of the Voyage does make those easier to read.

In closing

Amazon’s e-book selection and certainty of upgrades makes it the best investment for an e-book collection. If you really love reading books and can afford to spend $200, then the Voyage is a wonderful e-reader. But at $120, the Paperwhite is a very solid e-reader, and a great choice for most people.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation, please go to The Wirecutter.com

TIME Internet

‘Women Laughing Alone With Tablets’ Is the New ‘Women Laughing Alone With Salad’

Behold: the latest inexplicable stock image phenomenon

A few years ago, we were introduced to Women Laughing Alone With Salad: a gallery (and then meme) that pointed out the weirdly high number of stock images of, well, women laughing alone with salad.

Well, as On the Media has noticed, there’s a new trend that could soon take over the Internet. Women are still laughing, and they’re still alone, but this time, they get to hold tablets instead of salad bowls. Progress?

No seriously though, there are a lot of stock images of women laughing alone with tablets. Behold:

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It’s actually pretty fun to imagine that these women are using their tablets to look at (and laugh at) stock images of women laughing alone with tablets. Meta.

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