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Jamie Butow, Californian community engagement coordinator.

Kindle, iPad, Nook, Galaxy, Nexus and Surface. Are you confused? You're not alone. Heck, I own one and use several others regularly and I can't keep up with who has the latest what on the market.

Last week as I was driving my son to school and listening to our morning radio show, First Look with Scott Cox, Scott was (as usual) venting to newsman extraordinaire Jeff Lemucchi about how I wasn't right there to answer questions about the iPad he's thinking of buying.

"Is it just too much to ask that she just sit over there off to the side and be ready to answer any of my questions?" he asked.

I eyeballed my 9-year-old son in the backseat who was rolling his eyes at this.

For the record, I'm used to these shenanigans from Scott.

But I realized Scott was asking the same question a lot of people are likely pondering right now: Which tablet should I buy?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer.

The first question I ask people is, "Where do you live? Do you live in the Apple, Amazon, Windows or Google universe?"

If you've never used a Mac and your smartphones have always been Android-based, I wouldn't recommend jumping in with an iPad. Likewise, if you're an Apple fan and love your iPhone, be aware that a Google Nexus tablet is going to be very different.

And what app store are you familiar with? I have an iPhone, so I know what's in Apple's app store. I'm not as familiar with the Android app store or the Google Play store.

Next question: What are you going to use it for?

If you're looking simply for an e-reader to read books and magazines, your focus can be narrowed down pretty quickly to Kindles and Nooks that specialize in making reading easy on their devices. It really is amazing how easy it is to read on those devices.

But if you want something on which to email, play games, watch videos and surf the web, expand your search.

And the third thing I tell people: Use them. Ask a friend to use theirs or go to a store and play with them. Hold them, touch them, type on them, turn them off and on, search for a web site, read a news story, swipe through pages.

Can you see the type? Is there too much glare on the screen? Is it comfortable to hold and carry? What kind of accessories (like a full-size, wirelessly connected keyboard) can you get for it?

There is no one-size-fits-all for tablets, and even after you've narrowed it down you'll have to decide on model, screen-size, storage capacity and even color.

Still overwhelmed? Start with some tech-expert advice.

When I'm debating a purchase, my go-to choice for technology information is Its latest tablet information can be found at

I live in the Apple universe and have no desire to move anytime soon. But over in the Google Nexus and Amazon universe is our Online Development Manager Chris Ladd. He said in one of our department meetings that he pretty much uses his tablet for everything these days. This stuck with me since I always imagine him as sitting in a room with no fewer than a dozen monitors all around him while he types lines of code that most of us wouldn't understand.

So I asked Chris where he goes for more information and he said The Verge and Endgadget sites. See their tablet reviews at and at

Now that you know which tablet you want, the next step is finding a good deal. I can't help you much there, but be sure to check out Thursday's Californian, as I'm told it will be stuffed with Black Friday ads.

Happy shopping!

Social Media Classes

Just a heads-up that once again there will be social media classes offered in the spring through the Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning.

Social Media 101 focuses on the nitty-gritty how-tos of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. We go over these platforms in detail and talk about the dozens of others that are out there. We cover everything from privacy issues to uploading photos to the basics of setting up your account.

Social Media for Businesses and Organizations is for people already familiar with how to use social networking sites but want to know which site is best and strategies for online marketing.

Both classes meet for 90 minutes in the evening once a week for four weeks at Bakersfield College. The cost is $30 per person. New for spring is a special afternoon class of Social Media for Businesses and Organizations that will be offered downtown.

The complete Levan schedule will appear in The Californian and online at on January 5, 2014, which is also when registration opens.

Jamie Butow is the community engagement coordinator for The Network. Email her Follow her at, and on Twitter@JamieButow.