Nearly half of all American homes now have at least one tablet in them, a new survey finds.

Forty-four percent of Americans now own a tablet computer, according to a survey from research firm Frank N. Magid Associates, a 30% increase from last year’s figures. The ownership rate among those ages 18-to-34 is even higher with 54% reporting owing a tablet ownership.

The survey also found Android-based tablets gaining popularity and catching up to Apple (AAPL), with both exceeding 50% ownership rates. Some homes even have more than one tablet,  with respondents saying they need a “spare”, according to the report.

Louis Ramirez, senior feature writer at dealnews.com, says tables’ convenience make them more attractive than laptops and says the number of tablets in a home surpassed laptops for the first time ever.

“It’s ironic, because the iPad was only released three years ago, and it took just three years to overtake the laptop,” he says. “Between a smartphone and tablet, you don’t need a laptop anymore. They are so much cheaper, as well. You can email, stream movies and more.”

To help score the best price on a tablet, Ramirez offers the following tips:

No. 1: Don’t shy away from the previous generation. Any new model means the previous generation will drop significantly in price.

Although having the latest version of a tablet is tempting, Ramirez says choosing an older model is best for your wallet.

“Last October, Apple released the iPad 4—there wasn’t that big a difference between the iPad 3 and the iPad 4 and the performance isn’t that different. But the iPad 3 saw a huge price drop from the 4,” he says.

No. 2: Don’t buy directly from Apple. When buying a tablet, Ramirez says Apple (AAPL) in particular will rarely offer discounts. Look for licensed dealers to get a better rate.

“They have no incentive to give you a discount, but others like Wal-mart (WMT) want to get you in the door,” he says. “Look for an authorized Apple reseller like Amazon.com, AmacMall.com and Best Buy, they may discount to get you in.”

No. 3: Look for bundled deals.  Sellers may bundle a discounted tablet with a store gift card as a reason to incentivize buyers. Amazon is known to do this with its Kindle products, says Ramirez.

“If you want the new Kindle, for example, the best bet is to look for a bundle deal in stores like Office Depot and Office Max,” he says. “The best deal I have seen is for the current Kindle Fire HD with a seven-inch screen and 16 GB for $169 with a $30 Office Depot gift card bundled.”

Follow Kate Rogers on Twitter at @KateRogersNews