Apple iPad Air
Apple iPad Air

Best Apple tablet

The best has gotten better with the debut of the Apple iPad Air. Performance is faster, but the real news is the breathtaking design that has squeezed the tablet down so that it's no thicker than a pencil. The Retina display now has challengers among Android slates, but that doesn't mean that it's not as eye-popping as ever. You'll also still find more tablet-specific apps for the iPad than for any other device.
See our full review

Est. $500 and up Estimated Price
Apple iPad mini with Retina Display
Apple iPad mini with Retina Display

Best small tablet

Those who want the fit, finish and performance of an Apple iPad Air but in a smaller tablet will be thrilled with the Apple mini with Retina Display. Unlike the first-generation Apple mini, this is not a crippled tablet using generations-old technology. Instead it packs all the performance of the Air in a tablet that's more portable still. Though the resolution of the Retina display is challenged by some Android competitors, it's still one of the best around. Like the Air, the selection of tablet-specific apps is unsurpassed.
See our full review

Google Nexus 7
Google Nexus 7

Best Android tablet

The second-generation Google Nexus 7 might sport a cheap price tag, but reviewers say it doesn't make many compromises. It's not the absolute fastest tablet you can buy, but it's no slouch in that department. The new HD display is stunning -- in the same class as Apple's Retina Display beauties. For all that this slate delivers, the price is almost unbelievably low.
See our full review

Est. $230 and up Estimated Price
Asus MeMO Pad HD 7
Asus MeMO Pad HD 7

Cheap Android tablet

The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 proves that you can get a fairly good tablet for less than $150. Experts say that it's a tiny bit slower than the first-generation Google Nexus 7, but that it pretty much delivers the same experience at a significantly lower price. Nice features at this price point include a rear-facing camera and a memory expansion slot -- something the old Nexus 7 lacked. Battery life is exemplary.
See our full review

Est. $130 Estimated Price
COMPARE PRODUCTS
See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Slate vs. convertible tablets

Tablets emerged into the mainstream in 2010 with the launch of the original iPad, and the market has since become flooded with dozens of these portable devices. Buyers today face a confusing landscape with tablet computer choices segmented by operating system (Apple iOS, Android and Windows RT) and size.

Among large tablets with screens that measure more than 8 inches diagonally, the new iPad Air (Est. $500 and up) has helped Apple keep a firm grip as the market leader. However, it faces stiff competition from a slew of Android tablets, such as the Google Nexus 10 (Est. $350 and up) , Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (Est. $550 and up) and the Sony Xperia Tablet Z (Est. $430 and up) . The Windows RT-powered Microsoft Surface 2 (Est. $450 and up) tablet is much improved over its predecessor, reviews say, but the still comparatively paltry app selection in the Windows app store relegates it to "also-ran" status, at least for now.

The battle for supremacy among smaller tablets is, if anything, even fiercer. There, the Asus-made Google Nexus 7 (Est. $230 and up) is strongly challenged by the Amazon Fire HDX 7 (Est. $230 and up) and other Android slates. The new iPad mini with Retina Display (Est. $400 and up) had just begun shipping at the time of this update, and initial reports say that it fixes the shortcomings of the initial iPad mini. Value is a concern, however.

Tablet computers take two main forms -- convertible tablets and slates. This report looks only at slate tablets, which have virtual keyboards accessed through the touch screen, either through finger gestures or through a stylus. A convertible tablet can look and work like a regular laptop but has a screen that either flips around or detaches for use as a slate.

Most convertible tablets are powered by Intel processors and run the full Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 operating system. These convertible tablets are covered in our report on laptops and cheap laptops.  Lower-powered Windows slates that use ARM or similar processors are also available. These run a less robust version of Windows, called Windows RT. The key difference is that while Windows 8 slates can run any program that works under Windows, Windows RT slates -- such as the Microsoft Surface 2 -- can only run apps available in the Windows app store. Windows RT slates are discussed in more detail elsewhere in this update.

So which tablet is best for you? To help answer that question, we look at the best available advice from expert reviewers such as CNET, PCMag.com, Laptop Magazine and many more. We then cross-check those reviews with feedback from tablet users. To find the best choices, we rate tablets in important categories including performance, ease of use, features and value to find the ones most likely to please and to determine which models more often disappoint.

image
Google Nexus 10 (Wi-Fi only, 16 GB)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $399.00 $375.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition (32GB, Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $599.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Apple iPad Mini 2 with WiFi 16GB Space Gray | ME276LL/A
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $399.00 $319.98   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Kindle Fire HDX 7", HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB - Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation - 3rd)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $199.00 $179.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
Microsoft Surface 2 (32 GB)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $449.00 $370.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
Ads related to Tablet Computers

Back to top