Best tablets 2013: Overview
What’s the best tablet of 2014? Today’s latest tablets compared and rated – constantly updated.
More and more tablets are coming out every year, and 2014 is no exception. We’ve managed to get our hands on several new tabs like the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro and the massive Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, where both will be on the market soon so keep checking back to see if they’ve made it onto the best tablets list.
The new year will probably see updated versions of current tabs out there as well, giving you even more choices than before.
And with choice comes decisions – difficult decisions. Do you eschew Apple’s high prices, join the Android brigade and find the best iPad alternative? Or do you give in to near-perfection and get the iPad Air or iPad mini 2 with Retina display?
Luckily, we’ve made it easy for you and pulled together the top 10 tablets of the moment available in the US. We’ll be constantly updating this list as new players enter the market and the older ones fizzle out.
For those of you who are still new to the whole tablet game, let us fill you in on what one is:
In general terms, today’s tablet computers sport touchscreens ranging in size from 7- up to 13-inches. These dimensions are by no means static, and boundaries can be blurred as smartphones get larger displays, a la the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Physical stock keyboards are also a rarity, but there are the exceptions such as the Asus Transformer Prime and newer Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, which come with a keyboard dock for the tablets. Microsoft tablets have their own keyboards as well with the Surface 2 and the Suface Pro 2.
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As with today’s best smartphones, apps play a big role on tablets – once you’ve decided which of these tablets if right for you, check out our top app lists so you can get your fill of Temple Run, update your friends on Facebook and read the latest news, all on a bigger screen.
- Top 200 best Android apps
- Top 200 best iPad apps
Let us know your thoughts on the top 10 (and whether you think we’ve got the order wrong) in the comments below.
Best tablets 2013 10-6
10. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch
The bigger edition of the latest Amazon tablet lineup is the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and it’s a decent enough device.
In fact it’s more than decent – it’s downright perfect for movies, books and music and we can’t stress enough the light weight of the device, which really helps in portability and sustained holding/viewing.
It’s slim and lightweight at just 13.2 ounces, and the display is an 8.9-inch, 2560 x 1600 resolution screen. That gives you 339 ppi in what Amazon says is 100% sRGB color accurate.
There’s a slight caveat with the newest Kindle Fire: the HDX is a made-by-Amazon device that’s pretty much all Amazon all the time so you’re probably better off with another tablet if you want to do more than just the basics. Though if you’re OK with the basics, there’s no other tablet as beautiful and handy.
- Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 full review
9. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7"
With the Kindle Fire HDX, you have an excellently built Android tablet – from a hardware perspective, at least. But while it’s lightning fast and a great way to enjoy books, magazines, comics, music and movies, it comes up short in the places where the best tablets truly impress: third-party apps and a whiz bang customizable interface.
The battery life is absolutely on par with the competition. Those who push will still see more than a day of use off a single charge, and those who are light on it will plug it in only once or twice a week.
The 7-inch LCD display rocks a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and an intense pixel density 323 ppi. Though seven inches isn’t a ton of visual real estate (this is a "mini" tablet, after all), it makes movies look magnificent and keeps text nice and crisp. It’s bright, colorful and among the best tablet displays on the market.
- Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7" full review
8. Apple iPad mini
Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs famously slammed small tablets a few years back, leading many to believe the Cupertino-based firm would never dabble in the budget end of the market, but here we are.
In terms of consistency in the tablet market Apple cannot be matched, as it now lays claim to the first three places in our top 10, with the iPad mini the jewel in an already glistening crown.
The slight downsides to the iPad mini are that it misses out on a Retina display and it pushes the upper end of the budget price bracket, but you can justify that price with its slick operation and premium build quality, letting you know you have a top piece of kit in your hand.
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"The iPad mini is the best iPad Apple has ever created" – need we say more? That’s the official verdict from our in-depth review. If you have the extra cash to spend on the iPad mini over the likes of the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, you won’t be disappointed.
7. Microsoft Surface Pro 2
*Ding, ding* Round 2. Microsoft’s second generation Windows 8 slate is here, building on its predecessor and providing a well rounded tablet-come-laptop experience.
In terms of portability the Surface Pro 2 won’t be winning any awards – it’s big and it’s heavy, but if you’re looking for a powerful business tablet then the Pro 2 is one of the best (if not the best) around.
Microsoft has improved the Pro 2 in a numbers of ways from the original Surface Pro, with an updated Windows 8.1 OS, beefy Intel processor, improved battery life and two position kick-stand.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkBDJEDmpxQ
The Surface Pro 2 doesn’t offer the best natural tablet experience, but if you’re looking for a device which bridges the gap between laptop and tablet then this is one of the best on the market.
With a handy QWERTY keyboard, large screen and Microsoft’s Office suite it’s an obvious business machine, but also offers something rather different to the iPad and Android slates.
It’s expensive though, so be ready to fork out at least $899 for the basic version – plus you’ll need a keyboard on top of that.
- Microsoft Surface Pro 2 full review
6. Google Nexus 10
The 10.1 display is one of the biggest talking points on the Google Nexus 10. At 300 pixels per inch it’s the highest resolution tablet display on the planet – take that Apple and your Retina screens.
It’s a great performer too. Other than taking a while to process panoramic photos, we never felt like it was struggling to keep up. It’s fast and smooth no matter what you throw at it.
Sure it may not be as stunning to look at, or as well built as an iPad, and the lack of expandable memory will irk some, but overall the Nexus 10 gives you a quality, big-screen Android experience not to be sniffed at.
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The Google Nexus 10 is easily one of the best Android tablets on the market. While it’s not quite as fantastic a value as the Nexus 7, it certainly gives Apple’s high-priced iPad 4 a run for its money. For the price you’re paying, you won’t be disappointed.
- Google Nexus 10 full review
Number 5: LG G Pad 8.3
5. LG G Pad 8.3
What’s this? LG in our top five for tablets? Could the brand be on a rebound?
Well, when you make an Android tablet with a design language like this one, perhaps it’s time to quietly worry at Samsung. In place of plastic, it’s got a lovely aluminium shell, and connectivity with other Android phones makes it a viable option for a wider range of users.
Some might question whether the Snapdragon 600 chip is too low-power for a tablet that costs nearly $350, but it allows for a sleeker design according to the Korean brand.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HCcXM_cU_k
We really liked the G Pad 8.3, and it was only lower down in our list thanks to a slightly higher battery drain than we were expecting – plus the overlay can take some getting used to.
But its the closest competitor to the iPad Mini out there, in terms of design, and it’s a tablet we’re not ashamed to pull out of a stylishly slim bag.
Number 4: Sony Xperia Tablet Z
4. Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Sleek, powerful, iconic – these are all words used to describe the impressive tablet from Sony.
The brand has been plugging away in the mobile space for a few years, but now the combination of the Sony Xperia Z and Tablet Z show that the Japanese brand is bringing us devices that the public can finally really lust after.
And that’s one of the things we liked about the Tablet Z: it’s light, really light, yet looks premium too. Sony has surpassed expectations with this and delivered a tablet that wouldn’t look out of place in a business class lounge or at the center of a home entertainment network.
It’s waterproof too – sure, you might not use that feature a whole lot, but it gives it an air of ruggedness that puts your mind at ease when manhandling something that costs so much.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wfV5b4nGcPA
With a super slim chassis, impressive screen and whole glut of Sony extras on board, the Xperia Tablet Z is one of the finest tablets we’ve seen in 2013. Its quality abounds the moment you take it out of your bag, and the speedy internals and impressive weight are enough for us to recommend it wholeheartedly.
- Sony Xperia Tablet Z full review
Number 3: Google Nexus 7
3. Google Nexus 7
Whether you call it the Nexus 7 2 or just the Nexus 7, it hurdles right over the iPad mini in both parts and price. For just a little more money, it offers greater functionality than a Kindle Fire HD. It so surpasses the original Nexus 7 that Google has swept last year’s tablet under the rug.
Internally, the new Nexus 7 packs a 1.5Ghz quad core processor, 2GB of RAM and comes with either 16GB or 32GB of storage. Those models go for $229 and $269, and there’s also an LTE version selling for $300.
Storage space is a bit tricky though – the Android 4.3 OS found on the Nexus 7 takes up a whopping 6GB. Our 32GB tablet came out of the box with 26GB available. Those planning to go for the 16GB model need to brace for having only 10GB to play with.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvqawsSja8c
Is the New Nexus 7 the best 7-inch tablet on the market today? We think so. With the low price, great battery life, powerful performance and beautiful HD screen, it’s enough to rival any other tablet for the number two position.
Number 2: iPad Mini 2
2. iPad Mini 2 with Retina Display
Look at that – Apple’s taken the top two spots in our tablet round up. You’ll either love or hate that decision, but we can’t deny that Apple has the best tabs on the market right now.
The iPad Air is just ahead of the Mini 2, thanks to being more competitive on price and having a larger screen for all those iPad-friendly apps.
But this is far from a poor device. It’s got reams of style from the aluminum back, a super fast A7 chip and that screen … well, it’s what we should have had last year, but it still looks the business 12 months on.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw8fmvGPRtQ
The Mini 2 has as many pixels in a smaller space, leading to greater sharpness for text and pics – plus there’s no loss in power or battery life, which is a marvel in itself.
If only it was a little cheaper, we’d have two five star tablets on the market at the moment – but even so, if you’re looking for a brilliant tablet in the smaller category (and aren’t too worried about cost, you wealthy little so-and-so) then the Mini 2 is without compare.
- iPad Mini 2 with Retina display full review
Number 1: iPad Air
1. iPad Air
We have a new player at number one! If you’ve already read our iPad Air review this will come as no surprise, as Apple’s latest slate is the first tablet ever to gain a five star rating on TechRadar.
People scoffed when Apple launched the first iPad, but the sector has grown exponentially since the first generation device landed, and with the Air, the Cupertino firm has finally nailed the formula.
Impressive design coupled with a thinner, lighter chassis makes for a premium and quite frankly, beautiful tablet, and Apple’s powerful A7 and M7 chips under the hood means it chews through even the toughest tasks in next to no time.
Of course the price tag is still high, but it’s comparable to the likes of the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, finally making it a contender on an even playing field … and with that in mind, there’s no competition.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TPIq7DxCII
"It’s not just Apple’s best tablet, it’s the only tablet you should be considering if you’re keen on a larger screen." That’s what we said in the verdict of our in-depth iPad Air review. While the Xperia Tablet Z is a brilliant tablet, the Air just takes things to the next level.
If you want the best tablet on the market then look no further. The iPad Air has reclaimed top spot for Apple.