Best Android Tablets 2020-2021 Under 200-300: 25% Off Finding the best Android tablet isn’t an easy buying decision, as they come in all shapes, sizes and prices. But there’s hope.We’ve tested and sorted through the latest Android tablets in order to come up with a top 10 list, all ranked below. Our recommendations are a combination of performance for your dollar, design, features, build quality and value.This comprehensive Android tablet list will be updated frequently throughout 2020, as Samsung, Google and many other companies continue to release new tablets and upgrade the software with Android Nougat and Android O. Must Go to our 2020 tablet reviews.We also reviewed On Best laptop, Best Camera, 3d printing pen, Best Speaker, Best Tablet Etc.
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Which Brand is Right For You 2020?
The tablet world moves slower than smartphones, so buying a tablet now is a safe bet. It won’t feel horribly out of date in a year’s time, or even two of three years time. As ever, there’s plenty of choice and we review dozens of tablets every year. Our round-up only features six models, though, so you can be confident these really are the very best of the best.Whether you want a cheap tablet for your children, or something to help you get stuff done, there’s something for everyone.
Many tablet brands share the same layout, design and media features across devices, which can make navigation and organization easier as you work and play. Whether you prefer to use the same operating system as your other devices, or you don’t mind a little variety, you can learn more about the different features each brand has to offer below.
Apple users can access their iTunes, calendar and contacts on their iPad, and sync with their iPhone and Apple TV. Select iPad models come equipped with the Siri voice-activated assistant for convenient navigation of the browser and operating system.
The Samsung Smart Hub feature allows users to watch movies and listen to music on their tablet, plus sync contacts and media with their smart TV. Using Smart Remote, users will also be able to control their Samsung TV directly from their tablet.
Microsoft Windows users can retrieve files from Microsoft Office and sync contacts, music and more across their Windows tablet, phone and PC. Microsoft tablets connect to other devices with a convenient USB port, and can even connect to the TV through an Xbox.
Amazon tablets allow users to separate profiles for each individual, and see character, artist or other content with X-Ray for music, movies and TV. With the exception of Fire HD, a mayday button provides free on-demand device tech support when it is needed..
Top 10 Best Android Tablet 2020
List Price: $599.99
You Save: $100.00 (17%)
The world’s first HDR-ready tablet
Weight: 429g | Dimensions: 237 x 169 x 6mm | OS: Android 7 Nougat | Screen size: 9.7 inches | Resolution: 2,048 x 1,536 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 6,000 mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is easily the best Android tablet to date, headlined by an HDR-ready display, four powerful speakers and an upgraded S Pen that’s included inside the box. The keyboard folio is a worthwhile extra.
It shocks us to say this, but it’s actually a bit too future-proofed in some ways. Its HDR screen looks great, but the trove of promised content from Netflix and Amazon isn’t here yet – at least not on tablets. But that shouldn’t stop you from considering Samsung’s latest and greatest if what you’re after is a top-tier Android tablet.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Weight: 430g | Dimensions: 240 x 164 x 5.5mm | OS: Android 6 Marshmallow | Screen size: 9.7 inches | Resolution: 2,048 x 1,536 | CPU: Mediatek MT8176 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32/64GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP
The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 might look like an iPad in design, but given its roots in Android, it’s obviously a much different beast.
For your money, it’s a hard ask to find another Android tablet that puts classy design at the forefront like the ZenPad 3S 10. Paired with its gorgeous 2K display and strong audio performance, it makes quite the impression from a multimedia perspective.
Our review points out that there are a few low points in the presentation, like the average battery life, but issues aside, the amount of features and performance level you get here is well worth the low asking price.
Read the full review: Asus ZenPad 3S 10
3.Best Kids Android Tablet :Fire 7 Kids Best Tablet 2020
Google’s own tablet is excellent
Weight: 517g | Dimensions: 242 x 179 x 7mm | OS: Android 7 Nougat | Screen size: 10.2 inches | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,800 | CPU: Nvidia Tegra X1, quad-core | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 10 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP
Google’s first foray into crafting its very own tablets started couldn’t have gone much better. While it was once the best Android tablet out there, the Pixel C is still recommended for a few reasons.
Its design borrows from the gorgeous Chromebook Pixel, then builds upon it with versatility to allow easy switching between a standalone tablet or a laptop. Android power-users will also appreciate that it runs stock OS and thus, like Nexus and Pixel products, the Pixel C is now running the latest software, Android Nougat, with support for Android O coming soon.
The Pixel C certainly isn’t cheap, but you won’t find another Android tablet packed with this slick combination of power, style and the latest software updates.
Read the full review: Google Pixel C
A tablet that balances novelty and performance well
Weight: 667g | Dimensions: 246 x 179 x 4.6mm | OS: Android 6 Marshmallow | Screen size: 10.1 inches | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | CPU: Intel Atom x 5-Z8500, quad-core | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 10,200mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
List Price: $109.99
Most tablets are very similar to one another, but not the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro. It sits in its own sub-category of Android tablets that try and succeed at being weird, yet awesome.
This tablet has all of the usual amenities that one desires in a 2017 tablet, including some extras, such as 2,560 x 1600 display and a huge 10,200mAh battery. But this tablet also houses a hidden projector that can splash the screen onto a wall for night-time viewing. Cool, right? It’s novel and useful.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro
A beautiful, compact tablet from the phone maker
Dimensions: 215 x 124 x 7.3mm | OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow | Screen size: 8.4 inches | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | CPU: Octa-core | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32/64GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 5,100mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 8MP
One of the best things about the Huawei MediaPad M3 is its build quality. The slim, light aluminum frame looks and feels good in the hand.
The screen and speakers are great, too. These attributes alone make the MediaPad M3 a competent entertainment tablet. And despite a few instances of lousy gaming performance, the Kirin 950 does an admirable job of keeping things smooth.
You can find a cheaper tablet further down on the list, but you’ll be giving up on the compact, premium design of the MediaPad M3.
Read the full review: Huawei MediaPad M3 8.0
The best you can get at this price
Weight: 369g | Dimensions: 214mm x 128mm x 9.7mm | OS: Fire OS | Screen size: 8-inch | Resolution: 1280 x 800 | CPU: Quad-core 1.3GHz | RAM: 1.5GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: Up to 12 hours | Rear camera: 2MP | Front camera: VGA
The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) is among the best of the retail giant’s tablets, as while it’s in many ways lower end than the similar HD 10, the smaller screen is sharper as a result, and the price is lower.
It also delivers surprisingly strong gaming performance, with a decent amount of power for the money. The speakers aren’t great and the cameras are awful, but tablets aren’t for taking photos and you can always use headphones.
What you do get is solid if not spectacular performance, and tight integration with Amazon’s other services through Fire OS, all at a price that’s well below most of the non-Amazon branded competition. You should also note that if you already own the 2016 version of this tablet, it won’t be worth upgrading to the 2017 version as the differences are very minimal.
Read the full review:
An affordable way to enjoy Amazon’s media
Weight: 432g | Dimensions: 262mm x 159mm x 7.7mm | OS: Fire OS | Screen size: 10.1-inch | Resolution: 1280 x 800 | CPU: Quad-core 1.5GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16/32/64GB | Battery: Up to 8 hours | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: HD
The Amazon Fire HD 10 is the company’s flagship tablet, but to call it a flagship is misleading, as while it’s top of the range it sports middling specs at best. But that’s okay because it’s very, very affordable.
Its 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 screen doesn’t provide a very sharp picture, but audio fares much better thanks to loud and clear stereo speakers, and with up to 64GB of built in storage plus a microSD card slot there’s plenty of room for apps, games and other media.
Which is all good, because this being an Amazon product you’re faced with things to buy, download, rent and stream at every turn.
Read the full review:
This ultra-light Android tablet is now an even better deal
Weight: 389g | Dimensions: 237 x 169 x 5.6mm | OS: Android 6 Marshmallow (Nougat incoming) | Screen size: 9.7 inches | Resolution: 2,048 x 1,536 | CPU: Exynos 7 5433, octa-core | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 5,870mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2.1MP
Samsung is firing straight at the iPad’s greatest weakness with the Galaxy Tab S2: storage capacity. The latest from the popular smartphone and tablet maker offers 32GB of internal storage as the standard out of the box, with support for up to 128GB via the microSD slot.
It also stands out amongst the greater tablet competition with a stellar 2,048 x 1,536 Super AMOLED display and Samsung’s own zippy Exynos 7 5433 octa-core chipset, which consists of a 1.9GHz quad-core processor working in tandem with a 1.3GHz quad-core processor.
Given that the Tab S3 sits at the top of our list, the S2 still comes recommended given that it is now an even better deal.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
Almost unbelievably cheap
Weight: 295g | Dimensions: 115mm x 192mm x 9.6mm | OS: Fire OS | Screen size: 7-inch | Resolution: 1024 x 600 | CPU: Quad-core 1.3GHz | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8/16GB | Battery: Up to 7 hours | Rear camera: 2MP | Front camera: VGA
Tablets don’t get any cheaper than this – well, functional ones don’t anyway. The incredibly low price and sturdy design make the Amazon Fire a great choice to give to a kid – in fact, Amazon’s even built a (pricier) version specifically for children.
But even for a grown audience the Amazon Fire far exceeds expectations, with a fairly bright 7.0-inch screen, acceptable speakers, solid battery life and even reasonable performance, with a snappy interface and the ability to run most games.
Fire OS won’t suit everyone and this isn’t a tablet that impresses once you take the price out of the equation, but for what the Amazon Fire costs it would almost be rude not to consider it.
Read the full review:
Samsung’s last-gen tablet has a better screen than its latest
Weight: 464g | Dimensions: 247 x 177 x 6.6mm | OS: Android 4.0 KitKat | Screen size: 10.5 inches | Resolution: 2,560 x 1,600 | CPU: Exynos 5, octa-core | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 9.5 hours | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2.1MP
More 10 Best Tablet and buying guide You can Check out
Best Overall: ASUS ZenPad 3S
ASUS released the ZenPad as a direct challenge to rivals at Samsung and Apple, including similar specs and build quality, but with more storage and at a lower price. This is the ultimate tablet for most people, delivering the latest and fastest technology at a stomachable price point.
The smart and sleek design gives priority to the 9.7-inch 2k IPS screen, which runs on ASUS proprietary VisualMaster technology for a stunning 2048 x 1536 resolution. It scores 264 ppi, which is the same as the iPad. The gorgeous screen has an impress 78 percent ratio compared to the body, leaving just enough room below for a super accurate fingerprint sensor that is quick and convenient. In addition to the fingerprint scanner, the device has a microSD slot for additional storage and a USB-C port for quick charging. There isn’t room for much more, as the bezel is less than a quarter inch thick, which ASUS claims is the thinnest in the world. The back sports a smooth premium anodized aluminum body that is both strong and attractive.
Most impressive of all is the lightning fast performance, thanks to a beastly hexa-core 2.1 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS. Just for good measure, ASUS threw in dual five-magnet speakers, an 8MP camera and a high-capacity battery to make this tablet the best overall package on the market at an unbeatable price.
Best Under $75: Amazon Fire
If you’re looking for an inexpensive Android tablet that can do just about everything more pricey tablets can do, the seven-inch Amazon Fire is your best choice. The price means the tablet might not be the fastest on the market (it has a 1.3 GHz processor) or have the best picture quality (1024 x 600 screen resolution), but it’s a solid choice for reading e-books through the built-in Kindle app, or watching videos through Amazon’s streaming service. (Netflix, Hulu, and other services are also available.) The Amazon Fire only has 8GB or 16GB of storage, though that can be expanded locally with a microSD card or via cloud storage. The seven-inch tablet is also incredibly lightweight at just 11 ounces, about the same weight as a paperback book.
The Fire runs Amazon’s own OS, which is based on Android, but doesn’t have any of the official Google apps. That means no Google Play Store for apps, though Amazon does have its own app store that includes access to 38 million TV shows, songs, movies, books, apps and games.
Best Value: Huawei MediaPad T1
Huawei proves that a $100 tablet can be worth buying with its new Mediapad T1. The compact seven-inch screen sports a slim and lightweight design, just 8.5MM thick and weighing just 15 ounces. The screen resolution is a respectable 600 x 1024 pixels with oncell IPS to reproduce over 90 percent of Adobe RGB color space for bright color and contrast. That may not rival the latest Samsung Galaxy, but it combines with a 178-degree, wide-view angle for a pleasurable viewing experience on an entry-level tablet.
The device’s real standout value comes in its mighty battery that can last over 300 hours on standby time or continuously browse the Web for eight hours without a recharge. The battery is housed in a light silver metal unibody case, which prominently features Huawei’s logo. Performance, while not blowing away any benchmarks, delivers for the pricetag. It runs on a Spreadtrum SC7731G chip with 28nm quad-core 1.2 GHZ ARM, and runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system and EMUI 3.0 powered by Huawei.
Best Design: Huawei + Harman Kardon MediaPad M3
Every element of Huawei’s premium tablet is designed to indulge the senses. As such, this 8.4-inch tablet boasts a beautiful 2560 x 1600 IPS screen to treat the eyes to vibrant and colorful images in Ultra 2k display. The screen is accentuated by a stylish and narrow bezel that bleeds into the edges. It sports an aluminum body that is thin, light and easy to hold, making room for a Micro SD slot. But Huawei also partnered with audio titans Harman Kardon to deliver the best acoustics on any tablet. With a speaker on both top and bottom, the MediaPad 3 produces high-fidelity audio louder than any other tablet on the market.
In addition to the stunning audio-visual design, this tablet packs impressive hardware. Expect fast speeds, thanks to the 2.3 GHz processor and 4 GB DDR3 RAM. You can choose between 32 GB and 64 GB of internal memory, almost none of which is wasted on pre-installed bloatware.
Best Battery Life: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3
This widescreen Android tablet from Lenovo sports an innovative design and a battery life that can last the entire waking day. The distinctive black case holds a 10.1” 2560×1600 Full HD screen with IPS crystal-clear display, which allows for wide-angle viewing and brightness even outdoors. At the bottom is a cylindrical bar that houses built-in dual speakers with Dolby Atmos for one of the most immersive audio experiences on a tablet.
Forget the Bluetooth speaker at home? No problem, the sound is loud and dynamic enough to fill a room and the long battery life means you will have no problem using it as a sound system for an entire day. The 15 hours of battery life also means you can watch movies on the gorgeous screen for a trans-Pacific plane ride. Snapdragon 652 processor, 3GB RAM and a 32GB SSD provide enough computing power to handle any application, and at a lightweight two pounds, it can go with you anywhere.
Best from Google: Google Pixel C
With a high-resolution (2560 x 1800), 10.2-inch display, an NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor and a battery that lasts for more than 10 hours, the Pixel C is the best Google tablet available at the moment. The Pixel C receives all the latest Android updates as soon as they’re available, something that many other devices struggle to do. And unlike many other tablets, the Pixel C starts at 32GB of storage, with a 64GB version also available. The Pixel C also features an 8MP rear-facing camera that can take quality photos, and it weighs just 1.13 pounds.
If you want a powerhouse tablet but can’t stand typing on a glass surface, Google has you covered with the optional keyboard that doubles as a screen cover and extra charging battery. The keyboard connects to the Pixel C magnetically, and can adjust to multiple angles unlike keyboards on other tablets. With the keyboard and the side-by-side multitasking features found in betas of Android N, the Pixel C practically doubles as a laptop.
Best 2-in-1: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
Many of the best 2-in-1s run Windows because of its superior desktop capabilities, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 will make you forget you ever knew that. Design-wise, it’s a worthy competitor to the iPad Pro. It has a vivid 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display that claims to be the world’s first HDR-ready tablet. This produces higher contrast ratios and brighter highlights, which does wonders for darker scenes, but don’t expect to find a lot of HDR content just yet. You’ll have to wait a bit until streaming services catch up. At least you’ll be ready when they do.
The S3 runs Android 7.0 Nougat with a Samsung overlay that’s easy to navigate. At the heart is a Snapdragon 820 processor, which is powerful enough for your computing needs, but unfortunately not as good as Snapdragon 835, which rolled out in the Galaxy S8. It also has 32GB of internal storage and a 6,000mAh battery that yields above-average performance.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of this tablet over an iPad is the inclusion of its S Pen. The S3 version is bigger and more pressure-responsive than those used with Samsung phones, and that helps users truly unlock the potential of the 2-in-1. Of course, to do that you’ll also need the keyboard attachment, which is sold separately.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8-inch
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is a great Android tablet for those who want something that resembles an iPad but don’t want to use iOS. Samsung is known for adding a lot of superfluous software to Android (eye-tracking software that is often wonky and its own Siri-esque virtual assistant), but some of the features found in the Tab S2 like split-screen multi-tasking and the SideSync app that mirrors your Samsung phone on the tablet are incredibly useful.
The eight-inch version of the Galaxy Tab S2 features a 1.8GHz quad-core processor, making it one of the fastest tablets on this list, and the 2048 x 1536 screen resolution means it’s perfect for watching videos or reading. The Galaxy Tab S2 is also available in a nine-inch model, for those who prefer a slightly larger display.
Runner-Up, Best Design: Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A 10.1” is designed for entertainment and performance. The vibrant high resolution screen has a 1920×1200 resolution and a gorgeous image, thanks to the powerful Octa-core 1.6Ghz processor and 2GB of RAM. You can expand the memory from 16GB to an additional 200GB with the microSD reader. You can also connect directly to a TV or another device with the microUSB.
Android Marshmallow 6.0 is the latest and greatest version of the operating system, making for a clean UI and easy transfer. It also lets you open up two apps side by side, for easy multitasking between messaging and games. And if you have additional Samsung devices, Quick Connect makes transferring videos and photos between TV easy. All this comes in a device that weighs barely over a pound and has a battery life that can last up to 13 hours.
Best Gaming: Fusion5
A good gaming tablet should come with a powerful processor, Bluetooth connectivity, ample storage space and a nice screen. While the Fusion5 might not have the nicest camera or speakers, it has all of those requirements and at an excellent price, making it the perfect dedicated gaming tablet.
It packs a powerful MediaTek MT8163 64-bit Quad-core processor which generates 3D graphics and Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 MPCore through a 1080p video decoder for high-performance media. Your app store games will run great and look great on the 10.1-inch IPS 1080p HD screen that is built for media consumption. The tablet also has 32GB of internal storage space, so you can have plenty of games downloaded, while Bluetooth 4.0 allows you to connect wireless headphones or even a keyboard to get the best gaming experience.
There’s no shame in buying last-gen tech products. The best-case scenario sees you saving a bunch of cash, while still having access to fairly modern specifications. And with the Galaxy Tab S, that’s exactly what you’ll get, plus some.
The Galaxy Tab S3 is the latest and greatest in Samsung’s line of tablets. But the Tab S is still a respectable purchase, packing in impressive specs like a Super AMOLED display pushing 2560 x 1600.
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So you need a tablet, and you need it now. Maybe this is your first tablet or maybe you’ve already owned a few. Perhaps you are looking to replace your laptop, or maybe you’re just looking for an extra screen to use when you’re on the toilet or sitting on the couch. Whatever the reason, fear not. There are a lot of good options out there. Below is a quick (very quick) guide to help you navigate the basics of tablet purchasing.
Step 1: Figure out what your needs are
What do you need to do on this tablet? Are you hoping to watch movies? Store it in your purse? Type documents? Read articles? Use photoshop? Does it need a keyboard? A stylus? A Webcam? Much like smartphones and laptops, there are a ton of differently sized tablets on the market with a varying set of capabilities. Figure out what matters most to you and write it down. What you need your tablet to do will entirely determine what model you buy. Your decisions here will affect everything that is to come.
Step 2: Choose an operating system
Android and iOS (iPad) have dominated the tablet scene in recent years, but the Windows tablet category is growing. There are also some good tablets offered by Amazon and a few others that run heavily modified versions of Android. Here’s a brief look at the difference between the platforms:
Android: Developed by Google, Android has a robust apps and content market called Google Play and comes with a huge suite of services from Google including Google Now, Hangouts, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, free turn-by-turn navigation (our favorite), YouTube, Google Photos, Chrome Browser, Google Drive, Play Music, and more. Basically, if you like Google services, Android is a good option for you. Although many of these services are also available on iOS and other platforms, the integration is smoothest on Android.
Android also boasts support for multiple user log-ins, which is handy if you want a family tablet for everyone to share. And it’s highly customizable. The latest version of the platform, Android 5.0 Lollipop, is slick, stylish, and very user-friendly, but not every tablet will be running it (most are still running Android 4.4 KitKat). Unfortunately, the selection of apps made to specifically take advantage of tablets on Android is lacking. There’s no division between Android smartphone apps and Android tablet apps, so the quality of the experience can depend on whether the developer has optimized for tablet displays. On the plus side, if you’ve already bought an Android app for your phone, you won’t have to pay again to get it for your tablet.
iOS: The iPad runs on iOS. The iPad has more than 725,000 apps custom built for it and is currently the market leader in every way. It is still the tablet to beat in terms of quality and it has the most impressive selection of apps and accessories. If you own other Apple devices, or enjoy services like iTunes, the iPad may be a good option for you. If you don’t, well, it may still be the best option for you. The user interface is accessible and very slick, but it doesn’t allow for much in the way of customization.
Comparatively, the iPad and iOS apps are more expensive than Android. There’s also a lack of support for multiple users and parental controls. If you have an iPhone and you’ve already purchased an app, you may have to buy it again to get it on iPad (some apps are universal and work on both devices, some don’t).
Windows: Windows tablets come closest to offering a traditional computing experience, like you might find on a PC or laptop. You’ll be able to run full versions of software like Microsoft Office on a Windows tablet, so it may be the best choice if you plan on using your tablet for work. There are also more than 200,000 apps in the Windows Store, designed to be touch-friendly. Windows offers support for multiple user accounts, and boasts a robust set of parental controls.
As a touchscreen tablet experience, Windows is still significantly weaker than Android or iOS. Part of the problem is that it still feels like a hybrid between the old, familiar PC platform and the new tablet one. The app choice is also comparatively limited, pricey, and not as high quality.
Others: A few years back there were more competitors in this space, but the BlackBerry Playbook flopped, and Barnes & Noble has stopped making Nook tablets. You may still be able to pick up both on the cheap, but we wouldn’t recommend it. That leaves Amazon with its Kindle Fire range.
Amazon’s tablets run a forked version of Android which means they don’t have the Play Store or any of Google’s apps and services on board out of the box. Instead, Amazon wants you to buy apps from its own Appstore, where you’ll find more than 300,000 apps to choose from. Amazon’s tablets are designed to be affordable entertainment devices, and if you’re a Prime customer they’re well worth considering. They have a great set of parental controls built-in, multi-user support, and they’re easy to use. You’ll also find excellent customer support through the Mayday feature.
On the downside, there’s not such a great choice of apps, and the quality of what is there is generally lower. There are also limitations in terms of customization, and the user interface is not as stylish, or well-designed at its three competitors.
Step 3: Features you’ll want in your tablet
When you get down to choosing your tablet, there is no shortage of choices, but you cannot trust store employees to know what they’re talking about. Here are some features that you should look for in your next tablet.
Screen Size: There are a wide variety of sizes for tablets, from 7 inches all the way up to 13 inches. The iPad is in the 10-inch category. There was an early wave of 7-inch Android tablets, but more recently we’ve seen a number of tablets that fall somewhere in between 7 and 10 inches. Everyone is different, but to us, 7 inches is a bit too small to not really be just a bigger smartphone and 10 inches can be a bit uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time. Try a few out though. The choice is yours.
Resolution: Pay close attention to the resolution. For entry-level tablets, you want at least 1280×800 pixels for a decent experience. Tablets with 1080p (1920×1080 pixels) or higher resolution are much better. You might want to look for the PPI (pixels-per-inch) to get an idea of how sharp the picture will be. For example, the iPad Air 2 has a 2048×1536 pixel resolution which translates to 264ppi, whereas the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 has a resolution of 2560×1600 which is 339ppi.
Performance: If you want to run the latest apps and games smoothly, then go for a quad-core processor. Generally-speaking, the higher the GHz, the better. You’ll also want a decent amount of RAM, at least 2GB. The specs don’t tell the full story, though, so make sure you check out some reviews and look at benchmarks to see how tablets really perform. Apple is particularly good at getting better performance out of ostensibly lower end hardware. Ultimately, the more horsepower your tablet has now, the longer it will last before it starts annoying the hell out of you.
Wi-Fi only: If you can afford the premium price for a 3G or 4G LTE connection and want to pay a monthly data bill to a wireless carrier, then, by all means, purchase a tablet with a data connection (we recommend 4G). If you need to use your tablet outside of your home a lot, there’s a good reason right there. However, for the rest of you, opting for a Wi-Fi only model will save you a lot of money. You’ll just have to find a Wi-Fi hotspot when you’re outside of your house. (Not really a problem.) For the best Wi-Fi experience, look for dual-band support and the latest 802.11ac standard.
Upgrades: If you’re buying an Android tablet, you want one with Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or a clear date when an upgrade will arrive. If you’re buying an iPad, make sure it’s at least a fourth-generation model. If you opt for a Windows tablet then you may want to make sure that it can be upgraded to Windows 10. Unlike phones, tablets tend to get upgrades, so make sure your new tablet is, at least, on the current operating system when you buy it.
Battery: Ask about this or look it up. The difference between a tablet with great battery life and a tablet with poor battery life is night and day. The iPad gets 10 hours of battery life, so that is the benchmark you’re looking for in any other device. Keep in mind that if your tablet cannot hold a charge for a few days when you buy it, it’s going to be much much worse in 12-18 months.
Connectivity: What you need will depend on how you intend to use it, but generally, the more ports and ways to connect it has, the better. Make sure it supports the latest Bluetooth standard. Expandable storage via SD (or microSD) could be nice, USB or MicroUSB is essential, and Micro HDMI is nice as well. You may want NFC support, and wireless charging could be worth considering for convenience.
Storage: You’ll often find that Android and Windows tablets offer expandable storage. Adding more space with a microSD card is cheap and easy. Apple and Amazon don’t support microSD cards in their tablets, so you really need to think carefully about what model to buy. If you’re downloading games and storing movies, 16GB can fill up surprisingly quickly. You can find some free cloud storage on each platform, but that won’t suit everyone.
Webcam: Only you know if a rear camera is important to you. If it is, you’ll probably want to get an iPad. We only recommend that you make sure it has a front-facing camera you can use as a Webcam. You never know when Grandma will learn how to Skype.
Keyboard: There are a host of Windows tablets that allow you to dock your tablet into a keyboard, so you can type more easily. If you want to replace a laptop, then that could be important. You’ll also find Bluetooth keyboards out there will work with any tablet. If typing is something you plan to do, then make sure the tablet you choose has a good option for an external keyboard. Few do.
Step 4: Enjoy!
Now you’ve worked out what you want, it’s time to shop! We have a list of the 10 best tablets you can buy and a list of the best Android tablets that we update frequently, and you’ll want to keep an eye on our tablet review section for the lowdown on all the latest releases.
Here are Those Questions
Is Portability a Priority?
Tablets with 8-inch or smaller displays mostly weigh well under a pound. Many are very thin. Some tablets in this size range have a battery life of 15 hours, or more.
What’s Your Budget?
You can get a great 7- to 8-inch tablet starting at under $200. Even normally high-price Apple is offering a less expensive model, the iPad Mini, for $250. Tablets with larger display sizes cost more, of course. But very good 10-inch tablets are out there for about $350.
Are You Looking for Maximum Versatility?
If you want to read comfortably, watch movies, type out documents with a separate keyboard, and use standard productivity apps, you might want to consider a larger tablet with at least 12 hours of battery life. Be prepared to spend at least $400. The Apple iPad Air 2 offers a good mix of features and performance, but some other tablets have things the iPads don’t, including memory-card slots and remote-control capability.
Are You a Bookworm?
If you want a tablet mainly for reading—with some e-mailing, Web surfing, and a bit of app-downloading on the side—you can save some money with a tablet from Amazon. A larger screen is better for magazine reading, while a smaller one is more portable, costs less, and is big enough for reading books.
Do You Want a Tablet That’s Also a Laptop?
Many Windows-based tablets are either convertibles that use hinges to twist and turn from laptop to tablet, or a detachable, which lets you detach the screen from the keyboard.
Do You Have Kids?
Tablets for tykes have gotten more robust, and parents have more control over what their kids are doing with parental filters. Prices range from $150 to $200, so kids’ tablets aren’t cheap. Here’s how to figure out which is best for your family.
Is There a Gamer in the Family?
Most tablets are good enough for casual games like Angry Birds or 2048. But if you want to play a more demanding game such as Modern Combat 4, you’ll need a tablet that can handle it. Here are six great tablets for playing games.
Interactive Video Buying Guide
For more buying advice and helpful tips watch our buying guide video below. You can skip to chapters on kid tablets, budget, and more.
All new models offer WiFi connectivity, and most have a front-facing webcam and GPS capability.
Screen Size and Shape
Typical sizes are 7 and 10 inches, though tablets in sizes in between are also available. There are also larger models, such as Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro. In landscape mode, most tablets have the short, wide shape of a digital TV. The iPad’s display is squarer, similar to a traditional TV’s.
All tablets offer WiFi connectivity. Most higher-rated tablets also come in a version that can access cellular data networks, including 4G. Monthly broadband access costs $20 and up (some tablets offer month-to-month access).
Screen resolutions on tablets are getting better. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is among the finest at 359 pixels per inch. The Apple iPad Air 2 has an anti-reflective coating that makes it the best tablet we’ve viewed in bright light.
You can choose from among three operating systems for your tablet: Windows, iOS, or Android. Apple’s tablets use iOS; the current version is iOS 10. Samsung’s Galaxy Book uses Windows 10, as do other Windows-based tablets. A tablet’s capabilities are in large part determined by its operating system. As with computers, being able to upgrade the version installed in the factory makes additional capabilities possible and allows the device to use the newest apps. The latest Android operating system is version 7, also called Nougat. But some Android models are using earlier versions like 4.2.
Storage in many tablets can be expanded using a memory card, and a few can read USB flash drives. The iPad has no memory-card slot or USB port, but its $29 Camera Connection Kit has some unadvertised capabilities, such as accommodating a USB keyboard and importing photos from an iPod Touch or iPhone.
Seagate’s $200 GoFlex Satellite hard drive lets you wirelessly stream video, movies, photos, and documents to a tablet. It has a dedicated app for the iPad but works with any WiFi-enabled tablet. Apple’s iOS lets you sync with other iOS devices.
One way you can print wirelessly from the iPad is via an AirPrint-enabled printer. Most printer manufacturers have apps for the iPad and Android tablets that allow WiFi printing.
Google: Google’s 7- and 9-inch Nexus tablets run on Android OS.
HP: HP’s Android and Windows models include 7-, 8-, and 10-inch sizes. Slate is their premium line.
KD Interactive: KD Interactive, the manufacturer of Kurio tablets, produces interactive and educational technology platforms for children ages 2-14.
LG: The Android-based G Pad is available in 7,8, and 10-inch versions.
Leapfrog: Leapfrog is a leading company in child-development learning products, offering electronic and nonelectronic toys.
Lenovo: Lenovo’s IdeaTab and Yoga line run on Android. The Yoga tablets include a built-in stand. The Miix is a Windows-based detachable. The A7, A8, and A10 is their budget line. Models range in size from 7 to 11.6 inches.
Microsoft: The Microsoft Surface is a Windows-based tablet that comes in 10.6 and 12-inch sizes. They offer a detachable, folding keyboard.
Polaroid: Polaroid, best known for pioneering instant photo cameras, also makes action sports cameras, camcorders, TVs, and kids tablets.
Samsung: Samsung has the widest variety of tablets available, with prices ranging from low to high and sizes small to large. Android and Windows models are available, along with 4G versions. The Galaxy Tab is the mainstream line while the Galaxy Note models include a stylus and versatile drawing and writing software. The Galaxy Tab Pro and Note Pro are premium models. The Galaxy Tab S has an OLED display, unusual for a tablet. A version of the Galaxy Tab was customized for Barnes and Noble. In 2013, Samsung launched kids tablets as well.
Sony: Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z is an Android-based tablet that’s waterproof.
Toshiba:Toshiba’s Android and Windows lines include the 7-, 8-, and 10-inch Encore and Excite lines. The Satellite Click tablets are detachables.
VTech: VTech is a leading supplier of electronic learning products for children, from infancy to preschool.
Verizon: The Verizon Ellipsis is a single model in Verizon’s line. The 7-inch model is Android based with 4G access.
Vinci: Vinci produces learning-oriented tablets for children ages 1 to 9.
Tablet Shopping Tips
We find the iPad’s squarish screen is better suited to most tablet uses than a longer, narrower one. Several other tablets have similarly shaped screens. Rectangular screens held horizontally offer a wider landscape view that’s better for watching movies in something closer to a wide-screen 16.9 aspect ratio, and the shape may make them easier to slip into a purse.
Make Sure the OS is Upgradable
Apple provides upgrades for the iPad’s iOS, as does Microsoft for Windows tablets. New Android apps may require a newer version of Andorid than is available on some tablets with older Android builds.
Consider the App Market
The breadth and quality of Apple’s app market is still a major competitive edge for the iPad. Games for iPad are still more innovative, for example, with popular titles such as Infinity Blade (free), a game of knights and swordplay, and The Room ($5), a puzzle/mystery game. And the quality of apps for iPad continues to overshadow those for Android. Many magazines have tablet versions of their publications for both Android and Apple devices.
Developers usually create apps first, and sometimes exclusively, for the Apple App store. And because of the large user base, apps in the Apple store are more likely to get bugs fixed first. The major app stores from Apple, Google, and Microsoft have specific developer requirements that make their apps more reliable and less likely to be vulnerable to malware.
Only Android devices let you opt to install non-vetted apps from the Internet, so be careful about allowing that.
If you choose a tablet with the Android OS, make sure it has access to Google’s “genuine” Google Play market and not just a third-party app market such as GetJar. You’ll get a wider variety of popular apps there, and gain some security against potentially malicious “rogue” apps.
You get many fewer Android apps on Kindle tablets because those companies select the apps they want provide. But there’s still a large number available on both of those tablets as well.
Should You Spend More on the iPad?
Possibly. Many of its apps outdo Android apps in terms of innovation. Don’t forget the iPad’s excellent 9.7-inch display for reading magazines and watching movies, as well as its long battery life.
WiFi is Good Enough for Most
WiFi-only model are less expensive than ones that incorporate cellular service—and that cell connection adds another charge to your monthly mobile bill. Choose a broadband model only if “everywhere access” to the Net is critical—and remember, it’s normally just as easy to tether a tablet to a phone.
Buying a Tablet for Kids?
Here are some tips on buying a tablet for kids.
While “grownup” tablets are fine for many older kids, and lots of them do come with parental controls and filters, there’s a growing number of tablets made just for kids: Not only the LeapFrog LeapPad and Vtech InnoTab lines, which are more toy like and great for the younger set, but also full-blown Android tablets geared to children of various ages. Check the manufacturer’s recommended age range, but also bear in mind your child’s capabilities and preferences.
Android kid tablets are often are less expensive than “grownup” tablets, are more rugged, and come with child-oriented content. But often, kid-tablet specs—including processor speed, display quality, and screen responsiveness—can lag behind those of regular tablets.
So you’ll want to make sure snagging a great kid-tablet bargain doesn’t mean you’re buying an inferior product that your child will hate.
These include Web filters—some are predetermined by the tablet maker, and some let you choose the sites you wish to be available to your child (or children, when they allow for multiple profiles).
Other controls let you block and monitor specific apps and websites. And some let you specify how much time a kid can spend playing on the tablet, or even what times of day they can play.
Also take into consideration that some parental controls are easier to set up and change than others. This is another feature we look at when testing kid tablets.
If you plan to let a couple or few kids share the tablet, look for one that lets you create a profile for each child. That way, parents can assure an age-appropriate experience for everyone. On some tablets, parents can monitor each individual child’s progress as they use educational apps.
Although all the kid tablets include games, e-books, art-studio apps, and more, the amount and quality of this content can vary.
Some tablets seem to include a bonanza of popular games, but many may be trial versions that you’d have to pay for to keep. And some tablets are much more focused on education and creativity than others.
Will you be using the tablet on the go, or mostly at home? How big are the hands that will be using the tablet? And will a couple of kids want to play or watch videos together? All those considerations come into play when you’re deciding.
Kid-tablet sizes range just as much as those of “grownup” tablets: from a phone-like 4 inches up to 10 inches.
If you’re planning to take the tablet on trips, make sure it’ll last long enough to keep your child occupied.
In our most recent tests, most of the kid tablets ran a decent amount of time on a single charge, in the 7- to 9-hour range. But a few models came in at about 4 hours, short by any standard.
Most kid tablets are now rechargeable, so don’t forget to pack the charging cable.
So do your homework and see exactly what comes preloaded with a tablet before you make a decision.