Electronics

The Best Tablets



Tablets are a convenient option for checking email, watching videos, reading eBooks, social networking, playing games, and surfing the web. The come in a thin, flat unit but many people get a separate keyboard that they can add to the tablet if they actually want to use it to type notes, send long emails, or otherwise do work because it's more comfortable than relying solely on a touchscreen for those tasks. Keyboards can be connected via Bluetooth, as can a mouse to promote further navigational ease. Stylus pens can also be used with tablets. The Apple iPad is probably the most well-known and popular tablet since its debut in 2010, however there are many Android tablets on the market as well.  There are tablets specifically made with kids in mind, with kid-friendly content in a little more durable build. Tablets are great for travel and don't take up nearly as much space as a laptop computer. Additionally, if you're meeting with a client outside of the office, a tablet can be the perfect way to share a presentation.

When purchasing a tablet, there are a number of considerations to contemplate. Tablets are available in different sizes. You want to choose a screen with good display quality. You may already have a strong allegiance to either Android or Apple, which could really narrow things down for you right off the bat. If you want to be able to draw or write by hand, a tablet that is compatible with a stylus will be essential for you. Are you ok with Wi-Fi only, or do you want to be able to connect to data through a wireless carrier? Battery life should ideally be at least 10 hours. Keep in mind the amount of storage available on the tablet itself, and whether you can add more storage space with a micro SD card. Overall performance quality is important, even more so if you plan to use your tablet on a daily basis.  Finally, we shouldn't ignore price as well.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro

The Apple iPad Pro is our upgrade iPad pick. It measures larger than the regular iPad. You can choose the 10.5-inch or 12-inch model. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro weighs just 1 pound whereas the 12-inch model weighs 1.5 pounds. We believe the 10.5 inch is likely best for most people. The display on the 10.5 inch has 2224 x 1668 resolution. The display on the 12.9-inch model has 2732 x 2048 resolution. Either way, the result is sharp images.  Touch ID allows you to easily and securely unlock your iPad. Choose in space gray, rose gold, gold, or silver. Choose 64 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB of storage. Battery life is 10 hours, similar to the regular iPad. It is more expensive than other tablets, but we also believe that with the Apple iPad Pro, you get what you pay for. You can choose to add a 3- or 4-year accident protection plan when purchasing from Amazon.

 


Runner-Up: Apple iPad

The Apple iPad has a 9.7-inch retina display with 2048 x 1536 resolution and fingerprint-resistant coating. It measures 9.4 inches by 6.6 inches by 0.29 inches and weighs just 1 pound. It has a Home/Touch ID center on the front, an On/Off/Sleep/Wake button, a button to adjust volume, built-in stereo speakers, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The iPad offers 10 hours of battery life before it requires charging.  The iPad weighs just one pound and is 7.5 mm thin with an aluminum unibody. It is available in silver, gold, or space gray finish. You can choose to get one just with Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi + Cellular capability. The cellular models have a Nano-SIM tray.  As for storage, choose between 32 GB and 128 GB. It does not come with a micro SD card slot, so keep that in mind when choosing how much storage you want. The Apple iPad performs great and has the features that people know, love, and expect from Apple.  

 


Top Android Pick: Asus ZenPad 3S10

The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 runs on the Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system. It measures 9.5 inches by 6.4 inches by 0.3 inches and weighs under a pound. The screen size is 9.7 inches and has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels for clear images, though not as crisp as the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, for example.  It has a 5-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel rear camera. It is compatible with the ZenStylus, which can be used to write and draw, however this is sold separately. As for audio, there are two speakers as well as a headphone jack. Reviewers found the positioning of the speakers to be less than ideal, as you need to be careful with where you put your hands when holding this tablet so as not to block them. It is much for affordable than the Samsung Galaxy Tab SE – more than $200 less. You can add a 2- or 3-year accident protection plan when purchasing from Amazon.

 


Android Runner-Up: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

The Galaxy Tab S3 tablet is a great Android competitor to the Apple iPad. It measures 9.34” by 6.65” by 0.24” and is very lightweight, weighing less than 1 pound.  It is capable of playing HDR videos though there isn’t a lot of content for this yet. The front camera is 13 megapixels whereas the rear is 5 megapixels. In general, the battery is good for up to 12 hours but we can break this down further: up to 102 hours of music play time, up to 12 hours of video play time, and up to 8 hours of internet use time. The Galaxy Tab S3 comes with the super responsive S Pen stylus. The S Pen feels like a regular pen in your hand, and it never requires charging. Use it to draw, paint, write notes, even magnify and translate. There is a fingerprint sensor on this tablet for extra security. You can use the split screen feature to keep your eye on two apps at once. It has 4 GB RAM and 32 GB additional memory. There is a micro SD card slot, so you can add up to 400 GB of extra storage. It has Wi-Fi capability but not cellular. Choose between black and silver.  You can choose to add a 3- or 4-year accident protection plan when purchasing from Amazon.

 


Best for Kids: Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Our tablet pick for kids is the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition. This tablet measures 9.6 inches by 6.1inches by 1 inch and has an 8-inch HD display. The display resolution is 1280 x 800.  A foam kid-proof case is available in pink, yellow, or blue (the tablet itself is black).  It also comes with a 2-year worry-free guarantee, no questions asked.There is a VGA front-facing camera and 2.0-megapixel rear-facing camera, which your child can enjoy but are weak and won't result in professional quality photos. The battery life is up to 12 hours, though of course can vary somewhat with usage. This tablet comes with one year of FreeTime Unlimited, which gives your child access to popular apps, games, videos, books, and content from PBS Kids, Disney, and more. After the year is up, you would have to pay for the subscription service if you want to continue to have access.The audio is a bit soft, but this is safer for children's ears and also may result in less annoyance to parents.

 
 


Budget Pick: Lenovo Tab 4

The Lenovo Tab 4 is our budget tablet pick. This tablet costs just $129. Choose between the 8-inch or 10-inch model. It operates on Android Nougat and measures 4.9 inches by 8.3 inches by 0.3 inches. It weighs just 0.71 pounds. The HD display features 1280 x 800 resolution. The cameras aren't as good as other tablets we reviewed: 2-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker though, since most people are taking pictures with their phones rather than with tablets. Battery life can last up to 20 hours according to Lenovo, however with continuous streaming we found it limited to under 7 hours.  You can add a 1-year accident protection plan when purchasing from Amazon.

 

Bottom Line

Tablets are convenient. Our favorite tablets by far were by Apple. We love the iPad Pro the most thanks to its performance and quality, however the price tag is steep. For this reason alone, the regular Apple iPad ended up scoring the same as the Apple iPad Pro. The Asus ZenPad is our favorite Android tablet thanks to its price and general quality. If you can afford more, however, we like the Samsung Galaxy S3 Tablet best for its features, the included stylus pen, its great display resolution, and good audio quality thanks to its 4 speakers. For a budget-friendly pick, we recommend the Lenovo Tab 4, which is a very affordable option for just $129. Finally, if you want a tablet for your kids, check out the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition, which will provide your child with hours of entertainment and educational activities that you can closely control and supervise.  

 

Our Research on The Best Tablets

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