With the holidays approaching, it's time for our annual recommendations for devices in various product categories. Today we're taking a look at what tablets provide the best value and experience for different users. There's obviously a lot of decisions to be made when buying a tablet, and we'll assume that by the time a user has concluded that they want a tablet they have already determined that it is a more suitable choice for them than a more traditional computer like a desktop PC or a laptop.

The first question the buyer will have to ask themselves is what price they are comfortable paying. Tablet prices can range anywhere from $100 to $1000, depending on exactly what tablet it is, and the buyer's price target will be a constraint on the different tablets they have to choose from. Once a price target has been established, the user must decide what they want to do with their tablet. Some tablets may not have the selection of applications that the buyer needs, and others may not have a suitable form factor or size for performing these tasks. Tablets come in many shapes and sizes, with displays ranging from 7" to 13" with aspect ratios that vary from 3:2 on the Surface Pro 3, to 4:3 on the iPad and Nexus 9, to 16:10 on the Nexus 7. Certain display shapes and sizes will be better suited to watching videos, while others will be better suited to reading PDFs and books.

These decisions about size, utility, and price will ultimately drive the decision of what operating system the tablet should be running. Currently this is a choice between three platforms, with the market being dominated by tablets running iOS and Android, Windows coming in third, and other operating systems like WebOS having been eliminated in previous years due to lack of consumer interest. There are also other factors, like accessories and keyboard attachments, but it's very difficult to evaluate these as their usefulness will ultimately depend on the user's needs. Instead of trying to look at every single tablet that fills every niche, we've looked at what we think are the best overall devices within each of the three major operating systems that are available on tablets.

iOS Tablets
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  • Desktop Administrator - Sunday, December 21, 2014 - link

    What about the Asus Transformer Book
  • UtilityMax - Sunday, January 18, 2015 - link

    Personally I got myself a white Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 for $400 on the post-black friday Amazon sale, and I am still glad that I did even after reading that similarly priced Nexus 9 is supposedly better. I use the tablet to watch movie and various shows as I work out in the gym. So my number one requirement was to have a big screen (9-10 inches) that looks as good as possible as well as the storage for the media. I don't care that the Samsung CPU/GPU may not be the fastest possible. As long as the 32-bit Samsung CPU can play a 1080p movie without skipping, I am glad. No having a microsd car storage was a real killer for the Nexus 9 when I realized that I probably need at least 20-30 gig just for my media files. My Tab S 10.5 works like a champ so far. I am pretty happy with the Samsungified Android 4.4 OS. Does everything I need.
  • vinay123012 - Thursday, January 28, 2016 - link

    Well thats not true at all. You can use a lot of legacy software on x86 Windows tablets. Utilities that don't have the need for an interface, media players that are pretty touch friendly other than small close/maximize buttons, things like 7-zip which have large buttons. You can also install touchpointer and just have a normal pointer if you don't like touchy stuff. http://howtorootandroid.net/kingroot/
  • lopa12 - Thursday, December 27, 2018 - link

    Yup. The Nexus 9 is fine for a larger tablet, but it is just not one-handable like the 7, nor can it reasonably go into jacket pockets. They really should have kept the Nexus 7 around, like they kept the Nexus 5 around (although it seems to be in and out of stock), to have a two-tier Nexus line. I suppose Google isn't primarly interested in selling to consumers though and so isn't worried about filling every option. At least we know that the 2013 Nexus 7 will be buyable, even if in refurb form, for a good long time if we judge by the continued availability of refurb 2012 Nexus 7's.
  • lopa12 - Thursday, December 27, 2018 - link

    Yes folks, it's time for the annual snub of Amazon tablets - so much for an accurate representation of what the market has to offer. Thanks for your objectivity.
  • lopa12 - Thursday, December 27, 2018 - link

    Yes folks, it's time for the annual snub of Amazon tablets - so much for an accurate representation of what the market has to offer. Thanks for your objectivity.
  • softae - Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - link

    Best tablet 2019: the top slates tested and ranked
    iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) ...
    Samsung Galaxy Tab S4. ...
    iPad mini 4. ...
    iPad Pro 10.5. ...
    Microsoft Surface Pro. ...
    Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. A top Android tablet, now with a lower price. ...
    Asus ZenPad 3S 10. A cheaper Android tablet that's worth looking at. ...
    iPad (2017) Another great iPad if you're after the basics.

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