Choosing the best tablet is getting a little easier, thanks in large part to third-party app developers offering their apps on more platforms and lower-priced tablets hitting the market. Even for the savvy shopper, picking out the best tablet for yourself or as a gift can still be a complicated affair. Luckily we’ve tested out almost every tablet on the market this year and we know that everyone can find the perfect option to fit their needs.
Pricing Options $0 – $50 (Kindle Fire at $50)
This year Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire at $50, shown above, which is currently $34 if you are shopping Black Friday Weekend on Amazon. It’s one of the lowest priced tablets on the market and easily one of the best options that you can find this year at this price-point.
The Amazon Kindle Fire is a 7″ tablet that is perfect for streaming video and casual internet use. It’s not designed to be a work tablet but works wonderfully as a second screen for TV series and movies. The tablet offers an IPS display with 171 ppi and a 1024 x 600 resolution. Technically it’s not HD but it’s clear and crisp and it’s hard to tell the difference when you are streaming Netflix or Hulu. The Kindle Fire offers a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and also offers a rear and front-facing camera.
The tablet offers a full-range of apps as well, with popular options like Hulu, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and an email client. You can also check your email and surf the web through Amazon’s Silk browser. With a 8 GB of internal storage, customers can download Amazon Video for offline use as well. Users will also get free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices. You can also add a microSD card for up to 128 GB of additional storage.
Pricing Options $100 – $150 (Nexus 7 from Google at $165)
If you’re looking for a little extra power and a more expansive app store, the Nexus 7 from Google is a great mid-range option for buyers to checkout. The tablet is currently on sale at Amazon for $129 if you are shopping this weekend, making it an even better buy. If you, or your giftee, uses an Android Phone then the Nexus 7 might be the perfect solution to save money in the long-run. Apps, movies and series bought through Google Play can also be viewed or enjoyed on the Nexus 7 from Google. Staying within the same OS can also make operating the device much easier for the user and many times your Google Play or Google Settings will help transfer contacts, emails and app-store purchases easier over the long run.
The Nexus 7 from Google also offers a 7″ screen but this one is HD. The screen offers a resolution of 1200 x 1920 with 323 ppi, and features an LED-backlit IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen. The tablet features a great 3950 mAh battery, which supports about 10 hours of casual use. Apps and functions run very smoothly on the tablet’s Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 8064 Quad-Core processor running at 1.5 GHz. Inside the tablet offers 2GB of memory and also features a 1.2 MP Front Camera with a 5 MP Rear Camera.
Pricing Options $150 – $300 (Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7″ at $299)
Black Friday shoppers can pick up the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7″ 16GB wi-fi model up fro $229 for a limited time on sites like Amazon.com. The tablet offers the same OS advantages as the Apple iPad and the Google Nexus, offering Samsung Phone users an easy way to synch all of their information when adding a new tablet this holiday season.
This particular model runs on Android, so you will be able to shop from one of the largest app stores available and the OS runs on Android Lollipop 5.0, so current users should have no issues navigating the device. This version also offers two cameras, a 2.0MP front-facing camera and 5.0MP rear-facing camera. The battery is rather robust, offering about 15hrs of standard use. The processor runs on 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM and apps are responsive and snappy, even when multitasking.
Samsung’s knack for building processors came in handy when the company designed this model, which offers a Samsung Quad Core Processor, running at 1.2 GHz. If you tend to take a lot of pictures or like to have a lot of video or apps on-hand, the 16GB internal memory can be upgraded through the microSD Card Slot (Up to 128GB). The display features a resolution of 1024 x 768 XGA. Watching shows, movies or video clips online should be a delightful experience, regardless of which streaming app or saved movie you tend to watch.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A sits at an awkward spot on the work to watch ratio but is a terrific option for someone looking for some extra processing power and features, without wanting to spend a lot of money. Multitasking and the Quadcore design allows users to handle work-apps and multifunctional displays much easier than the previously mentioned models, but the tablet won’t compare to the higher priced options in terms of power or features. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A can be a workhorse if you need to be in the office as well as a second screen for enjoying media when you are home or traveling.
Pricing Options $300 – $500 (Apple iPad 2 at $499)
Apple’s iPad Air 2 is one of the best tablets around, in everything. If you, or your giftee, already owns an iPhone than owning an iPad will be a huge convenience thanks to AppleID. Signing in with an AppleID account will automatically sync your pictures, settings, apps, contacts, emails and Safari bookmarks when you setup the tablet. Customers will also benefit from sharing purchases in most apps and your iTunes purchases. If you already use Apple Music on your iPhone, you will get the same service on the iPad and it will allow you to synch your playlists and purchases as well. Outside of the Apple Pro, the Apple iPad 2 is also the best iOS tablet to get work done at the office or when you are out of the office.
The Apple Air 2 offers a 9.7″ Retina display, featuring an LED-backlit widescreen with Multi-Touch display and IPS technology. The resolution offered is an amazing 2048 x-1536 at 264 ppi. This tablet can do almost anything and not only will it offer a brilliant display for watching video, the Apple App store is the largest, most supported market being offered (only rivaled by Google Play on Android). Work, entertainment, school, the iPad 2 was built to handle anything you can throw at it.
The 16GB wi-fi only model starts at $499, putting it at the top of the pricing structure but worth the money if you can spare it. There are a few promotions with popular wireless carriers that include payment plans, but you usually have to get the 3G/4G models with an added data-plan, which will raise your monthly bill if you weren’t on an extended plan to begin with.
The iPad Pro was introduced this year as a competitor to the Windows Surface. While it won’t totally replace your laptop, it’s a powerful tablet designed to take on almost any job. The iPad Pro offers an amazing 12.9″ Retina display, featuring an LED-backlit widescreen with Multi-Touch display running at 2732 x 2048 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi). The screen on the iPad Pro is stunning to say the least and the A9X chip with 64‑bit architecture combined with the M9 motion coprocessor creates a tablet that can either be a designers best friend, a writers easiest solution, or a teachers pet.
Just like the iPad Air 2, using the iPad Pro with an iPhone creates its own list of conveniences. Once again all of your contacts, pictures, email accounts and Safari Settings will be synched through your login. The hardware built into the iPad Pro offers 1080p HD video recording (at 30 fps) and Slo-mo (at 120 fps). Users can take advantage of the video-recording features like Time-lapse video with stabilization, standard video image stabilization and 3x video zoom. Even the front-facing camera offers 1.2MP photos with 720p HD video recording and backside illumination with auto HDR photos and videos.
The tablet stands in a class of its own and the only real drawback at this point is the price. The 32GB wi-fi only model starts at $799, which puts the iPad Pro out of reach for a lot of consumers but if you’re looking for a laptop that can do almost anything you could possible need it to, this is a fantastic option
The Windows Surface Pro 4 is the latest installment to the popular Surface line and it was also introduced this year. Unlike the iPad Pro, the Surface Pro 4 doesn’t run a mobile OS but runs full-ranged Windows 10. If you have a Windows Phone, prefer to run Windows at work or at home, or need a laptop that can run full-featured apps and software, look no further than Surface Pro 4 series.
While running Windows 10 Pro is the real selling point of the device, the tablet also offers a 6th Gen Intel Core and can be configured with an i5 or an i7 model. Memory options include 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB RAM and the device offers a dull-size USB 3.0 port and a microSD card reader.
The Mini DisplayPort will allow you to easily hook-up the tablet to external devices and the 12.3” screen offers users PixelSense technology. The screen runs at 2736 x 1824 resolution at 267 PPI, a terrific option for graphic designers, gamers or entertainment enthusiasts. The Surface Pro 4 also offers a 5.0 MP front-facing HD camera and an 8.0 MP rear-facing camera with autofocus and 1080p HD video recording capability.
There is a stereo microphones input as well as stereo speakers featuring pure Dolby Audio sound. When picking out your Surface Pro 4, customers can choose between the 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD but the price for each rises dramatically with the extra storage. Just like the iPad Pro, the pricing is the only real deterrent in this situation. The lowest model starts at $899.
If you’re looking to grab a tablet this year, these are a great place to start. Shopping by price ensures that you won’t go over your budget for features or hardware that you don’t need and finding the specs and details that fit your lifestyle becomes much easier. Be sure to add this options to your comparison lists when you shop for great deals this holiday season and you can click the links above to price the tablets, models, upgrades and competition to make a great decision this holiday.