Best Tablets 2014
With their increasingly thinner and lighter designs and growing number of apps, tablets are ideal mobile computing devices for work and play. But with so many models available, choosing the best tablet can be a challenge. We're here to help.
Budget-minded shoppers should check out Android tablets, as quality options start as low as $150. Apple's easy-to-use iPad mini and iPad Air offer the most premium designs and largest number of tablet apps. Then, you have Windows 8 tablets, many of which double as laptops for increased productivity.
At Laptop Mag, we review all major tablets, evaluating them based on design, display quality, features and performance. Here are the best tablets available today.
Find the Best Tablet For You
The iPad Air delivers all the Retina display goodness of the previous-generation iPad in a thinner, lighter and more powerful package. At just 1 pound, the 9.7-inch Air is the lightest tablet in its size class, and it's compact enough to comfortably hold with one hand. On the inside, this slate packs a powerful 64-bit A7 CPU. Add in nearly 12 hours of battery life, and you have the best tablet available.
The iPad mini with Retina display gives shoppers everything they could want in a small tablet. You get a sharp 2048 x 1536-pixel screen in a 7.9-inch design that's easy to hold in one hand, plus a powerful 64-bit A7 processor. We also love Apple's app selection, with more than 475,000 options optimized for the iPad. With 11 hours of battery life -- nearly 2.5 hours more than its closest competitors -- this is the ultimate small tablet.
The Galaxy Tab S is a dazzling iPad alternative that packs a best-in-class Super AMOLED display, which makes everything from movies and photos to games pop off the screen. We also love the very thin and light design, which is even slimmer than the iPad Air. Samsung adds some clever software innovations, such as SideSync 3.0 for taking calls from your tablet via your Galaxy phone. Add in about 9 hours of battery life and you have a compelling Android tablet for work and play.
The Google Nexus 7 delivers a pure Android experience along with blazing-fast quad-core performance and long battery life. The 1920 x 1200p, 7-inch display is not only sharp, at 323 PPI, but eye-popping, colorful and bright enough to be viewed from any angle. The latest Android OS allows users to create child-friendly restricted profiles for the first time, while the front and rear cameras provide solid camera images on a device that weighs just 10.2 ounces.
The best tablet for entertainment is also the best option for children. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX gives Amazon Prime members ($79 per year) a host of compelling books, movies and TV shows for free on a sharp, full-HD display. A special Mayday button in the interface allows you to get live, video support on the tablet 24/7. Parents will love FreeTime, a feature that allows them to limit the time their kids spend on the tablet.
If you're serious about productivity, Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 gives you the best of both worlds. You get a full-powered laptop and a 12-inch slate with a sharp 2160 x 1440p screen, all in one device. We also like the improved kickstand, whose flexibility allows for both a more comfortable typing experience and an easier way to use the included digital pen. Just keep in mind that the Type Cover keyboard costs extra.
No one has broken the $100 price barrier with a good tablet -- until now. The Fire 6 packs a bright HD (1280 x 800-pixel) screen in a sturdy design that comes in multiple fun colors. The new Fire OS makes it easy to set up profiles for your kids, and Amazon continues to offer best-in-class parental controls. Other perks include a solid 8.5 hours of battery life and zippy quad-core performance. Amazon Prime member? You and your child will love the gobs of free videos, music, books and more.
The Shield Tablet provides seriously fast performance (thanks to Nvidia's K1 processor) along with an versatile stylus and a gorgeous 1920 x 1200 display -- all in a sleek 8-inch design. Throw in the world's first Wi-Fi Direct gaming controller and the ability to stream PC games and you've got a lean, mean machine that successfully bridges the gap between mobile and PC gaming.
Starting at a low $349, the ASUS Transformer Book T100 offers a unique combination of epic battery life, strong performance and value. ASUS includes a highly tactile keyboard dock and throws in a copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student. With more than 12 hours of endurance and the ability to fold like a laptop, the T100 makes Windows 8.1 more compelling at an aggressive price.
Part tablet, part laptop, the Dell Venue 11 Pro is one of the most satisfying business hybrids available. This Windows 8.1 device boasts an elegant and sturdy design, and lasts more than 15 hours on a charge when combined with its keyboard dock. Choose from models that start as low as $429, such as the Atom-powered version, and go all the way up to a Core i5 model for $849.
Sony probably isn't the first name to come to mind when you think of tablets, but the Z2 deserves your attention. This device isn't just thinner and lighter than the iPad Air; it can also survive being submerged in 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. That means you can use the Z2 worry-free in the kitchen or by the pool. Extralong battery life solidifies this Sony model as a top pick.