Samsung is gaining on Apple in the tablet world, and there are many reasons why. Or we should say many devices why. While Apple sells just two sizes of the iPad, from $300 up to $500, Samsung offers a much broader range of options, from the small and affordable $160 Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 on up to the premium $600 Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.
Samsung offers a similar design and software experience across its top-selling phones and tablets, making the transition feel seamless. Plus, you can use your Samsung slate as a remote control for your TV and enjoy Multi Window split-screen multitasking (on higher-end models). However, some Samsung tablets are more worth your money than others, so use this breakdown before you shop.
Not many slates can hold their own against the iPad Air 2's slim design and rich display, but the $500 Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 offers some serious competition. This attractive 10-incher boasts a gorgeous Super AMOLED screen, which is ideal for watching movies or controlling your Galaxy phone with the innovative SideSync app. With long battery life and a colorful and safe Kids Mode, the Galaxy Tab S is fully equipped to keep the whole family entertained.
Like its 10-5 inch big brother, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.4 delivers a stunning Super AMOLED display within a slick design, but this slatefits in the palm of your hand. Games, movies and apps look stunning on the tablet's 8.4-inch, 2560 x 1440 display, and the robust Kids Mode makes it safe to hand off to junior. Thanks to the Tab 8.4's slim, bronze-finished exterior, you won't have to envy Apple's gold iPad mini 3.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 4 Nook deserves a pass, and not because of its ridiculous name. Despite its long battery life and $200 worth of included Barnes & Noble content, this 7-incher has a disappointingly low-res display and confusing settings menus that will hurt your head too much to enjoy a book. Unless you're heavily invested in the Nook ecosystem, you're better off with the $140 Amazon Fire HD 7, which offers a richer screen and better parental controls for a lower price.
The ultimate Android tablet for professionals sports a massive 12.2-inch display, a built-in S Pen for taking notes and a full-size touch keyboard that mirrors what you'll find on a laptop. The Galaxy Note Pro is also a multi-tasker's dream, thanks to an enhanced Multi Window feature that lets you run four apps simultaneously on the 2650 x 1600-pixel display. You'll also find a pre-loaded copy of Hancom Office for editing and viewing documents. That said, $749 is pricey for a tablet, and the sheer size of the Note Pro 12.2 will turn some buyers off.
This colorful tablet for children has the same specs as its cheaper brother but adds a plethora of preloaded educational games, entertainment and e-book apps. There's also a new Kids' Store and a Time Management feature that lets parents set usage periods. However, the much cheaper Amazon Fire HD 7 ($140) has a sharper display and a more robust FreeTime feature that goes further with a built-in reward system. The Tab 3 7.0 Kids isn't a bad option, but it's too pricey for what it delivers.
If you don't have the budget for Samsung's more premium Tab S line, the Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 is a worthy and wallet-friendly alternative. This 7-inch slate packs a crisp 1280 x 800 display, which is perfectly suited to using multiple apps at once using the tablet's Multi Window mode. Sporting a lightweight, comfy design and Samsung's typically feature-rich Kids Mode, the Tab 4 7.0 is one of Samsung's best slates you can get without breaking the bank.
With its built-in S Pen, the Galaxy Note 8 is an excellent Android tablet for productivity and is the perfect size for bringing to meetings or to class. You can take notes, sketch and draw, and use a growing selection of pen-enabled apps on the vibrant 1280 x 800-pixel screen. Powered by a quad-core Exynos CPU and 2GB of RAM, the Note 8 delivers silky smooth performance along with a microSD Card slot for expanding your storage. A built-in TV remote and versatile multitasking features make this 8-incher a compelling choice.
Like its 7-inch counterpart, the Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 offers a fully featured tablet experience for a lower price than many of its competitors. Sporting a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 display, a thin and light design and Samsung's signature multitasking features, the Tab 4 10.1 is perfectly suited to handle everyday entertainment and productivity. Although the Tab 4 10.1 is a good value, the $230 LG G Pad 10.1 offers stellar battery life for even cheaper.
An excellent premium tablet for productivity and entertainment, the Galaxy Note 10.1 sports an elegant faux leather stitched back that looks like a portfolio. The front looks even better, with a very sharp 2560 x 1600-pixel screen that trumps the iPad Air's resolution (2048 x 1536). The best reason to get this Android tablet is the S Pen, which comes with a new Air Command menu that provides easy access to multiple stylus-powered apps. Action Menu is our favorite tool, because it recognizes data in your scribbles (like addresses and phone numbers). A 1.9-GHz Exynos CPU and 3GB of RAM enable new multitasking tricks, such as the ability to drag and drop content between two open apps.