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 three sizes of the iPad, ranging from $300 to $800, 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.
At 0.22 inches thick, this tablet is shockingly thin, but Samsung was still able to pack a lot of power into that frame. From its rich, stunning Super AMOLED display to its 32GB of internal storage, this 9.7-inch tablet packs a lot of punch into a tiny body. The Tab S2 9.7-inch is also excellent at multitasking, with the ability to split its screen to display up to five apps at once.
With its stunning Super AMOLED display and stylish, svelte design, the S2 8.0-inch may be similar to Samsung's 9.7-inch tablet, but this 8-inch tablet is much easier to keep in the palm of your hand. Its soft-touch back grips well, so you're less likely to drop this slate. The S2 also has an excellent 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, which shoots crisp photos that we found to be accurate with true-to-life color.
Engineered to survive falls, water and dust, the Tab Active offers all the same goodness you expect from a Samsung slate, but it's rugged. The touch screen even works when you're wearing gloves. We also appreciated its lengthy battery life of 11 hours and 57 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous streaming over Wi-Fi).
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.
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.