Introduction

Much has changed since our last tablet guide back in June, with devices across all categories coming down in price. Some old favorites have been ousted by some more capable offerings that were previously too expensive, and new additions from the likes of EVGA and Xiaomi introduce some great alternatives to the major players out there.

Apart from some newly-introduced tablets that have since gone down in price all around, prices for WiFi-only models have generally stayed the same, particularly for the major players like the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire series. These devices have seen healthy drops when it comes to their 3G/LTE counterparts, however, which bodes well for buyers looking to add telephony into the mix.

This latter development is likely due to the development of emerging LTE markets, which will make lower-cost LTE tablets more valuable - a trend we should see increase as we get closer to the holiday season. Also, it's likely that 3G/LTE-enabled models weren't selling well, with some of them being more than 25% more expensive than their WiFi-only variants. The latest price drop on LTE models almost across the board makes them slightly easier to recommend.



Unlike most of our of regular articles, which are centered on objectively reviewing mobile tech that we're passionate about, our buyer's guides aim to help you make informed buying decisions by recommending only the mobile devices that deserve your hard-earned cash. We cater to a quite diverse international audience, so most of the times we won't be mentioning specific prices but we're sure you'll recognize a deal when you see one.

We've broken down our tablet recommendations into three distinct categories: compact, midsize, and full-size. We will be catering to mainly Wi-Fi-only devices, but we'll make sure to mention 3G/LTE-enabled options as we go. On each page the different options will be listed according to their price range - from affordable to ridiculous - each with their own merits.

We get things started in the compact tablet category. Compacts are growing in popularity not only in casual living room environments, but also out in the open and even in corporate scenarios, thanks to their versatility and portability. This category also offers the cheapest way to get into tablets in the first place, so there will be a lot of first-time buyers here.

Moving on, mid-size tablets are for people who want a bit more screen estate all the while maintaining portability. There is not a clear-cut definition for a mid-size tablet - it can range from anywhere between 7.5 up to 9 inches. We'll make sure to give you plenty of choice when it comes to finding the right combination of size, features, and price. This is the newest category of the three and will attract new tablet users who have been so far unwilling to commit to either of the two extremes of the tablet range - the 7-inchers and the 10-inchers.

Finally, full-size tablets are those that touch or cross the 10" mark. This is where top manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, and Apple will duke it out for dominance. Some of these tablets are even just a keyboard away from compact laptop territory.

For each section, we order our recommendations starting with the cheapest, most worthwhile tablets available from a reputable manufacturer. While so-called "whitebox" offerings from lesser-known makers are surging and account for a huge portion of the tablet growth - particularly ones running Android. However, their affordable price is oftentimes the result of using low-cost components and they simply don't offer a reliable and consistent user experience (let alone regular software updates).

Above all, we value tablets with high-grade screens, robust performance, good build quality and rich connectivity options. We consider a poor screen to be a deal breaker and having wide viewing angles with no serious shift in colors and contrast is a must for a solid tablet user experience. Where possible, we would always recommend a higher resolution screen.

We like seeing tablets with card slots to cheaply top up the built-in storage but we reckon 16GB is the minimum built-in memory you should consider. For modern day tablets without card slots, we always recommend getting the 32GB version, as a mere 16GB of storage simply doesn't cut it anymore with apps, videos and music file sizes getting bigger.

On the next page we get started with our compact tablet recommendations but you can jump right to what you're looking for using the links below:

  • Compact tablets (Wi-Fi & 3G)
  • Mid-size tablets (Wi-Fi & 3G)
  • Full-size tablets (Wi-Fi & 3G)

Compact tablets

In this chapter, we'll be focusing on compact tablets measuring about 7". These tablets oftentimes come with 3G or LTE-enabled variants, which can be great for when you need connectivity on the go - and let's face it, seven-inch or thereabouts is the only tablet size that's truly portable.

We've sorted the following by price, although keep in mind that pricing and availability can vary widely by region. Mobile internet-enabled tablets are oftentimes available from mobile carriers at special discounts, which adds another wrinkle to the equation.

In our previous guides, the Barnes & Noble Nook kicked things off thanks to its rock-bottom price of around €100, which simply couldn't be beat. Now, with B&N phasing out its Nook tablets, we turn to Asus to kick things off.

The Asus MeMo Pad 7 has made it onto our previous guides, and thanks to its updated refresh - the ME176C build - it's continues to be a compelling offering. The fact that its price continues to fall doesn't hurt either.

The Memo Pad 7 offers a quad-core 1.86GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and Android 4.4.2 KitKat. For all intents and purposes, it's a cheaper version of the original Google Nexus 7 (also made by Asus), except that it's running on an Intel chipset and has a microSD card slot for expanding the limited memory - it's either 8GB or 16GB of built-in storage with this one.

The screen is a bit low on pixel density, but it's an IPS LCD unit so it offers excellent side viewing angles making for a nice user experience.


Asus MeMo Pad 7 ME176C
Pros Cons
  • microSD card slot
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Capable chipset
  • Low-res screen

There was plenty of clamoring in the comments section of our previous edition Buyers' Guide about the Tegra Note 7 tablet, so we've decided to include it in this iteration of the guide.

Taking over the space occupied by the newer Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 (and the identical Galaxy Tab 4 Nook), the Tegra Note 7 from EVGA offers a very robust package at a price that continues to drop with each passing month.

The Tegra Note 7 offers a quad-core 1.9GHz processor on nVidia's Tegra processor. Coupled with the robust GeForce GPU, the Note 7 is one of the most capable compact gaming tablets on the market. It comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, upgradable to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, and has an integrated stylus to boot.

The 1280 x 800px resolution is a bit on the low side compared to newer offerings, but at this price it is a very competitive package regardless.


EVGA nVidia Tegra Note 7
Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • microSD card slot
  • Robust performance for the price
  • Stylus included
  • Low-res screen
  • No 3G/LTE model available

The Asus FonePad 7 makes it back onto our list as the cheapest 3G-enabled compact tablet that's worth the money.

It comes in 8/16/32GB variants and runs on a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 processor. Its Android version is upgradable to version 4.4.2 KitKat, but what makes it stand out is its telephony features - you can get the LTE model for right around €200, which is a hard price to match.

This year, Asus has updated its Fonepad 7 to include a dual-SIM version as well, but unless you really need that feature, it's strongly recommended that you go with last years' model, as its simply better in every conceivable way - from screen resolution, to processor, to camera, and even the Android version.


Asus Fonepad 7
Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Dual SIM version
  • microSD card slot
  • Low-res screen

Like we mentioned in our intro, the recent trend - particularly with compact tablets - is a drop in price for LTE-capable models of certain top tablets. While the price for the WiFi-only models of these select devices has remained largely the same, LTE variants have seen some healthy price reductions, likely due to lower-than-expected sales.

One such device is the Kindle Fire HDX. It runs on a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor and Adreno 330 GPU, alongside 2GB of RAM. With its unique software build, its Android version is highly customized and does not have Google Play support. Instead, you'll have to rely on the less-varied Amazon App Store for your app needs and have Amazon's web services replace Google's.

There's no microSD card slot on this one either, so we'd recommend at least the 32GB version if you decide to go for the latest Kindle Fire.


Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
Pros Cons
  • Unmatched performance at this price point
  • Great screen
  • LTE model available
  • No microSD card slot
  • No Google Play support
  • Modified Android version
  • No GPS on the Wi-Fi version

Another device that's actually gone up in price is the second generation Nexus 7 tablet. It caused quite a stir at its unveiling last summer, and thanks to a drop into the sub-€300 for the LTE model, it remains a very compelling offering.

The tablet is powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset with Adreno 320 GPU, and 2GB of RAM. It's also one of the few compact tablets to come with built-in wireless charging capabilities, which is a nice perk even though you'd need to get the optional wireless charger for that.

Plus, it's the only one of our tablet recommendations that weighs below 300 grams. The only real downside is that is has no memory card slot, so you should definitely pay the premium to get the 32GB model. The user available storage on the 16GB version simply doesn't cut it in our book.


Asus Google Nexus 7 (2013)
Pros Cons
  • Excellent screen
  • Low weight
  • Best possible software upgrade support by Google
  • 3G/LTE model available
  • High-res camera
  • Wireless charging
  • GPS receiver
  • No microSD card slot
  • Not the slimmest of screen bezels
Review

Possessing a distinct iPhone-like design, the Huawei MediaPad X1 is another tablet that can make and receive calls - and it's also still the most expensive tablet on this page.

We had a chance to check the X1 out at the MWC 2014 in February and our impressions are only positive. The unusual choice of chipset model - Huawei's in-house quad-core HiSilicon Kirin 910 - will probably serve it well, as our tests of the Ascend P7 smartphone showed it performs around the level of a Snapdragon 600 chipset.

The 7-inch screen with a resolution of 1200x1920px is certainly eye-catching, not to mention the extremely skinny bezels. On the back there is even a 13MP camera, while on the front, there is a 5MP one.

It's also got a clever technology, which allows it to charge other devices via its microUSB slot.

However, this one doesn't come cheap - it still costs around €400 or about the same as a well-equipped 5- or 6-inch smartphone.


Huawei MediaPad X1
Pros Cons
  • LTE
  • Metal body
  • microSD card slot
  • Large battery
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Questionable future update support
  • Expensive
Hands-on

Midsize tablets

It's hard to determine where exactly compact ends, midrange begins, and full-size takes over, which is why the screen diagonal margin in this chapter will be fairly large. But, if you're the Goldilocks of tablets and find compact too small and full-size too big, then it's a safe bet that at least one of the tablets mentioned in this section should feel just right.

If you want to take your tablet on the go, then being able to rely on a 3G and/or LTE connection is almost a must, so we'll be specifying which of the below models come with a telephony support as well. As before, the tablets in this section are listed by price in ascending order.

Archos continues to build a reputation for affordable yet competitive Wi-Fi-only tablets and its most capable 8-inch offering is exactly that. The Archos 80b Platinum comes with a quad-core 1.6GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Its screen resolution is a paltry 1024 x 768px, but it's an IPS LCD with excellent viewing angles. The 4:3 aspect ratio provides more effective screen estate for reading and web browsing than 16:9 tablets of the same diagonal.

True, it has only 8GB of internal memory (which you'll need to expand via the microSD card slot), but it does come with all-metal body a la iPad mini and it has a microHDMI port, and is the only offering in the midsize lot that can be had for under €120, as its price continues to drop.


Archos 80b Platinum
Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • 4:3 screen aspect ratio
  • Metal body
  • microSD card slot
  • microHDMI port
  • Low-res display
  • Low built-in storage
  • No GPS receiver
  • Stuck at Android Jelly Bean and questionable future sw update support

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 is one of the most affordable 8-inch tablets to offer 3G connectivity. Its quad-core 1.2GHz Mediatek processor isn't the best around, but it does have a decent 1280 x 800px screen resolution. Plus, its built-in 3-stage kickstand, 6,000 mAh battery and the stereo speakers make it a great media player. It also has a GPS chip on-board. Lenovo also announced a Android 4.4 KitKat update for their lineup.

Contrary to the current trend, the Yoga Tablet 8's telephony-capable model has gone up in price compared to the Wi-Fi-only variant. It does also have fairly limited 3G network connectivity (it supports only two HSDPA bands - 900/2100Mhz), so be sure it has the right coverage for your area if you decide to get one. That said, those bands should be enough to get you connected to just about any 3G carrier in Europe.

But it's the WiFi-only model that has kept it in our list, as it currently hovers at around the €160 range, making it still worthy of serious consideration.


Lenovo Yoga 8
Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive 3G version available
  • microSD card slot
  • Built-in kickstand
  • Large battery
  • GPS receiver
  • Stereo speakers
  • High-res camera
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • Questionable future update support
  • Limited 3G band coverage
  • No LTE support
  • Low-res screen

Acer has updated its Iconia tablet line since our last guide, and the latest Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD is an improvement over its Icona A1-830 predecessor in almost every conceivable way. Not only does the Tab 8 have a much sharper 1920 x 1200px screen, but the Intel Atom processor inside has been boosted to a quad-core 1.86GHz one. There's also double to RAM, and the Android version is the latest version 4.4.2 KitKat.

One thing that the new Iconia Tab doesn't have is the 4:3 aspect of its predecessor, but that's not necessarily a deal-breaker.

Although you won't find it as cheap as the 830, the Tab 8 can be had for right around €200, which is a great deal.


Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD
Pros Cons
  • microSD card slot
  • Robust processor
  • No 3G/LTE version

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 makes our list here thanks in large part to its extensive LTE support. The 8-inch tablet otherwise has low screen resolution of 800 x 1280 and gets beat out by the likes of the LG G Pad 8.3 in terms of performance, but Note 8.0 offers 3G connectivity at a lower price than many competing offerings.

The Note 8.0 also has a wide array of connectivity extras, including an IR-port and USB Host support.

Plus, Samsung's excellent pressure-sensitive S-Pen is perfect for jotting things down or doodling away and there's still hardly a tablet out there that can match it.


Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
Pros Cons
  • LTE version available
  • Upgradable to Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • microSD card slot
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Low-res screen
Review

Samsung outed its new line of premium midsize tablets earlier this year, one of them being the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4. Thanks to a healthy price drop of around €100 in certain markets, it now beats out similarly priced devices like the LG G Pad 8.3, and the more expensive Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.

It offers a 2560 x 1600px screen resolution and a Snapdragon 800 processor, the combination of which puts it and the other new Samsung tablets in a class of their own. The 8MP camera with 1080p video recording complete the landmark features.

It not only comes with the latest Android OS v4.4 (KitKat), but Samsung has also baked in a spanking new tablet interface which truly elevates the tablet user experience to a whole new level (the split-screen multi-tasking view is well overdue on high-res screen tablets).


Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
Pros Cons
  • Great screen
  • Great performance
  • High-res camera
  • Exclusive TouchWiz UI
  • microSD card slot
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • 3G/LTE model available
  • No NFC
  • Relatively poor audio and video codec support (no DivX and AC3 audio)
Review

Xiaomi finds itself onto our list for the first time thanks to its competitive new Mi Pad 7.9 tablet offering. The Mi Pad takes many of its design cues from the Apple iPad mini 2 (with Retina display), including the 2048 x 1536px resolution on its 7.9-inch display.

There are several things that the Mi Pad delivers above Apple's offering, most notably the inclusion of expandable storage via microSD card slot, Gorilla Glass 3 for the display, and computing (and graphics!) powered by nVidia's capable Tegra K1 chipset.

The Mi Pad's Android software package also takes after Apple's offering, with many design cues and interface features being reminiscent of iOS. It's basically the closes you can get to having an iPad without actually having an iPad. But the software does have its fair share of bugs that need to be ironed out, and there is no telephony version available either. Obviously, you don't get access to Apple's capable app catalogue either, but you're also paying considerably less.


Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
Pros Cons
  • 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Great screen
  • Class-leading graphics performance
  • High-res camera
  • microSD card slot
  • Relatively low price
  • No NFC
  • No GPS receiver
  • iOS-like software package is buggy
  • No 3G/LTE version available
Review

The nVidia SHIELD tablet is another first-timer onto our list thanks to its Tegra K1 chipset. With a larger, higher resolution screen, double the RAM, and higher clocked processor, it's a more advanced version of the Tegra Note 7, and comes complete with Android 4.4 KitKat and a stylus to boot.

The SHIELD tablet also comes with a 32GB LTE version, which comes in at under €400 to boot, making a very strong contender in the 8-inch tablet category.


nVidia SHIELD Tablet
Pros Cons
  • LTE model available
  • microSD card slot
  • Class-leading graphics performance
  • Pressure-sensitive stylus included
  • Low battery capacity

When it comes to tablets, no self-respecting tablet guide can go without mentioning Apple's. The latest Apple iPad mini 2 (with Retina screen) in Apple's popular iPad lineup boasts a 1536 x 2048 7.9-inch display with a 4:3 aspect ratio. The 4:3 aspect ratio provides more effective screen estate for reading and web browsing than 16:9 tablets. Thanks to Apple's extensive app store, there's no shortage of very functional and polished apps and games for even the most demanding of users.

The iPad mini 2 does not come with a microSD card slot, so we'd recommend you get at least the 32GB version despite its exorbitant markup. The LTE-enabled version offers an immensely wide LTE band support, and also has the benefit of a built-in GPS chip - something which the Wi-Fi only version lacks.

In this August edition of our Tablet buyer's guide we would advise against buying an iPad as the next generation is just around the corner (expected in November). As Apple usually goes about it, they will release the updated version soon after the November announcement at the same price tag you would pay right now for the current gen. Even if you don't get the new iPad, the mere fact of its release will allow you to snatch a better deal on the Apple iPad mini 2 as it will no longer be the current model.


Apple iPad mini 2
Pros Cons
  • 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Unmatched selection of tablet-optimized apps
  • Great performance
  • Great screen
  • Has an LTE version
  • High-res camera
  • No microSD card slot
  • No GPS on the Wi-Fi version
  • Very pricey at €425 for 32GB
  • No standard USB port
Review

To follow up its robust Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 offering, Samsung released an even more robust variant of tablet powerhouse in the Galaxy Tab S 8.4. The Tab S features an even more impressive screen, sporting the same size and resolution but being of the Super AMOLED variety. In our own testing it's proven to have impressive contrast and colors.

Also, the Tab S comes with Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa chipset, featuring quad-core 1.9GHz Cortex-A15 and quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 CPUs, which should provide more horsepower than the quad-core 2.3GHz Krait 400 found in the Tab Pro. There's also several additional color combinations, 3GB of RAM, and the Tab S is also lighter while featuring a larger 4,900mAh battery.


Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Pros Cons
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Great screen
  • Great performance
  • High-res camera
  • Exclusive TouchWiz UI
  • microSD card slot
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • 3G/LTE model available
  • No NFC
  • Relatively poor audio and video codec support (no DivX and AC3 audio)
Review

Full-size tablets

If you must have the best, full-size tablets is where it's at. With 10-inch and higher display sizes, you'll have plenty of screen estate for enjoying multimedia content. If you're going this big, then display fidelity plays a much bigger part, so we'll only be listing tablets with eye-popping pixel density in our full-size recommendations.

We'll also be sure to mention models that include 3G/LTE connectivity, as large or not, sometimes you just want to take your tablet out without having to constantly bounce from one Wi-Fi network to the other.

Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 10 comes first as both the most affordable decent 10-inch Wi-Fi-only tablet currently available, and the cheapest tablet that offers 3G connectivity (with the 3G model).

Although its 1280 x 800 pixel resolution stretches seriously thin on such a large display, at least it's an IPS LCD unit that offers great viewing angles. Otherwise, the quad-core 1.2GHz processor of the Tablet 10 has little trouble pumping out all the pixels to the screen and it feels snappy (though not lightning fast).

There's also the trademark built-in 3-stage kickstand, a 9,000mAh battery and dual front stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus for multimedia viewing. Lenovo also announced a Android 4.4 KitKat update for the entire lineup.

The Yoga Tablet 10 does have fairly limited 3G network connectivity (it supports only HSDPA bands 900/2100), so be sure it has the right coverage for your area if you decide to get one.


Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10
Pros Cons
  • Low cost
  • microSD card slot
  • Built-in kickstand
  • Large battery
  • Stereo speakers
  • Has a 3G version
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • Low-res screen
  • Limited 3G band coverage
  • No LTE support

The Archos 97b Platinum HD again makes our list thanks to its a very respectable 2048 x 1536px screen, which is the same diagonal and aspect ratio of the latest Apple iPad Air. It also has a premium all-metal back, alongside a quad-core processor.

Inside, you'll find a decent 1.6GHz quad-core Rockchip RK3188 (Cortex-A9) processor and 2GB of RAM. Performance-wise, this chipset puts out 17251 at AnTuTu, so it's in roughly the same ballpark as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Google Nexus 4, both of which however have to cater for less than a third of the Archos 97b Platinum HD number of screen pixels. Performance is not amazing, but it gets the job done.

As with other Archos tablets, you'll still have to pay for a microSD card to build on the very limited 8GB of internal memory. But you'll have more than enough money left over, as the 97b Platinum is still more affordable than most competitors' 8-inch offerings.

The Archos 97b Platinum HD has a few identical twins by more marginal manufacturers. Some of those tablets may appeal to people who are looking for a decent tablet at bargain basement prices. For instance, the QiLive 97r is a commissioned Archos 97b Platinum HD rebrand for certain sellers.

Then, there are the German only brands Odys (their Odys Iron tablet), Captiva (their Captiva Pad 9.7 Super FHD and Captiva Pad 10.1 Quad FHD tablets), Xoro and Blaupunkt (their Endeavour 1010 tablet). There is also the Chinese Onda V972 tablet, which is an identical twin of the Blaupunkt Endeavour 1010. These have pretty close specs to the Archos tablet with slightly different external design. Unfortunately, none of these tablet makers (or rather sellers) can be considered major per se, so getting into details about these variants is beyond the scope of this guide.


Archos 97b Platinum HD
Pros Cons
  • Metal back
  • microSD card slot
  • miniHDMI port
  • Inexpensive
  • Uninspiring performance
  • No built-in GPS receiver
  • Stuck at Android Jelly Bean and questionable future sw update support

The recent release of Samsung's Pro range of tablets marked the first time when Samsung released tablets that are priced as high as or even higher than the iPad range. Since then prices of the tablets have come down considerably, and the robust devices are that much more recommendable.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 offers a beautiful screen that has higher resolution than the iPad Air, alongside a micro SD slot, 8MP camera, and a capable octa-core chipset.

It not only comes with the latest Android OS v4.4 (KitKat), but Samsung has also baked in a spanking new tablet interface of their own, which truly elevates the tablet user experience to a whole new level (the split-screen multi-tasking view is well overdue on high-res large-screen tablets).


Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
Pros Cons
  • High-res screen
  • Great performance
  • The latest tablet-optimized TouchWiz UI
  • microSD card slot
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • LTE version available
  • High-res camera
  • No NFC
  • No DivX and AC3 codec support
Review

Lenovo have updated their long-standing Tablet 10 offering with a Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ model. Besides upping the resolution to 1920 x 1200px, the 10 HD+ also doubles up the RAM to 2GB, has a more robust 8MP camera.

Powering it all is a quad-core 1.6GHz Snapdragon 400 chip (APQ8028 on the WiFi-only model), which should be enough to power the higher-resolution display, but won't give you the performance of more premium offerings.

Like the Yoga Tablet 10, there's also the trademark built-in 3-stage kickstand, a 9,000mAh battery and dual front stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus for multimedia viewing. Lenovo also announced a Android 4.4 KitKat update for the entire lineup.

The 3G-enabled Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ does have fairly limited 3G network connectivity (it supports only HSDPA bands 900/2100), so be sure it has the right coverage for your area if you decide to get one.


Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+
Pros Cons
  • Low cost
  • microSD card slot
  • Built-in kickstand
  • Large battery
  • Stereo speakers
  • Has a 3G version
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • Limited 3G band coverage
  • No LTE support

Sony's Xperia Tablet Z is still one of the most stylish tablet offerings you'll see at this or any other size, with is dual-glass panel design and ultra-slim 6.9mm waistline. The lifecycle of the Tablet Z has gotten to the point where the price has stopped dropping, so if you've been thinking of getting Sony's first tablet, now's the time.

Under the hood there's a 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM and Adreno 320 GPU and the latest Android 4.4 KitKat update. Despite being more than a year old, the Tablet Z is still a great performer, and offers a similar package as the Xperia Z2 tablet without the price premium.

The relatively small 6,000mAh battery is the only real downside, as you may not get much time between charges, but battery life is still passable.


Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Pros Cons
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • microSD card slot
  • Impressive design
  • IR-port, NFC
  • IP57 dust and water resistance
  • LTE version available
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Average battery life
  • Chipset doesn't rival the best
Review

The latest Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 has dropped into the sub-€400 price range for the 16GB model, making it even more competitive than before. It brings an incredibly sharp 2560 x 1600px display, 3GB of RAM, and a quad-core Snapdragon 800 chipset to the table.

Samsung's great pressure-sensitive S-Pen offers something other tablets simply can't match, and the pleasant leather-like textured plastic back from the Note 3 has also made its way to its elder sibling and it works great visually.

The LTE version also bumps up the performance by upping the clock speed to 2.3GHz, and also features Adreno 330 graphics and 1080p@60fps video recording.


Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)
Pros Cons
  • Excellent performance and unrivaled multitasking
  • IR-port
  • S-Pen pressure sensitive stylus input
  • microSD card slot
  • LTE version available
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Heavier than competition
  • No NFC
  • No DivX and AC3 codec support
Review

Still uncharacteristic of Apple, its Apple iPad Air tablet is not the most expensive device in this section. Recent competitive offerings from Samsung have forced the iPad Air to come down slightly in price, and you'll also find the iPad Air (16GB WiFi-only) in the sub-€400 price range for the first time (the non-expandable storage makes this option hard to recommend, however).

Otherwise, you still get an ultra-sharp display alongside Apple's proprietary A7 chipset. The iPad Air features a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is arguably the more user-friendly aspect for web browsing or reading and also offers more screen real estate for the same diagonal. Thanks to Apple's extensive app store, there's no shortage of functional and innovative apps and games.

The iPad Air does not come with a microSD card slot, so we recommend you get at least the 32GB version despite its exorbitant markup.

The LTE-enabled version offers an immensely wide LTE band support, and also has the benefit of having a built-in GPS chip, something which the Wi-Fi only version lacks.

In this August edition of our Tablet buyer's guide we would advise against buying an iPad as the next generation is just around the corner (expected in November). As Apple usually goes about it, they will release the updated version soon after the November announcement at the same price tag you would pay right now. Even if you don't get the new iPad, the mere fact of its release will allow you to snatch a better deal on the Apple iPad Air as it will no longer be the current model.


Apple iPad Air
Pros Cons
  • Metal back
  • 4:3 screen aspect ratio
  • Unmatched selection of tablet-optimized apps
  • Great performance
  • Lighter and more compact than most rivals
  • LTE version available
  • High-res camera
  • No GPS on the Wi-Fi only models
  • No microSD card slot and costly memory upgrade options
  • No standard USB port
Review

If you're big on typing, then Asus has you covered with its Transformer Pad TF701T. Basically a MeMo Pad on steroids, the TF701T comes with an ultra-crisp 2560 x 1600 pixel screen, a hefty quad-core 1.9 GHz Tegra 4 processor, and 32GB of expandable storage.

More importantly, the Transformer earns its moniker by being the only tablet that also comes with a keyboard dock as part of the retail package, making it a great deal.


Asus Transformer Pad TF701T
Pros Cons
  • microSD card slot
  • Crisp display
  • Great performance
  • Proprietary keyboard dock included
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Larger and heavier than other high-end slates
  • No 3G/LTE version
Review

It's not too long ago that Sony announced their next gen tablet, dubbed the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet. It has a faster Snapdragon 801 chipset and an 8MP back camera with improved Exmor RS sensor, but also does away with the stylish dual-glass panel design that made its predecessor so attractive.

Otherwise, Sony have improved on the Tablet Z in almost every regard, including improved water resistance - this time it would gladly take a dip in the kiddie pool for up to 30 minutes. There is also the latest Android 4.4 KitKat on board right out of the box.

We were a bit anxious about the lower battery rating, but our own review tests proved that the Xperia Z2 Tablet provides up to 80% longer web browsing and video playback times on a single charge than the original Xperia Tablet Z.


Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
Pros Cons
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • microSD card slot
  • Impressive design
  • Top-notch performance
  • High-res camera
  • Notably lighter than competitors
  • IP58 dust and water resistance
  • LTE version available
  • GPS receiver
  • Rather reflective screen
  • Below average loudspeaker performance
  • Does away with predecessors' premium design

Somewhat less cost cost-prohibitive than upon launch, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 offers the best that Samsung has to offer alongside its superior Note stylus integration and a large 12.2-inch screen size.

It comes with 2560 x 1600px resolution, a minimum of 32GB of built-in storage plus a card slot, octa-core chipset and 8MP camera with 1080p video recording. The Note should run you about €20 more than the identical Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, so we figure it's worth the extra cost for the added stylus functionality.

It also comes with the latest Android OS v4.4 (KitKat) coupled with Samsung's home-baked goodies that bring a huge boost to productivity. The split-screen multi-tasking view is well overdue on high-res screen tablets and it's brilliantly implemented here, allowing to run up to four apps side by side plus even more in the form of floating windows.


Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
Pros Cons
  • Exclusive Samsung S Pen functionality
  • One-of-a-kind tablet screen size
  • Gorgeous high-res screen
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • microSD slot
  • Great performance
  • The latest tablet-optimized TouchWiz UI
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • 3G and LTE versions available
  • Still somewhat pricey
  • No NFC
Review

Final Words

This edition of our tablet guide saw the departure of some of our old favorites, the Nook HD and Nook HD+. B&N replaced them in the form of the just-announced Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, which is basically a rebranded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0.

Although the Galaxy Tab 4 7.0/Nook are capable (and affordable) offerings in their own right, we instead recommend the EVGA Tegra Note 7, a device several of you pointed out in the comments section of our previous guide. With the same screen and an ultra-fast quad-core Tegra 4 processor, the Note 7 is a top compact tablet, especially at the sub-€200 price range.

Elsewhere, the Samsung Tab Pro series pricing continues to drop, with both the 8.4-inch and 10.1-inch models being easy recommendations over competing offerings in the form of the LG G Pad 8.3 and Google Nexus 10. The newly-introduced Galaxy Tab S models are still fairly expensive, and we simply can't recommend the extra €200 for the Tab S 10.5 over the Tab Pro 10.1, considering all you're getting is the same resolution display except of the Super AMOLED variety and an extra 1GB of RAM.

The gorgeous LG G Pad 8.3 didn't make the draft this time as its premium pricing has been steady for quite some time while other worthwhile tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 have dropped to more enticing price points.



We are no longer recommending Windows RT tablets. The reason behind that is that the Windows RT platform has been made irrelevant by the relatively low number of available apps, the pressing competition from fast and capable Android tablets plus the influx of new tablets, running the proper version of Windows on Intel's new Bay Trail architecture.

Without undermining the importance of these full Windows tablets, we've deliberately left them out of this article. These tablets generally are outside of our main expertise as they are pretty much straightforward Windows computers. Their low price points however allow them to inevitably come up in the conversation whenever tablet purchase is considered.

Some of the more notable products on the market of this sort include the mid-sized Toshiba Encore 8, the Lenovo Miix 2 8, the Acer Iconia W4 and the Dell Venue 8 Pro. All three of them have 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z3740 chipsets with Intel HD graphics, 2GB of RAM, 1280 x 800px screens, front and rear cams and run fully-fledged Windows 8.1.

Among the 10-inchers most notable are probably the 10.1-inch Asus Transformer Book T100, the Aspire Switch 10, Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 2 . These come with detachable keyboard docks, which can even host an optional 500GB HDD in some models. All three except the Asus Transformer Book T100 offer Full HD screens as well.

When choosing one of these newfangled Windows tablets, bear in mind that their cheaper 32GB versions already have most of the storage taken up by the system files, so there is hardly any room for installing additional applications (hardly more than 12GB of user-available storage). The microSD slot is great for storing your multimedia files, but not so good for apps, so the 64GB version is probably the minimum you should be looking at there.

A noteworthy new addition to these Windows tablets is Microsoft's own Surface Pro 3, a 12-incher with a resolution of 2160 x 1440px. Just over 9mm thin, it weighs only 800g and has a built-in multi-angle kickstand. This one really stands out, as unlike the other Atom-based tablets, it's powered by Core i3, Core i5 and even Core i7 processors. The Surface Pro 3 is now available, but the cheapest option, the Core i3 with 64GB of RAM, will set you back €800, and that's without the keyboard dock. The Surface Pro 3 is an example of why full-fledged Windows tablets are simply in a class of their own, and would be more suited for a Laptop buyer's guide than anything else.

Compact tablets

In this chapter, we'll be focusing on compact tablets measuring about 7". These tablets oftentimes come with 3G or LTE-enabled variants, which can be great for when you need connectivity on the go - and let's face it, seven-inch or thereabouts is the only tablet size that's truly portable.

We've sorted the following by price, although keep in mind that pricing and availability can vary widely by region. Mobile internet-enabled tablets are oftentimes available from mobile carriers at special discounts, which adds another wrinkle to the equation.

In our previous guides, the Barnes & Noble Nook kicked things off thanks to its rock-bottom price of around €100, which simply couldn't be beat. Now, with B&N phasing out its Nook tablets, we turn to Asus to kick things off.

The Asus MeMo Pad 7 has made it onto our previous guides, and thanks to its updated refresh - the ME176C build - it's continues to be a compelling offering. The fact that its price continues to fall doesn't hurt either.

The Memo Pad 7 offers a quad-core 1.86GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and Android 4.4.2 KitKat. For all intents and purposes, it's a cheaper version of the original Google Nexus 7 (also made by Asus), except that it's running on an Intel chipset and has a microSD card slot for expanding the limited memory - it's either 8GB or 16GB of built-in storage with this one.

The screen is a bit low on pixel density, but it's an IPS LCD unit so it offers excellent side viewing angles making for a nice user experience.


Asus MeMo Pad 7 ME176C
Pros Cons
  • microSD card slot
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Capable chipset
  • Low-res screen

There was plenty of clamoring in the comments section of our previous edition Buyers' Guide about the Tegra Note 7 tablet, so we've decided to include it in this iteration of the guide.

Taking over the space occupied by the newer Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 (and the identical Galaxy Tab 4 Nook), the Tegra Note 7 from EVGA offers a very robust package at a price that continues to drop with each passing month.

The Tegra Note 7 offers a quad-core 1.9GHz processor on nVidia's Tegra processor. Coupled with the robust GeForce GPU, the Note 7 is one of the most capable compact gaming tablets on the market. It comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, upgradable to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, and has an integrated stylus to boot.

The 1280 x 800px resolution is a bit on the low side compared to newer offerings, but at this price it is a very competitive package regardless.


EVGA nVidia Tegra Note 7
Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • microSD card slot
  • Robust performance for the price
  • Stylus included
  • Low-res screen
  • No 3G/LTE model available

The Asus FonePad 7 makes it back onto our list as the cheapest 3G-enabled compact tablet that's worth the money.

It comes in 8/16/32GB variants and runs on a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 processor. Its Android version is upgradable to version 4.4.2 KitKat, but what makes it stand out is its telephony features - you can get the LTE model for right around €200, which is a hard price to match.

This year, Asus has updated its Fonepad 7 to include a dual-SIM version as well, but unless you really need that feature, it's strongly recommended that you go with last years' model, as its simply better in every conceivable way - from screen resolution, to processor, to camera, and even the Android version.


Asus Fonepad 7
Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Dual SIM version
  • microSD card slot
  • Low-res screen

Like we mentioned in our intro, the recent trend - particularly with compact tablets - is a drop in price for LTE-capable models of certain top tablets. While the price for the WiFi-only models of these select devices has remained largely the same, LTE variants have seen some healthy price reductions, likely due to lower-than-expected sales.

One such device is the Kindle Fire HDX. It runs on a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor and Adreno 330 GPU, alongside 2GB of RAM. With its unique software build, its Android version is highly customized and does not have Google Play support. Instead, you'll have to rely on the less-varied Amazon App Store for your app needs and have Amazon's web services replace Google's.

There's no microSD card slot on this one either, so we'd recommend at least the 32GB version if you decide to go for the latest Kindle Fire.


Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
Pros Cons
  • Unmatched performance at this price point
  • Great screen
  • LTE model available
  • No microSD card slot
  • No Google Play support
  • Modified Android version
  • No GPS on the Wi-Fi version

Another device that's actually gone up in price is the second generation Nexus 7 tablet. It caused quite a stir at its unveiling last summer, and thanks to a drop into the sub-€300 for the LTE model, it remains a very compelling offering.

The tablet is powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset with Adreno 320 GPU, and 2GB of RAM. It's also one of the few compact tablets to come with built-in wireless charging capabilities, which is a nice perk even though you'd need to get the optional wireless charger for that.

Plus, it's the only one of our tablet recommendations that weighs below 300 grams. The only real downside is that is has no memory card slot, so you should definitely pay the premium to get the 32GB model. The user available storage on the 16GB version simply doesn't cut it in our book.


Asus Google Nexus 7 (2013)
Pros Cons
  • Excellent screen
  • Low weight
  • Best possible software upgrade support by Google
  • 3G/LTE model available
  • High-res camera
  • Wireless charging
  • GPS receiver
  • No microSD card slot
  • Not the slimmest of screen bezels
Review

Possessing a distinct iPhone-like design, the Huawei MediaPad X1 is another tablet that can make and receive calls - and it's also still the most expensive tablet on this page.

We had a chance to check the X1 out at the MWC 2014 in February and our impressions are only positive. The unusual choice of chipset model - Huawei's in-house quad-core HiSilicon Kirin 910 - will probably serve it well, as our tests of the Ascend P7 smartphone showed it performs around the level of a Snapdragon 600 chipset.

The 7-inch screen with a resolution of 1200x1920px is certainly eye-catching, not to mention the extremely skinny bezels. On the back there is even a 13MP camera, while on the front, there is a 5MP one.

It's also got a clever technology, which allows it to charge other devices via its microUSB slot.

However, this one doesn't come cheap - it still costs around €400 or about the same as a well-equipped 5- or 6-inch smartphone.


Huawei MediaPad X1
Pros Cons
  • LTE
  • Metal body
  • microSD card slot
  • Large battery
  • High-res camera
  • GPS receiver
  • Questionable future update support
  • Expensive
Hands-on