Introduction

It has been three months since our last tablet buyer's guide and a lot has changed. The landscape has received some new devices, big and small and the prices have dipped here and there. For the first time since the tablet market became relevant with Apple's iPad back in 2010 we saw a decline in shipments and now analyst are predicting a slow pace for a market that was once expected to replace the personal computer.

The final quarter of last year, matching the holiday season, saw 2.5 million tablets less being shipped compared to the same quarter of 2013, according to IDC, while other analysts pointed to either flat sales or very minor increase. Apple's iPad saw less sales compared to the same quarter year before and now the market is more open than ever.

Over the past three months the prices of popular tablets mostly stayed flat or saw very small declines. Some even got more expensive, an anomaly explained by the fact that our last guide coincided with the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and the promotions that come with them.

The last three months didn't saw a boom of new hardware being released but there are names here and there that have just made their way to market or starting to as we speak.

Lenovo and Acer have some fresh tablets in their rosters. HP made a push with three new slates - the Slate 7 Plus which pushed better hardware for the lowest price in our compact tablets list, an 8-inch Pro Slate 8 that's just getting started and a 12-inch monster of a slab.

Dell unleashed a premium Venue 8 7000 tablet that is still too expensive to consider as its fresh onto the shelves and finally Apple's tablets have gotten a bit cheaper thanks to promotions ran by some retailers.

Still, if the last time around our Tablet buyer's guide had a lot of new faces this time we're looking at proven tablets that have passed their buzz time and are now becoming a mature purchase with, in many cases, a lower price tag.

Let's hop on after the break and explore what devices are worth buying. As always we've divided the choices in three categories - compact tablets (7"), mid-sized ones (8-9") and full-sized slates (above 9"). You can check out any of the categories directly through the buttons below.


Compact tablets

In the segment containing the smallest of tablets - 7" in screen diagonal - we'll be working our way from the ground up. Starting from the cheapest found currently on the market (cross-referenced between multiple retailers). Keep in mind that we factor in prices from authorized resellers and not the makers themselves, as they tend to have the best prices.

This guide marks the departure of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite 7.0 as our basement-price offer. This time we have the HP Slate7 Plus, which is both more powerful and cheaper than the Samsung offering. The HP Slate7 Plus boasts a 1280 x 800px 7" display (up from the 1024 x 600px) a Tegra 3 chipset with quad-core processor, 5MP main camera, VGA front-facing one, 8GB of expandable storage and a very low price at the moment.

The only weakness here is the lack of a cellular option for the HP Slate7 Plus but at this price we doubt many would splurge on a separate data plan.


HP Slate7 Plus
Pros Cons
  • Cheapest 7" tablet
  • High-res display
  • Quad-core chipset
  • 5MP camera
  • 8GB storage built-in
  • No 3G variant

The next entry on the list is another newcomer - the Lenovo A7-50 A3500. It's a bit more expensive but not by much and is more or less the same hardware. The difference here is that the Lenovo A7-50 uses a Mediatek MT8382 chpset with a quad-core processor that uses Cortex-A7 instead of the Cortex-A9 cores found in the Slate7 Plus.

Lenovo's A7-50 also features a 3G version. The price difference is close to nothing meaning you could get a 3G-enabled tablet without spending extra money.


Lenovo A7-50 A3500
Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • IPS LCD of good resolution
  • Quad-core chipset
  • 5MP camera
  • 3G variant available for almost the same price
  • Uninspiring design
  • Questionable future software support

Moving the threshold to about €100/$85 is the Acer Iconia One 7 B1. On tap it has a great IPS 7" display of 800 x 1280 pixel resolution, 5MP camera, stereo speakers and a dual-core 1.6GHz processor packed into an Intel Atom chipset.

There's no cellular option here so if on the go data is important to you we suggest you look elsewhere. If not this might be the best compact tablet on a budget you can buy right now.


Acer Iconia One 7 B1-730
Pros Cons
  • Low price
  • Good screen resolution
  • Intel Atom chipset
  • 5MP camera
  • Stereo speakers
  • IPS display
  • No 3G/LTE version

The Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C is a regular already in our buyer's guide. It's around 20% more than the aforementioned Acer tablet but adds an Intel Atom Z3745 chip with quad-core chipset clocked at 1.86GHz.

The bump to the next best Intel Atom chipset is the only thing that could sway users toward Asus' offering instead of Acer's. If both fit the bill for you, specs-wise, we suggest you decide if you need the beefier chipset.


Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
Pros Cons
  • IPS screen of 1280 x 800px resolution
  • 5MP camera
  • Great quad-core Intel Atom chipset
  • Stereo speakers
  • 1080p video
  • GPS on board
  • Price has gone up
  • No 3G/LTE version
Review

For the third time running we have the Asus FonePad 7 ME175CG. This isn't the 2014 Fonepad 7, which we recently reviewed but the model prior to it. The reason behind us using an older iteration is because it's both better and at an almost exact same price.

The FonePad 7 ME175CG has a higher-res display over its successor, while still offering an Intel Atom chipset, 5MP camera and built-in 3G/LTE.


Asus FonePad 7 ME175CG
Pros Cons
  • IPS display of good 1280 x 800px resolution
  • Capable Intel Atom chipset
  • 5MP camera
  • 3G/LTE built-in
  • A year and a half old now
  • Price has gone up a little
Hands-on

The last time we saw the 7" Amazon Kindle Fire HDX in our buyer's guide it was cheaper. Since then its price has gone slightly up but it isn't so high as to take the slate out of the running. The Kindle Fire HDX marks the move toward higher-specced tablets with a 1200 x 1920px display, Snapdragon 800 chipset, 2GB of RAM, LTE version and storage options ranging from 16GB to 64GB.

The bit about storage options is important as the Kindle Fire HDX has no card slot and you'll need to keep in mind that when buying it. Another thing to keep in mind is the forked Android version on board - it isn't compatible with Google Play Services and won't bring you the same Android experience as all the droid slates in this guide. The Kindle Fire HDX is basically a window into Amazon's world of retail and that's the reason Amazon sells its hardware on a lower price note.


Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
Pros Cons
  • FullHD IPS display
  • Good Snapdragon 800 chipset, 2GB of RAM
  • Very low price for the hardware
  • Stereo speakers
  • LTE model
  • Amazon-built Android with no Google Play
  • Low-res 1.3MP camera
  • No microSD card slot

Finally we've enrolled the Huawei MediaPad X1. It lacks the superior chipset of the Kindle Fire HDX and uses a Hisilicon Kirin 910 with a Cortex-A9 quad-core processor but relies on a good Mali-450MP4 GPU. Otherwise the MediaPad X1 is a svelte slate made out of premium glass, plastic and aluminum, has a 7" 1200p screen that's also IPS, a 13MP main camera and comes as standard with a SIM slot and ability to make calls.

The price of the MediaPad X1 is a little steep but it backs it up with a solid feature-pack. It could be hard to come by, though, and is worth looking up if you want to get a premium compact tablet.


Huawei MediaPad X1
Pros Cons
  • FullHD IPS display
  • 5MP camera
  • LTE-only
  • 13MP camera on the back, 5MP on the front
  • Low weight
  • Not the cheapest
  • Chipset isn't up to similarly-priced competition

Mid-sized tablets

We come to the broadest chapter in our Tablet buyer's guide. While compact tablets are 7" exclusively, larger slates are anything above 9" but mostly hover around 10.1", the mid-sized tablet category runs through 8" all the way up to 9" with plenty of devices in the middle.

This is also the hottest slate category this year with the most desired tablets, like Apple's iPad mini and Google's Nexus 9. It's also where we'll have more offerings due to the large scope of the mid-sized tablet market.

Starting from the lowest prices we have the Lenovo A8-50 A5500 which has an 8" 800 x 1280px display, quad-core Cortex-A7 processor, 5MP camera and optional 3G model with stereo speakers. It's the cheapest 8-incher around at the moment and while it doesn't shine with immaculate specs or design it will do couch duty with ease and won't affect your financial stability too much.

In addition it has either 8GB or 16GB of on-board storage with the higher 16GB model not adding much to the price and you get a microSD card slot to expand that storage even more.

What comes as a possible catch is the firmware update support the Lenovo A8-50 will get - we don't reckon it will see Lollipop any time soon if at all.


Lenovo A8-50 A5500
Pros Cons
  • IPS display
  • 5MP camera
  • 3G model
  • Stereo speakers (on 3G model)
  • Low price (close to cheapest 7" tablets)
  • Questionable update support above Android Jelly Bean
  • No LTE support

The Huawei Honor T1 is next on the list. Unlike its MediaPad X1 sibling it isn't as spectacular on the specs sheet but like it the Honor Tablet comes with 3G connectivity and the ability to make and receive calls as standard.

In addition to the cellular abilities the Huawei Honor T1 has an 8" IPS 800 x 1280px display, 5MP camera, 16GB of storage, expandable through a microSD card slot and a front-facing camera for calls. The only weak spot here is the Snapdragon 200 chipset that doesn't really match the more powerful offerings on the other devices in the group, even if it will get the job done for most tasks. Heavy gamers and general power users will need to spend more as usual, though.


Huawei Honor T1
Pros Cons
  • IPS display
  • 5MP camera
  • 3G-only
  • Very cheap for 3G slate
  • No LTE support
  • No stereo speakers

Next is the Asus Memo Pad 8 ME181C. It's very similar to the 7" Memo Pad 7 we mentioned in the previous page but has a bigger 8" IPS display on tap of the same 800 x 1280 resolution. The chipset is the same - an Intel Atom Z3745 - although its processor is clocked lower at 1.33GHz.

The Asus Memo Pad 8 ME181C lacks a cellular option, though but the Wi-Fi model is well worth a look.


Asus Memo Pad 8 ME181C
Pros Cons
  • IPS display
  • 5MP camera
  • Good Intel Atom chipset, quad-core processor
  • 16GB of storage
  • No 3G/LTE support

Next up we have one of the best bargains you can find on the mid-sized market. This is also the cheapest 8" 1200 x 1920px tablet - the Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD. It uses the Intel Atom Z3745 with the higher-clocked 1.86GHz quad-core CPU. The display is IPS, there's a 5MP camera on board to cover imaging on the back, while on the front there's a 2MP one.

The Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD has a lot of connectivity options but lacks an FM Radio and Wi-Fi ac. There's also no cellular variant on the tablet to be found. But if you're looking for a tablet to use indoors where you'll get good wireless connection the Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD is a great option to have, especially for the great price that's just 40% higher than the cheapest 8-incher in this guide.


Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD
Pros Cons
  • 8" 1200p display
  • 5MP camera
  • Quad-core Intel Atom chipset
  • GPS
  • Cheapest 8" FullHD tablet
  • No 3G/LTE variant
  • Questionable firmware updates

For a bit more money you could get a stylish Lenovo Tab S8. It's very light at a hair below 300g and also thin at 7.9mm. The Lenovo Tab S8 uses the same, capable Intel Atom Z3745 chipset with the higher-clocked CPU (1.86GHz), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage that can be expanded via a microSD card and an 8MP camera on the back, complimented by a 1.6MP front-facing one.

The Tab S8 is not the cheapest one here at €200, or around 40% more expensive than the Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD (€149) but has a sleeker design and also an LTE option (although that one costs even more).

The Lenovo Tab S8 is among the better mid-sized slates in this guide and we'd wholeheartedly recommend it to buyers. Keep in mind that it's not as widespread as the Iconia Tab 8 and its price hasn't changed at all in the last three months.


Lenovo Tab S8
Pros Cons
  • FullHD IPS display
  • 8MP camera
  • Quad-core Intel Atom chipset
  • GPS
  • LTE
  • Thin and light
  • FM Radio
  • Stereo speakers on the front
  • Well-priced
  • Price hasn't changed since November

Moving up we find a familiar tablet awaiting us. The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is among the best tablets on the market ever since Samsung unveiled it back in January of 2014. It packs an 8.4" LCD of an insane 1600 x 2560px resolution and is jam-packed with all the features you'd need - an 8MP camera, Snapdragon 800 chipset, 2GB of RAM, 2MP front-facing camera, stereo speakers and a svelte body of just 7.2mm thickness.

The price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 has gone up lately but it's still a better buy compared to the newer Super AMOLED Galaxy Tab S 8.4. If you're in need of LTE on the go the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 easily obliges but don't expect to make any calls on it.

Finally Samsung's TouchWiz software allows for great productivity on the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 thanks to Multi Window - it allows you to use more than one app on screen - or two instances of the same app (only supported apps.


Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
Pros Cons
  • Extremely high resolution (1600 x 2560px)
  • 8MP camera
  • Great Snapdragon 800 chipset
  • GPS
  • MicroSD card slot
  • LTE
  • Thin and light
  • Stereo speakers
  • No NFC
  • No FM Radio
  • Relatively poor audio and video codec support (no DivX and AC3 audio)
  • Price for the Wi-Fi variant has increased 30% in Europe
Review

You can't make a reputable tablet shopping guide without mentioning an Apple iPad. In this particular case we're going with the Apple iPad mini 2. It's not the latest mid-sized slab to come out of Cupertino but it is the best one to buy. The iPad mini 2 has come down in price slightly and is now close to €100 cheaper at retailers than its successor iPad mini 3. Our opinion of the latter is known - it brings a finger-sensing TouchID home button and golden paintjob for €100 more and that just doesn't make sense to recommend.

The Apple iPad mini 2 has the same, beautiful 7.9" 1536 x 2048px display (Apple calls it Retina) as its successor, the same excellent 64-bit A7 chipset with great CPU and GPU performance, the same streamlined body of 331g weight and 7.5mm thickness, same great battery life and the same superb Apple iOS 8 with loads of tablet-optimized apps that are purely gorgeous.

The Apple iPad mini 2 isn't the best tablet for the power user, demanding great connectivity and use with other gadgets but has a character of its own which has helped Apple carve its tablet market dominance from day one.

Keep in mind that the UI of iOS cannot be customized, storage is fixed and can only be upgraded for a hefty price increase but if you don't care about leaving Apple's ecosystem, the iPad mini 2 is great and it comes with an LTE option too.


Apple iPad mini 2
Pros Cons
  • High resolution display
  • Great 64-bit chipset
  • 128GB option (if you can find it at retailers)
  • LTE variant
  • Stereo speakers
  • Unsurpassed app ecosystem
  • Thin and light
  • Great battery performance
  • Price has gone slightly down since November
  • No microSD card slot, costly storage upgrade
  • Software customizations are limited
  • Low-res front-facing camera
Review

Sony has a great mid-sized tablet in the face of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. It's packed with "the best from Sony" with an 8" 1200 x 1920px display, 6.4mm featherweight body (270g), Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset, 3GB of RAM, 8.1MP camera, microSD card slot and classic Sony battery life that's excellent.

To add more to what is already a superb package the Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is waterproof so you can take it into the tub (or pool) without worrying over it and enjoy stereo sound through front-facing speakers.

Price hasn't changed at all for the Wi-Fi only version which is a bit steep but you can find the LTE model for less now. Finally we're still waiting to see Android Lollipop on the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact but Sony has promised to upgrade it sooner rather than later.


Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
Pros Cons
  • FullHD display
  • Great chipset, 3GB of RAM
  • MicroSD card slot
  • LTE and FM Radio
  • 8MP camera
  • Stereo speakers on the front
  • Waterproof
  • Extremely thin, very light
  • Superb battery performance
  • LTE model has gotten cheaper
  • Price for Wi-Fi model hasn't changed, is a little high
  • Lower-res display compared to some of its competitors
  • No Android 5.0 Lollipop update yet, but it's coming
Review

Finally it's time to look at Google's finest in the HTC Nexus 9. This is the true powerhouse with a 64-bit Tegra K1 chipset, 8.9" 1536 x 2048px IPS display, front-facing stereo speakers and the best of Android on a tablet with Lollipop on board and the promise of timely updates for the foreseeable future.

The Nexus 9 has everything covered from high-end gaming to connectivity with an LTE Cat4-ready platform. We loved the speakers on the front and also the display and found Android Lollipop a step up from KitKat for tablet functionality.

The HTC-made Nexus 9 is the best tablet you can buy if you want Android as your operating system. It's also arguably the best tablet you can buy, period. Its price hasn't changed at all and is the highest in the mid-sized section but Google's own justifies it with impeccable performance.


HTC Nexus 9
Pros Cons
  • High resolution display (1536 x 2048px)
  • Large screen diagonal
  • Great 64-bit chipset
  • Great graphics performance
  • LTE variant
  • 8MP camera
  • Stereo speakers on the front
  • Latest Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Futureproof
  • LTE model has reduced in price
  • Wi-Fi model hasn't changed in price
Review

Full-sized tablets

Finally we come to the big boys - the tablets exceeding 9" in screen diagonal. This is where the behemoths live and where users with demands for the largest screens reside. As usual we'll list devices starting with the cheapest and moving our way up the ladder until we reach the best there is.

The first name in this section is the Asus Transformer Pad TF103C. It commands the lowest price among our chosen list of tablets and for a little extra offers a dock complete with a battery of its own. Otherwise the Asus Transformer Pad TF103C isn't very inspiring in terms of specs. It has a good Intel Atom Z3745 with a dual-core 1.86GHz processor, a 10.1" IPS LCD display but only 1GB of RAM and a low resolution of 1280 x 800px that's stretched rather thin over the display canvas.

For the money the Asus Transformer Pad TF103C is great, but generally we'd look for higher resolution options at this display size.


Asus Transformer Pad TF103C
Pros Cons
  • IPS display
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Stereo speakers
  • Intel Atom chipset
  • Added battery and keyboard thanks to dock
  • Low price
  • GPS
  • Low-ppi display
Review

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ is next up and is the cheapest FullHD 10" tablet to be found. It manages this by using a lowly Snapdragon 400 chipset which isn't up to par with most of the competition in this guide.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ has a good display and an innovative design with a 3-stage kickstand that allows the slate to stand on a desk. There are also two speakers under the display that project frontal stereo sound.

Finally the price for the Wi-Fi only version of the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ has gone down slightly. There's also a 3G unit available but that has gone up in price, so those looking to stay connected outdoors better look elsewhere.


Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+
Pros Cons
  • 1920 x 1200px display
  • Built-in kickstand
  • Stereo speakers
  • 3G option
  • 8MP camera
  • Heavy at 615g
  • No LTE model
  • Snapdragon 400 chipset
Hands-on

An old fan-favorite the Asus Memo Pad FHD10 is getting long in the tooth but still has a lot to offer. It uses a 1920 x 1200px display and offers all the goodies a good tablet should - stereo speakers, storage expansion and an adequate chipset. This tablet also offers LTE but that model has gone up in price since last time we visited.

The Memo Pad FHD10 is also well priced at the moment, making it a competitive option on the market. Keep in mind that the slate doesn't have its own stand or keyboard dock and is pretty heavy to balance for prolonged periods of time.


Asus Memo Pad FHD10
Pros Cons
  • 1920 x 1200px display
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Stereo speakers
  • Adequate chipset
  • LTE option
  • Good price
  • May not receive Android 5.0 Lollipop soon
  • Big and heavy

Samsung's excellent Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 deserves a mention too. It has a very high-resolution display and all the bells and whistles of a high-end full-sized slate - stereo speakers, great chipset, expandable storage, 8MP camera, great battery life and is attractively priced at the moment.

It's in line to receive Android Lollipop but even as it is the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 has a very capable software package, geared toward great productivity with Samsung's Multi Window which is even more useful on such a big display.


Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
Pros Cons
  • 2560 x 1600px display
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Stereo speakers
  • Capable chipset
  • 8MP camera
  • LTE
  • GPS
  • Heavily-customizable UI
  • Great battery life, superb call times
  • Good price at the moment
  • Still on the wait list for Android 5.0 Lollipop
Review

The last mention in this category for Android is the Asus Transformer Pad TF701T - this is Asus' high-powered transformer tablet with a 2560 x 1600px display stretching over 10.1 inches. The Tegra 4 by Nvidia handles processing and has a potent GeForce mobile graphics card for high-end gaming.

The shortcomings of the Transformer Pad TF701T are the lack of LTE, the lack of Android Lollipop (so far) and the fact that the slate is cumbersome without its dock. But the price for the tablet alone is worth it and, if you need to, adding a dock to the package isn't that expensive.


Asus Transformer Pad TF701T
Pros Cons
  • High resolution display
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Keyboard, trackpad and battery thaks to dock
  • Adequate chipset
  • Good price with and without dock
  • May not receive Android 5.0 Lollipop soon
  • Big and heavy
  • Uninspiring without the dock
  • No LTE variant
Review

Finally we come to what many consider is the best full-sized tablet around. We won't get into that debate but there's no point in denying that Apple have the best-seller on their hands. The Apple iPad Air is a year old but shows just how good Apple is at making tablets - the screen (which uses specs that are 3 years old) is great, the body is among the slimmest at this size and there's a quality A7 chipset running the show.

The Apple iPad Air is streamlined with a great aluminum body that's just 7.5mm thick. Apple has managed to accommodate stereo speakers and a 128GB option into the tight spot. Then there's Apple's iOS 8 which runs as smooth as you'd like and also offers a superb app catalogue that's tailored specifically for the iPad Air's display. As with everything made by Apple the iPad Air suffers from low customizability as well as no option to increase the built-in storage, aside from paying a premium for the next bigger variant. The iPad Air has gotten cheaper since last we saw it, though.


Apple iPad Air
Pros Cons
  • High resolution display
  • Thin and light
  • Stereo speakers
  • Very good chipset
  • LTE option
  • 128GB variant
  • Competitive price
  • Good battery life
  • Unsurpassed app ecosystem
  • Non-expandable storage
  • Non-customizable UI
Review

And at long last we arrive at the Apple iPad Air 2. It's more expensive than its predecessor but makes up for it with an even slimmer and lighter body, a TouchID home button, better camera, laminated display (meaning better viewing angles and lower reflectivity), a brand-new chipset which we found is among the best in the world and, if you insist, a golden color option.

What we like about the iPad Air is further improved on the Air 2 but the drawbacks are the same - non-expandable storage, costly storage upgrade and limited productivity features and customization options.


Apple iPad Air 2
Pros Cons
  • High resolution display (1536 x 2048px)
  • Incredibly thin and light
  • Stereo speakers
  • Superb chipset, unbeaten graphics performance (Apple A8X, 64-bit)
  • LTE option
  • 8MP camera, 1080p video
  • Good battery life
  • Unsurpassed variety of the app ecosystem, especially for tablets
  • Non-expandable storage and pricey storage upgrade
  • Non-customizable UI
  • Expensive
Review

The Apple iPad Air and Air 2 aren't the best tablets when it comes to connecting with other devices but if you live entirely in Apple's ecosystem they are easily the best tablets you can buy.

What didn't make the cut

With each of our tablet buyer's guide there are tablets that get left out of the final list despite fitting certain use cases or making a valid point in the conversation. And as before we like to tell you what the issue is with these tablets and still give them some exposure because they are also worth considering - they are just not the best purchase you can make in our eyes.

First off is the Nexus 7 from 2013. It still runs the latest version of Android and still has a good skill set but its price hasn't gone as much as to make it a worthy entry in our guide. You can still find the Nexus 7 2013 here and there either on a limited offer or refurbished and in these cases the slate is still worth a look. But some of the 7" FullHD tablets we mentioned in page 2 are as good or even better than the Nexus 7 2013 for less money.

Asus Google Nexus 7 (2013)

Asus Google Nexus 7 (2013)

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 8.0 features a unique kickstand and has gone down in price. But you can get an 8" tablet with FullHD display for less money and Lenovo has a better-looking offer for the same price in the face of the Tab S8, featured in our mid-sized tablets rundown.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 8.0

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 8.0

LG's G Pad 8.3 didn't make the cut for the second time running. It's still a great tablet with quality buildand a great display. But it has gotten more expensive and hasn't yet received Lollipop which prevents it from standing its ground.

LG G Pad 8.3
LG G Pad 8.3 LTE

LG G Pad 8.3 • LG G Pad 8.3 LTE

This one is a tough one. The Nvidia Shield tablet is just 6 months old and is excellent. It's price hasn't moved at all since our last buyer's guide but wasn't that bad.

Yet Nvidia has an event scheduled that could bring a successor to the Shield Tablet and it's worth waiting until March 3 before you take a plunge for it. Even if Nvidia doesn't release a successor you can still get the current-gen model then as price will likely decline a bit. And if we do see a second generation Nvidia Shield Tablet the first one is only going to become cheaper.

Nvidia Shield
Nvidia Shield LTE

Nvidia Shield • Nvidia Shield LTE

If you've read up on our mid-sized tablets list you'll know all about why we don't condone recommending the Apple iPad mini 3. It's basically a golder-colored iPad mini 2 with a TouchID home button and costs more. Just get the iPad mini 2 unless you really need fingerprint security or a golden paintjob.

Apple iPad mini 3

Apple iPad mini 3

Finally we come to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5 - both excellent tablets but both costing too much to justify the upgrade over the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and 10.1. Aside from the Super AMOLED displays and slimmer bodies both tablets are almost exactly the same.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 LTE
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 LTE

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 LTE • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 • Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 LTE

Final words

Тhree months' is a very long time in the tech world. And yet there hasn't been too much action in the tablet world over the past quarter. There have only been a few announcements and non that really grab the headlines.

With no new hardware it's hardly surprising that we haven't seen much action in terms of price cuts either - those are usually forced by the competition getting stiffer.

This guide has reflected more or less the state of the tablet market for some time now - steady change without huge leaps and bounds. The tablet has matured and so has its market. Even Apple, which made the device category relevant have slowed things down and are now mostly doing incremental updates.

And while this may not be the best moment to upgrade your old tablet, the settling of the market means it's a great time to get into this hardware segment. With the dust settled, bad surprises are far less likely - the vast majority of teething problems have been solved so you get nicely polished products now.

Compact tablets

In the segment containing the smallest of tablets - 7" in screen diagonal - we'll be working our way from the ground up. Starting from the cheapest found currently on the market (cross-referenced between multiple retailers). Keep in mind that we factor in prices from authorized resellers and not the makers themselves, as they tend to have the best prices.

This guide marks the departure of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite 7.0 as our basement-price offer. This time we have the HP Slate7 Plus, which is both more powerful and cheaper than the Samsung offering. The HP Slate7 Plus boasts a 1280 x 800px 7" display (up from the 1024 x 600px) a Tegra 3 chipset with quad-core processor, 5MP main camera, VGA front-facing one, 8GB of expandable storage and a very low price at the moment.

The only weakness here is the lack of a cellular option for the HP Slate7 Plus but at this price we doubt many would splurge on a separate data plan.


HP Slate7 Plus
Pros Cons
  • Cheapest 7" tablet
  • High-res display
  • Quad-core chipset
  • 5MP camera
  • 8GB storage built-in
  • No 3G variant

The next entry on the list is another newcomer - the Lenovo A7-50 A3500. It's a bit more expensive but not by much and is more or less the same hardware. The difference here is that the Lenovo A7-50 uses a Mediatek MT8382 chpset with a quad-core processor that uses Cortex-A7 instead of the Cortex-A9 cores found in the Slate7 Plus.

Lenovo's A7-50 also features a 3G version. The price difference is close to nothing meaning you could get a 3G-enabled tablet without spending extra money.


Lenovo A7-50 A3500
Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • IPS LCD of good resolution
  • Quad-core chipset
  • 5MP camera
  • 3G variant available for almost the same price
  • Uninspiring design
  • Questionable future software support

Moving the threshold to about €100/$85 is the Acer Iconia One 7 B1. On tap it has a great IPS 7" display of 800 x 1280 pixel resolution, 5MP camera, stereo speakers and a dual-core 1.6GHz processor packed into an Intel Atom chipset.

There's no cellular option here so if on the go data is important to you we suggest you look elsewhere. If not this might be the best compact tablet on a budget you can buy right now.


Acer Iconia One 7 B1-730
Pros Cons
  • Low price
  • Good screen resolution
  • Intel Atom chipset
  • 5MP camera
  • Stereo speakers
  • IPS display
  • No 3G/LTE version

The Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C is a regular already in our buyer's guide. It's around 20% more than the aforementioned Acer tablet but adds an Intel Atom Z3745 chip with quad-core chipset clocked at 1.86GHz.

The bump to the next best Intel Atom chipset is the only thing that could sway users toward Asus' offering instead of Acer's. If both fit the bill for you, specs-wise, we suggest you decide if you need the beefier chipset.


Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
Pros Cons
  • IPS screen of 1280 x 800px resolution
  • 5MP camera
  • Great quad-core Intel Atom chipset
  • Stereo speakers
  • 1080p video
  • GPS on board
  • Price has gone up
  • No 3G/LTE version
Review

For the third time running we have the Asus FonePad 7 ME175CG. This isn't the 2014 Fonepad 7, which we recently reviewed but the model prior to it. The reason behind us using an older iteration is because it's both better and at an almost exact same price.

The FonePad 7 ME175CG has a higher-res display over its successor, while still offering an Intel Atom chipset, 5MP camera and built-in 3G/LTE.


Asus FonePad 7 ME175CG
Pros Cons
  • IPS display of good 1280 x 800px resolution
  • Capable Intel Atom chipset
  • 5MP camera
  • 3G/LTE built-in
  • A year and a half old now
  • Price has gone up a little
Hands-on

The last time we saw the 7" Amazon Kindle Fire HDX in our buyer's guide it was cheaper. Since then its price has gone slightly up but it isn't so high as to take the slate out of the running. The Kindle Fire HDX marks the move toward higher-specced tablets with a 1200 x 1920px display, Snapdragon 800 chipset, 2GB of RAM, LTE version and storage options ranging from 16GB to 64GB.

The bit about storage options is important as the Kindle Fire HDX has no card slot and you'll need to keep in mind that when buying it. Another thing to keep in mind is the forked Android version on board - it isn't compatible with Google Play Services and won't bring you the same Android experience as all the droid slates in this guide. The Kindle Fire HDX is basically a window into Amazon's world of retail and that's the reason Amazon sells its hardware on a lower price note.


Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
Pros Cons
  • FullHD IPS display
  • Good Snapdragon 800 chipset, 2GB of RAM
  • Very low price for the hardware
  • Stereo speakers
  • LTE model
  • Amazon-built Android with no Google Play
  • Low-res 1.3MP camera
  • No microSD card slot

Finally we've enrolled the Huawei MediaPad X1. It lacks the superior chipset of the Kindle Fire HDX and uses a Hisilicon Kirin 910 with a Cortex-A9 quad-core processor but relies on a good Mali-450MP4 GPU. Otherwise the MediaPad X1 is a svelte slate made out of premium glass, plastic and aluminum, has a 7" 1200p screen that's also IPS, a 13MP main camera and comes as standard with a SIM slot and ability to make calls.

The price of the MediaPad X1 is a little steep but it backs it up with a solid feature-pack. It could be hard to come by, though, and is worth looking up if you want to get a premium compact tablet.


Huawei MediaPad X1
Pros Cons
  • FullHD IPS display
  • 5MP camera
  • LTE-only
  • 13MP camera on the back, 5MP on the front
  • Low weight
  • Not the cheapest
  • Chipset isn't up to similarly-priced competition

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