The Best Tablets: Lower prices make tablets attractive entry-level computing devices

By Julio Franco ยท 28 replies
Nov 28, 2016
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  1. Exploding tablet sales are no more. The latest figures show us that slates and detachables' sales have fallen eight quarters in a row. This could be explained by a number of factors, among them that smartphones are now larger and faster, while laptops are thinner and lighter than they used to, so the scope of tablets has been narrowed down significantly.

    On top of that, there have been very few 'must-have' devices released in the past year, in fact most of our recommendations from a year ago are still the best devices you can get today. The good news for consumers is that prices have never been better. Tablets remain an attractive form factor for numerous uses and with the price of a top notch tablet below $400, they are more accessible than ever before. Here's our round-up of the best tablets in each category.

    Read on and check out the best tablets

  2. robb213

    robb213 TS Maniac Posts: 330   +100

    I was still deciding between a laptop and tablet, leaning more to a laptop as a power user, and bad experiences with my only tablet.

    You're list just pretty much makes me want a laptop. Tablets today seem to fit such a niche area that it's hard to see where they actually fit.
  3. jizzyburnizzy

    jizzyburnizzy TS Enthusiast Posts: 61   +7

    I'm in the same boat but still leaning towards the Surface as it has both the tablet and laptop feel.
    I may get a surface pro 3 if they have some good sales during black Friday. I'm not willing to shell out that much money for a surface pro 4
  4. KupKaa

    KupKaa TS Rookie

    I strongly vouch for the iPad Mini 2. My second stellar piece of tech (my first was the iPhone 4, which is still my one and only phone). The Mini 2 has been my rock-solid companion in several journeys abroad (I have the Cellular option and I get a local SIM card and data plan). My favorite part about it is its compact, yet very usable, form factor. Along with a quality (paper) notebook of roughly the same size but thicker, and a couple of pens in my pocket, I have been unbelievably effective in getting around town and getting things done, without the need for a bag on my shoulder. And yes, the apps do just about anything I want, just short of scratching my back. So... go get this Mini 2. It's not just a show thing. In fact, nobody even notices me carrying it when I have it with my notebook (they see the notebook). There are downsides though...One, you can't read magazines on it for very long (like on long flights) without eyestrain (for which you'll often wish the screen were bigger) and the even bigger downside it that despite this it is addictive as hell. It's been a year and a half since I bought my Mini 2 and I an strongly considering checking into rehab.
  5. mrtraver

    mrtraver TS Guru Posts: 382   +89

    I know it's becoming a niche market, but have been using my Nexus 7 daily for nearly two years, even after finally getting a smartphone last year. I prefer the tablet's bigger screen for playing games and watching movies. I don't know what I will do when it dies - for cost considerations, portability, and convenience, I don't want a tablet bigger than 7" (nor a phone larger than 5"), and due to my catalog of apps I want to stick with Android and the Play Store (so no iPad or Kindle Fire). I have not noticed any other 7" Android tablet with its combination of price and performance since the Nexus 7 was discontinued.
  6. lazer

    lazer TS Booster Posts: 111   +26

    Why Samsung is not mentioned, I don't know, but I have one and love it. Battery is OK, speed is great and is lite weight too.
  7. enemys

    enemys TS Addict Posts: 124   +110

    Meanwhile: refurbished and outlet business hybrids still provide the best price/quality ratio in Windows world (at least in my part of the world). But SP4 is a great machine, if you can afford it.
  8. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Enthusiast Posts: 60   +16

    My Nexus 10 has, sadly, begun to fail and has lost the ability to transfer files to/from my PCs via its USB port. My favorite usage has been to play YouTube videos on a 42" flat-screen in my office via the USB/HDMI port and this still works well. It has also lost the battle for best-looking screen to my Note 4, hands down.I only wish this tablet had been included in the update candidates for 6.0.
    My wife and her sister still use a pair of 2012 Nexus 7 tablets they Solitaire on.
    When I replace my aging Lenovo Think Pad, a Surface Pro is currently in 1st place in the running as I use Nuance discrete speech recognition and this software currently runs only on full Windows devices. The Pixel C is currently the only Android tablet I would consider.
    If I could have a wish granted it would be for the never-produced Surface Pro 8" tablet. Nice form factor.
  9. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    The failure of WebOS and RIM basically showed everyone that this market only has room for Android and iOS.

    There is no true competition for iOS. Android is ubiquitous, but it's not as good as iOS in terms of simplicity and aesthetics.

    iOS stands alone - simply because nothing else, beyond an apple product, can run ios.

    Everyone else battles it out in the Android market: offering gimmicks to try to attract attention.

    Even if I created a "perfect tablet" with a perfect CPU, a 50 Megapixel camera that takes pictures in pitch black darkness, perfect amount of RAM and 30 hour battery life... it would still only be as good as its operating system. I don't like using Android. I prefer iOS. If that "perfect tablet" isn't available from Apple, I just don't want it.

    iOS has more apps.
    iOS has better looking apps.
    iOS has more stable apps (across devices).
    iOS has more reliable updates.
    iOS has more regularity of updates.

    It's not the "iPad" that's so great.

    It's iOS.
  10. fktech

    fktech TS Addict Posts: 223   +60

    I have the Surface Pro and iPad Air and wish I had the Yoga or Surface Book instead!
  11. fktech

    fktech TS Addict Posts: 223   +60

    iOS update process sucks!!!
  12. Radical

    Radical TS Enthusiast Posts: 52   +34


    No 'back' button on iOS. Forget about it. Android is better if for only that reason.
    Crunch, alabama man and H3llion like this.
  13. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    "back" isn't a physical button. It's the upper left-hand corner of the page and it's context sensitive along with the ability to swipe backwards.

    You keep buying Android. I'll keep buying the best.
  14. Versutus

    Versutus TS Enthusiast Posts: 35   +15

    I'm using an iPad Mini 2 for 3 years now, and just lovin it. It's awesome, small, lightweight, it has so many apps, it's fast enough for browsing. One of my best purchase ever.
    Bigtruckseries likes this.
  15. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    I carry an iPad 4th gen in my car and I have a Pro at home. It'll be years before the 64-bit CPU feels "slow". The best thing about iPad's is their predictability. They age very well. There are many people who still use the original for a small number of low-bandwidth apps.
  16. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    Buying a smartphone or tablet or Smart TV is often a function of a buyer's penetration into an operating system ecosystem. When iPhone 8 comes out, I know that all I'll have to do is backup my iPhone 7 Plus to the cloud and it will redownload all my apps to the 8.

    I can't easily move from iOS to Android , nor can I move from Android to iOS.

    #2 Tablets aren't very good at "production".

    Tablets are content "consumers" rather than content "producers". Beyond simple emails, music listening, web browsing and video watching: tablets aren't very good. You'd be better off with a laptop than a tablet.

    It just so happens that iOS makes for a better content consumer than Android does.

    The apps look better, function smoother and are earlier to market in most cases.
  17. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,310   +434

    My Sero Hisense 7 Pro is still going strong and does all I need after what, 3 or 4 years? Pretty good tablet
  18. Johnnyblaze1957

    Johnnyblaze1957 TS Enthusiast Posts: 58   +12

    you keep buying the best at sucking money out of you for minor changes that android already has.
  19. Badelhas

    Badelhas TS Booster Posts: 75   +26

    What about the Chuwi Hi12 12 inch 1440p tablet? It has great specs, runs windows 10 and Android and costs 220 dollars. With 40 more you can get the keyboard/dock and turn it into a laptop. I dont understand why doesnt anyone talk about that option. That's what I have and for the price it cant be beat.

    Johnnyblaze1957 likes this.
  20. Kenrick

    Kenrick TS Evangelist Posts: 571   +372

    Too bad, even the best android tablets still have no performance advantage against the apple a8x processor in ipad air 2 - even it is a previous gen of Apple SoC. Anandtech has also the same recommendations.

    quadcore, octacore doest not mean its efficient and fastest. In ARM, its all about how they design the architecture.
  21. winjay

    winjay TS Rookie Posts: 20

    Android must improve. Samsung Galaxy Tab S with amoled screen is breathtakingly awesome - but android sucks.
    Tablet apps and interactions are lame. We need a honeycomb 2.0.
  22. deemon

    deemon TS Addict Posts: 253   +70

    How about a list of best budget tablets? And here I mean something like <150$ ... maybe even <100$?
  23. alabama man

    alabama man TS Maniac Posts: 378   +244

    No android tablets without keyboard and other useless ****. I use a sony z4 tablet because I need it to be water proof. Surface should be reviewed as laptop, good thinking from microsoft to call it both so it gets double the attention.
  24. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,477   +126

    Bring out the transparent tablets.. I still waiting on that tech to come out. Tablets have come a long way though in tech and look how thin they are today..
  25. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,108   +1,286

    The Ipad Mini 2 is definitely a good device, just not that I would have put it in the best for the budget category because it's not really priced for low budget. This comment isn't directed at you, more the silliness of a sub $250 tablet being considered budget. That's the same price you could have purchased a console for.

    That's what I was thinking. I think for most people $250 does not qualify as a budget device.

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