Top 10 Tablets - Q1 2013

3/20/2013 9:13:23 AM

1.    Apple iPad

Price: from $560


Ratings: 5/5

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

The most important feature of any tablet is the screen, mainly because there’s not a whole lot else to it. And the screen is what marks the third iPad apart. Yes, it looks like an iPad 2 (with holiday weight), but everything you do on it is now rendered in glorious 2,048x1,536 on its 9.7in Retina Display. Photos, games and movies look incredible and text is eggshell- smooth, making reading, communicating and browsing a richer, less fatiguing experience,

A faster dual-core chip and quad-core graphics make it slicker and more user-friendly than ever, and given the unparalleled riches of the App Store, it’s still the most fun, too,

Killer feature

Did we mention the screen? No? It really is a bit special


Does everything the iPad has ever done, but now it looks four times as good. An amazing piece of kit

2.    Google Nexus 7

Price: from $312

Ratings: 5/5

Google Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7

The Asus-built, Android Jelly Bean-running Nexus is simply astonishing value. A passable 7in HD IPS screen sits in front of a mighty Tegra 3 processor, making it brilliant for gaming, but there’s also next gen toy such as NFC and the all-seeing Google Now to play with.

3.    Asus Transformer Pad Prime

Price: $919 (w/keyboard dock)

Ratings: 5/5

Asus Transformer Pad Prime

Asus Transformer Pad Prime

If you want Android openness, quad-core power, USB and HDMI and netbook-like ability to type on the go, get a Prime. It’s ultra slim without its keyboard dock and, with it, will go for 18hrs. Cash tight? Wait for the TP300 - more plastic, but just as satisfying.

4.    Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Price: $674

Ratings: 5/5

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

If you can stomach the price, this slim Samsung is the mid-size Android tablet par excellence. Its 7.7in AMOLED screen is ultra-vibrant, and it’s clad in lustrous aluminum. If it all seems too much, the ^23,250 Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is an excellent budget option.

5.    Asus Eee Pad Slider

Price: $680

Ratings: 5/5

Asus Eee Pad Slider

Asus Eee Pad Slider

The Eee Pad series of tablets from Asus receives yet another boost with the launch of the awesome Android Honeycomb 3.1 powered Eee Pad Slider. This one packs in a slide-out keyboard, unlike the detachable one on the Transformer.

6.    BlackBerry PlayBook

Price: from $257

Ratings: 4/5

BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook

The only viable alternative to the Nexus 7 if price is key, but while its dual-core, 7in hardware is beautifully made and PlayBook OS 2.0 adds some (but not quite enough) Android app support, only BlackBerry devotees should choose it over Google’s tablet.

7.    Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

Price: $597

Ratings: 4/5

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

It’s had a year, and all Samsung has done to the Tab is given it a facelift, downgraded the front-facing camera, added an SD card slot and cut a bit off the price. Which, actually, is OK by us, as the screen’s excellent and it’s acceptably quick in operation?

8.    Sony Tablet S

Price: $422

Ratings: 4/5

Sony Tablet S

A quirky, wedge-shaped design and super-sharp 9.4in screen make Sony’s Tablet S stand out. It’s just been updated to Android Ice Cream Sandwich and is a bargain at this price, especially given its IR blaster, which turns it into a handy universal remote.

9.    Motorola Xoom 3G

Price: $762

Ratings: 4/5

Motorola Xoom 3G

The first tablet to run Honeycomb gives the iPad 2 a bloody nose thanks to its better camera and built-in HDMI and SD ports. Its successor, the imaginatively titled XOOM 2, is thinner, lighter and comes with a brighter screen. Review coming soon.

10.  Viewsonic ViewPad 7

Price: $275

Ratings: 4/5

Viewsonic ViewPad 7

Aside from the snazzy red chassis, Viewsonic’s 7in tablet is hard to distinguish from the upcoming Acer A100. It runs Android Honeycomb with 8GB of storage. Despite slightly shonky Wi-Fi and camera positioning, it’s still a solid buy.

Instant expert

Etching our commandments

A chasm has opened in the ranks of tableteers. On one side are the big screen gang, brandishing their 10-inchers, and on the other there are the men- about-town, sliding 7in slates in and out of jacket pockets. Us? We’re at the bottom of the chasm, playing with both in the dirt. The iPad - the 10in standard-bearer - is better than any small tablet for browsing and apps. It has the space for complex interfaces (Korg’s iMS-20), coffee table reference (ROAD Inc.) and office apps (Numbers) alike. But for books, music or gaming, the Nexus 7 is a better size. Hardly surprising, then, that Apple is rumored to be releasing a cheaper 7.85in iPad (TBA, later this year. That’ll give it supremacy on both sides of the chasm and Apple loves supremacy.

US? We're playing in the dirt with both 7in and 10in tablets.

What to look for

1.    Operating system

The OS determines how good a tablet’s interface is, what it’s compatible with and how many apps are available for it. Android 3.0 and iOS provide computer-like power; the smartphone-centric Android 2.x is OK for web browsing; BlackBerry’s OS is good at multitasking; webOS is yet to arrive; and the Windows tablet experience just yet to work effectively at all.

2.    Processor

Dual-core ARM processors such as Apple’s A5 and Nvidia’s Tegra 2 provide the best tablet performance for now.

3.    Size

Screen dimensions and aspect ratios differ between devices, affecting how they crop video and how they are to hold - so try before you buy. The iPad’s is as vibrant as they come, but others have superior resolution.

4.    Connectivity

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth come as standard; SD card readers, USB ports and HDMI-out may not. 3G modems can be pricey.

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