With the holidays approaching, it's time for our annual recommendations for devices in various product categories. Today we're taking a look at what tablets provide the best value and experience for different users. There's obviously a lot of decisions to be made when buying a tablet, and we'll assume that by the time a user has concluded that they want a tablet they have already determined that it is a more suitable choice for them than a more traditional computer like a desktop PC or a laptop.

The first question the buyer will have to ask themselves is what price they are comfortable paying. Tablet prices can range anywhere from $100 to $1000, depending on exactly what tablet it is, and the buyer's price target will be a constraint on the different tablets they have to choose from. Once a price target has been established, the user must decide what they want to do with their tablet. Some tablets may not have the selection of applications that the buyer needs, and others may not have a suitable form factor or size for performing these tasks. Tablets come in many shapes and sizes, with displays ranging from 7" to 13" with aspect ratios that vary from 3:2 on the Surface Pro 3, to 4:3 on the iPad and Nexus 9, to 16:10 on the Nexus 7. Certain display shapes and sizes will be better suited to watching videos, while others will be better suited to reading PDFs and books.

These decisions about size, utility, and price will ultimately drive the decision of what operating system the tablet should be running. Currently this is a choice between three platforms, with the market being dominated by tablets running iOS and Android, Windows coming in third, and other operating systems like WebOS having been eliminated in previous years due to lack of consumer interest. There are also other factors, like accessories and keyboard attachments, but it's very difficult to evaluate these as their usefulness will ultimately depend on the user's needs. Instead of trying to look at every single tablet that fills every niche, we've looked at what we think are the best overall devices within each of the three major operating systems that are available on tablets.

iOS Tablets
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  • PC Perv - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    Your bias is blinding you. How about checking out your own review?

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7886/samsung-galaxy-...

    The Nexus 7 has literally zero advantage except for getting quicker Android updates. That's per YOUR OWN review. And what is wrong with RGBW panel, as long as it displays correct images and gives awesome crispness thanks to its high PPI? Would you say CYMK in your printer (and just about every printer) is also a problem?

    From what I can tell you are one of those typical AT reviewers, hell bent on "Apple is the standard" and judging everything from that angle. I admit not every AT reviewers are like that - especially those in Europe seem to be more even-headed. I am looking forward to the day when you "leave" to work as Joni Eve's personal driver.
    Reply
  • PC Perv - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    lol, Joni Eve. Sorry I meant "Johnny Ive" XD Reply
  • Brandon Chester - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    My mistake, I had forgotten how it's strangely the larger tablet with the worse display. Calling me ignorant for a mistake is interesting since you incorrectly identified the SoC in the Nexus 7 two times in a row, despite the exact model being put in the article. I never called you ignorant for your mistake.

    RGBW is actually a real issue, you get huge reductions in chroma resolution. Again, the display isn't so much the issue as the hardware driving it. I have used it myself and there's obvious jank, S800 was not designed to drive such a high resolution. That's all I have to say about that.

    I don't know why you brought up Apple, it seems like you've just fallen into throwing out ad hominems because of what appears to be buyer's justification because you own the TabPro. If you disagree with me that's fine, but accusing others of bias and making personal attacks is not at all a valid way to argue a point.
    Reply
  • PC Perv - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    Wrong again. I had the Nexus 7 (2013 model, which I sold because of performance degradation due to its cheap components), not the Tab Pro. I would have not spent $400 on the Tab Pro anyway.

    I know exactly what the Nexus 7's SoC is. I just wasn't sure how to call it. That was not a mistake. Your "mistake," on the other hand, is a different kind. "It's RGBW, so it's out of running" Just like Brian Klug's "It's AMOLED, so it's worthless." type of mistake.

    I can't wait for the day when Apple adopt AMOLED and you declare "AMOLED DONE RIGHT."
    Reply
  • stlc8tr - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    Just to be clear, AFAIK, the Tab Pro 8.4 isn't RGBW. It's a full RGB stripe display. Only the 10.1 and 12.2 tablets are RGBW.

    Also, given the the Tab Pro 8.4 was recommended at $400, I don't understand why it isn't being recommend at $200, which is *CHEAPER* than the N7.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7886/samsung-galaxy-...

    "Android alternatives include the Nexus 7, which delivers slightly less performance in most cases than the Pro 8.4 and it “only” has a WUXGA display, but it has one big selling point: it costs $170 less than the Pro 8.4, and you could even pick up two for the price of a single Pro 10.1 – or you could grab the 32GB model and still only pay $269. The Pro 8.4 looks and feels nicer in my opinion, but it’s really difficult to argue with that sort of price competition. If you want two more options, the Kindle Fire HDX 7” ($200) and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9” ($379) pack similar performance with their Snapdragon 800 SoCs and have a lot to offer, but the lack of Google Play Services is a pretty massive drawback in my book. I really can’t find any other direct competition in the Android market for the Samsung Pro 8.4 right now, so it's an easy recommendation."
    Reply
  • PC Perv - Monday, December 01, 2014 - link

    Another ridiculousness is how he thinks the value of $100 when we talk about $200-ish tablets. He says,

    [Q]Also it's an RGBW panel, and it's normally $300 so I still don't see the appeal at all.[/Q]

    Either he is totally brainwashed, or really bad at math. I mean, if the Nexus 7 was $120 ($220 - $100), would he say the same? Or, would he say the same about the iPad Air 2 if it's on sale for $100 less? No appeal at all?

    I somehow doubt it. Says a lot about his bias, arrogance, and his total disregards of actual consumers.

    I wish this guy had a humility to look himself in the mirror, but I frankly do not expect it from the attitude he has shown here so far.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Monday, December 15, 2014 - link

    It's not math. It is the unconscious decision to ignore everything else regardless of what was said or in some cases the facts. Religion is great at doing this btw. As you stated previously what does it matter if it's RGBW or anything as long as the image is clear and clean. And at these screen sizes who is really going to see the difference?

    Brandon, he threw out Apple reference because Anand's reviews share the same common reasoning, using Apple as the standard. Remember the screen size, the display? No different that what you're really doing here, albeit not as excessive as the full fledged Apple-loved reviews by Anand. I pray you don't ask us to cite them because that would be embarrassing to Anandtech.
    Reply
  • steve1616 - Thursday, December 18, 2014 - link

    I have noticed so many people bag on this site for being pro apple. It seems like if anyone says anything good about an apple product, than obviously it is wrong. I didn't read a review made by an apple fanboy, but I have read mean comments made by obvious android fanboys.

    This is a neutral site, but even a pure android site (android police) recommended the ipad air 2 over all the android tablets. Maybe its just better. I started on android tablets. I bought hisense sero 7 pro tablets for my kids since their school required them and this tablet was recommended by the IT guy at their school. It was a good performing tablet, but so far 2 of the tablets I bought died within 6 months. The other 2 tablets have had problems that I have fixed and I am still limping them by. I replaced the 2 dead tablets with ipad minis reluctantly because they have a great track record for reliability and they were on sale for $170. These old tech original ipad mini tablets were better performers on games. They never stuttered on games that the hisense stuttered slightly on. My sister also bought some hisense tablets on my initial recommendation. Her tablets died within a few months and hisense will drag on a warranty for years it is looking like. We're yet to receive anything and it has been over 6 months since we returned the units with RMA's. She bought 2 ipad minis and 1 Samsung tab 4, 8" tablet. We almost bought this same Samsung, but it was quite a bit more money than the ipad mini. I have gotten the chance to play with both tablets and the Samsung tablet is not as good a perfomer as the hisense tablet. It stutters badly in games compared to the ipad mini. In subway surfer the samsung always has this little stutter that can really mess you up. The ipad mini is just smooth. I was guilty of not giving apple a fair chance before this experience, and it was misguided. They seem to have the best tablet at the best prices if you wait for big sales
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Sunday, December 14, 2014 - link

    It's actually a krait 300 (15%ipc compared to krait 200).
    It's basically an underclocked s600.
    Reply
  • gailthesnail - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    Yeah I'm pretty sure you're wrong about that. I have a tab pro and it runs games great. It may not have the absolute newest chip but the s800 is still plenty powerful enough and definitely way more powerful than the s4 pro in the nexus 7. I would even pick it over the shield as nvidia has overpromised and under delivered on all of its chips in the past. The k1 looks like the most overrated chip in recent memory. It overheats, isn't battery efficient, and doesn't actually perform any better than competitors. Reply

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