Dec, 03 2013

Earlier this week we talked about what the best Android phone to buy this month was, and now it’s time to go over the best Android tablets your hard-earned money can buy leading up to that glorious Christmas day. This space doesn’t move quite as fast as smartphones, but we’re about ready to head into what should be an interesting holiday season with a few new tablets leading the way.

5 – Nexus 10 by Samsung

The Nexus 10 is quite old, and is rumored to be supplanted by an updated offering at some point in the near future, but as it stands it’s still one of the better tablets to buy. A lot of that is on price and principal — who can say no to a Nexus device? And who can say no to a Nexus device with these specs for $400?

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The specs I’m referring to include a 10.055-inch 2560 x 1600 display, Exynos 5 Dual (which is an ARM Cortex-A15 dual-core chipset with Mali T604 graphics), 2GB of RAM, 16-32GB of internal storage, WiFi + MiMo, Bluetooth, NFC, and more. And the fact that it’s already on Android 4.4 KitKat should allow you to buy one of these bad boys with confidence.

4 – LG G Pad 8.3

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LG’s G Pad 8.3 jumps to number four this month, and for good reason. Spending a bit more time with the tablet reveals LG really did get the whole “feels just right in your hands” thing just right. Ergonomics aside, the G Pad 8.3 is one fine tablet on all of its other merits, too, with a Snapdragon 600 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8.3-inch 1920 x 1200 display, 16GB of internal storage, a 5 megapixel camera and more. It looks great, too, which isn’t something we would have said about LG’s offerings from a couple of years ago.

3 – Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition

In our Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition review, Rob Jackson noted some pitfalls of the entirety of the experience, the biggest of which being a laggy user interface when flipping through MyMagazines or trying to use popup apps.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014

That was enough to keep it out of our first spot, but not nearly enough to kick it out of our top 5. The Note 10.1 2014 edition reads like a fantastic device on paper, with specs being comprised of the following:

  • 1.9GHz Exynos 5420 quad-core processor
  • 3GB of RAM.
  • 16GB or 32GB options for internal storage
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 2MP front facing camera
  • MicroUSB 2.0
  • MicroSD slot
  • 8,220 mAh battery and more

Samsung still has yet to address these issues with any sort of software upgrade, so it has taken a backseat to a couple of other worthy devices this month. If you just have to have the S Pen experience and don’t mind parting ways with $550, though, you can’t go wrong here.

2 – Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

The HDX line of Kindle Fire tablets is the latest in Amazon’s series. This changes the game up quite a bit by Amazon’s standards, a company whose modest first step into the tablet arena has since been bested with better offerings each year to follow. The HDX comes in 7-inch and 8.9-inch flavors, giving users a decent balance between screen real estate and portability.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX includes 2560 x 1600 resolution, storage options of 16-64GB, 4G LTE, a quad-core 2.2GHz processor (likely a Snapdragon 800), and more. As we all know by now, though, it isn’t the specs Amazon is hoping will win your hearts.

It’s the deep integration with their various services, including Prime Instant Video, MP3, Cloud Storage, Kindle e-Books, the Amazon Appstore, and a whole lot more. Content is king in Amazon’s world, and it’s something they have been very good at for quite some time. This is definitely one of the better buys of the holiday season, especially for a starting price point of $229.

1 – Nexus 7 2013

This 7-inch ASUS-made wonder slides in at the number 1 spot thanks to that nice 1920 x 1200 resolution (323 ppi), quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, 16-32GB of internal storage, 5 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, dual-band WiFi N, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and more.

New Nexus 7 hand wm

Google really does make it a bit unfair with their willingness to throw profits aside and offer this device up for dirt cheap, but that doesn’t make us feel reluctant or guilty for awarding the Nexus 7 2013 the top spot anyway. Oh, and did we mention you can get KitKat on this thing?

Honorable Mentions

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

It’s not quite as powerful as the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 or 8.9, but the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD still holds its own where it counts. Amazon couldn’t care less about the profit from device sales here, though, which is why it’s so cheap at a starting price of just $140. As with the HDX, it’s all about apps and services for Amazon. Specs include 1280 x 800 resolution, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 8-16GB of internal storage, 10 hours of battery life and more.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Samsung’s Note series has become the go-to for performance and features in the tablet space, so the more weildy of the bunch — the Note 8.0 — deserves a bit of recognition in the top 5. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0’s HD resolution and quad-core chipset are quite nice, and that all-important S-Pen functionality pushes this as one of the better “small” tablets to consider at the point of sale.

ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T

This is the latest product from ASUS that will allow you to transform your tablet into a netbook. The Transformer Pad TF701 is a 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 device with NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 processor on board. This powerhouse also includes a 5 megapixel rear camera, a 1.2 megapixel front camera, HDMI-out and more. And when you dock the tablet inside the dock, you’ll get a combined 17 hours of battery life (which is much more than any of today’s Netbooks can claim).

Tablets to look forward to

Here are just a few tablets to look forward to in the weeks and months to come. None of them are available for purchase yet, and some aren’t even official, but it’ll give you a good idea of what to expect once that ever-difficult purchasing decision arises this holiday seasons.

ASUS Padfone Infinity

This marvelous phone/tablet combo pack is set to launch sometime soon. ASUS was one of the first companies to make our “use a powerful phone as the guts of a tablet” dreams come true, and now they’ve gone and outdone themselves with the announcement of the Padfone Infinity.

the-new-padfone-infinity-hands-on

The phone bit includes a 5-inch 1080p HD Super IPS display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage with microSD, 13 megapixel rear camera with a 2 megapixel front camera, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi N, 2,400mAh battery and more.

Dock the phone into the rear of a device that has a 10.1-inch HD display and a huge battery, and you’ve got yourself one of the most powerful tablets, as well. Sounds pretty damned good to me, and worth keeping an eye out for once ASUS makes these available.

Motorola DROID tablets

Motorola has a tablet or two launching soon. We’re not sure what they are. We’re not sure how they’ll look. We’re not even sure when we’ll be seeing them. All we know is that they’ve confirmed some tablets are in the works, and that one of them will most certainly be headed straight for Verizon’s DROID lineup. With the great work they’ve done with the Moto X and the latest DROID phones, Motorola definitely gets a good deal of our attention.

What say you?

And that’ll do it for our list of the best Android tablets to buy. Things should be even more interesting by the time we put the next installment out, but take some time to go over the list for December, and think about where you stand on it. Feel free to disagree — we all have our own thoughts and opinions about these sorts of things, so you won’t be hurting our feelings! We want to hear all about it in the comments section below, so have at it!

PS: don’t forget that you can talk all about these tablets, and more, over at AndroidForums.com. Be sure to make an account and join the millions of folks currently driving some very healthy discussion over there.