Last week we talked about what the best Android phone to buy this month was and highlighted the top announcements from Mobile World Congress 2014, and now it’s time to go over the best Android tablets your hard-earned money can buy in 2014. The year is already off to a hot start with the latest announcements out of MWC2014, so we should be seeing some exciting movement on this list before too long. With that said, let’s get to the action!
5 – LG G Pad 8.3
We had to make room for a new tablet on the list this month, so the LG G Pad 8.3 sees itself sliding back to 5th place. That’s still a pretty good mark, though, as the G Pad 8.3 is a pretty good tablet. Dated internals such as the Snapdragon 600 processor do hurt its case at the point, but if you can forgive that and realize that this thing is slim, sleek and powerful in all the other right areas (and often goes on sale for less than $300) you’ll know why we’re still excited by it.
4 – Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition
Not helping the Note 10.1 2014′s case is the fact that Samsung has some other, newer kids on the block. Regardless, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is still worth a long, hard look at retail. It features a 1.9GHz Exynos 5420 processor with 3GB of RAM, 16-32GB of storage, an 8 megapixel rear camera, a 2megapixel front camera, an 8,220mAh battery, and a 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 display. We’re still waiting on key upgrades to Samsung’s UI that will fix some nagging bugs we’ve experienced, though perhaps that’s in order for the KitKat upgrade Samsung has in the works.
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.
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, especially for a starting price point of $229.
2 – Nexus 7 2013
This 7-inch ASUS-made wonder slides back to number 2, but it’s hard ignoring that nice 7-inch 1920 x 1200 display (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. That you can get it for just $230 is a big reason why it’s near the top of our list, and its guaranteed
1 — Samsung Galaxy NotePro
Samsung completely outdid themselves on this one. And you might also say they outpriced themselves, as well. $750 is the cheapest you can have a Samsung Galaxy NotePro, but it’s probably worth it if you can scrape up the cash. That’ll get you a minimum of 32GB of internal storage, a 12.2-inch 2560 x 1600 display, 3GB of RAM, an 8 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, 9,500mAh battery and more.
The device definitely isn’t for everyone. Its unwieldy display size and lofty price tag might scare away potential buyers. But if you’re in need of some serious horsepower that runs Android and can get any job done, this is it. It’s on sale right now at Amazon.
Samsung Galaxy TabPro (8.2, 10.1 and 12.2)
These devices are like “more affordable” versions of the TabPro, except without the S Pen. But they’re still quite pricey and have specs that anyone can be proud of. Each have 2560 x 1600 resolution, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and more, though the 10.1 has Samsung’s 1.9GHz quad-core processor while the 8.4 has Qualcomm’s 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800. No matter which way you slice it, though, these tablets pack some serious heat.
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’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.
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).
Samsung Nexus 10
It fell out of the top 5, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth talking about. We’re honestly amazed at how long this tablet has been able to live, though the sleek stock Android build and future-proofed internals (Cortex-A15 processor, 2560 x 1600 display and 2GB of RAM don’t hurt) has kept it in the limelight for quite some time. It’ll probably remain a good buy until Google eventually decides to replace it.
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 and should hopefully make the purchase decision easier once they’re here later this year.
- Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet — Wow. One of the first Sony tablets we can say we’re legitimately excited for. [Hands-On]
- Lenovo Yoga 10+ — Built-in kickstand and sleek design are cool, but modest internals have us reeling a bit. [Hands-on]
- Huawei MediaPad M1 and X1 — This duo isn’t turning many heads, but Huawei should have them priced to sell quite decently. [Hands-on 1|2]
- ASUS Transformer Book Duet TD300 — A dual-boot Windows / Android hybrid that can switch between the two in under five seconds at the touch of a button. What’s not to like? Unfortunately, its launch might actually be in jeopardy, with ASUS reportedly pressured to cancel the project by Google. Sad Face.
- Motorola DROID tablets – We’re not sure what the status of these are now that Motorola is owned by Lenovo, but we’ll assume (and pray) Motorola’s plans to launch a tablet are still alive.
And that’s only what we know of for the first half of 2014. This tablet train isn’t slowing down with news that Android has surpassed iOS tablets for the first time ever, and we’re excited to be on-board for the ride.
What say you?
You wouldn’t be alone in saying 2013 was a bit of a disappointment when it comes to tablets, with many manufacturers looking to appeal to budget consumers. But 2014 is looking to change all of that, and it’s the level of innovation discussed in all the devices above that could propel Android tablets to the same elite high ground that the phones have reached. Feel any differently? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
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.