Apple may have created the tablet space with the launch of the original iPad in 2010, but with ever more tablets being released over the last few months, which one is right for you?
Just as in most other sectors, there is not a singular “best tablet“, so much as a best tablet for what you are trying to do at a price-point you can afford. So how should you choose the right one for you?
Android and Windows 8 both offer some excellent tablet apps and are catching fast, but Apple’s head start in the tablet space, and its large established userbase means that there are simply more tablet-specific apps available on iOS. Not all of these apps make the most of the retina display on the iPad 4, so the iPad Mini wins the day here.
Best for Media
All the major tablets have good ecosystems where users can buy, rent, or stream a huge array of music, movies, and TV shows. But what sets them apart is how they deal with media bought elsewhere not in their own specific formats. Here the closed Apple system really starts to fall behind its competitors, as getting a movie you’ve bought from another store to play on the device is a real hassle. The iTunes/iDevice syncing may be simple and seamless, but once you step outside that, the user experience is terrible. Windows 8 is yet to find its flagship tablet, but Android has a few options. If you are buying right now then the Nexus 10 is a great device, but come next month the Sony Xperia Tablet Z will be the Android tablet everyone lusts for and Android’s MX player will handle pretty much every video file under the sun.
Best Battery Life
Actually getting the best battery life out of you device means working out the right screen brightness for your use, but in general terms Apple’s closed system means that they can make every saving possible to increase the life of iPads. The Apple iPad 4 with retina display offers over 12 hours of actual use on a single charge, and its competitors haven’t quite caught up yet, with the Samsung galaxy Tab 2 10.1 the closest with 10 hours.
Best Value for Money
The majority of tablet use is for browsing the web, checking the news, using email and social media, and watching videos. You don’t need an HD screen and a superfast processor, and with this in mind Google created the Nexus 7. A 7″ tablet is more portable and lighter than a 10″, but you do lose some screen real-estate. But coming in at just £159 for the 16GB version it is really hard to beat. The Nook HD and Amazon Kindle Fire HD come close, but the pure Android experience of a Google-branded tablet puts the Nexus 7 in the lead.
Money No Object
If you are willing to pay a premium for you tablet experience, then it is hard to look past the iPad 4 with its beautiful retina display. Apple knows how to craft desirable objects, and with the widest selection of tablet-specific apps available, you can’t go far wrong. You are paying a premium for the Apple brand, and using the device to play media not from the Apple ecosystem is a hassle, but if you keep it all Apple-centric it is a breeze.