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The Fire HD 10 might not be the best tablet you can buy, but it is the most popular. As Amazon’s newest and biggest Fire tablet, it’s the company's first step into truly competing with the larger Galaxy and Apple tablets, and it costs merely a fraction of the price. It's available in three colors (black, blue or red), two sizes (32GB or 64GB) and with or without the ad-supported special offers. That all feels pretty standard for the Fire series, so let’s move on to the coolest part, which is the number of features you get for that bargain price.
For starters, that screen comes with a full 1080p resolution (1920 x 1200 pixels at 224 pixels per inch), so you’ll be able to post up and watch stunning movies and play HD video games with unbelievable clarity. They’ve even built in an interesting “in-plane-switching” LCD tech that offers less glare and more viewing angles. Even the stereo speakers on the Fire 10 sound as much like ones that belong in your home.
There’s a quad-core 1.2 GHz/1.4 GHz processor set with two times the RAM of the last-gen of the Fire, so it won’t choke on any streaming you throw at it. The battery lasts up to 10 hours, so you’ll be able to do exactly what you’re supposed to do with a tablet—enjoy it on the go without having to be tethered to an outlet. The cameras on the front and back aren’t much to write home about, but the rear does offer 2MP of quality with the ability to shoot 720p video. Round that out with built-in Amazon Alexa functionality for summoning assistance and controlling your smart home, and factor in the durability (they’re calling it more durable than the iPad Pro 10.5-inch tablet), and you’ve got an absolute steal for the price.
The new iPad Pro comes with a 12.9-inch or an 11-inch screen, providing a significant increase over the 2017 tablet while matching its predecessor’s ultra-thin dimensions. How is this possible? The iPad is now "all screen," eliminating the home button and shrinking the camera and speakers. For a well-rounded auditory experience, a tweeter and a subwoofer have been strategically placed in each corner of the device. The Home Button has been replaced by advanced facial-recognition software, allowing you to unlock the device or access Apple Pay by simply looking into the camera.
The display itself is also absolutely beautiful. The Pro features 2732 x 2048 resolution for the 12.9-inch, and 2388 x 1668 for the 11-inch tablet. The Liquid Retina display boasts remarkable color accuracy, 600 nits of brightness, and the lowest level of reflectivity among competitors.
Boasting, “More screen. Less device,” Apple delivers a larger, brighter display while decreasing its tablets’ overall volume by 25%. This new release doesn’t come cheap, but it's a worthy investment for those who appreciate visual quality.
The displays on Samsung mobile devices are always a cut above. Rather than fight it out in the pixel-count arms race with other devices, Samsung has been a market leader in Super AMOLED tech, which allows their screens to look brighter and sharper without having to pack in a ton more pixels. The Galaxy Tab S4's 10.5-inch display manages to deliver a resolution of 2560 x 1600 which yields incredibly sharp HD images.
Another great feature here is the S Pen: What was initially a great expression tool is now considered an artist-grade device, offering 4096 points of pressure to give you amazing control when sketching—just as if you were using a real pencil. The rear camera keeps parity with a lot of the tablets on the market with a 13MP sensor and F1.9 aperture, and the front camera is actually pretty impressive with a 13MP sensor and its own F1.9 aperture. There’s a Qualcomm MSM8998 processor for dual speed ratings of 2.35 GHz and 1.9GHz (depending on where your carrier is). They’ve paired that with 4GB of RAM and offer storage configurations of 64GB and 256GB.
The Dolby Atmos, AKG-tuned speaker system is comprised of four different drivers (two top-firing and two bottom-firing), so the entertainment capabilities are pretty great, too. Add that to the amazing 7300mAh fast-charging battery—which Samsung claims can last for 16 hours of video playback—and you have a versatile powerhouse that’s only 7.1mm thick.
This small tablet by Samsung is designed with portability in mind, the perfect companion for plane rides and overstuffed backpacks. It runs Android Marshmallow on 2GB of RAM and an Octa-core 1.6Ghz processor gives a smooth performance. While the 16GB of internal memory is on the small side, it has a microSDMT card slot to expand your capacity by up to 200GB, perfect for loading your tablet with enough movies and apps to keep you occupied. The 13-hour battery life is also ideal for long stretches on the road, while the smaller 10.1” screen and thin profile won’t weigh you down despite displaying excellent imagery. Finally, you can multitask with ease, thanks to functionality that allows you to run two apps side by side.
The new iPad Mini comes with a powerful A12 Bionic chip and 64-bit architecture, which allows you to multitask with multiple apps running, share augmented reality experiences with your friends, and play the hottest games with virtually no lag. You'll get 10 hours of battery life before needing a charge, and the specs all fit inside the sleek and lightweight design (it's 0.24 inches thick and weighs 0.66 pounds).
The Mini manages to make up for its smaller but more portable size by featuring a gorgeous 7.9-inch retina display, with an anti-reflective 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution. The screen makes your images and videos pop, with High Dynamic Range (HDR) support and two cameras, an eight-megapixel on the back, and a seven-megapixel on the front for FaceTime calls. There isn't an app this tablet can't handle, and anything you need to accomplish can be done on the run or while traveling — the Mini is just that versatile and nimble.
Colors come in rose gold, space gray, and classic silver models, and you can choose between 64GB of memory or 256GB.
If you like the simplicity, portability, and affordability of tablets, but you’d like a bit more versatility, Microsoft’s Surface Go lands at the crossroads of all those features. No matter what your configuration, you get a 10-inch PixelSense screen with an 1800 x 1200 resolution display that offers a tight 217 pixels per inch.
The lowest end model isn’t the most attractive, as the 64GB of eMMC storage isn’t going to be as quick as the SSD in upgraded models. But, whichever model you get will offer Windows on a sleek portable system and an Intel Pentium Gold processor. The Surface Go is also built to feel premium with a magnesium case. Starting at just 1.15 pounds, the newest model also wins the title for the lightest model of any Surface device.
Like the Surface Pro and Surface Book line, the Surface Go tablet gives you the option of using the device as a tablet or attaching it to a keyboard—sold separately in this case—so you can use it like a laptop. You can enjoy 9 hours of continuous use on one charge.
Although there are three other iPads in Apple’s tablet lineup, the company has continued to offer its entry-level model, tweaking it most recently with an upgrade to a 10.2-inch screen and adding Apple’s Smart Connector, making it available across all of Apple’s current iPads.
While the basic iPad model still only includes an A10 Fusion chip (that’s plenty fast enough for the majority of casual use), there’s little advantage to a faster CPU for things like including web surfing, writing, simple graphic editing, and watching videos, making this more inexpensive iPad a great choice for a lot of users. You still get front and rear cameras for casual photography and FaceTime calls, and there’s a cellular model to help you stay connected while on the go.
This iPad still supports the Apple Pencil, allowing you to easily sketch and markup and annotate images and documents, and even add your signature. Meanwhile, the new iPadOS powers even more advanced productivity features, including a desktop-class web browser. Smart Connector, on the other hand, lets you plug in Apple’s Smart Keyboard, turning it into an ultra-slim laptop replacement. Then again, you can pair it up to just about any Bluetooth keyboard.
Amazon has a new tablet on the way and it’s going to be the budget device to watch. Like Amazon’s other tablets, the Fire HD 8 line has historically offered an impressive balance of hardware and affordability, and that’s continuing with the new Fire HD 8.
The new tablet offers an 8-inch IPS display with 1280 x 800 resolution, which qualifies it as HD. It may not be as sharp as a lot of other devices’ displays, but the most affordable model of the new Fire HD 8 is close to a quarter of the price of a new iPad.
The new tablet has a quad-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM. It may not be much for multi-tasking and production workloads, but, it’ll do the job for streaming content, using Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to control smart home gadgets, and surfing the internet. You can pick up the new Fire HD 8 in 16GB or 32GB models and in a range of colors including black, yellow, red, and blue.
If you’re buying a tablet for a kid, Amazon’s Fire 7 Kids Edition is a solid option. It matches affordability with a kid-friendly design (available in blue, pinks, and yellow) and offers up a tablet that’s not watered-down, weak hardware just because it’s a kids device. The 7-inch IPS display gives kids plenty of screen to watch, play, and learn on. And, the rubber bumpers built all around the device help protect it from accidents.
Beyond the tablet itself, what Amazon offers in addition really helps make this a great pick. Amazon offers what it calls a “2-year worry-free guarantee,” noting that the company will replace the Fire 7 Kids Edition if it's broken — no questions asked. The tablet also comes with easy parental controls and a free year of FreeTime Unlimited, which has a large selection of content from games and books to videos and apps.
At $99, the Fire 7 Kids Edition stands out as a good deal, and it gets even better if you need to pick up more than one. Amazon generally offers a discount when bought in pairs, even up to 25-percent off the total.
In the tablet space, it’s been hard for Microsoft to shake the legacy of the Apple iPad. The iPad has for years dominated what we think a modern tablet should do, but Microsoft (and a few other players) have put a dent in the iPad’s armor by continuing to show the things it can’t do.
The Surface Pro 6, Microsoft’s newest laptop-tablet hybrid, runs Windows 10 and matches the newest iPad when it comes to features and exceeds the iPad when it comes to productivity. It runs the full version of Windows 10, which means you can run Microsoft Office and anything else that runs on Windows. Let’s also take a look at the Surface Pro 6’s polished hardware. The Surface Pro has a crisp and quite pretty 12.3-inch screen with 2,736 x 1,824 resolution and the battery now lasts more than 10 hours on a single charge. It also now comes in both black and platinum colors.
One final note: There are various configurations you can choose from on the Surface Pro 6. It is available in 8GB or 16GB of RAM, has your choice of an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, and storage options of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB.
We bought 11 tablets and our reviewers spent more than 400 hours testing them. They took them home to use in their everyday activities—surfing the web, doing work, streaming videos, and playing games—to find out what the strengths and flaws really were. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these tablets, from their screen size to their battery life. We've outlined the key points here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
Screen size - The average tablet is around 10 inches, measured diagonally, but they can be as small as 8 inches and run up to 13.5. The screen size is really a personal preference, but for productivity purposes, it’s often the bigger the better. If you’re merely streaming a show or reading a book, a smaller screen should suffice.
Budget - You should definitely prepare to pay a premium for an Apple iPad, which can easily cost fives times that of a budget tablet. And the higher the screen resolution and the more powerful the processor, the more you can expect to pay. But Amazon makes some amazingly affordable options that still give you access to all the apps you could want, plus its Alexa personal assistant.
Battery life - Compared to smartphones, which barely make it through the day on a single charge, most tablets can last at least a couple days, depending on use, of course. Be sure to buy one with at least 10 hours of rated battery life and you’ll be good to go.