Which Tablet Should You Buy?

There are choices for every budget and need

There are now numerous tablet options, which means there have never been more choices when trying to decide what you'd like to purchase. The first decision is the type of tablet you want, with tablets ranging from the ever-popular iPad to cheaper Android and Amazon solutions to the hybrid tablet/PC devices running Microsoft Windows. We take a look at each and point out the good and the bad.

Architect With Digital Tablet at Desktop in Office

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iPad

There is little doubt Apple leads the way when it comes to pure tablets. The iPad Pro is a beast, with a processor as fast or faster than most laptops and a gorgeous display capable of HDR video playback. In addition, the iOS operating system has evolved to the point where the iPad has a capable file system and can run two apps side-by-side on the screen.

The iPad Pro is also the most expensive pure tablet, with the current generation 11-inch and 12.9-inch models. But you don't need an iPad Pro to step into an iPad. The 7th generation iPad, as Apple calls its newest 10.2-inch model, supports the same multitasking capabilities as its bigger brother. It may not have the longevity of the faster iPad Pro models, but it doesn't need it at around half the price.

The iPad is best for those who want a great tablet experience, including the best apps designed for a larger display tablet. The newest iPad's price tag is cheap compared to other Apple products but still expensive compared to Android and Amazon alternatives.

Android

Android has come a long way in recent years, but the operating system shines brighter on smartphones than on tablets. It's not that Android runs poorly on tablets, but few manufacturers have taken the Android tablet to that next level that Apple has climbed with the iPad Pro.

Android tablets tend to be cheaper than an iPad, and for most of them, they lag in processing speed, graphics capability, and battery life. They can be great for browsing the web, checking Facebook, and other simple tasks.

This makes Android tablets great for those who want a home-use tablet good at gaming and streaming video without some of the added enterprise-level features or hardware sported by the iPad.

Amazon Fire

Amazon Fire tablets are Amazon's version of the Android tablet. While they run a version of the Android operating system, they are generally locked into the Amazon ecosystem, so you won't get access to the full Google Play marketplace without unlocking the device. At that point, you are better off buying an Android tablet.

Amazon Fire tablets are recommended for those who aren't going to use their device for much more than reading books, streaming video, browsing the web, or checking Facebook.  

Microsoft Surface and Windows Hybrids 

Microsoft may have lost the war for the mobile operating system, but they have finally settled on a good strategy. After all, there's no need to win the mobile war if mobile devices become as powerful as our laptops and desktop PCs.

The Surface tablet leads the pack of hybrid tablets that operate best if you also buy a keyboard and mouse. The Surface is great in tablet-only mode, but to use it as smoothly as an iPad, you need to use tablet-style "metro" apps. The great thing about Windows is how it supports so much software, even software and games from years ago. But to use the older desktop-style apps, you'll often want to hook in a smart keyboard with the touchpad or a keyboard and mouse combo.

Hybrid tablets are best for those who are tied to a particular piece of software that only runs on Windows, such as an app used for work, or for those who aren't ready to dive into the tablet-only world. They are also great for those who enjoy PC gaming but don't feel the need to spend $1500+ on a top-end gaming rig.

Surface tablets range in price from as much as a 12.9-inch iPad Pro to $1599, with the more expensive models performing as well as the best laptops.

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