With the holidays approaching, it's time for our annual recommendations for devices in various product categories. Today we're taking a look at what tablets provide the best value and experience for different users. There's obviously a lot of decisions to be made when buying a tablet, and we'll assume that by the time a user has concluded that they want a tablet they have already determined that it is a more suitable choice for them than a more traditional computer like a desktop PC or a laptop.

The first question the buyer will have to ask themselves is what price they are comfortable paying. Tablet prices can range anywhere from $100 to $1000, depending on exactly what tablet it is, and the buyer's price target will be a constraint on the different tablets they have to choose from. Once a price target has been established, the user must decide what they want to do with their tablet. Some tablets may not have the selection of applications that the buyer needs, and others may not have a suitable form factor or size for performing these tasks. Tablets come in many shapes and sizes, with displays ranging from 7" to 13" with aspect ratios that vary from 3:2 on the Surface Pro 3, to 4:3 on the iPad and Nexus 9, to 16:10 on the Nexus 7. Certain display shapes and sizes will be better suited to watching videos, while others will be better suited to reading PDFs and books.

These decisions about size, utility, and price will ultimately drive the decision of what operating system the tablet should be running. Currently this is a choice between three platforms, with the market being dominated by tablets running iOS and Android, Windows coming in third, and other operating systems like WebOS having been eliminated in previous years due to lack of consumer interest. There are also other factors, like accessories and keyboard attachments, but it's very difficult to evaluate these as their usefulness will ultimately depend on the user's needs. Instead of trying to look at every single tablet that fills every niche, we've looked at what we think are the best overall devices within each of the three major operating systems that are available on tablets.

iOS Tablets
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  • savagemike - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    I would think Samsung deserves some mention. They might not have the fastest processors but an argument can be made they have the best screens. They've also got some very interesting entries with the 12.2 size machines. Better 2in1 machines than the Windows 2in1 machines in many ways, not least due to sheer increase in size.
    Lenovo also should get a nod for their unique design work. Not for everyone but the yoga 2 line of tablets do have their merits. And the 13.3" is something quite apart from anything else on the market.
  • AnandTechUser99 - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    The Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140 with Intel's Core M-5Y10 is on the market and might be worth considering. Hopefully Anandtech can get a look at it in the next couple of weeks.
  • coolhardware - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    Picked up a HP Stream 7 at Amazon and have been loving it:
    +IPS display
    +Nice size and build quality
    +128GB MicroSDXC support
    +USB OTG support
    +Free MS Office
    +Free 25GB of Dropbox space
    +Runs Chrome and uTorrent quite well
    +Respectable battery life
    +Very nice hardware for a great price*
    *Amazon currently has it for $99 with free shipping!

    -Doesn't have mini-HDMI output
    -More internal storage would be nice (but MicroSDXC makes it okay for me)
    -No RDP server for this version of Windows 8.1

    Overall, this is a pretty sweet tablet deal IMHO!

    PS skip the Nextbook 8 that WalMart is selling for Black Friday at $99, it has a TERRIBLE sparkly screen with very poor viewing angles. It does have HDMI out which I like, but the screen is just terrible.
  • TheGame21x - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    I ordered a signature Edition tablet from the Microsoft Store and I'm looking forward to getting it sometime this week. Should be fun to play with, at the very least.
  • nedjinski - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    Yes folks, it's time for the annual snub of Amazon tablets - so much for an accurate representation of what the market has to offer. Thanks for your objectivity.
  • DanNeely - Saturday, November 29, 2014 - link

    Amazon tablets remain crippled by the lack of out of the box Google Apps.
  • emn13 - Saturday, November 29, 2014 - link

    This comparison contains way too few tablets to be useful - where are the high-end android tablets, of which there are lots nowadays? Sony's flagship is thinner and lighter than the air 2 (and watertight), and samsung has several with interesting features like a stylus or a 12 inch form factor (a boon for reading letter/A4 sized media).

    Isn't the point of an article like this to help people realize what they want and give advice while you're at it? This reads more like "some tablets I happen to have heard of".
  • tuxRoller - Saturday, November 29, 2014 - link

    Are you going to review the n9 at some point?
  • JoshHo - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    Yes. We apologize for the delays in the review.
  • tuxRoller - Sunday, November 30, 2014 - link

    Great news!
    Thanks so much for the response.

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