Tablets are fantastic devices for both work and play. They offer a convenient and portable way to surf the web on a larger screen than a smartphone, read e-books, update social media, play games, watch videos and so much more. With so many different tablets available on the market, it can be overwhelming and confusing to choose the right one. There are some great options across multiple platforms and manufacturers.
The following information is accurate as of August 2016 and is always subject to change.
Overview of Five Top Tablets
|Apple iPad Pro||
9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 pixels or 12.9-inch 2732 x 2048 pixels
|iOS||Apple A9X with M9 coprocessor||32GB, 128GB, or 256GB||$599 to $1,229|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S2||8.0-inch or 9.7-inch, both 2048 x 1536 pixels||Android||Samsung Exynos 5433||32GB or 64GB + microSD slot||$399.99 to $599.99|
|Amazon Fire Tablet||7.0-inch 1024 x 600 pixels||Fire OS||1.3 GHz quad-core||8GB or 16GB||$49.99 to $84.99|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 4||12.3-inch 2736 x 1824 pixels||Windows 10||Intel Core m3, Core i5 or Core i7||128GB, 256 GB, 512GB or 1TB||$899 to $2,699|
|Google Pixel C||10.2-inch 2560 x 1800 pixels||Android||NVIDIA Tegra X1||32GB or 64GB||$649 to $799|
Apple iPad Pro
Operating System: iOS 9.3.3
Pricing: From $599 to $1,229 via Apple Store
Key Feature: Huge app ecosystem
When it comes to the world of tablets, the Apple iPad family continues to be the dominating force. The smaller iPad mini or the more affordable iPad Air may appeal to some consumers, but the top of the line offering in this range is the iPad Pro. Originally only offered with the larger 12.9-inch display but now also available with a more conventional 9.7-inch display, the iPad Pro is the most powerful iPad to date with a fast Apple A9X processor.
Terrific for visual artists and productivity buffs alike, the iPad Pro has access to the same iTunes App Store as other iPads and iPhones too. With the addition of the optional Apple Pencil and keyboard accessories, the iPad Pro can operate as a legitimate laptop alternative. TechRadar says the "hugely powerful" iPad Pro is "brilliant," rating it an impressive 4.5 stars out of 5. A range of capacities are offered, along with the choice between WiFi-only and WiFi+Cellular configurations.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
Operating System: Google Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
Key Feature: Brilliant Super AMOLED display
With its amazing AMOLED and Super AMOLED technology, Samsung has consistently offered some of the best displays in the mobile business. The Galaxy Tab S was the company's first tablet to utilize an AMOLED screen and the Galaxy Tab S2 follows up on that success with a number of improvements. The decidedly high-end tablet is very thin at just 5.6mm of thickness and comes in your choice of an 8-inch or 9.7-inch display, both of which are in an iPad-like 4:3 aspect ratio.
The Galaxy Tab S2 comes in 32GB and 64GB capacities and has a microSD card slot for additional storage. Users who are already familiar with the TouchWiz user interface from Samsung's smartphones will feel right at home here. A fingerprint sensor has been embedded in the home button for unlocking and the octa-core processor keeps everything drumming along. Offering an editors' rating of 9.0 out of 10, Digital Trends says that the Galaxy Tab S2 is quite simply "the best Android tablet you can buy."
Amazon Fire Tablet
Operating System: Fire OS 5
Pricing: From $49.99 to $84.99 via Amazon
Key Feature: Remarkably affordable price point
Not everyone needs or wants to spend premium amounts of money to get a high-end tablet with flagship caliber specifications and features. For a more utilitarian choice at an almost disposable price, the Fire tablet from Amazon truly delivers. It doesn't get much cheaper than this without resorting to decidedly lower-tier brands with questionable reliability. Despite its $50 entry-level price point, the Fire tablet still comes with everything Amazon has to offer, making it an exceptional value.
Users requiring assistance can tap into the "Mayday" screen sharing customer assistance feature. Running a modified version of Android called Fire OS, the Fire can get its apps from the Amazon Appstore for Android plus a wealth of content through Amazon Prime. Amazon Underground can provide over $20,000 worth in apps, games and in-app items for free. Noting the Fire's "average performance," PC Mag applauds the fantastic price, parental controls, and robust content ecosystem with an "excellent" editor rating.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro
Pricing: From $899 to $2,699 via the Microsoft Store
Key Feature: Powerful PC functionality in versatile design
Can't decide between a laptop and a tablet? Why choose when you can have the best of both worlds with the Surface Pro 4, the newest and most powerful addition to the Surface family. Despite is compact size and thin profile, the Surface Pro 4 offers a very powerful Windows PC experience that can rival much larger computers, even desktops. It is going to be on the more expensive side, though, as it is just as powerful as higher end laptop.
With an available Intel Core i7 processor and up to one terabyte of storage, the Surface Pro 4 is a beastly mobile workstation that is perfect for creative applications. The great Type Cover keyboard and integrated kickstand convert the Surface Pro 4 into a legitimate laptop. Indeed, Engadget scored the Surface Pro 4 as 86/100, saying it "can really replace your laptop" with a high level of refinement.
Google Pixel C
Operating System: Google Android 7.0 Nougat
Pricing: From $649 to $799 via the Google Store
Key Feature: Designed and built by Google
For Android fans who enjoy the 'pure' Android experience offered on Nexus smartphones, unfettered with the 'bloatware' and 'skins' tacked on by manufacturers and carriers, the Google Pixel C is a solid bet. A successor to the HTC-made Nexus 9 tablet, the Pixel C is the first tablet that was designed and built by Google itself. The premium hardware and software have been fully optimized to provide the best user experience possible.
Not unlike the keyboard accessories for the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4, the Google Pixel C can also transform into a laptop for improved productivity. It may have been more effective as a Chromebook rather than Android tablet, but the blazing fast NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor, 256 core Maxwell GPU and 3GB of RAM make this an incredible performer. Geeks World Wide says the Pixel C "sets the bar" for what is possible, saying there is "no other tablet in the world that is as beautiful."
One Size Does Not Fit All
Just as there is no such thing as the best smartphone for everyone, selecting the best tablet is a matter of personal preference and circumstance. While some people prefer the smaller price tag and form factor of a Fire Tablet, others desire the high-end computing of a top-of-the-line Surface Pro 4. From Android to iOS, Fire OS to Windows 10, tablets come in a variety of sizes and formats to suit the needs of just about anyone.