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Best Tablet 2017: 8 top tablets you can buy

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There's plenty of choice in tablets these days and our best tablet round-up includes all the ones you should seriously consider, like the best iPads and best Android tablets.

2016 was seriously sparse for really great tablets, so lots of the slates featured on this list were actually released way back in 2015. Will 2017 be any different?

Don't let that bother you though as there are still plenty of good options.

Related: iPad Pro 10.5-inch – What you need to know

Whether you're looking for something to sling in your bag and watch the latest episode of Westworld on your commute, or a replacement for your tired laptop, we've got something for you.

There are a couple of upcoming tablets that could find their way into this list when we give them the full review treatment. There's the new iPad 9.7-inch – which replaces the iPad Air 2 – and Samsung's Tab S3.

The main things to consider are size and price, though there are a few specialist tablets these days that offer something different.

This Week's Best Tablet Deals

Amazon Fire HD 6 at Amazon.com | Was $99 | Now $69

Microsoft Surface 3 at Amazon.com | Was $499 | Now $399

mediapad 1
Key features:
  • 8.4-inch 2560x1440 display
  • Kirin 950 CPU, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage
  • Great speakers
  • Review Price: £379.99

Huawei's latest mini tablet might be a pricey piece of kit, but it does what it sets out to do very well. The 8.4-inch 3560 x 1600 resolution display is great, while the plentiful internal combination of the Kirin 950 and 4GB RAM make it snappy and quick to use. The media experience is improved further by the great-sounding speakers.

It looks good too, with a sturdy metal and glass body that certainly has a similar look to the brand's flagship P9 smartphone. It has similar issues to that phone too, notably the dodgy EMUI software that Huawei keeps loading on top of Android 6.0.1. It's slow, ugly and slightly buggy and just not as good as competing skins.

32GB of internal storage comes as standard (along with a microSD card slot) and there's a decent 8MP camera on both the front and back. As with any tablet camera, we'd probably avoid using it as your main snapper.



Key features:

  • 9.7-inch 2,048 x 1,536 IPS
  • Snapdragon 820, 4GB RAM, 32GB internal storage
  • S-Pen included
  • Review Price: £599

Samsung's latest high-end tablet is good, it's even great in some areas, but the poor software really lets it down. Android just isn't built for tablets and the multitasking implementation is far from the best.

Still, this tablet is great for media thanks to the HDR display and impressive battery life. It also comes with an S-Pen in the box, which is accurate and easy to write and draw with.



Amazon Fire HD 6
Key features:
  • 6-inch 1,280 x 800 pixel IPS screen
  • Mediatek MT8135 quad-core CPU
  • Fire OS
  • Review Price: £79.99
Think tablets start at seven inches? Think again. Amazon has produced a six inch tablet, and its low price makes it an obvious choice for those looking to tool up the kids with their very first tablet. There’s no need to keep this one just for the youngsters, though, as it’s easily the best tablet we’ve seen at this price to date. The IPS screen is pretty good, with its just-over-720p resolution giving a sharper image than most budget 7-inch tablets.

It uses Fire OS rather than ‘normal’ Android, though, meaning it’s best for people who don’t mind being bombarded with Amazon services like Amazon MP3 and Amazon Instant Video. It’s also quite chunky and heavy, but for the price it’s a pretty hot deal.




Pixel C
Key Features:
  • 10.2-inch, 2,560 x 1,800 LCD display
  • Nvidia Tegra X1 chip
  • Optional keyboard cover
  • Review Price: £400

The Google Pixel C is the first Android tablet designed and built exclusively by Google and it's a damn fine start. The 10.2-inch screen makes the Pixel C feel more like an iPad Air than an iPad Pro, but the optional keyboard case features a brilliant magnetic hinge that makes it a really useful tool.

Of course, being a Google product, it runs a completely clean version of Android and it's been modified to work better on a tablet screen, which is nice. The only downside is the comparative lack of really good tablet apps, which gives the iPad a slight edge.

Still, this is a great tablet with a super screen that's blisteringly fast thanks to the Nvidia Tegra K1 processor. If you want an Android tablet, start here.



Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 27
Key Features:
  • 8-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display
  • Nvidia Tegra K1 processor and 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB storage and microSD expansion
  • Review Price: £300

Nvidia's second tablet for gamers is even better. The Shield Tablet K1 builds on the formula of the last as it uses the same 8-inch, Full HD display. It's slim and understated and we like the combination of rubber and soft-touch plastic, which makes the K1 nice to hold.

Gaming grunt comes from Nvidia's Tegra K1 processor, which is every bit as powerful as you'd expect. It's certainly among the very fastest chips found in any Android device, so there are no problems there.

The K1 runs near stock Android, too, but there are plenty of Nvidia apps that add extra features, such as the ability to stream games from the cloud or from a PC. An optional controller makes it easier to play these games, and we recommend the very handy folding case cover as well.

Surface Pro 4
Key Features:
  • 12.3-inch screen
  • Intel Core i processors
  • N-Trig active digitiser pen
  • Review Price: £749

Microsoft has more or less nailed the tablet formula now, as evidenced by the Surface Pro 4. It's a minor update to the Pro 3 in many respects, but it's a very complete and thoughtful product that's ideal for anyone who demands a tablet fit for any situation.

Most of the core elements are the same, including the wonderful fully-adjustable hinge, but the screen is a smidgen larger – 12.3-inches now. The Surface Pen is very good, despite some slight issues with latency, but the star is the screen. It's arguably the best screen on any tablet – it's sharp, colourful and very accurate.

As ever, the Pro 4 comes in a range of configurations, starting with Intel Core M processors to Core i7 chips with as much as 16GB of RAM. Basically, it's as fast as you need it to be, or as fast as you can afford, and a full version of Windows gives you ultimate flexibility. It's the do anything, any time tablet.




Key features:
  • 9.7-inch, 2,048 x 1,536 IPS screen
  • iOS 10, to be updated to iOS 11
  • Review Price: £339

The cheapest iPad currently for sale, the 9.7-inch is the perfect mixture of price and performance. It's not the laptop replacement the iPad Pro wants to be, but it has an excellent screen and enough grunt to easily handle any app or game on the App Store.

The battery is big enough to last 10-hours on a charge and it'll benefit from the improved split-screen features that will be coming in iOS 11 later in the year.

ipad 11
Key Features:
  • 10.5-inch, 2224 x 1668 resolution IPS display
  • Apple A10X CPU and 4GB of RAM
  • Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support
  • Review Price: £619

Is a regular iPad too small for you? Then consider the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, also known as the iPad Pro 2. It's not cheap, but it does have the best screen, best camera and best performance ever seen on a tablet. It's rather expensive if you want something just for Netflix binges and web browsing, this might be overkill. But if you want something designed for creativity and productivity on the move, this might be spot on.

It's a slightly more sensible follow-up to the original 12.9-inch Pad Pro, which was somewhere between an iPad, a MacBook and the Surface Pro. If the 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2 is still too much tablet for you, it's worth also looking out for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

Michael Hankinson

November 12, 2014, 3:18 pm

Just bought a Hudl2 - best decision I've made in a long time, especially as I was able to use voucher thingies that I didn't know I had - and knocked £60 off the price. Only took 30 minutes to set up all my apps. mail etc. No need to deal with iTunes and all the other rubbish that Apple insists you MUST use. I can now consign my old iPad to the dustbin. I have an Apple MacBook Pro and a new Mac Pro and find Apple a really difficult company to deal with - especially with OS changes (first Mavericks and now Yosemite) which means some of my software doesn't work properly. I'm no lover of Tesco, but I have to hand it to them - at the price the Hudl2 is a winner in my book.

LeeTronix

February 21, 2015, 2:30 am

Surface pro 3 is great and I agree is the best hybrid tablet. I also find myself agreeing that the 8.4 galaxy s tab is the best android and in my opinion best tablet all round.

Paul

February 21, 2015, 8:46 am

iPad Air 2 for the Win

Paul

February 21, 2015, 8:47 am

you dont have to use itunes and i seriously doubt you put an ipad in the dustbin

Matthew Bunton

February 21, 2015, 4:16 pm

So you own an Ipad, Mac Pro and a MacBook Pro but your complaining about their software. It doesn't really make a lot of sense mate.

Michael Hankinson

February 21, 2015, 7:32 pm

I started using Logic when it ran on a PC, Apple then changed it to a Mac only version - so I was stuck with Apple - like it or not and left PC. We then had the dreadful OS upgrade to Mavericks - which if you search the various forums, you'll see caused enormous problems for many music producers.(I think it may also have affected graphics software as well) It took more than six months for the various bug fixes to be released, during which time we all suffered. Many rants online about this, and not only from me !

As for the iPad - it still worked well until an OS upgrade which wouldn't run on version 1 so much of the software could not be updated or if it was a new release, could not be loaded at all. Luckily my grandson dropped it on the floor and the screen cracked and it wasn't worth fixing.

Finally I had an MacBook Pro which I used for mobile recordings, again running Logic - it has had less than 100 hours of use for classical recordings only. The screen suddenly showed only every alternate pixel. I sent it in the be fixed in Cambridge, and was told that it was not repairable - the very words were - "throw it in the dustbin, this is a manufacturing fault and the factory recall is no longer valid, it's too old a machine".

Is Apple product a great investment ? I think not. I'm still stuck with Apple because I use Logic - which is a great programme - but I've now purchased Cubase which runs on Mac AND PC so I guess my next purchase will be a high spec PC. My complaint about Apple is about upgrades that are released without thorough compatability testing and the fact that a perfectly serviceable machine is not fixable because of an integrated video card fault.

As Apple produce Logic surely they should have made sure the Mavericks upgrade was reasonably trouble free ?

Paul

February 21, 2015, 7:53 pm

You sound like an unlucky fella, I have had a Mac mini, MacBook black, MacBook aluminium, iMac 21 a MacBook air and 3 iPads without any real issues

Michael Hankinson

February 21, 2015, 8:09 pm

Yep - I guess I've been really unlucky. I loved my Mac Pro until this final problem - but the Mavericks release from Apple was real dog and cost me (and many others) a huge amount of lost time, I don't dare move to their latest offering in case I have more problems and I know quite a few other composers feel likewise. I also think Logic is a great programme - fantastic value for money - much cheaper than Cubase and loaded with better plugins than any alternative. I just feel let down by Apple - after all I've spent a heck of a lot of money on their products over the years - G4 - G5 - iPad - MacBook Pro - MacPro - wow, I could have bought a car instead.

MikeL

February 23, 2015, 1:31 pm

how old was your MacBook?

Michael Hankinson

February 23, 2015, 4:13 pm

I honestly don't remember. I bought it in South Africa probably around 2004 ? - actually I bought two of them to record concerts with my orchestra - The Johannesburg Philharmonic for Classic FM South Africa. They were used for our symphony seasons - five weeks, four times a year - this one was kept as a spare in case of a breakdown so was hardly used at all. The company that looked at it in Cambridge said they could re-do the soldering of the mother board (a float process or something) which they'd done on other similar models, but couldn't recommend it as it might only last six months - so they said it was scrap. They told me it was a common problem with this particular series of Macbooks - that they had been recalled but that was quite a long time ago and I was too late. I just think a device of this price, with so little use should last longer !

Purpleanex

April 28, 2015, 5:18 am

What size micro sd can a ipad air take? .... hdmi?...

Paul

April 28, 2015, 3:03 pm

who cares

Purpleanex

April 28, 2015, 9:09 pm

People who want functionality, people who are't moronic sheep ;) Ipad air?! pmsl! they're rubbish.

Paul

April 28, 2015, 11:37 pm

Ah the minority u mean

tonkei

June 12, 2015, 6:27 pm

I think there just might be an error in the copy, surely there isn't an Ipad Air 3 yet?
"iPad mini 2 – Size: 7.9-inch | Price: £239 – A tablet that just about trumps the newer iPad Air 3 because it's very similar but much cheaper" "

MartinHughHarvey

June 18, 2015, 8:28 pm

I purchased my Shield last October; they agreed to replace it in March. I took it on a 6 week trip and, well, I'm glad I took my Macbook with me! The Shield performed fine when it performed however, I suspect, it was badly affected by poor internet speeds. Now it's just started powering itself down! I am going to ask for a refund.

PS I am not a gamer but a general user and consider myself pretty knowledgeable.

Dracozar Gaming

August 10, 2015, 11:39 am

Your sense of "not-being-stupid" is gone, I believe.

Paul

August 10, 2015, 12:31 pm

nope

MotorMouth

October 13, 2015, 2:47 am

It is stupid to try and compare such disparate devices. No-one who is looking at a Surface device is also considering an iPad because the two things have almost zero cross-over. The iPad is a toy for people with too much money, a Surface is a PC for people who need to get things done on the go.

An iPad can only complicate your life, because it is an extra device, not one that can replace any existing device you have. At the end of the day it is just an oversized phone that can't make calls (similar internals, same OS). You'd be better off plugging your iPhone into a monitor (assuming that is even possible).

OTOH, a Surface can simplify your life by being both a tablet and a laptop. When I replaced my Surface Pro 2 with a more serious laptop (Dell M3800), I ended up having to get a tablet for all the things the laptop wasn't well suited to.

MotorMouth

October 13, 2015, 2:49 am

Right, much better to give Apple $200 for more storage than give SanDisk $20 for the same result. It must be nice to have more money than you know what to do with.

MotorMouth

October 13, 2015, 3:00 am

Then obviously you don't use them for much. Like Michael, I do a lot of high-end work on Macs and we've been through similar issues on the video side of things. e.g. Mavericks dropped support for Apple's own Animation codec in Quicktime. I imagine they did it because not many people use it any more but we have a library of around 6Tb of stock footage and more than half of that was encoded with the Animation codec, which means it no longer previews in Finder, it just gives you a generic Quicktime icon. That would be fine if everything was well named but because we used to be able to preview, we just kept the stock names they came with - iStockxxxxxxxx720p.mov, etc. It's an absolute freakin' nightmare that adds critical amounts of time to a lot of jobs and would take hundreds of man hours to remedy.

I also find After Effects and Photoshop far less stable on OS X than they are on my Windows laptop at home. In fact, I reckon my laptop is at least as fast, possibly faster, than the 8 month old MacPro I use at work, even though it only cost one-quarter as much. And because of the absurd design, IT had to buy break-out boxes for our video capture cards and the machines now have to sit on our desks as they won' tfit into the brackets the old machines did. That means we now have cables snaking all over our desks and every USB socket on the machine is taken by the basic set-up. Luckily our Dell monitors have a couple of USB sockets we can use. They also get ridiculously hot.

Paul

October 13, 2015, 8:48 am

who cares

Paul

October 13, 2015, 9:36 am

dont you ever tell me what i do or dont do mkay funboy

Paul

October 13, 2015, 9:37 am

once again shut up with your assumptions of me mkay funboy

TxChristopher

October 21, 2015, 1:32 pm

You are a complete tool.

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