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Facts, figures and charts are all very well - but what would we actually recommend spending real money on? Scroll down for the whole truth...

The tablets you can buy now are faster than they were last year - and generally cheaper and more reliable. Whether you get an iPad, one of the Samsung Tabs, an Amazon Kindle Fire or one of the host of Android alternatives, each comes with its own "ecosystem" - a platform giving you the opportunity to add extra apps and set up your favourite eBooks, magazines, etc. If you're already familiar with one of these ecosystems and you're generally satisfied, you'll probably choose to stick with it. There's a very brief summary of the leading ecosystems at the end of this page, if you're new to tablets, or fed up with the platform you have now.

But first, our recommendations from the devices you can get at the moment. Rather than put them in a simple order of "goodness", the layout below groups slates according to their form and function so you can compare them side-by-side...
If we haven't got the right solution for you, add a comment at the end of the page.

Recommended Small - but packing quite a punch

Apple iPad Mini (2012)

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Google Asus Nexus 7 (2013)

  • + Light
  • + Cool - excellent street cred
  • + Huge range of accessories
  • + Best apps - though not cheapest
  • - No memory card slot
  • - Lower resolution than new version

from Samsung's "flagship" east London shop

  • + S Pen pressure- sensitive stylus
  • + Samsung Touchwiz including multiple visible apps
  • - Not quite so prettily built as the others in this row
  • + Latest Android
  • + Clean vanilla build
  • - No memory card slot

Review comparing these two saying the Mini iPad is cool and pretty but the Note 8 does much more


Spec Comparison Chart

Recommended Budget - cheap but still adequate

Fusion5 Xtra Compact (new version) 10"

Klastor Rugged Green for Boys (or you could have Pink)


  • + 10"
  • + Good storage
  • + Good Memory
  • + 2 cameras
  • - Poor resolution
  • - Low Memory

Spec Comparison Chart

Recommended Got the lot - & hence generally expensive...

Apple iPad Air

Sony Xperia Z2 10"

Google Samsung Nexus 10


Good if you didn't buy the iPad 4 last year Smiley

  • + Fabulous screen
  • + Significantly lighter than iPad4
  • + Best apps - though maybe not the cheapest
  • + Cool and hip
  • - No memory card slot
  • - Proprietary connectors

  • + Fabulous screen
  • + Waterproof
  • + Slim and very smart to look at
  • + Very light indeed
  • + Battery life improved on last year's model
  • - Still a little priey

  • + Fabulous screen
  • + Latest Android
  • + Multi-user feature
  • - No memory card slot
  • - Getting older now
  • - A bit chunky

Spec Comparison Chart




June 2014 - New Sony Xperia Z2 10"

This replaces last year's model, the Tablet Z.

December 2013 - New iPad Air

This replaces last year's model, the iPad4. If you've already bought an iPad4, though, don't lose heart... The changes aren't quite as significant as they sound.

August 2013 - New Nexus 7 top of its class

This replaces last year's model, and everyone's pretty impressed!

28 June 2013 - Sony Xperia moves up

This slate has a fabulous look and feel - light, with clean lines and a very impressive screen - probably the coolest if not the quickest on the market.

Maybe the continuity of style that has served the iPad so well up to now, should be reconsidered for Apple's next iteration if they want to remain "fondleslab of choice" for the glitterati.

25 June - iPads on the move, again

After what looks like a minor, unannounced price drop in the iPad 4, it has now won back its place as most recommended and the iPad 3 returns to the "almost-recommended" page.

6 June 2013 - iPads on the move

We've made a subtle change here, moving our recommendation (above) from the iPad 4 back to the iPad 3.

The 3 - our new favourite - was briefly Apple's own chosen one last year, before the newest model came along with the lightning connector. The main reason for our change is price: a secondhand iPad 3 from Amazon or EBay saves you around a hundred pounds compared with the equivalent new one. That's a not inconsiderable sum. If you have a few of the old, larger Apple connectors or accessories knocking about, they could well work with an iPad 3 and that would add to the money that could stay in your wallet.

Keep in mind though, that not everything about this model is wonderful. Remember, too, that this model wasn't officially called the 3, but the "New iPad" - a pretty stupid name, I think you'll agree. Or even theĀ  MD328LL/A. Confusing? It certainly is. But it all helps to keep the price down.


And now for a brief summary of ecosystems. You could well disagree staunchly with these views, but if you do, that probably means you already know which ecosystem is your preferred choice... But do feel free to comment at the bottom here.

Apple iPads

These run the IOS platform. Probably the best app store with many prestigious companies building their apps for Apple products first. Updates to the system have been made available to all users at once - for iPads, iPods and iPhones - meaning that the products date more slowly. It is though, a very controlled environment, with a small range of products available and all of them coming from Apple.

Google Android

Like Apple's platform, this is used both in mobile phones and in tablets. There is an absolutely enormous range of Android products available now though, catering for pretty much everything current technology will support. A basic user profile can be transferred between products from different manufacturers, but there is a problems with some products not keeping up with the latest versions of Android. This and a few other confusing challenges make Android just slightly less easy to use that the Apple products - but don't be frightened. If you have an Android phone, you're already half way there.

The Amazon Kindle Fires (Fire OS 3.0 Mojito)

These tablets operate a variant of the normal Android platform. Although they look quite different at first sight, scratch the surface and they are quite like the other Android slates - crucially, they will run the same apps in most cases, although it's easiest to buy these from the Amazon app store. Currently the Fires come with an extra advert infested skin unless you pay a few extra pounds to get yours without. For the newer HDX models, you get a MayDay button which allows you to connect to an expert and any time. Sometimes, they can also take control of the Kindle Fire and fix your problem.

Windows 8.1

A lot of effort has been put in by Microsoft to get this new "touch-friendly" version of the Windows platform to work properly on mobile devices as well as on desktop PCs. It still has to be said, though, that none of these tablets really make the grade. Even Microsoft all but admit this. For the most part, they are either slow running, with things like stuttering video playback, or they still suffer from the age-old problems that Microsoft products have on the mobile world - they are heavy, expensive, and have a significantly shorter battery life. Windows is probably a year behind the Apples and Androids of the mobile scene - and currently that's the difference between having a viable product, and not having one. But... if you have to have something like a particular Excel spreadsheet available, with its macros and complex formulae, then you have to choose between buying a Windows 8 product, accessing your systems remotely, or... buying an older Windows 7 product, or... nothing.

RIM Blackberry QNX

This is entirely restricted to Blackberry smartphones and the one model of Playbook so far - and that is looking fairly long in the tooth. But there is a devoted following for Blackberry and maybe things will turn around for them. Keep in mind, though, that the company behind it all - Research In Motion (or RIM) - the company itself is in a pretty bad way.

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