It’s hard to deny the appeal of a tablet. Light, fast and loaded with apps, these devices often represent companies at the pinnacle of their technological capabilities. Tablets like the ones we’ve listed below are the best that 2013 had to offer.
5. Amazon Fire HDX 7
Amazon is the king of E-readers, but what about 7” tablets? As it turns out, it’s pretty good at those too. Its best offering of 2013 is the budget-priced HDX 7, which comes with a great screen and speedy performance to boot.
The HDX 7 doubles up as a portal of all things Amazon, with easy access to its store and the option of one-stop shopping – a dangerous luxury, to say the least.
It rivals the excellent Nexus 7 in both portability and price, but doesn’t have the apps to shape it into the perfect all-rounder. It’s a good performer, but doesn’t quite come out on top.
4. iPad Mini 2
We were disappointed with the original iPad Mini, which debuted last year. As Matthew Buckland pointed out in his 2012 review, it was a much-hyped device that was touted to be ahead of the curve, yet conspicuously lacked one of Apple’s biggest innovations: Retina display.
Retina Display refers to a liquid crystal screen with an incredibly high pixel density – so high, in fact, that the human eye is unable to discern pixilation without a magnifying glass. The technology has been around for a while now and was one of the key features of the iPhone 4 and the iPad 3. Yet when the newer iPad Mini was unveiled, Retina Display was missing.
Still, this has conveniently paved the way for Apple to introduce a successor: the Mini 2. Guess what? It ships with Retina Display. Best you trade in your old model, because it’s been rendered utterly obsolete. Don’t you love technology?
It’s hard not to feel aggravated with Apple, as it’s been flogging the inferior Mini for a year when it’s had the capacity to make the Mini 2 all along. But you can’t deny that its crystal clear screen makes this ultra-portable machine one of the best tablets of 2013. And with a high-definition display, a small and lightweight tablet like this suddenly makes a whole lot of sense.
It’s a touch pricey and we’ve had to wait an extra year to get our hands on it, but the Mini 2 deserves unreserved praise.
3. Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Sony’s had a great 2013, releasing the Xperia in both smartphone and tablet form. The Tablet Z is a premium product that sells at a premium price, but there’s a lot of bang for your proverbial buck. It has a lightweight, sturdy frame, and an excellent 10.1” screen (though it can’t touch Apple’s) and bags of cool software to play with. It also happens to be waterproof, which turns out to be a bigger plus-point than you might first imagine it to be.
Here’s an example. You fancy reading a book, but you’re in the bath and your hands are wet. A paperback won’t react well; nor will a traditional e-Reader. But the Xperia Tablet Z will put up with the water just fine. In fact, Sony claims it can be submerged in a metre of water, for half-an-hour, and still work perfectly.
Tests suggest these claims are valid, but the Xperia is more than just a water-resistant machine: it’s also a darn good tablet. Some say it’s the best Android tablet on the market. We say buy it, you’ll love it.
2. Google Nexus 7
For its price, we prefer the Nexus 7. This small and lightweight tablet is inexpensive without feeling cheap, and sports an excellent 7” screen. Unless you’re dead-set on the extra space, the Nexus screen is more than enough, and produces rich and striking colours and the picture quality is superb.
Despite the budget price, the Nexus 7 also runs unbelievably smoothly. With 2GB RAM and a competent processor, it can run all good tablet games without a hitch, and lets you get work done without incurring irritating slowdown.
The 2013 model happens to be slimmer than last year’s offering too, and has been given a slight facelift, meaning it’s prettier than its older sibling.
This is a tablet that’s cheap but never feels cheery. It cuts costs in sensible ways. Google, in conjunction with Asus, has served up one of the very best tablets of 2013 – though it’s not quite our winner.
1. iPad Air
No — there could be no other winner. The iPad Air is simply the best tablet of 2013. And because technology is an ever-evolving and ever-mutating entity, that automatically makes the Air one of the best tablets ever. We also named it gadget of the year, and deservedly so.
Apple has spared no expense. It has taken on-board hard truths, refined its art, and invested its considerable knowledge into this super sleek, light and fast machine. Behold Apple’s ultimate tablet.
Utilising Apple’s new A7 chip, the Air runs without a hiccup, and its 9.7” screen is as crisp as ever. All round, it’s unbeatable, and good value for money too.