Better specs and monster power fit into the iPad Air 2's carefully crafted body, now thinner than ever. Apple has created an incredible harmony between the hardware and software, making it a delight to use. We were hoping that all of the improvements would be accompanied by a longer battery life, but we shouldn't really complain; Apple's latest tablet is already exceptional.
Best of the rest
Excellence In Android
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
With its slim 6.4 mm build, top-quality 1920 x 1200-pixel display, lightweight 426 g design and powerful performances thanks to Qualcomm's latest SoC (Snapdragon 801 + 3 GB RAM), the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet is a real winner. It's even waterproof to 1 metre for up to 30 minutes! The Xperia Z2 Tablet is an easy-to use Android slate that's fast, powerful and responsive no matter what kind of tasks you throw its way. All in all, it's an attractive device that's no doubt one of this year's best products.
Microsoft Surface 3
The Surface 3 is a well-built convertible laptop-tablet that, when coupled with the (sadly expensive) optional keyboard, makes for a great user experience, provided s/he sticks to simple tasks (Office, internet browsing and light photo touch-ups).
LG G Pad 8.3
The G Pad 8.3 marks a triumphant return to the tablet scene for LG. It's responsive, has more-than-satisfactory battery life and lots of handy features. The competition is tough, but—all things Apple aside—this slate is better than most of its Android acolytes. LG's success here wasn't a given, but it stepped up to the plate and pretty much hit a home run.
Deal of the Year?
Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6
The Fire HD 6 doesn't have any real competition, except perhaps for a few phablets. If you're looking for a device that's smaller than most tablets but bigger than your smartphone, without offering the communication features of a phablet, then this is the device for you. This tablet has a good HD IPS screen and an appealing Amazon interface that functions very well with the cloud. The Fire HD 6 is great for games, reading and web browsing, all of which run smoothly. It represents excellent value for money.
Nvidia Shield Tablet
A formidable gaming machine, the Shield Tablet also has an excellent display and everything else a good Android tablet should. Unfortunately, though, you'll need to buy all the accessories to get the most from this device. The only real problem with this slate is its poor battery life when gaming; if not for this, we could well have had a five-star tablet on our hands.