After Apple’s original iPad burst onto the media scene and kick-started the tablet market, decent alternatives were thin on the ground in the sector’s first year of life. As you can see from the number of product reviews on our site these days, that’s clearly no longer the case. There are now loads of models to choose from, with new devices arriving each month. These range in size from 7” to 10.1” with 11” and 12” models in the pipeline. And the arrival of Windows 8—an OS designed specifically for touchscreen devices and tablets—will no doubt bring a whole new wave of products.
We try to review a wide range of tablets, from well-known best-sellers to models from smaller brands. Not all of them are perfect, but a three- or four-star model could still be a perfectly suitable device for many users. It’s therefore a good idea to use our filters to sort and compare reviews and to look for the features that interest you the most.
With its high-def screen (2048 x 1536 pixels), excellent product finish, harmonious hardware/software (iOS 6.0.1), monster processing power and choice of over 270,000 apps, the iPad is a must-have. Although Apple's lead over its competitors keeps on shrinking, the Retina displays seen in the iPad 3 and now here in the iPad 4 can be credited with bringing very high definition screens to the touchscreen tablet market.
Best of the rest
Google Nexus 7
The Google Nexus 7 is certainly a convincing 7" tablet. It's a shame there's no micro SD slot for boosting the memory, but there's lots on offer in Google's ecosystem (a bit like Apple's "iWorld"), including cloud-based storage in Google Drive and a good choice of apps in the Google Play Store. Above all, the Nexus 7 offers incredibly good value for money and comes loaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T
This is a robust 10.1" Android tablet with a display that pushes up over Full HD (1920 x 1200 pixels). The build and finish are excellent and the aluminium casing is sleek. But the TF700 is also a hybrid device, as it's available with a separate dock that brings a physical keyboard, an additional battery and extra connectors. This tablet can therefore be instantly transformed into a compact touchscreen netbook. And with more and more apps and utilities available in the Google Play Store, it's a genuine all-rounder.
Pocket iPad 2
Apple iPad Mini
There's no sign of a Retina screen here, but the iPad Mini has all the other qualities of an iPad in a compact 7.9" format. The iPad Mini is essentially a pint-sized iPad 2 (which is still a powerful product, even at the end of 2012) and its ultra-slim design (7.2 mm) is surprising and impressive. While the Google Nexus 7 is easier to hold in one hand, the iPad Mini is smart enough to know when you're resting a thumb on the outer edges of the screen so you won't interact with the tablet by accident.