Best tablet 2013: our top 10 ranking
31st May 2013 | 13:21
Top tablets compared; which is best for you?
Best tablets: 10-6
What's the best tablet for 2013? Today's latest tablets compared and rated - constantly updated
Tablets are taking the world by storm. Just a few years ago they were an unknown for many people, but nowadays you've got more choice than you can shake a mildly agitated badger at.
And with choice comes decisions - difficult decisions. Do you eschew Apple's high prices, join the Android brigade and find the best iPad alternative? Or do you give in to near-perfection and the get the new iPad?
Luckily we've made it easy for you and pulled together the top 10 tablets of the moment available in the UK. We'll keep this listing constantly updated as new players enter the market and the older ones fizzle out.
As well as reading our comprehensive feature, you can also check out our top 10 tablets video below.
For those of you who are still new to the whole tablet game, let us fill you in on what one is:
In general terms, today's tablet computers sport touchscreens ranging in size from 7- up to 13-inches. These dimensions are by no means static, and boundaries can be blurred as smartphones get larger displays, a la the 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Physical keyboards are also a rarity, but there are the exceptions such as the Asus Transformer Prime and newer Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, which come with a keyboard dock for the tablets, but there's a new kid on the block in the form of the Microsoft Surface.
As with today's best smartphones, applications play a big role on tablets – once you've decided which of these tablets if right for you, check out our top app lists so you can get your fill of Temple Run, update your friends on Facebook and read the latest news, all on a bigger screen.
If none of the top 10 tablets here take your fancy then head on over to our tablet reviews pages, where you'll find in-depth reviews for many more models.
Let us know your thoughts on the top 10 (and whether you think we've got the order wrong) in the comment box below.
10. Asus FonePad
It may be almost identical to the Nexus 7 when in comes to looks, but the FonePad has a few trump cards including a great price, microSD slot and 3G connectivity which not only allows you to get online but also send/receive phone calls and text messages.
You'd be forgiven for wondering why the FonePad isn't sitting calmly above its Google branded brother, but the Jelly Bean interface isn't quite as slick (it's packing a dual-core, not quad-core chip), you can pick up a Wi-Fi only Nexus 7 for less dosh and while the call function is cool, it's also a little impractical on a device this size.
That said pair it up with a Bluetooth headset and you might as well turf your smartphone out, as the FonePad can do pretty much everything.
The Asus FonePad is a very accomplished Android tablet and offers amazing value-for-money. If you're not planning on spending a fortune, but still want a tablet with a wide choice of apps and features then you could do a lot worse than picking up this one in particular.
9. Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
What's better than a tablet with a big screen? A tablet with a big screen, a quad core processor and the might of the S Pen... known as a stylus to me and you.
Well, not just a stylus - with many levels of pressure sensitivity and the ability easily sketch and annotate on a wide range of items, the Galaxy Note 10.1 offers so much more than your average tablet.
We're huge fans of the alternative choice here, and it even comes with a microSD slot to boot - plus we're now looking at Android Jelly Bean sitting proudly underneath the TouchWiz OS.
Sure, it's a mite expensive, the screen quality is lower than we've seen from Samsung in the past and the build quality somewhat lower than the competition, but this is still a fabulous tablet that many workers constantly forced to use a paper and pen will love to try out.
8. Microsoft Surface Pro
We've been waiting for Microsoft Surface Pro for a while but it's finally upon us, although it will set you back a fair few bob.
With a higher resolution screen than the Surface RT, and running the full blown version of Windows 8 the Surface Pro is kinder on the eyes and more powerful under hand, making for a potent, portable offering.
Making your mind up about the Surface Pro is less about what it is and what it does and more about what you want out of a tablet. As a hybrid PC it's an undeniable compromise - but that's no bad thing.
It's a bulky device with significant weight, but at the end of the day you're pretty much getting a portable PC, and all that power means there's a wealth of options availble on the Surface Pro which you just can't get on the more standard of tablets.
7. Asus Transformer Pad Infinity
With the latest version of Android on the way, a simple interface and more ports than you can poke with a stick, the Infinity is the tablet that can handle anything you can throw at it.
Add in the Super IPS panel with a tremendous resolution, and you can see why this is a tablet to rate very highly - especially if you're fond of typing on the go but crave the simplicity of a slate too.
Everything we'd look for in a high-end tablet is present and accounted for with the Transformer Pad Infinity.
While power is always welcomed, it was the improved screen that really caught our attention. Given that we use our tablet mostly for browsing the web and watching video, we couldn't help but marvel at the resolution, either. if you're looking for a top Android tablet (and have the cash to splash), then the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity should be at the top of your list.
6. Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 arrived on the scene with the iPad mini firmly set in its sights and while it gave a strong showing the Android tablet, complete with S Pen, didn't manage to hit the same heights as its Apple-made rival.
That's not to say the Galaxy Note 8.0 isn't a good tablet as it's a light, highly portable device and there's no denying that its display is far better than that of the iPad Mini.
It's solidly built, with expandable memory - the S-Pen has clearly been enhanced to make this a major selling point, plus we love the IR blaster and its media capabilities.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 is a good device. There are better out there for the money, and with an arguably better design as well. However, for those that like the S Pen as a tool, it's a great offering, albeit not really worth the extra cash for most.
Number 5: Google Nexus 10
5. Google Nexus 10
The 10.1 display is one of the biggest talking points on the Google Nexus 10. At 300 pixels per inch it's the highest resolution tablet display on the planet - take that Apple and your Retina screens.
It's a great performer too. Other than taking a while to process panoramic photos we never felt like it was struggling to keep up. It's fast and smooth whatever you throw at it.
Sure it may not be as stunning to look at, or as well built as an iPad, and the lack of expandable memory will irk some, but overall the Nexus 10 gives you a quality, big-screen Android experience which is not to be sniffed at.
The Google Nexus 10 is easily one of the best Android tablets on the market and while it's not quite as fantastic value for money as the Nexus 7, it certainly gives Apple's high-priced iPad 4 a run for its money. For the price you're paying, you won't be disappointed.
Number 4: iPad 4
4. iPad 4
We're not a fan of the name, but we reckon the new iPad 4 is the best full sized tablet out there.
The stunning Retina Display is certainly the highlight of Apple's latest tablet, and you won't see a better tablet screen on the market today.
It may be slightly bigger and heavier than the iPad 2, but with a bigger battery, beefed up processor and THAT screen, you can hardly blame Apple for this – plus it still keeps the famous iPad styling that has become something of a cult classic.
The price tag is eye-watering, however, and the lack of widgets and customisation will put some people off, but there are plenty of Android tablets that can satisfy your need for tweaking.
The Android experience cannot compete when it comes to dedicated apps, with the App Store rising head and shoulders above the competition, offering reams of quality applications made especially for the iPad.
Dodgy name aside, the new iPad is the crème de la crème of the tablet market. The eye-popping Retina Display is something to behold, the vast array of tablet apps in the App Store is something Google Play can't touch, and the OS simply just works.
If your pockets are deep and your need is great, then the new iPad 4 is the tablet for you - and the tablet that all other 10-inch offerings are compared to.
Number 3: Google Nexus 7
3. Google Nexus 7
The 7-inch HD IPS display means you can easily hold the Nexus 7 in one hand, making it a perfect reading device, as well as a great portable entertainment machine.
Then consider the 16GB version is available for just £159 and you'll start to realise that this might well be the bargain of the century - the 32GB model is still a steal at £199.
We now get our hands on a 3G (or 4G with dongle) model as well, although no microSD card slot means you're stuck with 32GB at most, and no rear camera - although we still think tablets shouldn't replace your cameraphone or point-and-shoot snapper.
For the ultimate tablet experience, the Google Nexus 7 gets close, but doesn't quite hit the mark of Apple's offerings. But as a cheap alternative you can't really go wrong.
The Google Nexus 7 is the best budget Android tablet on the market. Nothing in its price range is able to touch it, although Apple has managed to have the last laugh with the iPad Mini.
If you're looking for a tablet which doesn't cost an arm or a leg, but provides enough power to act as an extra limb, then look no further – the Google Nexus 7 is the tablet for you, and the 32GB / 3G upgrade is enough to push it up into second spot.
Number 2: iPad mini
2. iPad mini
Apple's former CEO Steve Jobs famously slammed small tablets a few years back, leading many to believe the Cupertino-based firm would never dabble in the budget end of the market, but here we are.
In terms of consistency in the tablet market Apple cannot be matched, as it now lays claim to two of the top four places in our top 10, with the iPad mini the jewel in an already glistening crown.
The slight downsides to the iPad mini are that it misses out on a Retina display and it pushes the upper end of the budget price bracket, but you can justify that price with its slick operation and premium build quality, letting you know you have a top piece of kit in your hand.
"The iPad mini is the best iPad Apple has ever created" - need we say more? That's the official verdict from our in-depth review. If you have the extra cash to spend on the iPad mini over the likes of the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, you won't be disappointed.
Number 1: Sony Xperia Tablet Z
1. Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Sleek, powerful, iconic - these are all words used to describe the impressive tablet from Sony,
The brand has been plugging away in the mobile space for a few years, but now the combination of the Sony Xperia Z and Tablet Z show that the Japanese brand is bringing us devices that the public can finally really lust after.
And that's one of the things we liked about the Tablet Z: it's light, really light, yet looks premium too. Sony has surpassed expectation with this and delivered a tablet that wouldn't look out of place in a business class lounge or at the centre of a home entertainment network.
It's waterproof too - sure, you might not use that feature a whole lot, but it gives it an air of ruggedness that puts your mind at ease when manhandling something that costs so much.
With a super slim chassis, impressive screen and whole glut of Sony extras on board, the Xperia Tablet Z is one of the finest pieces of kit we've seen in 2013. Its quality abounds the moment you take it out your bag, and the speedy internals and impressive weight are enough for us to recommend it wholeheartedly.
New tablets 2013 - what's coming up?
New tablets 2013 - what's coming up?
This top 10 of tablets is by no means the be all and end all. There are plenty of new tablets to get excited about this year, which could challenge the iPad mini for top spot.
If none of the tablets in our top 10 take your fancy then maybe you will be enticed by the ones we could see later this year.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 didn't get a big, fancy launch event, instead being quietly announced via the firm's website.
Packing a 7-inch display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 8GB and 16GB storage options, microSD slot, 3MP rear camera and 1.3MP front camera it's not going to set the world alight, but if Samsung get its pricing right we could have a budget winner on our hands.
Asus Padfone Infinity
The Infinity is a thing of beauty. It's not for everyone but many of us do have a use-case for it. If you have a tablet yet find yourself using more things on your phone then Asus believes you'll be in its Padfone queue.
- Hands on: Asus Padfone Infinity review