Best Android tablets (April 2013 edition)

Best Android tablets (April 2013 edition)

Summary: Don't want to give your money to Apple in exchange for an iPad or iPad mini? No problem! Here are my top 5 Android tablets for April 2013.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Tablets, Android
70

 |  Image 3 of 6

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Thumbnail 5
  • Thumbnail 6
  • Google Nexus 7

    The Google Nexus 7 was the first Nexus-branded tablet to be released by Google. The hardware, manufactured by Asus, consists of a 7-inch display with a 1280x800 resolution screen, an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, a choice of 16GB or 32GB of storage, and a – somewhat limited – 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera.

    The main downside of the Nexus is that it does not feature a card slot to allow you to expand the storage.

    The hardware runs the very latest – and highly capable – Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean" operating system, and features an improved, very efficient software keyboard. Being a Google tablet, you're also guaranteed software updates, rather than having to rely on the goodwill of the hardware maker.

    The tablet also features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and optional cellular, and all this is powered by a battery that can give 10 hours of usage under normal conditions.

    A powerful tablet in a small, easy-to-carry form factor.

    The more I use this tablet, the more I like it. It's big enough to do real work, and yet small enough to carry around in a jacket pocket.

    At a glance:

    • 7-inch, 1280x800 display
    • Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor
    • Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean"
    • 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera
    • Choice of 16GB or 32GB
    • Battery life of 10 hours

     

    Price: from $199.

    Link/image source: Google.

  • Google Nexus 10

    The #2 spot goes to the Nexus 7's bigger brother — the Nexus 10. 

    The Nexus 10 sports a 10-inch screen with a 2560x1600 resolution display, a dual core ARM Cortex A15 processor, and a quad core Mali T604 graphics processor.

    The Samsung-made tablet also comes with a choice of 16GB or 32GB of storage, a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, a 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera – which is far superior to the 1.2 megapixel camera that the Nexus 7 has – and a power pack capable of delivering 11 hours of usage.

    The Nexus is designed by Google, and so it offers the best, purest Android experience possible – and it also means that you will get operating system updates direct from Google, rather than have to wait for the hardware makers to the update.

    Overall, a powerful, very well made tablet, and if you have space in your life for a 10-inch tablet, you should take a look at this one. The main downside of the Nexus is that it does not feature a card slot to allow you to expand the storage.

    At a glance:

    • 10-inch, 2560x1600 display
    • Dual core ARM Cortex A15 processor
    • Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean"
    • 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, a 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera
    • Choice of 16GB and 32GB.
    • Battery life of 11 hours

     

    Price: from $399.

    Link/image source: Google.

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

    The Galaxy Note 10.1 is Samsung's is a flagship tablet that commands a flagship price.

    The hardware is all top-notch, with a 10.1-inch screen with a 1280x800 resolution display, a 1.4GHz Exynos quad core processor, a choice of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage, a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, a 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera, and a 10-hour battery pack.

    The software is Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" but there's an upgrade path to Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean".

    For times when a finger just isn't precise enough, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with a nifty stylus called the S Pen specifically designed to work with a number of applications. This really comes to its own when doing fiddly things like working in a spreadsheet, or knocking out a doodle.

    The stylus makes the Galaxy Note 10.1 a great machine for taking notes, planning, and sketching out ideas.

    At a glance:

    • 10.1-inch, 1280x800 display
    • 1.4GHz Exynos quad core processor
    • Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich"
    • 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, a 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera
    • Choice of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
    • Battery life of 10 hours

    Price: from $499.

    Link/image source: Samsung.

Topics: Tablets, Android

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

Talkback

70 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I would have gotten a transformer infinity

    except that the specs are outdated besides the screen res, and it doesn't have wacom.

    I would have gotten the note 10.1, except it has bad resolution, which is especially critical when using wacom, and I really would love for it to have had a transformer style dock.

    I'm hoping someone makes a tablet soon with 1080p, wacom, a keyboard dock, good weight and good specs. there are a number of windows tablets with this setup, but they're all intel core i5 and i7, meaning bad battery life, heavy, and fans making noise & pumping out heat.
    theoilman
    • Other New Models for April

      Major Tablet sellers of course are Apple, Samsung and Nexus, but other impressive tablets launched this month from a lesser known tablet maker that includes a new model called the Novo 9 Spark - with a price of $269 -- and one of the first resellers it's available through is a web site called TabletSprint -- this new model compares to the iPad and Nexus 10 tablet with a much more competitive price tag -- and offers a full size, 9.7 inch display with a Retina screen and a Quad Core Processor --


      The Novo 9 Spark features a 9.7 inch 2048x1536 IPS screen and a Quad Core processor/1.5 Ghz/2GB - Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, along with a powerful 10,000 mAh battery, 32GB Memory, WiFi, a MicroSD memory card slot, the new high end 4K Digital HDMI to stream movies from your tablet and display on an HD TV, WiFi and Ethernet, a 2 Megapixel Front webcam and a
      5 Megapixel Rear Camera with Autofocus and Flash; and comes preinstalled with Google Play Store to access more than 400,000 Android software Apps, and also provides options for 3G/4G internet access.


      A 7 inch size tablet also launched this month that compares to the Nexus 7 -- the Novo 7 Venus for $149 - features a Quad Core processor, 1280x800 IPS screen, 16GB memory, WiFi, a front webcam, Android O/S and Google Play Store preinstalled... all of which duplicate the features of the Nexus 7 tablet -- while also offering features the Nexus 7 doesn't - including a 2 Megapixel rear camera, a MicroSD memory card slot, and an HDMI 1080p port; plus options for 3G/4G internet connection.

      Ainol Electronics produces both new models and received an award for winning runner up for "Best Tablet of the Year" in 2012 at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) -- The Reseller TabletSprint - also offers $25 in Bonus Apps as well as features a promotion with a free 500MB monthly Data plan for 3G internet access that includes a free 3G USB adapter.
      H. Ashbury
      • Novo

        Funny these were skipped over. Would like to try them out. Good specs for a better price range.
        nuzerxe
      • Ainol makes decent stuff but...

        I have two of their tablets. They are decent and fly with some of the custom ROMS found on XDA or Slatedriod but battery life is poor and sometimes build quality is spotty. You may get a solid unit. You may not. Too be fair the Nexus 7 first units have some quality control problems. The thing is they are really close in price to the Nexus, Samsung, new HP and ASUS units. The Venus is nice but for $50.00 more you can get a Nexus 7 with 32gb of RAM. Faster processor and better display.

        When the tablets were new devices like the Eken and Apad were fine and well priced but now with the Samsung Galaxy (the 7.0 beats the 2.7 unit) and others it makes more sense to just buy a known brand.
        Tony Lawrence
        • 32gb of RAM?

          What? You're joking right? Not even a full fledged high powered gaming PC would need, let alone have, 32gb of RAM. The 32gb is the size of the hard drive of the tablet. The tablet probably has, based on other tablets I've seen, around 200 - 400mb of RAM. You kind of voided your entire comment by not knowing something as simple as the difference between RAM and hard drive capacity.
          Cedric Muñoz
          • Actually

            Actually, most tablets and high end android phones carry 1gb or more of RAM. The technology within these touchscreens are just simply amazing as I'd never imagine.
            RECK7LESS
          • Android Linux took 56,5% of tablets (IDC Q1 2013)

            Android Linux took 56,5% of tablets (IDC Q1 2013)

            Android........................56.5%
            iOS................................39.6%
            Windows........................3.3%
            Windows RT..................0.4%
            Others............................ 0.2%

            http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS24093213
            Napoleon XIV
          • 32gb of ram or the hard drive you say tablets have???

            Surely like the guy you commented on you meant 32gb of SSD storage. Or do you really think there is a mechanical drive in those tablets? I'm not going to go as far as you did by discrediting your entire comment, because of your statements. Also, most of the big name tablet makers have 512mb-1gb of ram. Don't be so hasty in blowing up on people for a minor mistake when you obviously make them yourself.
            goldstone1977
          • Hard Drive?

            I thought tablets ROM was flash memory. Is my tablets flash memory considered a hard drive? Its not mechanical? Just wondering...
            rcpalmcity@...
          • manufacturers and marketing departments are to blame

            As soon as the computer became "personal" or personal computer (PC) the memory and storage descriptions got confused.
            Originally, the memory used to run programs inside of was called RAM (Random Access Memory). it was volatile memory (meaning when the power got turned off to the PC the memory lost everything in it.
            So storage systems came out to store programs in them so you could use them again when you wanted to. I remember having to retype programs in to run them before I had a storage device.
            First personal computers used cassette tapes for storage, then came programs stored on "data cartridges" by the manufacturer that you would buy. (the first video game consoles used these and some still do.
            Then came floppy disk for storage and then hard drives which led to compact disc (CD->DVD->Bluray) to make Hard drives find information faster memory was added as a cache (temporary storage) on the drive itself until this technology got sufficiently inexpensive and storage began to be made from just those electronic memory parts.
            The problem is this is where it gets confusing.
            Original ram stored data as a charge in a cell like a super small battery that needed power on all the time to check regularly the cell level and either drain off small power or refill it (called refresh cycle) to keep it set as full or empty (1 or 0).
            Then the cartridge memory used a method that didn't require that power checking because it would flip like a switch, but that took a lot of power in the beginning and so it was done rarely or only during manufacturing when the data was put into the memory.
            The Physical devices didn't have the power on always requirement and could only be read or written to when the power was on otherwise they mostly stayed in the state they were last in.
            So the confusion comes from new developments that combine parts or the memory of ram volatility with the switch memory of cartridges to create a bunch of different technologies that don't have the power need to refreshthe memory nor the high power requirements of the cartridge memory.....FLASH memory.
            Variations of this memory family is used in USB sticks (USB Flash Drives) and SSD (Solid State Drives) these can have data written to them and never changed (used to hold the operating system for tablets) and as storage space for programs and data.
            Generally a variation of the original RAM (volatile memory) is still used to actually run and hold the program when it is being used. But some devices actually use a variant of Flash memory for running programs too.
            A tablet now-a-daysmay be lsted as 16GB of memory--actually they mean storage not usable to run programs just store data, music, videosect.
            and 512 MB to 4GB memory to run the programs in.
            iPads are currently 512mb to 1GB memory to run programs and 16GB storage space that also contains the operating system so you may see 12GB usable listed. meaning the Operating system occupies 4GB of the storage space.
            Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro and Surface tablets took alot of complaints because the operating system left only 23GB of storage of a 64GB memory tablet.
            Beware: Android is not exempt.
            Android 4.x onward redefined memory usage and while the microSD expansion slot allowed more storage space for android devices. previous android version allowed that memory to be used as direct storage that the programs could easilly access and use. Android 4.x redefined the microSD memory as external storage so many programs required the user to move the data into the devices storage memory from microsd memory. Work arounds have been getting created by developers to again allow their programs direct access to this additional memory storage. that sort of explains why google nexus devices don't have microSD slots though doesn't it.
            ronf57
    • Agree, Agree, Agree

      I'm with you. A tablet without a pen option is not really a tablet at all. I will tell you that (aside from the battery life and Win8) the Surface Pro is a really good product. I had one for a whole 15 days before returning it. Would still have it if it wasn't for Win8. NO real heat issues and excellent display with wacom.
      But I'm still using a Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet with a pen and it works pretty good. Since Samsung makes the Nexus 10, I would expect to see a step up to the high resolution and the pen in the next version.
      Also, I would like to see them put a good camera in both front and back, with the processing power and a SD slot you can easily handle up to a 12 megapixel camera. And why not on both sides, you can always degrade the resolution for web cam apps for the cameras.
      Sul52
    • Bad resolution?

      Yes, full HD would be nicer, but WXGA on a 10" screen is certainly not "bad". As an illustrator, I find it very useful and the display is crisp and clear. It will serve until the next generation or two comes along. Pixel density will increase, no doubt. The precise, pressure sensitive Wacom pen sold me on it...much better than a blunt capacitive stylus.
      bradson
      • while it doesn't look like atari or anything

        these days below FHD is bad resolution. I agree the wacom is great, I just want to see it with a modern display. it's a ripoff when even phones get 1080p now.
        theoilman
        • Wow

          I have 720p TV, as does everyone else with about a sub 32" TV. To imply more pixels are needed when the majority of content is still 720p is silly. Even with these HD cameras on mobile devices, the sensors are still behind and often result in relatively bad results. Given the number of people with less than perfect vision, all the HD war started over Apple's gimmick of Retina.

          Extra resolution only matters on bigger screens. This is the reason why we are even talking about 4k TVs because TVs are now talking about 84" and larger. If the screen is sufficiently large than it justifies it. If it wasn't a gimmick, you'd be seeing 720p TVs disappear any everything would be at 1080p or 4k. To claim otherwise means you don't believe in the TV market which is doing just fine.
          ikissfutebol
          • I don't know about you

            but I can clearly see the difference on small screens too
            theoilman
          • It is about distance v viewing

            I was looking at a Note 10.1 and Asus TF700 today.

            Yes, the TF700 has a higher resolution.

            But I'd use both from 10" away. The partially crisper text is just bling, especially the moment hardware specs are considered. (Most reviews show the TF700 going slow when multitasking, and browser performance is faster on the Note...) If you need a big portable web browser that can play Commodore 64 games, but YMMV...
            HypnoToad72
    • agreed

      Especially for the price point, the TF700 screen isn't enough to compensate for lesser processing hardware.

      I'm still waiting for a proper OS X tablet, not this iOS toy stuff, so I can use Dreamweaver, Photoshop, MAMP, et al, without needing a MBP... but maybe I should just get a MBP instead and not dink around with the overpriced kiddiefluff whose processors are on par with a Pentium IV made in 2000...
      HypnoToad72
  • An update to the Transformer range is overdue.

    The Transformer Infinity still holds it's own but is starting to look it's age. Asus concentrate on this range not your dumb Padfones!

    Interesting they're all made by Asus or Samsung.

    Personally I'm waiting for the Galaxy Note 8.0.
    bradavon
    • Yes but

      I love my TF300, but wouldn't mind upgrading to a machine as sleek and thin as the TF700, especially given the super crisp high-res screen. I suspect ASUS is holding off until the Tegra 4 processors become widely available. And honestly, I wouldn't buy a new tablet before that time either, so I think ASUS is making the right move. Also, I'm thrilled that ASUS released an OS upgrade for the TF300. I believe that the TF300 and the Nexus 7 are currently the only shipping tablets running Android 4.2.
      dsf3g
      • TF700 Infinity

        I was able to upgrade to Jellybean 4.21 on my TF700 Infinity right after I bought it. The upgrade was free and painless. I absolutely love the Infinity. It's a great tablet. I have since added a keyboard to it and love it even more!
        DMOliver