Best Android-powered tablets

Best Android-powered tablets

Summary: While I firmly believe that the iPad is the best tablet out there, there are some fantastic Android tablets on offer.


Question from yesterday's Hardware 2.0 mailbox is one that I've been receiving in a variety of forms for months:

"I want to buy a tablet, but I do not want to get an iPad. I've got nothing against the iPad itself, it's just that I have an Android smartphone and juggling two platforms is going to get both complicated and expensive.

What do you suggest I look at?"

Your reason for not wanting to buy an iPad makes sense. As someone who has standardized on iOS hardware, I have to agree with you that one mobile platform is much easier to handle than two. If nothing else, it reduces your costs by allowing you to buy an app once, and then go on to install it on multiple devices. Juggling between two different mobile platforms would mean having to buy all those must-have apps twice.

While I firmly believe that the iPad is the best tablet out there, there are some fantastic Android tablets on offer. You've not offered a budget so I'll suggest a range of tablets starting at $199, and going all the way up to $599.

Best tablet for those who don't want an iPad

Image Gallery: Best tablet for those who don't want an iPad Image Gallery: Charge Image Gallery: Charge

ASUS Transformer TF300

If you want a tablet that transforms into a notebook, then this is the tablet for you. Through the use of the optional keyboard dock ($149), not only can you add a keyboard and touchpad, but you also get 5 hours of extra battery life.

For $100 more than Amazon's Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble's Nook, this tablet it worth taking a look at.

Price: $300.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon's Kindle Fire has come from nowhere to become the number one Android tablet in the United States. It runs a heavily customized version of Android that doesn't look or feel like any other version out there.

The ease of use of the device, combined with the Amazon brand and the low price, has made the Kindle Fire a very popular choice among those looking for an Android tablet.

Price: $199.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

The Galaxy Tab 2 is a revamp of the original tablet. It's not as much of a reworking as some were expecting, and more of an evolutionary step than a revolutionary one, but it's still a good upgrade to what was already an excellent tablet. A premium tablet with a premium price tag.

Price: $599.

Lenovo IdeaPad A1

Lenovo's 7-inch IdeaPad A1 is a compact yet rugged multimedia tablet that runs the Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system. The A1 is also durable, and features a magnesium alloy roll-cage internal frame that protects the critical system components in case of accidents or jolts.

Price: $199.

Barnes & Noble Nook

The Nook is Barnes & Noble's answer to Amazon's Kindle Fire. Like the Kindle Fire, the Nook is essentially a conduit into the digital content that Barnes & Noble has to offer.

Price: $199.

Pantech Element

This is the tablet for those who like to take their electronic devices into the outdoors. The Pantech Element is waterproof against incidental exposure to water when all ports -- including USB and earphone ports -- are tightly closed, and is submersible up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

Compared to the ASUS Transformer TF300 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, this tablet is overpriced from a hardware specification standpoint, but if you want a rugged, waterproof tablet, this is worth a look.

Price: $500 (contract-free).

Image sources: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.


Topics: Laptops, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Tablets

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  • What about the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0)?

    Your opinion on this one please? It seems like a solid contender. It sells for $249.
    • They are decent

      If weight is your number one priority then this 7" Tablet is tops period...
      • Galaxy Note is much lighter, but still offers quite big 5.3" screen

        Some e-readers have 6" screens, so there is not a huge difference in size.
  • Hmm

    I get that some of these are newer than the Sony Tablet S but after using several of them, I have to say, the Sony Tablet S is still the best of the bunch... Everyone I show, the Sony to buys it... I had a friend return his iPad 3, another sell his iPad 2 and at least 4 other people buy the Tablet S after seeing what it could do.
    • That is some unique bunch of friends

      To have even someone with iPad 3 get it returned, those people are amazing.
      • I know right...

        The idea that they would weigh both products and go with the one they liked better is insane huh?
    • Yes, Sony Tablet S is the best among Android Tablets

      And especially after recent upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich it made more useful. The Sony Reader software definitely beats the rags out of Kindle Fire or Nook anytime.
      Ram U
  • Try it first

    There are a number of them out there and more coming in the next few months.
    It all boils down to personal preference and getting and trying them. Hands on perception is a make / break for any device.
  • Transformer for $300?

    Where did you find that price? Looks to me like everyone is selling it for $399.
  • Real 24-bit colour?

    When will an Android tablet have 24-bit colour? Does ICS fix this? Or the next Android upgrade??
  • Wait for the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity (tf700)

    This particular tablet will be the one to beat, by most accounts and hands on reviews. The tablet has not yet been released, but comes in two flavours:
    Wifi Only (Tegra 3, Quad Core)
    LTE/4g (Qualcomm S4)

    The tf700 series is the one android tablet that is constantly being compared to the iPad 3.
  • Price is wrong...

    If this tablet was $300, it would be in my hands. No one that I have found is selling it for $300.

    Peter Sabin
    • How dare you...

      ask for a response or further information. As of late, information on ZDNET is to be handed out, as is, and you will be glad to have it ! Questioning or expecting a response from most of the authors is not allowed. There are a couple that will stoop to a lower level and give you an answer, but they are the exception not the rule.
  • Best of Android

    Nice collection of best android tablets :)