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With the year now drawing to a close, it's time to take a look at some of the best tech for the year, starting with tablets.
Tablets have been a huge hit over the year, and a number of great products have come to market, and with retailers trying desperately to attract attention with holiday deals, there's never been a better time to buy.
Here all operating system prejudices have been left at the door, and there are tablets running Android, Windows 8.1 and iOS in the listing.
Best Android tablet - #3: The Google Nexus 7
The new Google Nexus 7 is the much-anticipated follow-on to the highly-successful original Nexus 7. The hardware, once again manufactured by Asus, consists of a 7-inch display with a resolution bumped up to 1920x1200 HD display and a pixel density of 323 pixels per inch, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, an Adreno 320 GPU, a choice of 16GB or 32GB of storage, a 5 megapixel rear camera, and a – somewhat limited – 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera.
The main downside of the Nexus 7 continues to be 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 4.3 "Jelly Bean" operating system, and features an improved, very efficient software keyboard.
Also, being a Google-branded tablet, you're also guaranteed software updates, rather than having to rely on the goodwill of the hardware maker to make them available.
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.
About the only thing I don't like about the Nexus 7 is the 16:10 screen aspect ratio, which makes the device feel awfully top-heavy in portrait mode.
At a glance:
- 7-inch, 1920x1200 HD display and a pixel density of 323 pixels per inch
- 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor
- Adreno 320 GPU
- Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean"
- 5.0 megapixel rear camera
- 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera
- Choice of 16GB or 32GB of internal storage
- Stereo, surround speakers
- Battery life of 9 hours
Price: from $199.
Best Android tablet - #2: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 edition)
The Galaxy Note 10.1 is Samsung's is a flagship tablet that commands a flagship price. And it just got better with this latest update
The hardware is all top-notch, with a 10.1-inch screen with a 2560x1600 resolution display, a 2.3GHz quad core processor on the LTE version (the Wi-Fi/3G version has a 1.9GHz quad-core CPU and a secondary 1.3GHz quad-core CPU), a choice of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage, an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, a 2 megapixel front-facing camera, and a 10-hour battery pack.
The software is Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean" operating system.
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. This can be a hugely useful for BYOD usage.
There are two drawbacks to this device. The first is the price. This is a premium tablet, and has a premium price tag to go with that. But at $50 more than the iPad, it's hard to recommend the new Galaxy Note 10.1, especially when you factor in the second drawback – performance. While the hardware baked into the new Galaxy Note 10.1 is top-notch, the tablet still suffers from a sluggishness that makes it annoying to use. Perhaps this will be fixed by a software update, but for now it plagues what should otherwise be a flagship device.
At a glance:
- 10.1-inch, 2560x1600 display
- 2.3GHz Exynos quad core processor on the LTE version
- Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean"
- 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, a 2 megapixel front-facing camera
- Choice of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage
- Battery life of 10 hours
Price: from $549.