The very best tablets of 2013

The very best tablets of 2013

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Mobility

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  • 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.

    (Image: Samsung)

  • Best Android tablet - #1: Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

    To show how serious Amazon is about the tablet market the company unveiled a new addition to the Kindle Fire HD line-up – the Kindle Fire HDX.

    The HDX comes in two different flavors – a 7-inch version and a bigger, beefier 8.9—inch variety. Both are essentially the same hardware apart from the screen and the fact that the 8.9-inch version features a bigger, better screen and a rear-facing camera.

    • Fire OS 3.0, a highly modified version of Android
    • 2.2GHz quad-core processor
    • 7-inch 1920 x 1200 (323 ppi) display | 8.9-inch 560 x 1600 (339 ppi)
    • Both feature a front-facing HD camera, while the 8.9-inch version also has an 8MP rear-facing camera too
    • +11 hour battery life
    • Dolby audio
    • Choice of 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of internal storage

    Price: from $229.

    (Image: Amazon)

  • Best Windows 8.1 tablet - #1: ASUS Transformer Book T100

    The ASUS Transformer Book T100 is a hidden gem when it comes to Windows tablet. This is a 10.1-inch 2-in-1 convertible that switches from being a tablet to a notebook. This tablet beats the Surface 2 offering on almost every metric you care to use.

    • Price: You can pick up the T100 for $379 from online retailers such as Amazon, which is a full $70 less than an entry-level Surface 2 tablet.
    • OS: The T100 runs the full x86 version of Windows 8.1, not the ARM-powered Windows RT that the Surface 2 runs. If you want a Surface Pro 2 that runs the full version of Windows 8.1 then you're looking at a starting price of $899.
    • Microsoft Office: Full version of Microsoft Office (Home and Student 2013) versus the cut-down version for Windows RT.
    • Faster CPU: Intel Atom versus Nvidia Tegra 4.
    • Better battery life: 11 hours versus 10 hours.
    • Lighter: 1.2lbs versus 1.49lbs

    (Image: ASUS)

Topic: Mobility

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  • All operating system prejudices have been left at the door?

    And yet you list three Android tablets, one Windows Tablet, and one iOS tablet.
    Sir Name
    • Windows tablet

      And the only reason for having one Windows tablet is to bash the Surface
      • re:

        Sir Name
      • Basing the Surface is fun

        But the Asus Transformer Book T100 is really an amazing tablet for its price. At 380$ at Walmart in the US it's got 64Gig storage, Office Home and Student and the keyboard dock is included.

        And it's x86 Windows running on the latest Atom Bay Trail processor which includes a graphic processor based on Intel HD 4000, performance is quite good and there is no hickup in display.

        I love that tablet and it will take an amazing offer to make me replace it!
        • well Surface is base

          Yup, the ASUS T100 is selling like hotcakes. It is a cheap way to go Windows 8.1 Netbook, and also use it as a tablet. Apps are coming - we hope that apps are coming.
          • Apps are coming?

            Who needs apps? The whole point of the x86 architecture is the ability to run full desktop programs. Sure, apps are a nice bonus, but I bought it for the ability to run full legacy windows programs, not stripped-down Apps.
        • Surface runs Win 8

          bashing it is mandatory because it is so damn awful!
          • Microsoft reintroduce the netbook

            bashing it is dangerous because it is so damn fragile!
            Henry 3 Dogg
        • I have one, but

          Surface has better screen, Transformer is bad in a daylight outside. And I also miss badly a front and rear facing camera, as Asus only has front facing camera suitable for video chat.
          Anyway, T100 is one nasty gadget and I don't know, how I survived without one :-)
        • ASUS Transformer Book T100

          I was able to pick up the ASUS Transformer Book T100 a few weeks before Christmas from BJs Wholesale Club online for $299 (don't believe it still available though). This tablet/PC is amazing for the price. So much more fun then my iPad (love the live tiles) but I will admit more apps are needed. A bargain at $399 I just happened to have lucked out.
      • RE: bashing. perhaps AKH is just telling the truth?

        I agree with every point he makes.

        The Asus costs less, can do more, weights less, more battery, keyboard dock is included and has more built in storage.

        In almost every significant way that Asus Transformer T100 is a better device than Surface2.

        I just picked up a 64gb model from the Microsoft store for $299.

        IMHO it is the best tablet device on the market.

        From Angry Birds to Fallout3 to Office to Photoshop, it can do most anything.
        • I agree. This blog was not a case of Surface bashing per se.

          AKH did mention the Surface 2 for comparison's sake. I do wonder if the Surface 2 has a better display than the Asus tablet since I have not seen the Asus in person while I have experienced the Surface 2 and can state that the Surface 2 display is very sharp and color accurate. In short, it has a very nice and bright display for a tablet.
          • Surface 2 has better display

            Full 1080 versus 768 for the T100
            That being said, $299 was just too hard to pass up. ;-)
        • Asus > Surface

          If I were even remotely interested in a Windows tablet (which I admit I'm not,) the Asus would be at the top of my list. In general though, I still see little difference between these and the thin netbooks of 4 years ago. Touchscreen isn't a plus for running Windows desktop apps, which is the only reason I can see for owning these. Plus, I already have a netbook running the full Windows desktop. Since getting the iPad a few years ago, my netbook has been sitting on a shelf gathering dust. These small, thin, light, Windows machines may be new to some, but I just can't see going back to what I was using 4 years ago after using real tablets.
          • Not Quite

            "I still see little difference between these and the thin netbooks of 4 years ago."

            I know from your posts that you're quite technically adept, so this statement doesn't make sense to me unless it is driven by some kind of bias.

            There are many reasons you are comparing apples/oranges, but one in and of itself disqualifies the comparison. The Atom Bay Trail processors are a completely different animal than whatever powered your netbook, and provide a vastly improved experience in terms of raw power and battery life.
          • really?

            You see know purpose in having a touch centric interface for reviewing multiple email accounts and brewing the web and...... Have you been living under a rock?
          • Why do people keep comparing these to netbooks?

            It makes about as much sense as saying an iPad is nothing more than a Newton.

            The difference Bill is that these new generation of windows hybrids are powerful, very powerful. Where netbooks were not.

            Furthermore, they make exception tablets.

            I have a T100 and I can honestly say it completely replaces any need I would have for an iPad or Android tablet and in addition to that is makes an excellent notebook. Other than have some more watered down tablet style games, there really isn't anything iPads and Androids offer that isn't easily done by the T100, but at the same time the T100 doesn't suffer the same limitations that come with the mobile operating systems.

            In the T100 I have one device that I never have to question if it will do what I need. It offers a full web browsing experience, where iPads do not. It offers a full notebook experience, where an iPad/Android with a keyboard does not. I can plug anything into it and it will work. Printer, scanner, mouse, mass storage, anything. It is powerful enough to run some pretty demanding programs like photoshop and even something like skyrim (though at low fps, but still).

            It isn't a companion device like an iPad is or a device running a phone operating system designed to push media content that struggles to do other things.

            It really is a complete experience.
    • That makes sence since

      there are at least 3 times the number of Android based tablets available compared to both iOS and Windows. If there were as many iOS and WIndows tablets released in 2013 then the numbers would probably be about the same.
  • Where are the Intel core "i" based tablets?

    The Surface Pro 2 and the Lenovo Helix among others are great tablets. The Helix is hands down the best business class Tablet I've worked with. For the price point the Surface Pro 2 is a wonderful system. They both can replace a laptop or desktop making it one less device for most people.

    I'm also looking at the Dell Venue Windows 8 system. On the Venue 8 Pro not having a USB port to plug in a USB device is a big miss for breaking into the business use it is a nice companion consumption device and matches up to your list.

    So, how did you decide to limit the list?
    • Too expensive

      They should be called ultrabooks with detachable (or no) keyboards.