Top Android tablets (January 2014 edition)

Top Android tablets (January 2014 edition)

Summary: Want a tablet but don't want to buy a svelte iPad Air or the petite iPad mini because you want to stay away from the Apple walled garden? Not a problem! Here are my top Android tablets for January 2014 which includes an awesome Nvidia-powered system.

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TOPICS: Mobility
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  • Introduction

    Tablets are everywhere, and while Apple's iPad Air – along with its little brother, the iPad mini – commands the most media attention, there's no shortage of excellent Android alternatives to choose from.

    Here are my top nine Android tablets for January 2014.

    All of the tablets features here are very capable, powerful workhorses, and are ideal not only for home users, but also for enterprise users or those looking for a BYOD tablet. Any one of these will give you an excellent Android experience, and, when combined with the right apps, will allow you to get a lot of work done when you're away from your desk. There's also a fantastic Nvidia-powered system in this lineup.

  • (Source: Google)

    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.

Topic: Mobility

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38 comments
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  • What good is great hardware if the performance is sluggish and lags?

    Sorry but I tried both the Asus and the Samsung tablets and despite having absolutely top of the line components, they just didn't work very well.

    For the money I believe the Fire HDX is right up there, especially if you are a reader (as I am). I don't particularly lie Amazon and they are a bit like Apple in that they like to control your entire experience but overall I found my Fire HDX to rival my iPad for ease of use and it has a better display

    That mayday button actually works, I've tried it a few times and so far it gets me a real person who actually knows something about the tablet. That by itself makes the HDX worth a second look
    pssmeyers
    • I dare you to try a Note 8 for a week

      And then try and go back to other tablets.
      I DARE YOU!
      James Kendrick, you were right!
      Note 8 is brilliant!
      warboat
      • New Ramos Tablets for 2014

        Two new excellent tablet models launched are the Ramos i12 for $299 - a 12-inch Android tablet with one of Intel's latest performance processors along with a full HD 1920x1200 display -- also new is the Ramos K2 for $229 -- an 8-inch 3G HSPA+ Android tablet with a built-in SIM card slot with both Internet and Phone Call capability that works with GSM carriers worldwide, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Straight Talk wireless, and is easily added to any wireless plan. Both new Ramos models offer a premium design and build quality.

        One of the first U.S. resellers to offer the new Ramos tablet series is Tablet Sprint
        thart1k
    • Wow, that's wildly inaccurate!

      "Sorry but I tried both the Asus and the Samsung tablets and despite having absolutely top of the line components, they just didn't work very well."

      Samsung does not use the top of the line components in their tablets and so far, the best ASUS is the Nexus 7 2013 but, you cannot use the early batch, they were broken... Oh and the N7 2013 isn't top of the line either but, it is very smooth and quick. The TF700T is a dog, I bought one, used it for all of a 3 days and brought it back.
      slickjim
  • Google Nexus 10? NO!

    I had the same idea - Android came from Google, Nexus 10 came from Google. They must be the best combination on the earth. I was wrong. I bought it one year ago. It consistent crash at no reason, and many major apps were sluggish (Youtub, Skype, etc,, even Chrome!). It was replaced with a brand new one by kind of Google support. But the problem just didn't go away. After Googled forums, there were so many people had there same issue. I was happy that I was not along. However, Google never addresses the issue even after three major OS upgrades. I have no idea why so many tablet reviews put this crap in the top list?
    halchen
    • Google Nexus 10..NO

      At least it has an hdmi and separate power usb.
      The ability to attach to hd tv direct for games or entertainment enormous.....and can sit back and do it even if power low. No special do dads to buy.
      All BB are also set up this way......but kept this a secret it seems.
      dave365
    • Yep

      I had the same experience with two different Nexus 10 Tablets but, the Nexus 7 2012 was a solid tablet. Of course, the Nexus 7 2013 was horrible at first but, Google and Asus fixed that...

      Oh and for the record, I've had more failures with Samsung hardware than any other and that includes both phones and tablets. They can be the top Smartphone dog in the world but, I'll avoid them at all costs.
      slickjim
  • ... or ... Windows Tablets

    As a person who loves almost everything about the iPad but has had a string of frustration with Android tablets, I can offer those buyers contemplating a tablet purchase but don't want an Apple to look towards the new breed of Windows tablets. Yes, they offer frustrations that might even exceed those produced by Droid tablets, but they still might be just what you're looking for. But, if you still aren't impressed, and Droid or iOS doesn't fit the bill, I'm not sure a tablet is really for you at this point in time. I'm not aware of anything else except some older OS tablets.
    camcost@...
    • SPOILER!

      You can stop reading on the first line...
      timspublic1@...
  • Two suggested updates for the author

    1. The EVGA Tegra Note has a fantastic pressure sensitive stylus that is in many ways better than tablets choosing twice as much - or more.

    2. The Asus tf700 has been superseded by the tf701t which has a 2560x1600 IGZO display, a 1.9GHz Tegra 4 SOC, and a clean build of 4.3. Unlike the Samsung, performance has been great, and one can buy it, the keyboard dock *and* an ultra 64GB SD card for less than the Samsung.
    z_mikowski
    • Yes, please replace tf700 with tf701

      I was also going to suggest the tf701. Waiting until the Nexus announcement in a week or so, but picking up the 701 if the new Nexus 10 doesn't 'wow' me.
      texaggie
      • Dear Asus

        I love your Transformer range.
        In do not need or want a 300dpi tablet. 1080p screen is all I want so that when I connect it to a 1080p screen, the display is 1 to 1 and not screwed up.
        I am not willing to trade battery power for the extra pixel density.
        Nor am I willing to sacrifice GPU performance to push so many extra pixels.
        I also like to have my 1080p videos rendered at native resolution instead of scaled for the oddball screen resolution. I'm pretty sure rendering at 1 to 1 uses the least battery and computing power.
        Put a 1080p screen in the tf701 so that my games have higher frames rates and my battery lasts a couple of hours longer.
        Higher frame rates AND longer lasting battery! The extra pixel density means nothing to me.
        Oh yeh, use the top notch rear camera from older TF300 and Vivotab Smart, not that rubbish camera you put in the new TF701.

        Yours half-heartedly,
        Warboat
        warboat
        • Spot on!

          I agree. While I own the TF701T, and the screen really *is* beautiful, I'd rather have a 1920x1200 super IPS with more contrast, higher frame rates, and perhaps a third longer battery life.

          I'm hoping that they (or someone!) comes out with a "mid-range" TF301T. Here is my dream list. I think this would be a *killer* tablet:

          * Tegra4 or K1
          * 1920x1200 Super IPS + IGZO
          * Direct stylus
          * AOHDR 8MP rear camera
          * 2MP front camera
          * Front facing stereo speakers
          * Integrated smart cover open like the Tegra note, but with ability to prop in landscape *and* portrait
          * Mobile data (3G or LTE) with optional voice calling

          I am an industrial designer, so I'd be happy to help them with this :)
          z_mikowski
          • Oh, and I forgot

            * Rear dual LED flash
            z_mikowski
          • and TWO usb ports

            in the keyboard dock like the original tf101.
            How hard could that be?
            warboat
  • Tegra Note really surprised me...

    I was able to grab one of these and it arrived same day as the ota update and I'm enjoying it immensely. The sound is fantastic, the camera, everything including an excellent stylus experience. Best bang for your buck right now in tablets I'd have to think.
    eclein
  • Lenovo Yoga 8 and 10

    The Yoga 8 and 10 are really good Android devices. I bought the Yoga 10 for my kids. Wish I would have bought one for myself. It has 18 hours battery life which is crazy. You can add a great Lenovo bluetooth keyboard that acts as a hard cover. Price is competitive. Surprised it's not included in the list.
    markh@...
  • Barnes & Noble Nook HD+

    I realize that B&N has exited the tablet market, making only ereaders any more, but I just picked up two weeks ago, the Nook HD+, and have had nothing but a great experience. The HD+ has a 9" screen with great resolution, 32GB of internal storage, and external SD card slot, and full access to the Google Play store. All of my books and apps from my older Nook Color immediately downloaded during the setup, so I was up and running in minutes. Sure, there are obvious omissions, such as no camera, but at $149 for the HD+, I can't get that kind of quality or features anywhere else. It works fine for me, and even with the addition of a leather cover and Ionics bluetooth keyboard, I'm still under $200. But these are obviously close out prices, and I suspect that there are not a lot of them left at this point.
    kevinf@...
    • Not so fast...they are Staying

      For awhile B&N were on the path to leave the market. But recent articles have come out saying the new leadership disagreed with the previous device strategy going forward. Spoke to someone over there right before Xmas...expect a new device to arrive prior to 2half '14.

      That said, I have an HD+ and will second that they make an EXCELLENT couch surfer, especially for the price. This was cemented when they allowed full access to the Google Play Store. The only downside I see (and why I'm in the market for another tablet) is that there are no cameras on the device, which cuts out my ability to Skype with family.
      texaggie
      • For $144 and change ...

        ... (at Target just before Christmas for a 32 GB with the Target card 5%), it's a no-brainer. I bought two (one was a gift). It's also the best reader for anything that isn't a true ebook (technical stuff, PDF's).

        My next tablet will be a couple years from now, and I expect it will be Windows.
        Schoolboy Bob