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After the release of the iPad Air 2022 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 range earlier this spring, there hasn’t been much movement in the tablet world. At IFA, Lenovo announced updated versions of the Tab P11 and P11 Pro with updated internals and even an 11.2-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate on the Pro. Amazon recently launched updated versions of its Fire HD 8 tablets with the new “Tap to Alexa” feature. And while Amazon’s e-readers aren’t typically thought of as tablets, the new Kindle Scribe deserves some consideration thanks to the included stylus and support for handwritten notes.
People looking for a fancy new slate should hold off for now, however, as rumors have it that Apple plans to release an updated version of the base iPad later this fall that includes a USB-C port (instead of lighting). with improved performance, optional 5G connectivity and a slightly larger display. Then, looking ahead, Google has also announced that it plans to release the upcoming Pixel Tablet sometime in 2023.
The tips from Engadget
Which operating system is right for me?
Before you even start looking for specific devices, consider how your new tablet will fit in with the gadgets you already own and how you intend to use them. For example, if everyone in your house uses Macs and iPhones, it probably doesn’t make much sense to buy an Android tablet, even if you’re tempted by the massive 14.6-inch screen of the new Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. This goes double for anyone who has an extensive library of purchased videos and music that may become harder to access after switching platforms.
Another consideration is the type of work you will be doing. That’s because while all modern tablets are capable of browsing websites or playing games, some operating systems like iPadOS and Windows 11 are better designed to support multitasking and productivity than Android or even Chrome OS. It’s a similar story with software, because while the most popular apps and games are available on both Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, more specialized enterprise software may only be adequately supported on desktop platforms like Windows or macOS.
What screen size should I get?
Trying to size your tablet also has to do with the type of work (or play) you plan to do. Larger displays make it much easier to view two apps side-by-side, with large screens also offering a more immersive movie experience. But the bigger the tablet, the less likely you’ll want to move it around. This means that not only should you take stock of your workspace (i.e. whether you have a desk or prefer to work from a couch or even your bed instead), you should also consider how the device fits into your everyday life or commute (if available).
Finally, you should consider any add-ons or accessories you plan to use, which can range from detachable keyboards to things like external microphones or a stylus. The good news is that many tablets these days offer some sort of keyboard accessory that allows the device to function more like a 2-in-1 rather than just being a content consumption device. Some tablets also come with things like microSD card slots that support expandable storage, or optional 4G or 5G connectivity, which can be a real boon for frequent travelers. And if you plan on using the tablet primarily for work, you might want to grab a USB hub to connect all your favorite peripherals.
Best overall: Apple iPad Pro
Powered by the same M1 chips found in Apple’s MacBooks, the iPad Pro is one of the fastest and best-built tablets you can buy today. It comes in two sizes (11 and 12.9 inches) and works with a range of accessories including the Apple Pencil and the extremely useful (but expensive) Magic Keyboard. And thanks to the 120Hz ProMotion Mini LED displays, the iPad Pro’s screen offers strong brightness and smooth images, whether you’re watching a movie or creating a slideshow presentation. The latest versions of iPadOS have also turned Apple’s premium tablet into a much more capable working device, with new sidebars for quickly switching between apps, a more powerful desktop-like UI for Safari, and various new toolbars.
The main downside is that Apple’s iPad Pros, starting at $800 for a base 11-inch model with 128GB of storage, don’t come cheap, and that’s before you add any extras like cellular connectivity or a keyboard. But given the odds that a new iPad Pro is more powerful than your current laptop, there’s not really anything you can throw at Apple’s top-of-the-line tablet that it can’t handle can.
A final note is that if you like the iPad Pro but want something cheaper, there’s also the fifth-generation iPad Air. You still get the same M1 chip, Apple Pencil support, and optional 5G connectivity. And with a 10.9-inch screen, it’s basically the same size as the smaller iPad Pro too. The main difference is that the iPad Air’s display isn’t quite as bright and doesn’t support a 120Hz refresh rate. But if you’re ok with that, the fifth-gen iPad Air is essentially an iPad Pro with a less fancy screen, starting at $599 instead of $799.
Buy the iPad Pro at Amazon from $800
Best Android Tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8
Available in three sizes – an 11-inch, 12.4-inch and a whopping 14.6-inch model – Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S8 range has the right screen size for virtually every need. And while Android isn’t typically quite as productive as Windows or iPadOS, Samsung’s Dex mode offers a desktop-like interface with support for multiple windows and a taskbar for powerful multitasking.
Samsung’s mobile displays are also among the best in the business, with support for 120Hz refresh rates and vibrant colors from their OLED panels. And unlike Samsung’s flagship phone line, the Galaxy Tab S8 still offers microSD card support, although unfortunately Samsung couldn’t find a place for a dedicated headphone jack. You even have a choice of three different cases: a plain folio, a keyboard case, and a keyboard case with an integrated touchpad, so you can choose the right accessory for your needs.
Shop the Galaxy Tab S8 at Samsung from $700
Best Windows Tablet: Microsoft Surface Pro 8
While most people think of Microsoft’s Surface Pro devices as a line of 2-in-1s because they don’t come with a keyboard (you’ll have to buy them separately), that technically makes them tablets. But don’t be fooled, thanks to Windows 11 and support for a range of 11th Gen Intel processors, Microsoft’s Surface Pros are built for productivity.
New to the Surface Pro 8 is a beautiful display with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and enhanced stereo speakers, while the integration of an IR facial recognition camera allows you to log into the system on the fly. Another nice bonus is that, unlike many tablets, the Surface Pro 8’s SSD is user-accessible, so you can always upgrade the storage yourself. And thanks to improvements in Windows 11, the Surface Pro 8 is better suited to tablet life without ever having to connect a keyboard, thanks to larger app icons and more touch-friendly controls.
Buy Surface Pro 8 from Microsoft starting at $1,000
Best Budget Tablet: Apple 10.2-inch iPad
If you just want a basic tablet at a reasonable price, you can hardly go wrong with the standard Apple iPad. Starting at $329, the base iPad has a 10.2-inch display with good brightness (500 nits) and a relatively fast A13 Bionic chip. It’s also the last iPad to feature an old-school Touch ID home button.
After last year’s refresh, the ninth-generation iPad received updated features, including Apple Pencil support, improved cameras (front and rear), and twice the base storage (64GB instead of 32GB). And just like its more expensive siblings, the standard iPad is available in a WiFi-only model or with optional 4G LTE cellular connectivity. The basic iPad is also the cheapest device Apple sells, which gives you access to the App Store, making it a good multimedia device and a handy way to manage your media library across your other Apple devices.
Buy a 10.2-inch iPad from Amazon starting at $329
Best Tablet for Kids: Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro
If you’re looking for a new tablet for your child, the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro is the easy choice. Starting at $200, it’s the cheapest tablet on this list, and unlike more adult fares, it comes with an included “kidproof” case and a two-year warranty. Amazon says if your kid breaks the tablet, the company will replace it for free.
Other useful add-ins include a free annual subscription to Amazon Kids+, which unlocks more than 20,000 games, books, and apps for kids. There’s also a handy parenting dashboard that lets you set time limits, content filters, and educational goals. And while its 3GB of RAM and 32GB of base storage aren’t a lot, its 1080p display is very sharp and it comes with a microSD card slot for expandable storage. And if you want a slightly smaller and cheaper option, there’s also the $140 Fire HD 8 Kids Pro.
Buy Fire HD 10 Kids Pro at Amazon – $200
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