Tablets, tablets everywhere and barely space to think. This year, the tablet market has matured even further. Their place in our psyche has become one almost of necessity rather than frivolity and, with prices dropping ever further, it’s moved from a case of whether or not you’ll get one as to which one will you buy.

Ahead of the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2012, here’s a little refresher of the tablets that have come out this year. Take a look, maybe even think of a few favourites yourself, then get you nominations in before 1 November. We’ll be announcing the shortlist soon after. Stay tuned.

If we’re going to talk Android, then the obvious place to start is with the Google Nexus 7. Not only was it the tablet that brought Android 4.1 Jelly Bean into the world, not only did it suddenly make Android tablets very affordable, but the boys in the labs rather liked it also.

Beyond Google, Samsung was, of course, present as ever with a few more children to add to its Android tablet family. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 brought the normal Note’s phablet stylus interactions to the 10-inch tablet form but, for something a little less educational and businesslike, the standard Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Tab was certainly impressive as an entertainer. And, just to compete at the smaller size, there was also the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7-inch.

Probably the manufacturer that took us all by surprise on the Android tablet front, though, was Asus. We’d seen some great work with the original Transformer but the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity and Transformer Pad TF300 really solidified the Taiwanese company’s position as one of the very best in this space in 2012.

READ: How to vote in the Pocket-lint Gadget awards

It’s a good year for Apple in the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards. There’s not just one tablet up for examination and not two either. Yes, there have been three iPads announced over our 2012 awards year. The one we all know and love is, of course, what was announced as the New iPad. It was the first big-screen Apple to come with a Retina display and is now, interestingly enough, erased from the Apple Store since the arrival of the iPad 4 which itself brings 4G speeds to Europe and a slightly faster chip in the shape of the Apple A6X for a bump in the GPU.

The third Apple tablet to consider is the iPad mini, and it’s a tough one to know whether or not it’s better than its bigger brothers. Yes, you can fit it in one hand but it only runs an Apple A5 chip and there are no Retina credentials either, but perhaps that experience of convenience is what will count.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the companies we’re talking about here. Both retail biggies have brought their Stateside-successful tablets to the UK in time for Christmas and, more importantly, in time for the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2012. What they offer, apart from bags and bags of their own content to sell to all who dare buy them, is cheapness - and a lot of it.

The bottom end, 7-inch Kindle Fire comes in at a blistering £129 and the HD version for just £30 more. It’s the same story for the Barnes & Noble Nook and Nook HD, and it makes all of these devices very compelling indeed for people looking to watch films, listen to music, browse the web, check email and not much else on their tablets. Why spend almost twice as much for an iPad mini? Well, perhaps for access to more apps than B&N and Amazon have on their app stores.

READ: Nominate your favourite gadget for the awards

It’s interesting times with the arrival of Windows 8 and Windows RT, and what that means for tablets. The Modern UI is ripe for touch use and many of the manufacturers are jumping on board the good ship Windows tab and sailing off into an unknown sea.

It’s hard to tell how well the straight tablets and the hybrid laptop/tablets are going to do but they certainly bear consideration for our Best Tablet 2012 award.

First up is the very own kit from Microsoft, the Microsoft Surface. It’s been a while since the Ballmer/Gates gang brought out any computer hardware, and the detachable keyboard range to these work/play devices is as impressive as the tablet itself. For the rest of what’s on offer, you’d best take a look at our Best Windows RT tablets and Best Windows 8 hybrids. None has made it in time for the Pocket-lint Awards 2012 but there’s certainly some food for thought.

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