Best tablets 2014: The best tablets available to buy today
If you're looking for the best tablets of 2014, then you've come to the right place.
We will guide you through the hottest tablets from 7-inches and up, to help you reach a decision on buying the right device for you.
Our list of the top tablets covers a mixture of operating systems at various price points. Run this question through your head: "Which tablet is best for me?" Think about size first and foremost, what you'll be using the device for and, therefore, how powerful it ought to be. Is build quality your most important factor, or can you settle for a plasticky finish at a more attractive price point?
The tablets market is vast and not all of the best stuff is brand new. Refreshes are always on the horizon, but many tablets from 2013 remain strong.
We'll be regularly updating this feature with the latest and greatest tablets that we review - but only those we've reviewed in full.
Let us know what you think is the best tablet in the comments below - you might have personal preference or advice for others and we'd love to hear it.
12. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX does a lot to make itself a competitive tablet offering. The detail in the display and the power on offer, for the price, make it a compelling choice.
But the HDX finds itself in the same position as last year's model: it's fighting incredibly hard, but stuck to the Amazon track. The result is that when it comes to content you can get everything in competition Android land - aside from Amazon Prime Instant Video. But on those other devices you get more freedom and you're part of the bigger system, with more choices.
If you're after a good-quality tablet that performs well, with a great display, plenty of power, at a good price and you're more interested Amazon's content than having the latest apps, then the Kindle Fire HDX may well make you very happy.
FULL REVIEW: Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
11. Sony Xperia Tablet Z2
From a features perspective the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet has a long list of positives: waterproofing, that new slimmer and lighter design, a quality construction and all the power of the still excellent Snapdragon 801 processor. It's premium, priced as such, and waves a Sony flag that's sure to lure people in.
But once in the hand the Z2 Tablet presents its obvious weakness: that excessive bezel. It undoes some of the otherwise excellent design. That plus a screen resolution that's now a step behind the competition - even the 2012 Google Nexus 10 is preferable in this department - are two things impossible to ignore.
The Z2 Tablet can mix in among the best of them when it comes to raw power, battery life, software and build quality. But for all its progression compared to the earlier Tablet Z the sum of all those top features isn't the top-of-list position it might sound like. But that doesn't mean the Z2 Tablet isn't a great slate: it remains in our list not only for specs but a price drop from £399 too.
FULL REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
10. LG G Pad 8.3
This was LG's first return to the tablet market and since it was such a hit even more are coming from the Korean giant.
This 8.3-inch tablet is a little larger than the 7-inchers out there, without pushing into the comparatively giant 10-inch space. If you want a decent handheld size Android tablet with epic battery life then this could be the exact tablet scale that you've been looking for. Battery life is a feature that never gets old and as Android updates it’ll only get better.
Fun features such as QPair functionality enable Android phone pairing are genuinely useful to monitor incoming calls and texts direct from the tablet without taking your phone out of your pocket. And many of the same gesture-based features as in the LG G3 smartphone make it into the G Pad too. The price has dropped from £199 to £169 making it more attractive too.
FULL REVIEW: LG G Pad 8.3
9. Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
The Galaxy TabPro 10.1 is among our favourites from Sammy. It's the right scale, is slim and light, but packs plenty of power too.
The Pro part of that name isn't cheap with a £449 price. With a faux leather build we're not convinced the build quite matches the price. It's also worth noting that for just £1 more you can pick up the Note 10.1, complete with its integrated built-in S Pen stylus, from the official Samsung site.
Even so, the TabPro is great. That screen resolution is excellent, battery life is long, while the fusion of stock Android and Samsung's own Magazine UX assist rather than intrudes. The inclusion of multi-tasking applications, for example, is genuinely useful.
Few 10-inch tablets can compete with the Galaxy TabPro 10.1. If you don't want a stylus then it's an excellent Android tablet. This has also dropped a huge amount from £499 to just £285 making it massively attractive.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy TabPro 10.1
8. Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 only just made it into the best tablet category as it's on a thin line between tablet and laptop. For a start it's a whopping 12-inches and comes with a keyboard case, plus Microsoft is clearly aiming it at taking on Apple's MacBook Air. That said it's still a tablet and a very powerful one at that.
The base model Surface Pro 3 comes with an Intel Core i3 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, all crammed into a 9.1mm thick frame. If you're willing to shell out more when buying you can get even more impressive specs allowing you to do away with your tablet and laptop combo for a single device. Plus it's using a stunning 2160 x 1440 resolution display, quite a bit higher than Apple's MacBook Air.
All this depends on if you like Windows 8.1 or not really. You decide.
PRICE: From £639
FULL REVIEW: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
7. Apple iPad Air
The Apple iPad Air offers a lighter, slimmer and faster tablet than the original iPad line while still managing to keep the price down. While some might want the even thinner and lighter iPad Air 2 this tablet manages to find a middle ground on high quality and reasonable price.
At 7.4mm it's far thinner than the iPad before it and also packs more grunt thanks to the A7 64-bit processor and M7 coprocessor. While it does support 4G it doesn't have 802.11ac Wi-Fi nor does it have the TouchID fingerprint reader of the iPad Air 2.
You get a 5-megapixel f/2.4 rear camera and 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera capable of 720p video.
Finally there's the Apple ecosystem with all its myriad apps that you're getting for your money.
PRICE: From £319
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPad Air review
6. Apple iPad mini 2
The iPad mini 3 is an extra £80 for TouchID and the option to choose the gold colour finish when compared to the iPad mini 2 (formerly called iPad mini with Retina display). But if you like the sub-8-inch screen size then last year's model is still the one to go for.
TouchID is a nice extra for device access and security, but until we see how Apple Pay takes off in the UK it's true value is an unknown entity.
We can only think that the iPad mini was so successful that Apple realised it drove down the overall cost people were paying for an iPad, and therefore hit the bottom line in the company's accounts.
However, the iPad mini 3 is still a great device built on the strong foundations of last year's model. This iPad might struggle to find its place when compared to older models but for anyone buying new it's an excellent tablet.
PRICE: From £239
FULL REVIEW: iPad mini with Retina display review
5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
It's taken while but the Tab S feels like Samsung has got its software and hardware where they should be. The 6.6mm slim build is excellent along with a nice slim bezel but we're still left disappointed by the typical Samsung plastic rear.
Specs crammed in include an 8.4-inch Super AMOLED screen with 2560 x 1600 resolution for 360ppi, an Exynos octa-core featuring four 1.9GHz cores and four 1.3GHz cores paired with 3GB of RAM, 16Gb storage, micros SD expansion, and a 4900mAh battery.
The Samsung S sets the mark for Android tablets at this price point and size. All there is to do now is simplify the naming convention and get rid of that plastic build and it'll be job done for Samsung. The price drop from £319 to £255 makes it even more attractive
PRICE: From £255
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
4. Google Nexus 9
The Google Nexus 9 is at the forefront of Android tablets. The design, size, practically portable and Android 5.0 Lollipop for a highly improve Android experience. This is the best Nexus yet, even if the screen resolution still leave a little room for improvement.
The device packs 8-megapixel and 1.6-megapixel cameras the rear sporting a flash, a 6700mAh battery, a 7.95mm slim build, and an 8.9-inch display with 2048 x 1536 pixels for a 288ppi resolution.
Not all apps are working perfectly for early adopters but we're sure that'll be fixed with updates coming soon.
The Nexus 9 gives you power and performance for a £319 price that's competitive. This is the latest Android experience and it will be the most up-to-date over the next year and that's the reason you should buy the Nexus 9.
FULL REVIEW: Google Nexus 9
3. Tesco Hudl 2
Tesco has surprised everyone by swinging into the tablet market for its second attempt with an absolute winner in the Hudl 2.
The Hudl 2 manages to offer series specs for the money including an 8.3-inch IPS LCD touchscreen with a 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution, a fast 1.83GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor and 2GB of RAM, 5-megapixel camera, and beautiful 9mm thick build with grip-friendly plastic body.
The Tesco Hudl 2 is the best tablet in its price bracket we've ever seen or used. In fact it's better than a lot that are even more pricey with enough power to handle anything you throw at it.
FULL REVIEW: Tesco Hudl 2
2. Nvidia Shield Tablet
The Nvidia Shield Tablet has been designed by gamers for gamers, offering multiple ways to enjoy interactive entertainment in all its forms. But it's more than just a gaming tablet, it’s a complete Android tablet too.
The Shield Tablet doubles as a home console when attached to a TV through HDMI, and we could see some users foregoing more conventional machinery.
Everything you can do on other Android tablets you can do on this. The only difference is this is built for gaming too, both Android and PC games. And since it's not that much more expensive it's a very attractive prospect.
The specs are impressive with a 192-core Nvidia Tegra K1 32-bit processor and 2GB of RAM, 8-inch 1920 x 1080 LCD screen, stylus, front and rear 5-megapixel cameras and the ability to stream games from PC to play on the tablet.
FULL REVIEW: Nvidia Shield Tablet
1. Apple iPad Air 2
The latest Apple iPad Air 2 is faster, lighter, thinner - just all-round better than before. Once again it's the best tablet Apple's created.
If you're already using Apple devices then iOS 8.1 offers you even more thanks to Continuity helping your devices work together seamlessly.
The iPad Air 2 is an amazing tablet that won't disappoint whether you're upgrading or buying a tablet for your first time. With a stunning 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 resolution screen, super slim 6.1mm build, fast A8X processor, excellent 8-megapixel and 1.2-megapixel cameras, TouchID fingerprint reader and iOS 8.1 it's difficult to find fault in Apple's iPad Air 2.
Of course it's worth mentioning that the Apple iPad Air 2 was the winner of the Best Tablet category in the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2014.
PRICE: from £399
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPad Air 2