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. Here 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 2012 and 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 Lovefilm. 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.
PRICE: £199 (with offers)
FULL REVIEW: Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
11. Kobo Arc 7HD
There are two reasons why we're drawn to the Kobo Arc 7HD over the Amazon Kindle. First, it allows you to access Google Play without either rooting the device or side-loading applications. You're free to do as you please, not locked down to shopping in Amazon's own Appstore as on the Kindle platform.
Second, the price. At £159 for the 16GB storage model - it's £189 for the 32GB model - it remains great value for money. It might not be quite as powerful as the Kindle Fire HDX, but if you want an "open" experience then the Kobo has a lot going for it, and we rather like the way it offers access to eBook content. If all that scares you a bit and you want Kindle familiarity, then you'll know exactly where to head: to the Kindle Fire HDX.
When considered on its own merits, and the price, the Arc 7HD is a great buy that we've enjoyed using a lot. Its only real letdown - and this might be a deal-breaker for some - is there's no possibility of 3G or 4G connectivity, it's Wi-Fi only.
FULL REVIEW: Kobo Arc 7HD
10. Advent Vega Tegra Note 7
The Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 is one of the better affordable 7-inch Android tablets on the market, particularly if you're a gaming fan or like to use a stylus.
Before you shrug it off as "just another tablet" this Tegra-4-powered device is well worth a look in. The £129 price point sits it well below the Nexus 7 (2013), and that's what makes it a hugely appealing proposition. Not because it's "cheap", but because it delivers plenty for the price.
However, its spec also sits it below the Nexus 7 because the screen resolution can't quite compete. Saying that, at this scale the 1280 x 800 resolution is fine enough for gaming in our view.
We're not sure why the device has opted for a bonkers-long name, but for this price and with a stylus included it's a real bargain well worth a look.
FULL REVIEW: Advent Vega Tegra Note 7
9. Google Nexus 10
It might not be new, but there's something about the 2012 Nexus 10 model that keeps it in the top rankings.
The Nexus 10 brings that pure Android experience, meaning you'll be the first to get updates and it's free from the bloat of additional apps and services you don't want and that some manufacturers add.
Larger than the Nexus 7 (see further down the page), it's the Nexus 10's display that's its real beauty. The sharp 2560 x 1600 resolution looks fantastic and packs in more pixels than even the iPad 4. That screen resolution is also an echo of Samsung's own Note 10.1 2014 Edition (also further down the page).
All that resolution means you can revel in the desktop experience of websites with less zooming, and it makes for a great, sharp, reading device too. Or watch movies and play games - there's enough power for that too.
This Samsung-constructed device is well built too, even if it's not in quite the same league as the iPad Air. But if you're an Android fiend then this will likely be your preference product, and if you're undecided then the more accessible price point might help in your decision making.
FULL REVIEW: Google Nexus 10 review
8. 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 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 doesn't land in the middle of our top tabs selection for no reason of course.
FULL REVIEW: Sony Xperia Tablet Z2 review
7. Samsung Galaxy TabPro 8.4
Samsung still hasn't quite aced the premium build corner of its tablet selection, but other than that and not being big fans of the faux leather rear, the TabPro 8.4 earns its "pro" namesake. This is one powerful tablet and, for that reason, slips into the charts with a strong position. The only thing that costs the Pro is the strength of Samsung's other innumerable tablets: the latest Galaxy Tab S 10.5 feels like the sum of all Samsung's experience, while the Note 10.1 still rules the stylus-included section of the market.
If you don't need the Snapdragon S800 processor on board then we'd suggest saving £150 and opting for the LG instead (below). But if you want that pro-spec power then this slim, light, high-resolution tablet is a strong Android contender. The battery lasts for an age per charge and we're rather taken by Samsung's latest Magazine UX software tweaks over stock Android.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy TabPro 8.4 review
6. LG G Pad 8.3
It's been a while since LG dipped its oar into the tablets market. And during its absence it's a market that's got busier and more competitive. But, despite that, the LG G Pad has a whole lot to love about it - it's a strong return to the tablet market for the company.
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.
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 G2 smartphone make it into the G Pad too.
FULL REVIEW: LG G Pad review
5. Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is a powerful bit of kit. It's also pricey - but then it's good enough to function as a laptop replacement if you see it that way.
The thing that really sells the Note 10.1 2014 for us isn't so much the super-high-resolution screen - which at 2560 x 1600 pixels does look amazing by the way - but the inclusion of the stylus, otherwise known by Samsung as the S Pen. It works beautifully, and the handwriting recognition is a step ahead of where it was in earlier Note models. That's where the Note still rules in the tablet market.
If you're after an Android tablet with plenty of power then the later Tab S 10.5 or even a TabPro model will tick that box. The Note is all about the stylus.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition
4. Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 / 10.5
We already really like what Samsung has done with the Galaxy TabPro and Note models, and the Tab S takes steps things up a notch in many areas. It's slimmer, brings that AMOLED display and, for the 10.5-inch model, a small increase in display size.
The Tab S also brings with it more consumer appeal than the Pro. It's slimmer and we prefer the texture of the back, as it helps reduce that budget plastic feel. There's also a lot of clever software enhancement, which really adds benefit and lifts the Tab S beyond just a stock Android tablet - it's more closely aligned with what you would get from something like the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet, minus the giant bezel.
That all adds up to make the Samsung Galaxy Tab S among the hottest Android tablets around, assuming you don't want the stylus control of the Note or NotePro models. The real challenge will probably be choosing between the 10.5 or 8.4-inch versions, which we've positioned in equal standings here. The glut of Samsung tablets doesn't make it an easy purchase decision.
PRICE: £319 (8.4 Wi-Fi) / £399 (10.5 Wi-Fi)
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S 10.5 review
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S 8.4 review
3. Nexus 7 (2013)
The Nexus device range from Google has always been the benchmark for an accessible and affordable Android device. The clean state in which to deliver an experience that is pure, that Google owns, before the likes of Samsung, Sony or LG get their hands on it. It doesn't mean ultra power, though - if you want that then backtrack to the various Samsung tablets listed on this page - but what you get for the money is rarely contested.
The original Nexus 7 was hot stuff: a 7-inch tablet experience that just worked. Enter the 2013 Nexus 7 update and we've got a rip-roaringly good tablet that continues to deliver the goods anew, complete with a 1920 x 1200 resolution screen that - at this price point - knocks many other tablets out of contention.
If you're new to tablet land and want an affordable, portable offering that's got access to the wide range of Google's apps then the Nexus 7 MkII is probably the best balance of features to price. Indeed it's one of the best Android tablets out there.
It's not as luxury in build as the iPad mini, but if that doesn't bother you then save yourself more than £100 and invest - Google's got a winner on its hands here.
FULL REVIEW: Nexus 7 (2013) review
2. Apple iPad mini with Retina display
The iPad mini with Retina display bests the efforts of the original iPad mini in virtually every department - and where it doesn't offer an outright improvement it sticks with what worked before.
What you get with the iPad mini Retina is one of the best tablets on the market, although it can't quite top the iPad Air. The Retina panel is the same quality as the iPad Air, though, just at a smaller scale given the 7.9-inch screen. That 2048 x 1536 resolution delivers a 326ppi density which is pin sharp.
Just like before, Apple has succeeded in making a tablet just as a tablet should be. Thin, light, easy to use, and with an abundance of available apps for all walks of life - whether it's watching Netflix or Sky Go from the bath, drawing a picture using apps like Paper or Photoshop, or playing games like Real Racing 3.
PRICE: from £279
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPad mini Retina review
1. Apple iPad Air
The iPad Air is sort of the iPad 5. And this latest tablet walks all over the iPad 4 - it's lighter and thinner, but retains the same 9.7-inch screen panel. It's also faster than before, to the point it's future-proof for the time being and won't feel out of date in near future.
For die-hard Apple fans we can see how you would be disappointed in terms of wow factor, as there is no standout feature here - the Air feels like an iPad mini Retina but upscaled. And it lacks the Slow-Mo movie and Touch ID fingerprint scanner of the iPhone 5S.
That's not to say the iPad Air is lacking. It's not. It is seamless experience that just works. If anything the Air is a problem for Apple - and this is a good thing for us all - because by creating something so desirable, fast and functional, we suspect you won't need or want to upgrade for a long, long time. Even iPad 4 owners will likely want one, especially if you're fed up of resting the weightier, larger slab on your leg all the time.
Apple has created a tablet experience that surpasses all others. In our view it's the best tablet on the market in terms of performance, apps, and desirability. What more can we say than that?
PRICE: from £339
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPad Air