Since the iPad was launched in 2010, the tablet space has become a market of its own, featuring dozens of devices from different price ranges, all with different hardware and operating systems.
The latest research shows that a whopping one third of US adults own one of these devices – Up by nearly 50% on ownership figures quoted last year.
The big players of the smartphone space are still at it in the tablet market as well, but that doesn’t mean the top-of-the-league players haven’t changed.
So what is the best tablet? Here are the top 5 currently available.
1. Nexus 10
The Nexus 10 has been manufactured by Samsung to appear under the Nexus line, and it comes packed with a smooth vanilla Android experience, a slick curved unibody design that weighs in at just over a third of a pound, and enough hardware to pack a punch at the most hardware intensive games and apps on the Android market today.
For the tech heads out there, you’ll be happy to hear that the Nexus 10 is powered by a dual core A15 processor, a quad core Mali GPU, and 2GB RAM making it the fastest tablet on the market. Another winning aspect of the Nexus 10 is its screen, which is perhaps its best design feature, at a crisp, bright and colorful 2,560×1,600-pixel resolution, the Nexus 10 is optimized for game play and features like Photo Sphere, which allow more interactive camera use than just the already great 5-megapixel camera by itself.
All in all, the Nexus 10 is designed to outperform even the best of them.
2. Asus Transformer Pad Infinity
Like the Nexus 10, the Infinity has a great screen but takes even better advantage of the quality 1,920×1,200-pixel resolution with the best picture around, an 8-megapixel, LED supported and light-sensitive back camera. It runs fast and smooth. It’s a solid, reliable tablet.
What sets the Transformer Pad Infinity apart is its functionality as a notepad and upgrades to the Asus user experience like stronger hardware and better/more reliable GPS and Wifi connectivity. The Infinity is the fourth in line of a series of convertible tablets that can back up as a notepad. The Infinity comes with a detachable keyboard that can be used alongside the Infinity, and Asus have included a few OS tweaks to ensure it works nice and smoothly while keeping the body as light and comfortable as ever.
If you’re not buying the whole idea, there is always the option of a Bluetooth keyboard, but the physical connection between the tablet and the keyboard (as a next-generation Netbook, if you like) makes for a really sound product, that feels great to use both with and without the keyboard attachment.
3. iPad 4
Although the iPhone has struggled to keep consistent sales volumes, the iPad has never been going stronger. At a time when the iPad Mini was the source of all industry speculation, the arrival of the new iPad 4 came as a shock. But the revamped iPad quickly proved itself and asserts that once again Apple knows what it’s doing.
Although it’s not cheap, the iPad 4 comes with 2048×1536 resolution display, a dual core Apple A6X processor (the biggest upgrade from the iPad 3), a PowerVR SGX 554 graphics processor, and 1GB of RAM, all of which is harnessed amazingly by the smooth iOS operating system.
Even without considering all of that great technology that the iPad 4 tout, it still remains one of the best options for tablets for its sheer dominance in the market. With the best support, features, and a widely populated app store, the odds are that the media and apps you are using were designed with the iPad 4 in mind. Mobile carriers too have taken note, and the iPad 4 has better LTE options, another bump from the iPad 3.
The iPad 4 is Apple at the top its game, and the results are something to behold.
4. Nexus 7
Although sales figures for the Nexus 7 weren’t released by Google, analysts have expected that the Nexus 7 has sold around 4.5 million times last year, putting their total sales of the tablet at 50% more than their expected 3 million sales.
The reason behind this many sales is likely because of its great hardware and very appealing price. For $199 visitors of the Google Play site can land themselves a Nexus 7 with a quad core Tegra CPU running Android 4.3, capable of playing some of the most graphic intensive games such as Shadowrun and Dead Trigger, both of which have been built with Tegra specifically in mind. Those games are displayed on a full HD screen with better graphics than any other comparably-sized tablet and Ram, by the way.
Lighter, more compact, and sleeker than a tablet with its speed and power has any right to be, the Nexus 7 is a great standalone tablet and when it comes to smaller offerings, simply can’t be beat.
5. iPad Mini
If you’re looking for a smaller tablet for use on iOS, then the Apple iPad Mini is your only choice. But that’s not a bad thing. Along with its superb build quality and its smooth operating system performance, the iPad Mini shone in 2012, and many are hoping for a follow up this year round. In the meantime, the original will suit you just fine.
The design is amongst the best. The iPad Mini is fun, comfortable, and just right for much of the media display and consumption that especially smaller tablets are used for. Overall, the small size doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out on quality as the iPad Mini isn’t lacking when it comes to hardware-an LTE antenna, comparable storage offerings as a full-sized iPad, great Wifi connectivity, and a dual-core A5 processor at the center of it all.
The only downsides to the iPad Mini are that the higher price when compared to other similarly sized pads, and its screen quality, although not bad, is far from Retina quality. But when it comes to the full Apple experience (like the wonderfully user friendly iOS 6) on a tablet, the convenience and design of the iPad Mini can certainly make up for it.
Tablets have been reported to be selling in more quantity than desktop PCs this year, and it’s no surprise why. Convenient but just powerful as many laptops, tablets provide an experience like no other. If you’ve decided that grabbing hold of one is the way to go, then there are plenty of options worth your time and money.
Although there are probably going to be a lot of groundbreaking additions to 2013 in this space, these five tablets are currently at the top of the board.
Next – Read the top 5 10 inch versions.