For anyone who doesn’t already have a tablet, now’s your chance to put a good one on your wish list. This holiday season will see a slew of new tablets, or great tablets that are less expensive. Here’s a rundown. But whichever you pick, please buy a screen protector. They’re well with the extra $10 to $20.
Apple iPad Mini/Air
The company that launched the tablet revolution vastly upgraded its Mini tablet with better image quality, and Apple has the largest library of educational apps, so it’s a natural pick for students. Prices vary on memory size and other factors, but you can get a good one starting at $400. A previous model that’s still quite nice can run $299. The larger iPad “Air” can run $500 to $800 and the display is phenomenal, and is nicely thinner than previous versions that had gained some weight.
Google Nexus 7
This new generation of tablet can start at just $230, and has an amazing screen for TV and movie lovers. 7-inches across. Consumer Reports ranks this as a Best Buy.
Barnes & Noble Nook HD+
For book lovers, this is a natural choice, as the text is crisp and the large screen is nice for flipping pages. The price is killer too, at just $150, or just $130 for one with a bit less memory. Keep in mind, you’ll be taking a bet on Barnes & Noble overall, and their hopes to survive as a bookstore/media company in a world dominated by Amazon, Apple and everyone else.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
A good choice for people who work everywhere, but don’t want to take their notebook everywhere. The Note 8 starts at $359 in some stores, has a powerful processor, and stylus, and an optional keyboard is just $30. You can also watch two apps at once — side-by-side — say if you need to read notes while making a presentation, or check your Candy Crush score while watching a vital company presentation.
Funny name, but great tablet for kids. At $179, you get a ruggedized, rubber-bumper tablet with lots of kid-friendly apps. Behind the scenes, it runs on Google Android software, so it’s pretty stable. You can also pick from a variety of colors.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
This is the primary rival to Apple’s iPad, and it’s pretty great, with a high-resolution camera, an 8.9-inch display, super light and thin, and easily runs Microsoft Office suite programs. Starts at $379, but check the pricing, as the lowest prices come with advertising on the lock screen. Amazon’s also going gangbuster into original programs like Alpha House and exclusive deals with shows like Downton Abby. I’m also a big fan of the “Mayday” button. One tap, and a human Amazon helper pops up on live video to show you what to do. They can even draw remotely on your screen to show how something works.
Amazon Kindle Fire 7-inch.
This is your pick for kids somewhere between the Nabi and the iPad/Kindle phase. It starts at just $139 (some kitchen mixers cost twice that!) and easily lets you set individual profiles for each kid, with parental controls and timers to limit screen time.