This year saw strong tablet offerings from Apple, Google, Samsung and even more unlikely manufacturers like Tesco.
This year we welcomed a bumper crop of shiny new tablets to the market. They arrived in all shapes and sizes, from 7-inch devices to one gigantic model measuring 21-inches across. Some claimed to be a replacement for your laptop, while others worked more like a large smartphone. But how do you know which models are at the top of their game?
Here we take a look at the standout models from 2013 and look ahead to new releases in 2014.
Best buy tablets – the elite of the tablet world
Apple iPads 2014
Apple added two new editions to its iPad family this year. The flagship ultra-thin iPad Air, which was an astonishing 185g lighter than its predecessor, and the new iPad mini with Retina display. Both feature a 64-bit A7 processor, making them two of the fastest tablets around.
Due to Apple’s iterative update schedule, it’s the iPad mini which is due a significant refresh around November next year, though the Air will no doubt also be upgraded. This almost certainly means we’ll see the iPhone 5s’ fingerprint reader make its way onto iPads soon, while an improved battery life would also be greatly appreciated. Apple is also rumoured to be working on a new 13-inch super-sized iPad so watch this space.
Apple iPad reviews – read our reviews of the latest Apple iPads
Google tablets 2014
The second gen Google Nexus 7 came with a dazzling new screen, super-powerful processor and slimline design – all for a reasonable £200. As 7-inch tablets go, it’s one of the best offerings available. As for the larger Google Nexus 10, we’re still waiting for its successor to arrive.
Bearing this in mind, a new Google Nexus 10 seems likely to arrive in early 2014 featuring the usual slew of screen, processor and battery updates – and perhaps as soon as the first quarter of 2014. Now Tesco’s £119 Hudl has arrived to shake up the 7-inch tablet market, it seems the Nexus 7 has a tough battle on its hands to win the attention of budget-minded tech consumers. Therefore, expect Google to release a third generation Nexus 7, thus upping the ante even further in 2014.
Google tablets – the Google Nexus range reviewed by the Which? experts
Samsung tablets 2014
This year saw a proliferation of Samsung tablets released onto the market. The South Korean company introduced a slew of new tablets into its Tab and Note ranges offering a variety of screen sizes. Its flagship Note range is topped off by the 10.1 (2014 Edition) with its impeccable 2560 x 1600 resolution touchscreen and an improved Samsung S-Pen for scribbling down notes.
In 2014 we would like to see Samsung’s tablets receive a cosmetic update and so lose the cheap-looking plastic casing. Unfortunately, it’s more likely that Samsung will continue to experiment with different screen sizes – perhaps introducing a 12.2-inch model to the Note range. Watch out for more announcements during January 2014’s CES expo.
Samsung tablets – the latest Samsung tablets reviewed by Which?
Amazon tablets 2014
Amazon launched its Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablets this year – both models in the range include the innovative new Mayday feature. This gives HDX owners access to 24-7 technical support from the Amazon team by a live video link – don’t worry they can’t see you. It’s a unique reason to buy a Kindle and will undoubtedly come in useful for less tech savvy tablet owners.
Although we’re expecting to greet a new set of Kindle tablets in 2014, the retail giant seems set to turn its attention to the mobile market with its own phones. These long-awaited handsets should be aimed at the value end of the market and will no doubt lean on Amazon’s bespoke version of the Android operating system, which negates the well-stocked Google Play Store in favour of the sparser Amazon Appstore.
Amazon Kindle Fire tablet reviews – all the latest Amazon tablets reviewed by Which?
Tesco tablets 2014
An honourable mention must go to Tesco. The supermarket giant successfully released a budget tablet combining a decent screen and processor with good battery life. It flew off the shelves and has been heralded as a great success for the retailer. A new Hudl has already been confirmed for 2014, and will presumably stick to Tesco’s eye-catchingly low priced strategy. Though whether the company elects to stay mini, or releases a full-sized 10-inch Hudl remains to be seen.
Tesco Hudl review – the full results from our test lab