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Tablets

Product Specs Starting price

Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
Operating system: Fire OS
Display: 7" 1024x600 IPS LCD
Processor: Quad-core ARM Cortex A7 at 1.3 GHz
RAM: 1GB
Storage: 8GB or 16GB with microSD slot
Battery life: 7 hours
Connectivity: 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
Thickness: 0.4" (11 mm)
Weight: 0.7 lbs
$49.00 (8GB) or $67.99 (16GB)

Amazon Fire HD 8
Operating system: Fire OS
Display: 8" 1280x800 IPS LCD
Processor: Quad-core ARM Cortex A7 at 1.3 GHz
RAM: 1.5GB
Storage: 16GB or 32GB with microSD slot
Battery life: 12 hours
Connectivity: 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS
Thickness: 0.4" (11 mm)
Weight: 0.8 lbs
$77.99 (16GB) or
$104.99 (32GB)

Apple iPad mini 4
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: 7.9" 2048x1536 (326 ppi)
Processor: Apple A8
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery life: 10 hours (Wi-Fi), 9 hours (LTE)
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, opt. LTE
Thickness: 0.24"
Weight: 0.65 lbs
$364.95
(128GB, Wi-Fi)

Apple iPad (2017)
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: 9.7" 2048x1536 (264 ppi)
Processor: Apple A9
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32GB or 128GB
Battery life: 10 hours (Wi-Fi), 9 hours (LTE)
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, opt. LTE
Thickness: 0.24"
Weight: 0.96 lbs

$334.99
(32GB, Wi-Fi) or
$459.93
(128GB, Wi-Fi)


Apple iPad Pro 10.5"
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: Wide-gamut 10.5" 2224x1668 (265 ppi)
Processor: Apple A10X Fusion
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB
Battery life: 10 hours (Wi-Fi), 9 hours (LTE)
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, opt. LTE
Thickness: 0.24"
Weight: 1.03 lbs

$649
(64GB, Wi-Fi)

Amazon Fire 7 Tablet
Unless you have first-hand advice on what to buy, picking out a tablet still requires at least a little careful consideration, mainly due to the $200-and-up sums of money involved. But what if there was an absurdly cheap, impulse-buy tablet that's actually decent? Here's the Amazon Fire 7. Its specs aren't going to set the world on fire, but it still offers a quad-core CPU (though it's a 32-bit model of 2013 vintage), 1GB of RAM, and a 1024x600 IPS panel that should offer decent color reproduction. Storage is limited to 8GB or 16GB depending on the flavor, but there's a microSD slot on tap for additional capacity. Amazon's not-quite-Android Fire OS 5 powers the device, and it's regularly updated. And the price? $50 for the 8GB model with some lock-screen ads, and $70 for the 16GB version. Both of those stickers put the Fire 7 in impulse-buy territory. It's not every day that a tablet computer can be described as a stocking-stuffer gift.

Amazon Fire HD 8

The Fire 7 above is nice, but what about something that's a tad nicer yet for just a tad more money? Meet the Fire HD 8. We're a little excited about this one, so bear with us: a 189-ppi IPS display, a quad-core ARM Cortex A53 64-bit CPU clocked at up to 1.3 GHz, 1.5 GB of RAM, and a microSD slot. "Surely that costs twice as the model above," you'd be forgiven for thinking. But that's not true. Only $80 for the model with 16GB of internal storage, and $110 for the version with 32GB. We say you can't possibly go wrong here.

iPad mini 4
Apple's iPad mini 4 might be getting a little long in the tooth, but it's the only small iPad around. This slate gets the A8 CPU from the iPhone 6, 2GB of RAM, and a screen with with excellent coverage of the sRGB color gamut. The beefy hardware inside means it can take advantage of iOS 10 features that used to be exclusive to the 2017 iPad and iPad Air 2, like full split-screen multitasking.

If those upgraded specs aren't convincing enough, one TR staffer was so taken with the mini 4 when he first held it that he ended up buying one for himself. Apple was kind enough to recently upgrade the iPad mini 4's base capacity to 128GB, making it a no-brainer purchase in the small tablet arena.

iPad (2017)
Apple is pushing the the iPad Pro as a laptop alternative, but for those that just want a regular tablet, it's hard to do any better than the 2017 iPad. This model has most of the iPad Air 2's innards, with the notable exception of a bit more horsepower thanks to the A9 SoC from the iPhone 6S. The screen is a mild downgrade from the gorgeous unit in my Air 2, and it doesn't have the same slick oleophobic coating, but the overall package should still be miles ahead of most of its competition.

Between the slim body, the beautiful Retina display, the fast-acting Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and Apple's unparalleled app ecosystem, we think your tablet dollars are best spent here if you're shopping for a high-end slate. Apple has priced the 2017 iPad quite aggressively: only $329 for the 32GB model, and a reasonable $429 for the version with 128GB of storage. That probably makes it the best bang-for-buck Apple product in the current lineup.

iPad Pro 10.5"

Some people are increasingly able to do most of their work on an iPad rather than a traditional PC, and it's possible that the upcoming iOS 11 might improve that concept further still. For demanding folks who fancy an iPad as their sole computing device, the iPad Pro is built around Apple's most powerful SoC right now: the A10 Fusion. Both the 10.5" and 12.9" versions of this tablet have wide-gamut, 120 Hz screens with variable-refresh-rate support. The iPad Pros support Apple's Pencil for sketching and drawing, along with the Smart Cover keyboard. For now, unless you need those specific features or you're super gung-ho about putting as much power behind iOS as possible, though, the 2017 iPad is probably a saner choice.