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With more offices and schools opting for virtual attendance or hybrid schedules, a tablet can be a great alternative to a laptop with its portability, ease of use, and connectivity options. A good tablet is something that should have a long battery life, a respectable selection of apps and services, and more functionality than just a screen to watch YouTube videos.
Below is a list of tablets designed to fit specific needs and budgets. Whether you're looking for a low-cost device for your kids or something that can effectively replace a computer to take to school, there's a tablet for everyone.
We limited what we included in this list to tablets that offer a reliable experience, along with a mix of affordability and features. Not all tablets are created equal, so we used our years of research, personal experience, and knowledge about the products included here to make suggestions.
Tech specs: Display: 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone | Processor: A14 Bionic chip with 16-core Neural Engine | Storage: 64GB or 256GB | Biometrics: Touch ID | Colors: Silver, Pink, Blue, Yellow | Cameras: 12MP f/1.8 wide, 12MP Landscape f/2.4 front | Weight: 1.05 pounds | Dimensions: 9.79 x 7.07 x .28 inches | Connections: USB-C, Smart Connector | Battery life: Up to 10 hours of video playback with USB-C charging
Apple's tried-and-true tablet, the base model iPad, is arguably the best value out of Apple's tablet lineup, and experts agree. Avi Greengart, a consumer tech analyst at , said the iPad is the most versatile tablet on the market today.
"There's an endless array of accessories, there's a lot of iPads specific software, and you can use it for watching content, for browsing the internet, for light computing tasks, for education, etc.," he said. "For entertainment, you can add keyboard or pencil to it. It's also powerful enough for light computing tasks that consumers think of when they're looking for a tablet."
You get all of the same features as the more expensive iPad Pro and iPad Air models but in a lightweight form factor and a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display that has True Tone and thinner bezels than the older generation.
ZDNET's June Wan reviewed the 10th-generation iPad and determined that, if you're shopping on a budget, last year's iPad should "make the most sense." It has the A14 Bionic processor, USB-C support, 5G support for on-the-go tasks, and a new 12MP ultra-wide camera. It also has support for the Magic Keyboard Folio made specifically for this iPad. It includes an adjustable kickstand with a 14-key function row for shortcuts.
Read the review: iPad 2022 (10th Gen) review: Better than the Pro in two ways
Finally, the 10th-generation iPad comes in new and fun colors that break out of the standard space gray and silver we have seen for so long. The new colors include pink, blue, yellow, and of course the expected silver.
One major downside of the new iPad is that it doesn't support the second-gen Apple Pencil. Instead, you'll have to connect your second-gen Apple Pencil to a dongle in order to use it, making it an unnecessary hassle.
Tech specs: Display: 10.1-inch HD display | Processor: Octa-core 2.0GHz | Storage: 32GB or 64GB | Memory: 3GB | Biometrics: N/A | Colors: Black, denim, lavendar, olive | Cameras: 5MP rear. 2MP Front-facing camera | Weight: 16.4 ounces | Dimensions: 9.73 x 6.53 x 0.36 inches | Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, Lightning port | Battery life: 12 hours
Amazon's Fire tablets run the company's forked version of Android, complete with Amazon's services baked right in. You won't find any of Google's own apps, or even the Play Store, on a Fire tablet. However, Amazon's own App Store has many of the same apps that regular Android devices have access to -- including Netflix, Facebook, and Spotify.
The Fire HD 10 is affordable, faster than ever, and doubles as an Echo smart speaker, with Alexa awaiting your commands. ZDNET's Jason Cipriani tested this cheap tablet for a few weeks and was impressed with its versatility and performance, noting it can "work, in a pinch, if your main laptop or computer is being repaired, or you're looking to do light work while traveling." You can get it with 32GB or 64GB of storage, but don't fret if that's not enough. It has microSD card support for up to another 512GB of storage.
Read the review: Amazon's Fire HD 10 Productivity Bundle review: This isn't the work tablet you're looking for
The touchscreen is 10.1 inches and is in full 1080p high definition. Battery life should be good enough to get you around 12 hours of use, or enough to get through a full day of use. It's not the fastest tablet available, but the Fire HD 10 is a perfect budget tablet for someone who wants to browse the internet, watch videos, or check email without spending a ton of money.
Tech specs: Display: 14.6-inch, 120Hz refresh rate, Super AMOLED 2,960x1,848 display | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, microSD up to 1TB | Memory: 8GB, 12GB, 16GB | Colors: Graphite | Cameras: 13MP and 6MP rear. 12MP and 12MP ultra-wide front camera | Weight: 1.6lb | Dimensions: 12.85 x 8.21 x 0.22 inches | Connections: USB-C | Battery: 11,200mAh
If you're looking for an Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab s8 Ultra is one of the best Android tablets. The Tab S8 Ultra features a 14.6-inch Super AMOLED display, runs on the Android 12 operating system, and Samsung's S Pen stylus is included in the box. When ordering your Tab S8 Ultra, you can equip it with 512GB of storage and 16GB of memory for $1,399, however, it's likely overkill.
The base model comes with 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage, and a microSD card for adding up to an extra 1TB of storage to the tablet, the combination of which should be enough for most.
Read the review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review: Stunning hardware, but Android holds it back
ZDNET's Matthew Miller reviewed the Galaxy Tab S8 and said, if you can get over the size of the tablet, people who sketch or draw will enjoy the S Pen and the large display. He also described the tablet as a "nice demonstration of Samsung's technical innovation."
Dan Gookin, an author of technology books, said that Samsung's lineup of tablets is the best option for Android users who want good hardware in a tablet: "I believe Samsung is the only major player left for the Android tablet market, which makes them a good choice if you want to stay on Planet Android," he said.
One thing to note: With an Android tablet of this size, you're most likely looking at it as a laptop replacement. That means you'll want to pick up the . Once connected, you'll be able to use Samsung DeX on the S8 Ultra, effectively turning the tablet into an Android-powered 2-in-1 device with plenty of space for multitasking and using more than one app at a time.
Tech specs: Display: 10.5-inch PixelSense Display | Processor: Intel Pentium Gold or Intel Core i3 | Storage: 64GB or 256GB | Memory: 4GB or 8GB | Biometrics: Windows Hello face sign-in | Colors: Platinum | Cameras: 8MP rear, 1080p video. 5MP front facing camera | Weight: 1.07 pounds | Dimensions: 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches | Connections: 1 x USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x Surface Connect Port, microSD card reader | Battery life: 11 hours
The design hasn't changed for the Go 3, meaning it should work with all of the original accessories, including the . The Go 3 has faster internals that provides a better overall experience and performance, and this time around, all three configurations of the Go 3 use an SSD instead. Previously, the combination of slower storage via an eMMC drive and the Intel Pentium processor wasn't an enjoyable experience.
Read the review: Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: A portable and versatile 2-in-1, but battery life disappoints
ZDNET's Mary Branscombe tested the Surface Go 3 and said it "shines as a portable device." It's perfect for working on an airplane tray table or a crowded train, and for throwing in a backpack. It's a small tablet, with a display of just 10.5 inches, but it runs the full Windows operating system that you can customize.
It can also run Windows 10 in S Mode, which limits you to installing apps from only the Microsoft Store, along with a few other security features. But you can opt for the full Windows 10 experience by leaving S Mode.
Tech specs: Display: 11-inch Liquid Retina display or 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with ProMotion and True Tone | Processor: Apple Silicon M2 | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB | Biometrics: Face ID | Colors: Silver, space gray | Cameras: 12MP wide, 10MP ultrawide rear and 12MP TrueDepth FaceTime front | Weight: 11-inch: 1.03 pounds 12.9-inch: 1.5 pounds | Dimensions: 11-inch: 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches, 12.9-inches: 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25-inches| Connections: USB-C Thunderbolt/USB-4 | Battery life: 10 hours
Apple's 2022 iPad Pro lineup is by far the most capable and impressive iPad lineup we've seen, making it our best overall pick as a laptop replacement. It's also the most expensive, by a long shot. The design hasn't changed all that much on the outside, but on the inside, you'll find Apple's M2 processor which consists of 20 billion transistors - 25% more than M1. It's the same exact processor that Apple is using in the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
ZDNET's Jason Cipriani spent some time with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and found it to be faster and more capable than any other iPad model he tested to date, noting the hardware "continues to overpower the software." You can expect downloads up to 2.4Gbps, twice as fast as the previous model, 15 percent faster performance, and up to 35 percent faster graphics performance.
Read the review: iPad Pro (2022) review: I'm cautiously optimistic. Or foolish
The Pro also supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, and there's a new hover feature thanks to the M2 chip. The feature works like this: once the tip of the Apple Pencil gets near the iPad Pro's display, and when it's within 12 millimeters, parts of the interface come to life in apps that support the new feature. The Smart Connector is on the back of the iPad Pro, giving you the option to use it with the Magic Keyboard, which includes backlit keys and trackpad, or Apple's Smart Keyboard.
And, although the differences between the fifth generation and this sixth generation model are more subtle, the M2 chip is really what shines here, making it a powerhouse tablet. The iPad Pro, combined with iPadOS and the M2 chip, is as close as you can get to a laptop without actually buying a laptop.
The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 for the Wi-Fi model and $999 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,099 for the Wi-Fi model and $1,299 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.
Tech specs: Display: 13-inch PixelSense display | Processor: Microsoft SQ 1 or Microsoft SQ 2 | Storage: 128GB, 256GB or 512GB | Memory: 8GB or 16GB | Biometrics: Windows Hello face unlock | Colors: Matte black or platinum | Cameras: 10MP rear, 1080p video. 5MP front facing camera | Weight: 1.7 pounds | Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.28 inches | Connections: 2 x USB-C, 1 x Surface Connect, 1 x nano SIM | Battery life: 15 hours
The Surface Pro X is like the aforementioned Surface Go 3, only bigger and more powerful. It runs full Windows 10 out of the box (and can be upgraded to Windows 11 once it's released), but because it uses an ARM-based processor, it's mostly limited to 32-bit apps. That means you may see app compatibility issues.
Read the review: Microsoft Surface Pro X review: Desirable but expensive hardware, work-in-progress software
The Pro X comes in either Wi-Fi only or with integrated LTE connectivity, a 13-inch display, and is just 7.3mm thin. There's even a special compartment in the optional keyboard to hide the Surface Pen -- it's pretty cool.
ZDNET's Jason Cipriani has been using the Pro X as his main windows device for over a year, and even with some random issues with apps, it's his go-to Windows device. Meanwhile, ZDNET's Simon Bisson also reviewed the Surface Pro X and called it an "excellent device for mobile workers" who prefer Office.
Tech specs: Display: 10.9-inch Retina display | Processor: Apple Silicon M1 | Storage: 64GB or 256GB | Biometrics: Touch ID | Colors: Space gray, starlight, pink, purple, blue | Cameras: 12MP rear, 4K video. 12MP Ultra Wide camera | Weight: 1.02 pounds | Dimensions: 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches | Connections: USB-C port | Battery life: 10 hours
Apple's latest update to the iPad Air is more of a catch-up announcement than anything. The fifth-generation iPad Air keeps the same design we saw Apple bring to the Air in late 2020, but it now boasts an M1 processor and 5G connectivity.
The Apple iPad Air still sits confidently between the base iPad and the iPad Pro when you look at price, but it's effectively caught up to the iPad Pro in terms of performance. With a 10.9-inch display, a Touch ID sensor that doubles as a power button on the side of its housing, it's more affordable and slightly different than the iPad Pro. The new iPad Air still works with the Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil.
Read the review: iPad Air (2022) review: So good I almost regret buying my iPad Pro
Where the iPad Pro is the model for those who want nothing but the best, the iPad Air is the model for those who want to use the tablet for work and play, without big sacrifices in performance or features. ZDNET's Jason Cipriani reviewed the iPad Air (2022) and said if you're in the market for an iPad (and the base model and iPad Mini isn't enough for you), then the iPad Air is "where your search should begin and, likely, end."
The more Apple pays attention to the iPad Air, the less the 11-inch iPad Pro makes sense. Starting at $599, the iPad Air comes with 64GB or $749 for 256GB of storage. You can add cellular to it for an extra $130. For (almost) everyone, this is the best iPad to get if you have the cash to spend but don't want to go all out.
Tech specs: Display: Small, medium, or large | Weight: 0.99-2.86 pounds | Dimensions: 16.79 x 11.19 x 0.31 inches | Connections: USB and Bluetooth
When it comes to drawing tablets, Wacom is one of the industry leaders. With virtually no lag and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity in the battery-free pen included, this no-screen tablet is the best one on the market for professional artists looking to create while providing a natural drawing experience.
While this writer's experience using it as a non-artist was simply for fun, professional artists and graphic designers will appreciate the Pro Pen 2's sensitive pressure points that allow you to go light and thin or dark and thick with your strokes. You can use the tablet to zoom in and out of your artwork, making fine-tuning details a breeze.
Read the review: This Wacom drawing tablet feels like putting pen to paper
The possibilities are endless when it comes to creativity with the Wacom Intuos Pro tablet, and that is reinforced with a fully-customizable ExpressKeys located on the side of the active area. These buttons allow for artists to add their most-used tools for them to easily access.
Its lightweight design is perfect for using it on a desk or on your lap, and with multiple sizes available, you can use this practically anywhere. This tablet connects to both Windows and Mac devices.
You'll also get free access to drawing-specific apps and services, like Clip Studio Paint Pro for two years, Boris Optics for one, and have the option to test Corel Painter Essentials 8 and Corel AfterShot Pro 3 for 90 days.
Tech specs: Display: 7-inch 300 ppi e-ink screen | Storage: 8 GB or 32 GB | Colors: Champagne gold or graphite | Weight: 6.6 ounces | Dimensions: 6.3 x 5.6 x 0.13-.33 inches | Connections: USB port | Battery life: Up to 6 weeks (at 30 minutes per day)
The Kindle Oasis is the ultimate tablet for reading since it's a high-tech device with features geared toward helping you read. Even though this Kindle hasn't been updated by Amazon since 2019, it has adjustable warm light to make reading more comfortable at night. It also auto-adjusts light settings when you're reading in direct sunlight, automatically rotates for page orientation, and has a physical page turn button so flipping pages is easier than ever.
The screen is Amazon's signature e-ink technology, which is very different than the display you'll find on an iPad. Instead, e-ink provides a paper-like display for readers with 300 pixels per inch (ppi) and 25 front-light LEDs.
ZDNET's Sandra Vogel tested the Kindle Oasis (2019) and called it a "lovely product both to hold and to read with." It delivers a premium experience in this respect, and has the edge for me over Kobo's Forma, primarily because of the aluminium back and excellent page-turn buttons.
Read the review: Amazon Kindle Oasis 2019, long-term test: A few features short of perfection
It's also waterproof (how many tablets can you say that about?), so you can read by the pool without worrying about cannonball splashes. And while it doesn't have a regular headphone jack, the Kindle Oasis supports Bluetooth connectivity, so you can use wireless headphones and speakers to listen to audiobooks or the screen reader function.
Tech specs: Display: 8-inch display | Processor: Hexa-core 2.0 Ghz | Storage: 32GB or 64GB (expandable by up to 1 TB) | Memory: 2GB | Colors: Blue, purple, Disney Mickey Mouse, or Disney princess | Cameras: 2 MP front and rear-facing cameras with 720p HD video recording | Weight: 18.3 ounces | Dimensions: 8.7 x 7.1 x 1.1 inches| Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C port | Battery life: 13 hours
Amazon just updated this tablet model last year, making it faster and with a longer battery life. Not only does it have a kid-proof case built to withstand 3- to 7-year-olds, but it also comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+.
Anne Leavitt, a former teacher and founder and CEO of , told ZDNET that the Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet is the best tablet for children on the market: "Parents will appreciate the complete parental control features that allow them to set up profiles and customize content for each child," she said. "Plus, Amazon FreeTime Unlimited comes included with the tablet for one year."
An Amazon FreeTime Unlimited subscription gets you access to thousands of kid-friendly ad-free books, as well as movies and games and other educational content your child will love.
Leavitt also likes that the Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet provides sharp visuals for optimal learning experiences.
The tablet's kid-friendly case is also worth mentioning, because it protects against drops and bumps, and it comes complete with an adjustable stand so your kids can go hands-free. But Amazon does offer you a two-year worry-free guarantee in case the tablet does succumb to playtime.
The 10th-generation iPad is my pick for the best tablet. Experts like tech author Dan Gookin and analyst Avi Greengart and ZDNET's own June Wan also agree. They all named the iPad as their favorite tablet today.
It has a battery life of up to 10 hours, up to 256GB of storage, and a lightweight design that's perfect for working or streaming movies on the go. Its fairly affordable price tag also makes it a great choice for students who need a mobile work computer.
If you want to see quickly how the 10th-generation iPad specifically compares to the other tablets that made our list, see the handy chart below that compares factors like price, storage, and display size.
Apple iPad (10th gen)
Up to 256GB
Amazon Fire HD 10
Up to 512GB with microSD card
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
Up to 1TB with microSD card
Microsoft Surface Go 3
Up to 256GB
Apple iPad Pro (6th gen)
11 or 12.9 inches
Up to 2TB
Microsoft Surface Pro X
Up to 512GB
Apple Gen iPad Air (5th gen)
Up to 256GB
Wacom Intuos Pro
Small, medium, or large
Amazon Kindle Oasis (3rd gen)
8GB or 32GB
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids
32GB or 64GB
The biggest question you'll need to answer about any tablet purchase is what you plan on using it for: Do you just want something to read a comic book and binge on some Netflix shows while you walk on the treadmill? If so, then a Fire tablet or the base model iPad is going to be more than enough for you.
However, if you want to use a tablet more like a laptop, then you'll want to consider the iPad Pro, or one of the Surface devices. Here is a decision matrix that can help you choose which tablet is right for you:
Choose this tablet...
If you want...
Apple iPad (10th gen)
The best overall option
Amazon Fire HD 10
An affordable tablet with basic features
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
An Android tablet with expandable storage
Microsoft Surface Go 3
A compact tablet for travel and mobile work
Apple iPad Pro (6th gen)
A tablet to replace your laptop
Microsoft Surface Pro X
A powerful tablet that can be equipped with LTE connectivity
Apple iPad Air (5th gen)
A lightweight tablet that won't break the bank
Wacom Intuos Pro
A tablet for creatives looking to draw
Amazon Kindle Oasis (3rd gen)
A tablet built for reading
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids
A kid-friendly tablet with built-in parental controls
I considered my own experiences in using some of these tablets, as well as the reviews of other ZDNET writers. I also researched the top tablets from renowned brands and paid attention to the tablets' feature sets, price points, and integrations with other products. Finally, I reached out to experts in various fields who have used tablets for their takes on which tablets are best and what features are most important to them.
By and large, Samsung and Apple tablets consistently have the best tablets in the market in terms of features, speed, camera, and quality.
When a tablet says that it is "Wi-Fi Only," that means that it requires a wireless internet connection to access things like email, websites, and apps. There are models available that give you the option to use LTE cellular data to connect to the internet, but if you aren't planning on traveling with your tablet, you can stick to a Wi-Fi only model.
It depends on what you're specifically looking for and your preferences. For technology author Dan Gookin, he prioritizes the operating system, "I look for software, which is why I recommend iPad over Android," he said. "Many Android apps are customized for a smartphone screen and can look awkward on a tablet."
Similarly, high-performing processors are also important, but tech analyst Avi Greengart said it all depends what you're using the tablet for. "If a tablet is on the slow side to launch apps, but if you're using it to write term papers, or even to browse the internet on a regular basis, it may make a lot of sense to go with a tablet that's got a higher performing processor," he said.
Greengart also added that, unlike smartphones, people aren't as likely to update their tablet model every year, so he suggested thinking about how willing you are to deal with those small inconveniences like speed or battery life that can add up over time.
That depends on what you want to use your tablet or laptop for. Digital artists tend to prefer tablets since they're easier to draw on with a stylus. Tablets are also great for photo editing and streaming movies if you get one with a large enough screen size. But if you want to do things like create spreadsheets, type in a word processing program, or do intensive 3D animation or modeling, you're better off with a laptop.
For students, there are specific things to look for when it comes to a tablet for learning and studying. Teacher Anne Leavitt said that, in most classes, students use a tablet for its basic functions such as internet searches, school projects, or running basic programs which don't require fancy specs.
She recommends prioritizing features like storage space (at least 32 GB), and a large display between 10-14 inches. "For most students, you want at least 4GB of RAM to run your programs without lag. We only have a limited amount of time in the classroom and spending it wisely is essential," Leavitt said.
Of course, the tablet market is more than just these 10 picks above. There are plenty of other options from different brands at various price points if you're looking for additional tablets.