Oh come on, don’t be so sad that it’s almost time to head back to school. It’s the best time of the year to buy gadgets, which usually go on sale right around that time, and you’ll finally be off of your summer job. Plus, if you’re heading back to the college campus, you’ll be away from the old ‘rents for a few months again. Ah, sweet freedom.
Nothing makes going back to school better than some new gear, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the best tablets that you should consider. These include larger displays, and paired with a Bluetooth keyboard can take on laptops. We’re trying to attack all price ranges here, and we’ll be back with a list that includes the best tablets with smaller screen sizes, too, so don’t get angry if you don’t see your favorite 7-inch slate listed here, OK? And while I’m on the defensive, these aren’t in any particular order, they’re just the best tablets we think you should consider.
If tablets aren’t your thing, you should also check out our Best Budget (Under $500) Laptops Back to School Guide, which we ran earlier this week.
OK, on to the gadgetry.
The iPad Air touch screen tablet should definitely be on your list for several reasons. First, you can find it from a lot of outlets that offer it at a more affordable price than Apple, like Amazon. Second, it offers an amazingly thin body and a fast processor. Third, you’re going to get the update to iOS 8 this fall, even if Apple does decide to launch new iPads in the coming months, which means you’ll have the latest software experience. And finally, there are countless accessories available for the iPad, like Bluetooth keyboard options that help it double as a laptop. If Touch ID is high on your list of wants, then you might want to hold out until after school starts, but the iPad Air is an excellent full-sized tablet choice.
Galaxy Tab S 10.5
You’ll have a real tough time finding a better screen than the incredible display Samsung included on the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 touch screen tablet, one of the best new Android tablets right now. This brand new tablet ships with a 10.5-inch screen with a super sharp 2560 x 1600-pixel resolution, and unlike other tablets on the market, it employs Samsung’s amazing Super AMOLED technology, which means the blacks are inky dark and the whites are super bright. You’ll also find 3GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 800 processor, 16GB or 32GB of expandable storage and more. We were blown away by the Galaxy Tab S 10.5 in our tests, and we think any Android fan should put it high on their lists. At $499.99 for the Wi-Fi model the price is a bit steep, but it’s easily one of the best tablets out there right now. Keep an eye out for Samsung’s Bluetooth keyboard, too, which makes it feel like a laptop.
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+
We first saw the brand new Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ touch screen tablet back at the 2014 Mobile World Congress show, where we left impressed with the metal design and unique form factor. For $329, you’ll get a 10.1-inch display with a 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage and a front-facing camera and an 8-megapixel camera. Yes, we admit it’s a bit of a turn-off that it ships with Android 4.3, but the price is right, and we love how it can be propped up at various angles thanks to its unique hinge design. Toss in a Bluetooth keyboard and you have a great productivity machine, too. At its price, we think it’s one of the better new Android tablets in this category. Plus, you’ll get two solid front-facing speakers. Seriously, if you’re on a budget, load this thing up with Netflix and prop it up on your desk as a dorm-room TV. Two birds with one stone, that’s what college is all about.
Surface Pro 3
I know what you’re thinking, isn’t this more of a laptop? Yes, I suppose, and don’t be surprised if you see it pop up on our laptop list either. Still, the Surface Pro 3 makes a fantastic full-sized touch screen tablet, and ships with super powerful Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processors, making it a real full-fledged PC. Plus it has a redesigned hinge that makes it slightly better for using in your lap, or propping up on your desk. You’ll also get a full version of Windows 8.1, which means this slate can essentially serve as your school computer and a tablet — though you’ll need to cough up some extra cash for the keyboard accessory. We loved the Surface Pro 3 in our review, and if you have the cash to spend, it’s definitely worth considering.
Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
The Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 touch screen tablet is certainly an expensive device, but it’s also fantastic for both media and productivity, and it’s easily one of the best new Android tablets available. I’ve used it with a Bluetooth keyboard and a mouse to write blog posts, fire off e-mails and more, making it a solid laptop competitor. Its 12.2-inch 2560 x 1600-pixel display is also fantastic for watching movies, browsing the Web, and jotting down notes, which is easy thanks to the included S Pen that tucks right into the corner of the device for storage. If you want a bit more functionality than the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, and a larger display, this should definitely be on your list of considerations.
There you have it. Those are five of the best new Android tablets for the back to school season right now. We’ve covered various operating systems including Windows, iOS and Android, though we know there’s a huge selection of tablets on the market and that five doesn’t cover every choice that you’ll run into in a retail store. Consider this a great starting point, however, and stay tuned for gadget guides that covers other new Android tablets, slates with smaller screen sizes, dorm room gadgets, backpacks and much more.