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Avoid cheap tablets while holiday shopping, buy one of these instead

by Justin Herrick | December 17, 2017December 17, 2017 9:00 am PST

Only one week stands between you and the end of the holidays. You’re almost there, but chances are you have to head out a few more times to cross names off your list. Friends and family need gifts, right? Tablets are an excellent choice for so many people; however, don’t get fooled into buying the wrong ones.

Keep your focus on trusted, reliable brands. And don’t be afraid to wait to purchase anything until you’re at home and able to do some research. There’s nothing worse than disappointing someone else during the holidays. A no-name tablet getting unwrapped would certainly net unfavorable results.

Whatever you do, just don’t buy a cheap tablet for anyone. Buy one of these tablets instead.

Amazon Fire HD 8

The quick-and-easy choice comes from Amazon. Its Fire lineup offers an incredible value, and we’re recommending the Fire HD 8 in particular because of its size and features. The tablet is on the smaller side, so you’re not holding a heavy device while browsing the web, watching videos, or reading books.

It features an 8-inch (1280×800) IPS LCD display, a MediaTek MT8163 processor, 1.5GB of RAM, up to 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, a 2MP rear camera, a VGA front camera, a 4750mAh battery, a micro-USB port, and Fire OS 6.

The online retailer also sells the Fire 7 and Fire HD 10. With the smaller model, you’re losing some screen resolution and horsepower but get to save $20. The Fire HD 10, meanwhile, is $70 more expensive than the Fire HD 8 but has a bigger, sharper display and a better processor. All of them are still about value, though. You’re not paying a fortune for a reason. Their designs aren’t stunning and luxurious, but you get instant access to Amazon’s ecosystem.

Amazon loads all of its tablets with a generous amount of content. Apps, games, movies, TV shows, music, books, magazines, and more are waiting for you. And it’s all showcased in a clean, simple user interface.

Orders on all Fire-branded tablets will arrive before Christmas if you order today. Amazon is also selling its entire lineup, including the Kids Edition units, at a discount for a limited time.

Buy now: Amazon, Best Buy

Apple iPad

The dominant force in the tablet industry is Apple’s iPad. Years ago, the Cupertino-based company essentially created the industry by introducing a device that could blend phone and computer capabilities. People didn’t know what to expect, but here we are in 2017 with countless brands trying to take down the iPad. Apple remains unbeaten, though.

This year the iPad saw a consumer-friendly change in price. There are a few different models available, so Apple decided to make one of them more affordable. The iPad now starts at just $329. There’s an option for more storage and cellular connectivity, but most people don’t need those extras. In its current form, the iPad makes the perfect gift for everyone. No other tablet on the market is this approachable.

It features a 9.7-inch Retina (2048×1536) LED display, an Apple A9 processor, 2GB of RAM, up to 128GB of internal storage, an 8MP rear camera, a 1.2MP front camera, a 32.4Wh battery, a Lightning port, a fingerprint scanner, and iOS 11.

Depending on who you’re shopping for, the iPad Mini or even the iPad Pro could be a better idea. Apple creates three different types of tablets to ensure everyone has something suitable for their needs. The iPad Mini is a little less expensive and obviously more portable, and the iPad Pro is a powerhouse trying to replace a laptop. Since you’re buying an Apple product, you know whatever iPad you select will be prepared to last the years ahead.

Buy now: Best Buy, Apple

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)

Microsoft’s Surface Pro is more than a tablet. It’s also a laptop. More than five years ago the Surface line was born. There’s a reason it still exists today: Microsoft created a want for hybrids. Unlike the iPad, the Surface Pro is really a two-in-one. You get a full-fledged version of Windows in a tablet that can connect to a keyboard transforming the experience into a laptop.

It features a 12.3-inch PixelSense (2736×1824) LCD display, Intel’s 7th generation Core m3/i5/i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of internal storage, an 8MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, a 45Wh battery, Windows Hello facial recognition, one USB 3.0 port, a microSD card slot, a Surface Connect port, a headphone jack, a Mini DisplayPort, and Windows 10.

If you want to go all-in on the Surface Pro, pick up the Type Cover and Surface Pen. Then you’ll have everything you need to seamlessly use the device as both a laptop and a tablet.

The Surface Pro might be the most expensive tablet you’ve ever seen, but that’s because you’re getting more power and versatility than what’s normal in the category. Microsoft spared nothing for the latest model. Between the magnesium alloy body and top-notch Intel processor, you can’t say the Surface Pro is overpriced. You’re paying for what you get: a stunning, capable hybrid.

Throughout the holidays, the Microsoft Store and other retailers have slashed the price of the Surface Pro by around $200. Units are selling out, and that’s because people want a two-in-one that doesn’t just have access to a plain app store. Having Windows 10 on your Surface Pro means you can regular programs found on desktops and laptops.

Buy now: Amazon, Best Buy, Microsoft

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Would anyone disagree that Samsung makes gorgeous displays? We don’t think so. Every high-end phone, tablet, smartwatch, and television produced by the company continues to impress visually.

The Galaxy Tab S3 is Samsung’s flagship tablet, and its display is nothing short of stunning. Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology just can’t be beat. On a tablet, you benefit from having the best experience to watch videos and play games. The screen is sharp, and colors really pop off the display.

Internal specifications are on the premium side, too. Samsung didn’t put all of its attention on the display and forget about everything else. The Galaxy Tab S3 is made of metal and glass, packs a Snapdragon 800 series processor, and lasts quite a bit on a single charge.

It features a 9.7-inch (2048×1536) Super AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, a 6000mAh battery, a USB-C port, and Android 7.0 Nougat with TouchWiz.

There’s no doubt that decent Android tablets are hard to find. Most of Google’s partners don’t make them, but Samsung has shown a strong commitment to releasing tablets powered by Android. And we’re glad they do. The Galaxy Tab S3 is a beast, and it’s the one to buy if you prefer Android over iOS and Windows.

As it does with all of its flagship products, Samsung sells the Galaxy Tab S3 for a rather high price. The tablet is normally listed at $599 online and in stores. Multiple retailers, however, have taken $100 or more off the price. So don’t wait to jump on the Galaxy Tab S3, especially if entertainment is very important to you. The display on the Galaxy Tab S3 will have you cry tears of joy due to its excellence.

Buy now: Amazon, Best Buy, Samsung

Huawei MediaPad M3

Huawei quietly sells the MediaPad M3 online, and it’s actually a really good tablet. It’s just never talked about because there’s little advertising providing visibility. Still, the MediaPad M3 deserves your attention for getting an aluminum body and high resolution display into your hands for less than $300.

It features an 8.4-inch Quad HD (2560×1600) IPS LCD display, a Hisilicon Kirin 950 processor, 4GB of RAM, up to 64GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, a 5100mAh battery, a micro-USB port, and Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI.

Normally the MediaPad M3 costs $299 to start, but the base model is currently available for under $250 on Amazon. A discount has also been applied to the 64GB model in case you need more storage. But the 32GB model should be enough considering a microSD card slot is present as well. And these days you’re streaming things, not downloading.

On a budget but don’t want the build quality and specifications of a traditional budget-friendly tablet? Pick up Huawei’s MediaPad M3.

Buy now: Amazon


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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