Best tablets to buy in 2013
UPDATE: We round-up the best tablets to buy in 2013. Whether you want a 7 inch or 10 inch tablet, an Android, Apple or Windows device, something cheap for the kids or something expensive for your good self, we've got the reviews you need to make the right decision.
Apple may have had the tablet market sewn-up in previous years but in 2013 there are plenty of genuine iPad alternatives for enjoying music, movies and web browsing, with Google, Samsung, Sony and more all delivering quality tablets.
Read on for all the details, and a look at upcoming tablets for 2014, and click through to read the full reviews, pictures and specs...
Best tablet of 2013
Tested at £200
The Nexus 7 is a brilliant combination of affordability and performance. The new model of the Nexus 7 has upped the ante again and is the best tablet we've seen in 2013.
Asus and Google have upped the specs, with a full HD, 1920 x 1080 screen and an impressive 323 ppi, a big improvement on the original Nexus. A new processor, streamlined design and bigger battery all help to keep the Nexus 7 ahead of Android rivals.
Available in 16GB and 32GB versions, the Nexus looks great with video, delivers music in style and has a better selection of apps and features (like 4G LTE). The Retina iPad Mini will give it a run for its money but we still rate the Nexus 7 as the best budget tablet.
Read our full Google Nexus 7 (2013) review
Best full size tablet
Tested at £739
Like the iPod before it, it was the iPad that lit the spark under the tablet market. Apple mastered form and function, delivering a brilliantly simple yet premium device and a huge amount of app, music and movie content.
This iPad Air is the best Apple iPad yet, improving on the 4th-generation iPad with a new, slimline chassis, an improved 64-bit A7 and M7 processor unit for super-speedy operation and of course the new iOS 7 interface.
Being locked to iTunes and the App Store may not work for everyone but there's little arguing with the quality and quantity of content at your disposal. Still the best tablet on the market in 2013. And far better than the only other iPad on sale, the iPad 2...
MORE: iPad Air review
Best iPad alternatives
Tested at £390
Google finally sorted out its tablet offering in 2012, meaning the company offers a viable Android alternative to the all-conquering Apple tablets.
Offering a good few quid saving on the new iPad, it’s hard not to be impressed with the Nexus 10. Video is superb and music isn’t far behind, while the interface, features and content offerings are thorough.
The build could have a little more sparkle and we await more tablet-specific app offerings but the Nexus 10 is undoutbtedly a serious alternative for a 10in tablet.
Read our full Google Nexus 10 review
Tested at £399 Compare Prices
The design is a little Marmite, but its slim and light frame makes it the perfect travelling companion, and it's waterproof, too, should you like getting wet and wild with your tablet.
Sound quality is good, though ultimately not quite as detailed as the iPad, while video is solid but bettered by the Google Nexus 10’s crisp screen and great battery life. It's pricier, too.
Still, if you're a Sony fan, like the design, and value the waterproof design, then the Xperia Z might just be the best tablet for you.
Read our full Sony Xperia Tablet Z review
Tested at £340
The laptop and tablet hybrid may have been made most famous by the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity but we rather like this Dell XPS 10 tablet, which can also be paired with an optional keyboard.
On its own, the Windows 8 Start interface is a colourful, customisable pleasure, using the Windows RT rather than Windows Pro OS to good effect but meaning you can't install full Windows programs but can use the Windows 8 app store.
A 1366 x 768 10.1in screen looks detailed, natural and realistic – though of course it's a shame it's not full HD – but the sound can be a little on the ight side. Not perfect but an appealing alternative to the usual suspects.
Read our full Dell XPS 10 review
Best 7 inch tablets
Tested at £160
The Kindle Fire HD combines all of Amazon's content offerings in to one simple tablet. Using Amazon's rather than Google's app store, it's an easy to use offering that's ideal for regular Amazon shopper.
A 7in, 1280 x 800 screen delivers lovely pictures with good contrast and detail, while sound quality – even from the speakers – is full-bodied and punchy.
It may not offer the full-fat Google Android experience, but for simplicity of use – and if you're a big Amazon ebook, MP3 or movie fan – it's a winner. It might just be the best tablet for kids for that reason.
Read our full Amazon Kindle Fire HD review
Tested at £320
The iPad Mini 2 with Retina Display is the iPad Mini we always wanted. We really liked last year’s original model, but it always felt like the underpowered, under-specced smaller sibling to the full iPad. Now all that separates the two is size, and that makes for quite the pint-sized proposition.
The big change for the new, second-generation Mini is right there in its name – the 7.9in display has been bumped from 1024 x 768 pixels to a 2,048 x 1,536 Retina display, the same resolution as the new iPad Air.
The result is nothing short of stunning. The screen is bright and sharp, with text and icons well etched and with not an identifiable pixel in sight.
Of course, as we know only too well with Apple products, there’s a price to pay for all of this. That said, with this screen and performance, not to mention the app advantage over Android rivals, it’s pretty hard to fault the iPad Mini.
Tested at £160
An ever-decreasing price tag (seemingly) means the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 remains one for the shortlist (even if the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 are around the corner).
The chassis may be plastic but we still prefer the design to the likes of the Kobo Arc and Kindle Fire HD, while the Android 4.0 experience is smoother and more complete here.
Video is good, while music is a little more run-of-the-mill, but for a considerable chunk under £200 this Android tablet becomes far more competitive.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 review
Tested at £120
The Tesco Hudl is an incredibly viable tablet option. Its 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage, teamed with a 1440 x 900-pixel screen make its exceptionally good value for money.
It comes running Android 4.2.2, which Tesco has left predominantly as stock Android. However a few widgets linking directly to its online store are on hand.
Overall screen quality is good and, while it can't necessarily compete with its pricier rivals, the low price more than makes up for this.
Read our full Tesco Hudl review
Upcoming tablets 2013
How about new tablets coming soon this year? Here's a selection of tabets to look out for over the coming months, complete with our hands-on reviews and first impressions.
Release date: out now
Fancy a bargain tablet? You could do worse than investigate this Archos tablet, which sports a knockdown price but also a 9.7in IPS screen with a 2048 x 1536 HD screen. There's Android 4.1, 8GB of storage and a microSD card slot, plus a handy HDMI output for connecting to a TV.
Release date: TBC
Price: $129 TBC
A 7in, 1280 x 800 resolution screen isn't anything to write home about but the budget tablet has a quad-core processor and comes with Bluetooth. More UK-specific information as and when we get it.
MORE: Asus Memo Pad HD7 news
Release date: summer TBC
Price: £700 SIM-free TBC
Asus was the first to deliver a tablet-cum-laptop, with the Asus Transformer Pad and now it's trying its hand at a tablet-cum-phone hybrid. The company tends to take its merry time bringing its products to market but the Padfone Infinity looks intriguing enough to keep us interested.
A phone and tablet, it has a premium aluminium finish and solid build, but still remains relatively light even when the phone is docked in the 'Infinity Station' (530g).
The full HD screen of the tablet is powered by the Asus Padfone phone once docked, the two combining to deliver a hefty 27 hours of video time for battery, if nothing else. We'll be looking to get an Asus Padfone Infinity in for review ASAP.
Read our hands on Asus Padfone Infinity review
Release date: TBC
The most versatile tablet in the world? We think it just might be. Not only does the ATIV Q deliver a tablet and laptop experience thanks to the inclusion of a full QWERTY keyboard and a shape-shifting design, but it also sports both Android and Windows 8 operating systems. Clever, huh?
Hands on pictures and video: Samsung ATIV Q review
Release date: Out now
Price: from £339
Samsung has flooded the market with tablet devices of late, offering all manner of different size tablets in its Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab ranges.
The latest Galaxy Note 8.0, which sports the S Pen stylus like the rest of the Note range, also sports an ear speaker, which means you could use the 8in beast as a smartphone, too. We'll be sure to try that when we do the full review...
More pictures and specs: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 review
Release date: TBC
Not one but three new tablets are set to launch in the Samsung Galaxy Tab range – Samsung's range of tablets, which, unlike the Galaxy Note series, don't come with a stylus.
There will be 7in, 8in and 10.1in models, set to come with a range of network options, including 4G LTE, and a variety of storage models. Concrete details are thin on the ground but we expect more to emerge at the Samsung Premiere 2013 event.
MORE: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 news
by Joe Cox