With all the buzz surrounding the iPad Air, you can easily get caught up in all the hype and before you know it you’ve plunked down $500. But, like every new Apple product, the latest model generally only boasts marginal improvements. Moreover, iPads are expensive, and if you plan on upgrading every year, you might want to consider some alternatives, which can sometimes sell for half the price.
7. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
It’s not only a tablet, but also a smartphone, making the Note 3 a unique device on the already crowded smartphone market. Building on the Note 2, the newer version is not only thin and light, but it also focuses more on its S Pen stylus and optional Galaxy Gear smart watch. It’s 6 inches long and larger than other oversized devices but it doesn’t really feel that way. Its beautiful 5.7-inch full-HD display makes movies and games come to life. Powering the Note 3 is a 2.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor that runs Android Jelly Bean with a solid 3GB of RAM. It’s currently selling for $299.99 on contract.
6. Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Touted as a “sharper, faster and more colorful tablet,” the Z brings Sony’s expertise to an HD tablet. With its brilliant 10.1” Reality Display that’s powered by Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 (which enhances the clarity and richness of every image), your movies, games and videos will feature the bluest blues, greenest greens and reddest reds. Not only is it thin and light, but it’s also dust-and water-resistant. Powered by the fast Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor, you get powerful computing and improved multitasking ability while conserving battery life. For added convenience, it also boasts Sony’s One-Touch feature, based on NFC technology (Near Field Communication), which lets you transfer content, including audio, video and images, among compatible devices. Available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, it starts at $449.99.
5. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.0
Boasting the best hand grip, the Galaxy Tab 3.0 is slim and narrow, providing a better fit, while its thinner bezel ensures you have more screen to touch and operate to your advantage. Equipped with a 1.2 GHZ Dual Core Processor, it can handle just about anything you ask it to do – smoothly, quickly and expertly. The 7-inch tabletThere’s two cameras (3 MP/1.3 MP) for video chatting, taking shots of others or even perfectly-framed photos of yourself. And with Video Hub as your personal video store concierge, there’s virtually no wait time during progressive downloads so that you can enjoy video contents right away. It starts at $199.99 and goes up depending on GB size.
4. Apple iPad Retina
The 4th generation iPad (aka iPad 4) is still a great option even though it might be dated for hardcore Apple fans given the Air is now the “it” Apple tablet. Weighing 1.44 pounds, the iPad Retina came in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB. The 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology provides crisp, vibrant images and it’s powered by a dual-core A6X with quad-core graphics. With amazing features like a 5MP iSight camera with 1080p HD video, FaceTime and over 275,000 apps available for you at the App Store, the iPad 4 16GB is incredibly versatile. You can find them starting at $449 at various retailers.
3. Apple iPad Mini Retina
Starting at $399 for either the Space Gray or Silver versions, the new iPad Mini Retina comes in the three standard Apple GB sizes (16, 32 and 64), but also now comes in 128 GB. Its 7.9-inch Retina display makes photos and videos look incredibly detailed with razor-shape text. Thanks to its thin and light design, you can hold it in one hand. It’s also very powerful and capable, with advanced features like iSight and FaceTime HD cameras. Since it has iOS 7, it’s even easier to use with features like Control Center, AirDrop, and smarter multitasking.
2. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
Perfect for work or play, the Kindle Fire HDX has the fastest processor on a 7-inch tablet, the latest graphics engine and comes with world-class Dolby audio. Its 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor provides more than 3x more processing power than the previous-generation Kindle Fire HD. Thanks to the new Adreno 330 graphics processor, users get high-frame rates and console-quality graphics. Dolby Digital Plus includes technology that adjusts volume, creates virtual surround sound, and delivers easier-to-understand dialogue in movies and TV shows. And its latest feature is on-device tech support with the new “Mayday” button so you always have help when you ned it. It starts at $229 for the 16 GB version and goes up depending on the GB and connectivity.
1. Google Nexus 7
The new 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet from Goole is both powerful and portable, with a clean, simple design that features a slim body, a thin bezel and a soft-touch matte back. With up to 9 hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of web browsing or e-reading. it packs enough charge to get you through the day, while built-in wireless charging means you can charge, grab, and go. With a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM, everything runs faster for convenient multitasking. The 16 GB version starts at $299, with the 32 GB option going for $269. If you want the 32 GB LTE, the price goes up to $349.
Kristie Bertucci is an L.A.-based writer, who can't live without her MacBook Pro. When she's not writing, she's either reading or shopping (online, of course) and loves lazy days so she can catch up on her DVR-recorded shows and movies. She's definitely a Mac girl, she loves music and is currently on a mission to to have an insane and enviable iTunes library.