Best Tablets 2021
We researched dozens of tablets and ranked them based on their price, performance, and features.
Apple iPad Pro
Amazon price: $1,449.99
Screen size: 12.9 in.
Weight: 1.41 lbs.
Amazon Fire HD 10
Amazon price: $149.99
Screen size: 10.1 in.
Weight: 1.11 lbs.
Amazon price: $329.00
Screen size: 10.2 in.
Weight: 1.08 lbs.
In 2021, there are practically 80 billion tablets, so it’s hard to compare models. We spent hours comparing price, specs like storage and weight, user reviews, and much more. Luckily, we’ve narrowed your best options down to five—whether you’re looking for a bargain buy, laptop replacement, or peak performer, here are the best tablets.
Top 5 tablets pricing and specs comparison
|Tablet||List price||Screen size||Weight*||See on Amazon|
|Amazon Fire HD 10||$149.99||10.1 in.||1.11 lbs.|
|Apple iPad||$329.00||10.2 in.||1.08 lbs.|
|HP Chromebook x2||$435.00||12.3 in.||1.62 lbs.|
|Apple iPad Pro||$1,449.99||12.9 in.||1.41 lbs.|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 7||$1,029.99||12.3 in.||1.06 lbs.|
Amazon.com price as of 10/16/20 11:15 MST. Read full disclaimer.
*Weight of tablet without keyboard
Our first three choices are great bargain buys. If your tablet is just for streaming on the go, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is a perfect choice. For more versatility to do your everyday work, go for the Apple iPad. And if you want a combined laptop/tablet, the HP Chromebook x2 also handles everyday needs with ease.
Should you need a more professional tool, go for the Apple iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface Pro 7. The iPad Pro is ideal for artists, but the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is more flexible if you work with text on the regular.
Cheapest tablet: Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)
- Comes at an affordable price
- Easily accesses all Amazon services
- Lacks a lot of Google Store apps
- Takes crummy pictures
If you’re pining for the best tablet so you have something bigger than a phone to stream shows on, go for the Amazon Fire HD 10. Its 10-inch screen offers a large, crisp picture—but the slate’s susceptible to glare, so it works best when viewed indoors.
The headphone jack on the Fire HD 10 saves you from fussing with Bluetooth pairing. And if you want this tablet for the kiddos, you can upgrade to the Kids Edition for another $50. With it, you’ll get a kid-proof case, a two-year warranty, and a year subscription to the activity-filled Amazon FreeTime Unlimited.
The Fire HD 10 doesn’t have as many apps as other tablets. And it can’t keep up with games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that eat up processing power. Top that off with its camera’s blurry, dark pictures that look like they came from a grunge aesthetic blog, and this tablet isn’t a do-all machine.
But if you’re just looking to break into the tablet scene and enjoy some good streaming TV, this is a great way to do it.
Best everyday tablet: Apple iPad (2020)
- Is the cheapest current iPad
- Performs most tasks with ease
- Costs up to $587 with add-ons
- Comes with older processor than Apple iPad Pro
The Apple iPad (2019) is a couple hundred dollars more than the Amazon Fire HD 10, but it does so much more. The A12X Bionic processor is much better at handling games and day-to-day tablet tasks.
The camera is fine, but you’re better off using a new iPhone for snapping pics. Fortunately, the iPad’s sound is clear, and you can use Bluetooth or the headphone jack to pipe music straight into your ears.
All in all, there’s not much to say about the Apple iPad because it just works. If you’re looking for an on-the-go tablet companion to manage your day-to-day tasks without letting you down, the iPad is the best tablet for you.
Best two-in-one tablet: HP Chromebook x2
- Shifts smoothly between laptop and tablet
- Includes keyboard and stylus
- Needs more storage
- Wobbles in laptop mode
If you’re in the market for a two-in-one laptop and tablet, the HP Chromebook x2 should top your list. It’s cheap—mostly in the affordable way. All our complaints about it are shallow, but we’ll share them anyway.
You’ll probably want a 256 GB SD card to make up for the 32 GB storage it comes with. That’s enough for some tablets, but it’s not going to cut it if you want this as a laptop. You’ll want more space for apps, videos, photos, music, and all your other files.
Speaking of which—the keyboard isn’t quite heavy enough to keep the laptop laying solidly. You’ll probably notice a little wobble.
And the touchpad is a little too soft, so you’re never quite sure if you’ve actually clicked something until the screen changes. But at least it has one—iPads don’t support touchpads at all. If you’re not a touch-screen person, the Chromebook is probably a better choice for you.
All these little annoyances are easy to work around. Just wipe away your tears with the cash money you saved and enjoy this tablet-laptop’s smooth performance and beautiful picture.
Best iPad: Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2020)
- Weighs little for its size
- Performs all sorts of tasks with ease
- Costs a bundle
- Doesn’t support mouse connection
If you read the reviews above thinking “Yes, but I like to spend money,” then oh, boy, have we got the best tablet for you.
Don’t worry—the Apple iPad Pro has a lot more going for it than just emptying your wallet. For a huge tablet, it’s thin and light. The A12X Bionic processor can run your apps smooth enough to put full-on laptops to shame.
The iPad Pro is ideal for making art (long live Procreate), streaming movies, or playing games. But some activities—like writing tech reviews—benefit from having a mouse, and a touch screen doesn’t have what it takes to replace a professional computer in that aspect.
To get the most out of that touch screen, though, you’ll want to grab an Apple Pencil ($129.99) and Smart Keyboard ($199). Like the bog-standard iPad, the iPad Pro doesn’t come with either of these essential tools.
Despite these setbacks, the iPad Pro will blow your mind and help you do things you probably didn’t imagine you could with a tablet.
Best Windows tablet: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
- Price: $1,029.99
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- Screen size: 12.3 in.
- Weight: 1.06 lbs.
- Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 in.
- Resolution: 2,736 x 1,824 pixels
- Storage: 128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB
- CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i3, i5, and i7
- RAM: 4/8/16 GB
- Battery life: Up to 11 hours
- Rear camera: 8 MP
- Front camera: 5 MP
- Offers the Windows 10 OS in tablet form
- Works as well as a laptop for daily tasks
- Falls behind the iPad in terms of touch-screen fluidity
The latest in the Microsoft Surface Pro collection, the Surface Pro 7 doesn’t reinvent the wheel. But it does live up to the high standards Microsoft set for itself on this line.
With plenty of storage and a processor that can perform your everyday tasks with ease, the Surface Pro 7 is an excellent option if you want to trade your laptop in for a tablet.
As far as accessories go, the Surface Pro 7 comes with a sturdy kickstand and the Signature Type Cover—a removable keyboard complete with a touchpad. The Surface Pen will cost you another $99.99, though.
Best of all—for this writer, at least—you can use a mouse with this slate. It’s a necessity, since the Surface Pro 7’s touch screen isn’t as fluid as the iPad Pro. But if you are also a word nerd, this best tablet will make those endless hours of selecting and deleting text a lot less painful.
Well, killing your darlings is never easy. But at least you won’t get a hand cramp with the Surface Pro 7.
What to look for in a tablet
Like computers, tablets come with a truly overwhelming number of specs. But when you’re choosing between these top options, here are some basic things to find a slate that can slip seamlessly into your life.
The most immediately apparent spec of any tablet, screen size is also one of the most important. Screen size is measured diagonally from corner to corner, and tablets can be small enough to hold in one hand or as big as an entire laptop.
Unless you want a slate you can tuck in to your coat pocket, bigger is better here. Streaming movies will look better, and you won’t have to scroll back and forth to take in a whole web page. But there are two caveats to this.
One, kids may find big screens unwieldy for their hot little hands. Consider going as small as a seven-inch screen if the tablet is for keeping car rides peaceful.
Two, bigger screens often weigh more. A sore arm can throw off your on-the-go enjoyment, so make sure you select one that makes sense for your size.
When you keep your tablet in your lap or on a table, you won’t think about how much it weighs. But as soon as you’re holding it up, you’ll notice—and fast.
A one-pound option like the iPad or Surface Pro 7 is ideal if you’re a master of the awkward-but-comfortable sitting position.
But even a heftier option can work okay, as long as the weight is distributed equally throughout the slate. The iPad Pro is an excellent example of a well-balanced tablet that doesn’t feel unwieldy to hold.
If you don’t plan on downloading a lot of apps or videos, the 32 GB that’s standard for tablets right now will cover you. But apps keep getting bigger and bigger all the time, so if you want to future-proof your tablet for a few years, go for 128 GB.
And if you’ve fallen in love with the unlimited downloads Disney+ offers, you’ll want even more space. Every HD movie is about 4 GB, so 32 GB isn’t enough storage for all the Disney princess movies you could be watching offline.
Our final take: cheap and best tablets
For a basic streaming device on the go, Amazon Fire HD 10 is a super affordable option. But the more bells and whistles you want on your tablet, the more it will cost you.
But we think you already knew that part.
Top tablet FAQ
How long should a tablet last?
A good tablet will last about four years. After that, it’s likely the company that made your tablet will stop supporting operating system (OS) updates for your device.
An outdated OS is a big problem. You will not only be stuck with old versions of apps but also be at risk for new malware your old OS can’t protect against. Play it safe and upgrade once your OS is obsolete.
Which is better: a laptop or a tablet?
Laptops are still the best device for handling professional tasks on the go. But if you want a versatile device for streaming, games, and even sketching, tablets are affordable options that travel well.
Is it okay to leave a tablet plugged in all the time?
It’s okay to leave your tablet plugged in even after the battery is full. But if you keep your device plugged all day, it could cause your battery to overheat, which will reduce the lifespan of your tablet.
Unplug your little buddy from time to time and take it on an adventure. It can be rejuvenating for both of you.
Do you need a data plan for tablets?
Most tablets rely on a Wi-Fi connection rather than a data plan. But if you don’t have easy access to hotspots, look into buying a tablet with a cellular connection. A wide variety of providers—like AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon—offer data plans to keep you connected.
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