The 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions of the Kindle Fire HD are out now.
Pro: Near laptop-replacement quality
Con: Is best with accessories
Best for: Those who are always working
Retail price: $499 and up
Most tablets are tweener devices, but the Microsoft Surface edges closer to the ultrabook category than the pure tablet. The company clearly put a lot of thought into this tablet’s design, adding intuitive touches such as a kickstand so pretty it’ll make your bicycle jealous. Its USB and HD video ports are a welcome addition for those who want to connect the tablet to other devices.
The Surface has a 10.6-inch screen that’s bigger than the iPad’s but is a little more horizontal to accommodate its Windows operating system. It eschews other tablets’ tapered curves for a more angled look of its own. Plus, its optional keyboard covers (with a touchpad!) can seriously up your productivity when it’s time to create Word documents or PowerPoint presentations.
The tablet has its limitations. For one, while the device starts at a price of $499 for a model with more memory than the iPad, the keyboard cover isn’t included with the base model, severely limiting your productivity. Also, the current version of the Surface has an operating system that works with your PC, but in a limited way. It can only run apps from the Windows Store; a tablet running a full version of Windows 8 is due out next year. If you just want a very work-capable tablet, the Surface is a good fit. But if you were seriously thinking about ditching your laptop for it, you may want to wait for a bit.
Google Nexus 10
Pro: Great screen
Con: WiFi models only
Best for: Google fans
Retail price: $399 and up
Google has jumped whole-heartedly into the tablet market, introducing both 7-inch and 10-inch tablets that carry its well-known brand. The Nexus 10 is the company’s answer to the market-leading iPad. It has a big, sharp screen made by Apple’s main competitors in the tablet market, Samsung.
The Nexus 10, with its plastic frame, isn’t as nice to look at as the iPad, but is a bit easier to hold. Performance-wise, there’s little to complain about here. The tablet is snappy, smooth and even has micro HDMI and USB ports, so you can easily connect to other devices when needed.
The tablet could have better battery life, and the fact that it can’t run on cellular networks makes it a bit impractical for folks who want to use it for work on the road.
Still, the tablet runs great on a WiFi network and is tapped into all of Google’s services — Gmail, Google Drive, etc. — seamlessly, making it a great device for the great indoors.