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Samsung Ativ Tab 3

What's good  

  • Thin and lightweight
  • Runs full version of Windows 8
  • Comes with Office pre-installed
  • Built-in S Pen functionality

What's bad  

  • Disappointing screen resolution
  • Poor camera performance
  • Limited options for memory expansion

Samsung has undoubtedly already made a name for itself in the realm of tablets through its many Android-powered offerings, but does it have what it takes to play in the Windows tablet game as well? The Ativ Tab 3 tablet is the Korea-based company's way of answering that question in the affirmative.

According to Chris Martin of PC Advisor, you can think of the Ativ Tab 3 as simply “a Windows 8 version of Samsung's Android tablets.” And indeed, it is running Windows 8 as its default OS -- the full one, too, and not just the gimped version called Windows RT.

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Alcatel One Touch Evo 7

What's good  

  • Optional 3G module for data connection
  • Budget price point

What's bad  

  • Poor quality screen
  • Frequent lag and slow-downs
  • Small internal memory
  • Does not have call capabilities despite 3G

As an entry level tablet, the Alcatel One Touch Evo 7 doesn't boast impressive specs or display. In fact, reviewers were underwhelmed by the overall quality of the device. Reviewers found the display to be the most disappointing aspect. The 7" inch screen offers a resolution of 1024x600, below other similar budget tablets. The poor resolution wasn't the only issue, however. Critics also observed long ghosting time, poor color reproduction and bad viewing angles.

The EVO 7 device comes with a 1 GHz single-core processor and 1GB of RAM. According to experts, the tablet suffers from noticeable lag, slow start up and sluggish download speed. Aside from the processor and RAM, the tablet also comes equipped with only 4GB of internal memory, expandable microSD slot and a 0.3MP forward facing camera.

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Acer Iconia W3

Until now, tablet support for Windows 8 was limited to 10-inch devices. This is less than ideal from a portability standpoint. The Iconia W3 is the first 8.1-inch tablet to ship with support for Windows 8 Pro. While it does offer improved portability, it comes with a few tradeoffs in return. Gizmodo sums up the tablet well by saying “It’s great hardware let down by its form factor and a crappy screen, but by virtue of being the only competitor, it’s the best 8-inch Windows 8 tablet on the market.”

The performance of the tablet is respectable. No, it is not a gaming tablet. But for productivity purposes, media consumption and web browsing, it has plenty of power thanks to its Atom processor clocked at 1.8-GHz. Support for microSD cards and USB OTG helps to improve flexibility and accessory options as well. The best part is that Windows 8 Pro allows you to install legacy Windows applications and have a full version of Windows that fits in your bag with ease. Best of all, the processor is incredibly battery-friendly, with PC Magazine’s video test achieving nearly 10 hours on a single charge.

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Archos Platinum 80

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch

The Galaxy Tab 3 series from Samsung offers a few choices for those looking for an affordable mid-range tablet. The Tab 3 7.0 is the entry-level device of the series, featuring a 7-inch TFT display, 1 GB of RAM, a dual core 1.2-GHz processor and 8GB of internal storage. While this might seem a little low, support for microSD cards allows you to easily upgrade storage capacity for a small fee. MakeUseOf’s Dave LeClair recently said “While the Galaxy Tab 3 isn’t heavily specced, it’s actually quite fast, especially when you consider that it is a sub-$200 budget tablet.”

The tablet features Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. This is something that might be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your tastes. Support for the Google Play store provides access to any app you might need to communicate, watch movies, listen to music or type up a quick report.

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HP ElitePad

Microsoft’s introduction of Windows 8 marks the beginning of a new era of tablet computing. Whereas Windows-based tablets used to be clunky, nearly useless bits of tech, today’s models are fast and offer many new features. Consider the HP ElitePad 900, which is billed as a great solution for users in the business segment. It comes pre-loaded with Windows 8 and runs on a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2760 processor with 2GB of RAM. Its performance is better than its Tegra 3-equipped counterparts but it’s still not as powerful as a proper notebook or tablet computer.

HP’s take on a Windows 8 tablet isn’t too different from that of other tablet manufacturers. It has a 10.1-inch 1280x800 touchscreen display that’s protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass, comes with 64GB of flash-based SSD storage, and carries a number of tiny sensors including ones for ambient light and screen orientation. Its other hardware features include an 8-megapixel camera, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and stereo speakers.

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Microsoft Surface Pro

Microsoft Windows-based tablets have been tried dozens of times before. Tried and failed, as a matter of fact. Now, with Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to “reimagine” the whole concept of the desktop operating system, and in doing so has come up with a new generation of tablets that can do more in ultra-thin, and ultra-light form factors. The clearest representation of this effort: the Microsoft Surface 8 Pro. It’s the future. Or is it?

Unlike today’s most popular tablet computer models, this one doesn’t run on a low-power mobile computing chip to try and reduce heat or prolong battery life. Instead, it comes with an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000 for maximum performance. It’s essentially a full-blown mobile computer that uses the tablet form factor. It looks every bit as good as the first-generation Windows 8 RT tablets but offers far more power and functionality.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

What's good  

  • Large, high-definition screen
  • Comes with typical phone functions
  • Long-lasting battery

What's bad  

  • Too big to be used as a main phone
  • High price tag

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is not a tablet. It's a phone-tablet hybrid, and according to Kob Monney of What Hi-Fi, it’s one that "showed promise when it was released.” Since that time, however, it has already been supplanted by newer rivals, which either use more compact designs or simply offer more in terms of performance.

Some of the Note 8.0’s main features include a 1.6GHz quad-core CPU, a 5-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, up to 32GB of internal storage, microSD card support, and a 4,600mAh battery.

The headline feature is its screen: a 8-inch LCD TFT panel that has a native resolution of 1280x800 pixels, rated by Know Your Mobile’s Dean Quinn as “impressive.” The operating system comes in the form of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.

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HP Slate 7

What's good  

  • Low price makes it a good choice for the kids

What's bad  

  • Very poor display
  • Short battery life
  • Bad camera

It's tough for a PC vendor to transition to the tablet business. At the low end, they need to compete against the Kindle Fire, which is supported by Amazon's store, and the Google Nexus 7. The new HP Slate 7 is HP's first attempt at an Android based device and they chose to go for the low end.

At $170, "affordable" is its main strength, but reviewers concluded that they shaved off too much build quality and features in their effort to hit that price.

Some reviewers recommended it for kids or very undemanding users and recommended that shoppers consider shelling out the extra $30 for the Google Nexus 7.

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Archos Platinum 97 HD

Tools & Resources

Not sure what to look for in a tablet? Check out some of our in-depth guides, comparison tools, & resources!

Common Questions

If your tablet and smartphone run the same operating system (Apple iOS, Google Android, Microsoft Windows 10, etc) there’s a good chance that both devices will be compatible with the same apps.

However, if the app isn’t optimized for the larger screen size of the tablet, you might notice it doesn’t look the same. While less common now thanks to improvements in how apps are made, there might be a tablet-specific version of your favorite app to download as well.

For most a tablet 9-inches or larger is ideal for productivity. Most tablets are still weak multitaskers. By having a larger screen size, you can take advantage of any split screen capabilities to make multitasking simpler. A larger screen also allows you to view documents, images or spreadsheets without constant scrolling or zooming.

If you intend to use your tablet primarily in an office setting, even larger options--such as the Apple iPad Pro--offer increased ability to dig into your work. At 12+ inches, these tablets are not ideal for portability. There’s also the substantial cost to consider. Before making an investment in this tier, find a retailer that will give you some hands-on time with the device.

This question is best answered depending on where you want to watch movies or games.

Planning to watch on the go? A six-inch tablet makes it easy to just toss your tablet in your bag or set it up on your tray table on the plane. While the screen won’t be a massive upgrade over many flagship smartphones, it will still make a large difference in the immersion and enjoyment of your favorite media.

Planning to watch at home? A nine-inch tablet is great for getting into your favorite TV shows or making the latest mobile games come alive. Most are comfortable to hold while you watch though a small stand will help for those all-night Netflix binges or Candy Crush marathons.

YES! Not only are they available, most are very affordable. If you’re looking for an ultra-rugged option, Amazon’s Fire for Kids is a great choice with its foam case and extended warranty, it’s ready for anything tiny hands might dish out. Other leading options include the Fuhu Nabi series, the Kurio series and LeapFrog’s full-feature tablets.

Kids’ tablets are still hit or miss in performance and quality. If you’re looking for the full tablet experience, be sure to check that the tablet supports one of the major app stores before purchasing. The ability to expand memory will also help with tap-happy little fingers.

Most tablets will perform basic functions with no need for an Internet connection. However, many free apps earn their income through advertising, this means you cannot use the app without a connection unless you pay for the premium edition of the app.

Other common tasks that require an Internet connection include social media apps, web browsing and music or video streaming.

No - in fact, outside the flagship markets, many tablets do not support data service at all. If you’re not sure, check the specifications for the tablet for any mentions of SIM support. As with your mobile phone, data plans for tablets will require a monthly payment in most cases to remain active. Looking for suggestions? You can view all of our summaries for 4G-compatible tablets here!

Not sure how much data you might need? Our guide for choosing a smartphone data plan applies to data-enabled tablets as well!

Yes and no. There are a few features that will determine how “phone-like” your tablet behaves.

The biggest issue is mobile data. Without it, you can only receive calls when in Wi-Fi range. Even still, you’re likely limited to an app instead of a dedicated phone number through a carrier. However, most tablets feature microphones and loudspeakers, making them great voice-over-IP options. Popular apps include Skype, Line2 and Google Voice.

You also have the issue of holding a huge tablet up to your head to talk. For most, a Bluetooth headset is a must. If you’re not sure where to start, we offer an in-depth buyer’s guide for Bluetooth Headsets!

If you’re looking for a true phone experience with the large-screen convenience of a tablet, you’re probably better looking for a large smartphone or ‘phablet.’ You can view summaries for many of the best options here!

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