Tablets Worth Buying This Holiday Season

By on November 8, 2014

holiday-gift-guide-2014

Just like 2013, the tablet is going to be an extremely popular gift during the 2014 holiday season. While some consumers may still be getting their first tablet, others are looking to replace older tablet technology purchased last year or the previous year. This guide will help you cut through the noise and find exactly what you should buy for your family and/or friends (or yourself!) this year.

Buy This for Someone Who Won’t Shut Up About Android: Google Nexus 9

Definitely a gorgeous tablet due to the high resolution 8.9-inch screen, the Nexus 9 tablet is Google’s response to Apple’s iPad Air 2. The Nexus 9 is new as of this month and will definitely be a hot tablet gift this year. You can also look into the Nexus 7, if you want something a bit smaller in Google’s tablet line.

MSRP: $400 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $400

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  • Pros: Relatively inexpensive price ($399) compared to competition. High resolution 2048×1536 display. Speedy performance. Runs Android Lollipop 5.0.
  • Cons: Charges slowly. No option to expand the storage (limited to 16GB or 32GB). Touchscreen response is occasionally problematic.

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Buy This for Someone Who Won’t Shut Up about Apple: iPad Air 2

Since the iPad Mini 2 with Retina Display only had limited upgrades from Apple this year, the Apple Air 2 is a better bet. Receiving rave reviews from most tech publications,

MSRP (16GB model): $499 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $460

ipad-air-2

  • Pros: Performance/speed has improved significantly due to improved A8X processor. Thinner, lighter design.Includes Touch ID fingerprint sensor and anti-reflective screen.
  • Cons: It’s still expensive starting at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, ranging up to $829 for the 128GB LTE model. Audio playback with the built-in speakers is slightly worse than last year’s model.

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Buy This for an Amazon Prime Member: Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch

Definitely a killer pick for anyone who’s invested in the Amazon ecosystem of books, movies and music, the recent refresh to the 8.9-inch model of the Kindle Fire HDX line has been well-received by the press and community at large. Ideal for Amazon Prime members, users will be able to access Amazon Instant Video, free books from the Kindle Lending library, streaming music from Prime Music and unlimited photo storage from Prime Photos.

MSRP (16GB model): $379 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $320

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  • Pros: Awesome 2560×1600 on the 8.9-inch model. Competitive price. Speedy 2.2GHz quad-core processor. Dolby Atmos Certified. 24×7 video chat tech support with Mayday button. Best parental controls
  • Cons: Content is limited to the Amazon ecosystem. No microSD card slot. App support isn’t as deep as Google Play or Apple. Ad removal still costs $15.

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Buy This for an Office Drone Workaholic: ASUS Transformer Book T100

Easily one of the surprise hits of the 2013 tablet season, the Asus Transformer Book T100 is a peppy Windows 8.1 tablet that offers excellent performance for an inexpensive price point. ASUS is particularly good at creating tablets that transform into the traditional laptop design, perhaps more so than Microsoft with the Surface line.

MSRP (64GB model): $399 | Lowest Price on Ben’s:$179

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  • Pros: Offers Intel’s snappy Bay Trail processor. Includes free version of Microsoft Office. Comes with included keyboard. Battery life is solid.
  • Cons: Keyboard layout is cramped. Likely won’t run extremely intensive programs like Photoshop very well.

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Buy This for a Little Whippersnapper: Amazon Fire HD 6 Kids Edition

Not only is the Fire 6 an awesome bargain tablet, Amazon has the strongest parental controls of all regular tablets. While the LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi are also solid picks for this category, the Fire HD 6 Kid’s edition edges out the competition with a 2-year guarantee that replaces the tablet no matter what happened.

MSRP: $149 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a

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  • Pros: Includes popular streaming video apps like Netflix. Tons of awesome educational apps that are fun for kids. Ready to be tossed around due to rugged rubber case. Amazing parental controls.
  • Cons: Cameras can’t be accessed without signing into an account. No option for books to be read to children. Freezes from time to time.

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Buy This for an Video Game Addict: NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet

Definitely providing killer graphics performance at a competitive price point, NVIDIA’s SHIELD tablet will do an admirable job of running relatively recent games and will definitely handle popular MMORPGs. While a Surface Pro 3 may be a better choice for someone who wants to play games as well as be productive, the SHIELD tablet comes in at a much better price point.

MSRP (16GB model): $299 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $270

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  • Pros: Includes the high-powered NVIDIA Tegra K1 2.2 GHz Processor. Excellent 1900×1200 display. Includes expandable micro SD card storage. Can stream games from NVIDIA PCs.
  • Cons: Screen brightness can suffer in direct light. Requires an additional controller purchase to get the full gaming experience.

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Buy This if You are on a Budget: ASUS Memo Pad 7

Easily one of the top performing 7-inch tablets, the ASUS Memo Pad 7 is a killer gift for someone who needs a solid Android tablet without spending a ton of money. This is one of the peppiest tablets in the  7-inch line at this price point, namely because ASUS opted to include an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor.

MSRP: $149 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $85

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  • Pros: Sale prices are amazing, dipping below the $100 mark. Solid screen resolution (1,200-by-800-pixel display). Utilizes Android 4.4 Kitkat. Long battery life (9 hours). MicroSD slot to expand the memory up to 64GB.
  • Cons: Front camera is low resolution. Device can run warm to the touch after extended use.

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About Mike Flacy

By day, I'm the Editor-in-Chief for The CheckOut in addition to being the content manager for Steve's Digicams and High-Def Digest. During my free time, I love to write about pop culture, home theater, digital photography, social media, mobile technology and cool gadgets!

7 Comments

  1. David

    November 4, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    What about the tablet for the artist that wants to draw? A windows tablet or a Samsung Note or an ipad with the new Wacom digitizer pen?

    • Nirav

      November 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      @David, I draw on my surface pro a lot. It’s got a wacom digitizer built in and comes with the pen. Its extremely accurate.

  2. AC

    November 14, 2013 at 11:42 am

    What about the Kurio for kids? iPads are too expensive. My daughter has the leap pad, but we have to buy games for it.

    • Mode1Bravo

      November 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      What is wrong with an iPAD Mini? Those are totally affordable and feature the entire iLife and iWork suite of software for free! You can’t get that type of value on any of the other tablets. iPad is by far the best tablet money can buy, whether it’s the iPad 2, iPad Mini, or iPad Air. I wouldn’t get anything else.

  3. Sherry

    November 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Great breakdown of the options out there. Thanks!

  4. Bluescreen

    November 10, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    To expand storage on an android without an SD slot:
    get a USBOTG adaptor and a USB stick (format it in FAT32, or ES File Explorer won’t see it)
    Install ES file Explorer (no need to root your tablet!)
    plug it in and open the app, you should see the USB drive in there.
    If it doesn’t work you spent a couple of $$ for an OTG device (you can still use it to connect a USB mouse and keyboard), and installed ES file explorer which is a very nice app anyway.

  5. Trasina McGahey

    November 11, 2014 at 10:07 am

    With so many tablets out there it’s good to know which are best. I personally love my Kindle HD7 and my recommendation goes to that!

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