4. Nexus 9

best tablet 2014 in the US

Fresh of the HTC assembly line is the Nexus 9 tablet that is Google's best attempt to answer the iPad Air 2. It's successful in a lot of ways, and leaves us wanting in others.

Its 8.9-inch IPS LCD display, for example, sports a QXGA-level 2048 x 1536 resolution, but a bit of backlight bleeding around the edges keep it from being a sight to see.

It doesn't matter that the screen is a few tenths of an inch smaller than similarly priced iPad Air 16GB at $400 for the Nexus 9 32GB version. It's bigger than the Nexus 7 and smaller than the Nexus 10 - just right for productivity on the go.

Nexus 9's 4:3 aspect ratio is better for reviewing documents and web surfing than watching 16:9 movies with letterboxing, though the sound is excellent with HTC BoomSound speakers.

It's the best tablet running Android 5.0 Lollipop, though that won't last long once the Samsung Galaxy Tab S gets the forthcoming update.

Quick verdict

Google's Nexus 9 tablet has display size and price that's indicative of everything you need to know about how it stacks up against the iPad Air 2. It's just a little less.

Android 5.0 Lollipop gives Google's slate a software facelift, even if the hardware construction isn't exceptional. Material Design sets the right tone and lockscreen notifications and priority mode add overdue functionality to make this a very usable tablet.

If you're looking for a naked Android tablet, the Nexus 9 performs well and comes with some really premium touches to make it one of the best around.