Our list of the best Android tablets in the world - updated regularly with the latest and greatest
There are other options out there; Windows 8 tablets are incoming, the BlackBerry PlayBook is on sale and the HP TouchPad has come and gone in a flurry of $150 panic-buying. But Android Jelly Bean is currently the main OS rival to the iPad and its iOS 6, and products using that OS are slowly making their way onto the shelves.
We saw the launch of Nvidia's next-generation Tegra 3 chip, which took 2012's quad-core Android tablets to new heights. The likes of the Google Nexus 7 and Transformer Pad Infinity are beckoning in the new era, and the iPad is starting to feel the heat.
- Are you wondering what the iPad rival to the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD is like? Check our hands on: iPad mini review to find out!
Some tablets have 10-inch screens, others seven, and there are big differences in battery life, processing power and onboard RAM. So while we wait for the likes of the Asus Padfone 2 and Sony Xperia Tablet S, let's see what the current best tablets are...
1. Google Nexus 7
Manufactured by Asus to Google's specifications, the Nexus 7 ushers in a new era of affordable, quality Android tablets.
Packing a Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 12 core GPU, 8GB or 16GB internal storage and 7-inch 1280 x 800 screen, the Nexus 7 certainly has the skills to pay the bills, but at a highly attractive price point.
With respectable specs and a price that turns heads, it's prepared to give its closest rival, Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, a run for the money. With the Nexus 7, it's looking like Google has got the budget end of the tablet market all wrapped up. However, for those willing to drop more coin, and wanting to be within the Apple ecosystem, the iPad mini now presents a compelling 7-inch solution.
The Nexus 7 comes in either 16GB or 32GB WiFi versions for $199 and $249, respectively. A 32GB model with 3G service from AT&T or T-Mobile will set you back $299.
A quad-core processor, beefy GPU and the first device to run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and now it's already been upgraded to Android 4.2 with raft of new fancy features. The Nexus 7 certainly packs a punch and while it may not tread a lot of new ground, the Nexus 7 is a solid performer and easily the best tablet just two hundred dollars can buy.
2. Google Nexus 10
The 10.1 display is one of the biggest talking points on the Google Nexus 10. At 300 pixels per inch it's the highest resolution tablet display on the planet - take that, Apple and your Retina displays.
It's a great performer too. Other than taking a while to process panoramic photos we never felt like it was struggling to keep up. It's fast and smooth, no matter what you throw at it.
Sure it may not be as stunning to look at, or as well built as an iPad, and the lack of expandable memory will irk some, but overall the Nexus 10 gives you a quality, big-screen Android experience not to be sniffed at.
On top of that, the tablet has already been updated to Android 4.2.1, which brings back the month of December in some calendar apps (well done, Google) and adds support for some security issues too, showing this is the tablet to buy if you want a larger screen that Google won't give up on.
The Nexus 10 is a WiFi only tablet, which will disappoint some, but if you're looking to keep your credit card bill low, at least you won't be tempted into monthly data fees.
A 16GB Nexus 10 will cost you $399, while a 32GB goes for $499.
The Google Nexus 10 is easily one of the best Android tablets on the market. While it's not quite as fantastic a value as the Nexus 7, it certainly gives Apple's high-priced iPad 4 a run for its money. For the price you're paying, you won't be disappointed.
3. Asus Transformer Pad Infinity
If it wasn't for the higher price, the Infinity would be a real contender for the top spot. It's got everything you could want in a tablet - and a keyboard dock comes standard too.
With the latest version of Android on the way, a simple interface and more ports than you can poke with a stick, the Infinity is the tablet that can handle anything you can throw at it.
Add in the Super IPS panel with a tremendous resolution, and you can see why this is a tablet to rate very highly - especially if you're fond of typing on the go but crave the simplicity of a slate as well. New firmware updates in some territories have brought features like Wi-Fi Direct to the Infinity, and Android 4.2 will be landing soon too.
The Transformer pad retails for $499 and $599 for its 16GB and 32GB versions. It's also available in the classily named colors, Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold.
Everything we'd look for in a high-end tablet is present and accounted for with the Transformer Pad Infinity.
While power is always welcomed, it was the improved screen that really caught our attention. Given that we use our tablet mostly for browsing the web and watching video, we couldn't help but marvel at the resolution, either. If you're looking for a top Android tablet (and have the cash to splash), then the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity should be at the top of your list.
4. Amazon Kindle Fire HD
What's better than a modern tablet with a quad core processor? One that costs just $199. That's right: the power of the Kindle brand has mated with an HD screen but won't charge you the earth to own it.
Coming in at 16GB and 32GB flavors, the Kindle Fire HD has been a big hit, bringing the simplicity of the e-book design to the tablet arena, with dedicated space to access your movies, games, apps and music too. A recent update has added a camera app for the front-facing camera and Swype support, so there are even more (admittedly tiny) reasons to shell out.
It's a little simplistic for some, but for others it's the perfect mix of curated content and easy to use interface - and despite the price, it's got a decent build quality too.
The Kindle Fire HD is available in two different physical sizes. The 7-inch, WiFi only model is $199 or $249 for 16GB or 32GB versions. The larger, 8.9-inch model is $299 or $369 for 16GB or 32GB WiFi only version. The 16GB and 32GB versions with 4G LTE go for $499 and $599.
For casual tablet users or those already knee-deep in Amazon's digital media abyss, the Kindle Fire HD is a fantastic option, especially at its low entry price. It offers a simple and uncomplicated experience through and through, and is built to support the digital media it aims to sell you, with a good screen and surprisingly ample speakers.
5. Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
What's better than a tablet with a big screen? A tablet with a big screen, a quad core processor and the might of the S Pen... known as a stylus to me and you.
Well, not just a stylus - with many levels of pressure sensitivity and the ability to easily sketch and annotate on a wide range of items, the Galaxy Note 10.1 offers so much more than your average tablet.
We're huge fans of the alternative choice here, and it even comes with a microSD slot to boot. Android 4.1 is landing on it at the moment, and comes with a Premium Suite update, designed to make multi-tasking and general use that much easier.
The Note is $499 and $549 for its 16GB and 32GB versions.
Sure, it's a bit expensive, the screen quality is lower than we've seen from Samsung in the past and the build quality somewhat lower than the competition, but this is still a fabulous tablet that many workers constantly forced to use a paper and pen will love to try out.