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The Best Tablets to Buy in 2018 For Entertainment and Productivity on The Go

Last updated June 21, 2021

While smartphones are becoming powerful by the day, tablets and 2-in-1 PCs are still a preferred choice for those who need a larger canvas for reading or content consumption. Modern tablets feature leading-edge components and can substitute a laptop for common tasks such as surfing the web, reading email, or even creative tasks such as a basic photo or video editing.

The tablet market has traditionally been dominated by Apple, and to a lesser extent by various Android OEMs such as Samsung. The iPad and the iPad Pro offer a great tablet experience and the recent releases have become almost as powerful as an entry-level PC and offer enough power for console-quality graphics. Android, too, has caught up and offerings from Samsung, Lenovo, and Asus are quite good for the money.

So, should you directly just buy whatever is selling well? Not exactly. There are a few factors that you should keep in mind before spending on a tablet. The first of these is the platform. If you are entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, the iPad is a no-brainer as it offers great integration with the rest of Apple's devices. Similarly, Amazon has developed worthy contenders around its Alexa, Kindle, and Prime services so buying an Amazon Fire OS-powered tablet makes sense if you are invested in that. Android and Windows tablets are available as well. The choice of the platform also reflects in the app choices that are available. Android and iOS have well-stocked stores while Fire OS and Windows (UWP apps) are yet to catch up.

Other important factors include the storage space offered, connectivity options, and additional accessories such as foldable keyboards and pens. Taking all these into account, we have prepared a list of tablets that we feel are currently some of the best in the market across platforms. So, here are the 8 best tablets in the market that you should be looking at in 2018.

1. Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch

The Apple iPad Pro is the definitive tablet out there and can, in fact, replace your traditional computer for most basic tasks. The 12.9-inch version is the larger of the two available form factors and is available in Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi + Cellular variants. The Apple A10X SoC handles all the computing and is aided by the M10 motion co-processor. The A10X can offer desktop-class 64-bit computing and console quality graphics so you can render 3D models, play graphics-intensive games, or edit 4K video with ease. With the Pro model, you can also use the new Apple Pencil for inking and sketching on the device.

It is hard to find issues with the iPad when it comes to performance. Apple's tight hardware and software integration ensures that everything works great right out of the box. The vast expanse of the iOS App Store and seamless tie-up with Mac make the iPad Pro the most versatile tablet there is.

2. Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch

The Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch is the same as the larger 12.9-inch version with the only variation being in screen size and thereby, the resolution. The 10.5-inch version is preferable for those who have smaller hands but need something more than an iPad Mini. The Apple A10X SoC along with the M10 motion co-processor makes short work of whatever you throw it — be it graphics-intensive games, AR apps, 3D rendering etc. The vast library of quality iOS apps ensures that the iPad Pro's full potential is realized.

Similar to the iPad Pro 12.9-inch, there aren't any noticeable issues that need mentioning. Apple hardware comes at a premium but that is justified with the excellent performance and tight integration within the Apple ecosystem. If you already have a collection of Apple devices such as a Mac and an iPhone, the iPad Pro will complete the experience.

3. Lenovo Tab 4

Those who need a tablet that the entire family can use should consider the Lenovo Tab 4. With a crisp HD display and Dolby Atmos-powered speakers, the Tab 4 offers the best tablet for the money in the sub-$150 segments. Android 7.1 Nougat is onboard with a promised up to Android 8 Oreo. The Tab 4 can be configured with multiple user accounts and Lenovo even offers an optional pack to transform the device into a dedicated kids tablet. Up to 7 individual user accounts can be configured with totally isolated settings.

The specs of the Tab 4 might seem a little on the lower side but the device excels in day-to-day usage. Lenovo has kept the bloatware to a minimum but we suggest that you opt for a higher storage variant if you plan to share the device with many users.

4. Amazon Fire HD 10

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is one of the best tablets if you are fully into the Amazon ecosystem such as Prime Video, Prime Music, Kindle etc. Although most Amazon services are available on other platforms as well, the Fire HD 10 offers a seamless way to experience all of them. The Alexa voice assistant is available as well that allows you to access a lot of Amazon services and even control compatible devices with just your voice. The tablet runs on Amazon's Fire OS, which is a customized Android version that comes with its own store. However, you can still install Google Play Store and access Play Store apps.

The Fire HD 10 boasts of impressive audio and video capabilities and those with a Prime subscription can download music and movies for offline viewing. The overall performance is excellent but Amazon can still tune the software to offer more battery life.

5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S4

The Galaxy Tab S4 is one of the latest offerings from Samsung and it packs quite a high-end spec sheet. With a Snapdragon 835 SoC and 4 GB of RAM, the Tab S4 can handle multitasking with ease. Samsung DeX allows you to transform the Tab S4 into a PC-like experience by simply connecting the tablet to an external monitor. The Super AMOLED display offers excellent viewing angles and rich colors while the Dolby Atmos-powered speakers ensure an immersive audio experience.

Samsung bundles the S-Pen along with the Tab S4 so you can draw or write in your handwriting naturally. The S-Pen does not need charging but you need to invest in an extra cover for actually holding the pen. The Galaxy Tab S4 launched just a few months ago but it still features last year's Qualcomm flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 835. Also, the Tab S4 only has face recognition and no fingerprint sensor, which might put off some buyers.

6. Apple iPad 9.7-inch

The Apple iPad 9.7-inch is one of the best tablets under $500 and makes for a great purchase if you don't need some of the extra features of the Pro model but still would like to experience Apple's ecosystem. The Apple iPad features the Apple A9 SoC, which is still pretty fast in running the latest iOS version. The 9.7-inch screen makes one-handed operation easy and is perfect for reading books or watching movies.

There is little to fault about the performance of the iPad and most basic users who don't need extra Pro features will find this a good deal. The iOS 12 update is available for the iPad as well and offers vast improvements in performance and adds a lot of new features.

7. Asus ZenPad 3S 10

The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is still a strong contender for a good Android tablet thanks to its great display and audio prowess. The ZenPad 3S 10 might seem a bit older now but still gets regular updates and Asus's own suite of customizations. But Asus is still yet to provide major OS updates so if you are obsessed about having the latest OS versions, this might not be the tablet for you. The ZenPad 3S 10 also supports a stylus but it is an optional purchase that will set you back by another $30.

Overall the ZenPad 3S 10 feels premium and functions like one. However, a major downside is the cameras. While the hardware is great, the picture post-processing leaves a lot to be desired. Still, the Asus ZenPad 3S 10 manages to give many Android tablets a run for their money and can be recommended if you don't mind the camera and slow OS updates.

8. Microsoft Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface Go is more than just a tablet. It can act as a laptop and also as a convertible. The base model is very affordable but to realize its full potential, you might want to look at some higher hardware configurations. The Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y CPU is much more powerful than most other mobile SoCs in this lineup and you can run full Windows 10 or just Windows 10 in S mode if you'll be using Store apps primarily. The fanless design ensures quiet operating experience and the dense PixelSense display is a treat to watch. Optional accessories such as the Type Cover, Surface Pen, and Surface Dial make for a great touch-first interaction.

The Surface Go is easily one of the best Windows tablets around but do note that that the lower end versions feature eMMC storage, which is not really an ideal option for running Windows 10 and desktop apps. Stretching the budget a little bit can get a capable SSD, which provides a great performance boost.

Final Thoughts

Dear reader, those were our picks for the best tablets available in 2018. With the arrival of 2-in-1 PCs, tablets are fast being replaced by more capable machines. The iPad is still the preferred tablet for many and has arguably the best apps in the market, especially for the creative crowd. There has been some stagnation in the Android tablets market but OEMs have once again started offering high-end options to those who desire them. Also, with the advent of Surface devices, Windows 10 is also gaining ground as a good tablet OS but the Microsoft Store still isn't up to mark when it comes to the sheer variety offered by iOS and Android.

We hope that this article has helped you choose the ideal tablet for your needs. There are many more new models being launched almost daily so if there's anything that you would like to specifically cover, let us know in the comments below.

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