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  • The Best Tablets
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    We rounded up all the top slates available right now. Whether you prefer iOS, Android, or Windows, we have a pick for you.

    TABLETS HAVE YET to make themselves essential, but that doesn't mean they aren't nice to have around. A good tablet can be a portable TV screen around the house and a way to get some light work done away from your desktop. These slates are becoming more capable and versatile every year.

    The iPad's ease of use and best-in-breed software makes it the obvious choice for most people, but if you don't want an iPad, there are other options. Android tablets have become useful enough to consider, and Amazon's incredibly affordable Fire tablets are also worth it if your needs are basic. If you mostly want a laptop that can also be used as a tablet, a Windows-powered 2-in-1 might be your best bet. Our picks of the best tablets can help you decide.

    Be sure to check out our other buying guides, including the Best iPads and Best Fire Tablets.

    Updated September 2020: We've added several new picks to this guide, like the Fire HD 8.

    If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED

    PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE

    Best for Most People

    Apple iPad (10.2-Inch, 2019)

    The standard iPad is the best buy for most people. It's mostly the same as the 2018 model, which topped previous versions of this list. It even, somewhat disappointingly, has the same A10 Fusion processor. But worry not, it's still plenty powerful for most use cases. (If you're planning to do a lot of intensive work, like photo editing, you may want to look into the iPad Pro models.) On the standard iPad, we like the small .5-inch bump in screen size, which makes this latest model half an inch taller. And the Smart Connector hookup that lets you use an Apple Smart Keyboard ($99 from Amazon) means you can easily use it for most office work.

    Our only real gripe remains the same as on the 2018 model—the larger air gap (space between glass and screen) compared to the iPad Air, Mini, and Pro. For this reason, the base iPad isn't our top choice if you're planning to make heavy use of the Apple Pencil, though it is compatible and works just fine.

    PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE

    A Good Upgrade

    Apple iPad Air (10.5-Inch, 2019)

    The 2019 iPad Air uses the faster A12 Bionic processor in the chassis of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro that came out in 2017. It's the same size as almost every iPad you've ever held, but with slightly more screen space than the 10.2-inch standard iPad above. The Air still has a home button and fingerprint sensor, which we like. The display is also better for writing and drawing with the Apple Pencil ($95 at Amazon) because it's laminated more tightly (there's less distance between the glass and pixels). It's also compatible with Apple's Smart Keyboard.

    Apple is rumored to be announcing a new iPad Air in mid-September, so if you're on the fence, definitely wait until the new model arrives.

    PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE

    The Ultimate Tablet

    Apple iPad Pro (11 or 12.9-inch, 2020)

    The iPad Pro is a cut above the rest. Its power is leagues ahead of the competition, and cursor support in iPadOS paired with the new Magic Keyboard brings it closer to a laptop than ever before. Like its predecessor from 2018, it ditches the home button in favor of a larger display (choose between either 11 or 12.9 inches) and Face ID. The 12.9-inch model is about the size of a magazine and wonderful for drawing, but the 11-incher is more than enough tablet for most. This is also the only iPad in Apple's lineup that uses a USB-C port for charging, so you can use the same cable as your Android phone or MacBook to juice it back up.

    If you want to draw or write, get the second-gen Apple Pencil for $119 (Amazon). It's the best stylus for iPad, magnetically clinging to the side of the tablet, where it wirelessly recharges.

    PHOTOGRAPH: APPLE

    Best 8-Inch Tablet

    Apple iPad Mini (7.9-inch, 2019)

    After more than three years, Apple finally took the time to update the iPad Mini 4, and predictably, we love it (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It's faster than the old model and now compatible with the Apple Pencil (Amazon) and other Bluetooth styli. The only good reason to buy this tablet is if you prioritize portability. Smaller kids have an easier time using it, and it's fantastic for travel. You may want to invest in a stand-up case (Amazon).

    PHOTOGRAPH: AMAZON

    Best Tablet Under $200

    Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019)

    Amazon's tablets aren't for everyone. They really push Amazon Prime services and apps, and they're best for more passive tasks like playing games and watching movies. But for $150, it's hard to beat the Fire HD 10, which is our favorite Fire Tablet. It has hands-free Alexa and finally comes with a USB-C port, so you can ditch the MicroUSB cable. I've used an HD 10 interchangeably with an iPad for more than a year now. It's not as speedy, but it gets the job done when all you need to do is kick back and consume. Just be aware that not every Android app will be able to run on it, only those distributed through Amazon's own app store. Make sure to also get a standing case.

    PHOTOGRAPH: AMAZON

    Best Tablet Under $100

    Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

    The newly refreshed Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 8 Plus bring many of the same improvements found on the Fire HD 10 from 2019, including better performance, a USB-C charging port, stereo sound, and hands-free Alexa. You get all that in the same travel-friendly 8-inch size. The screen isn't as nice as on the Fire HD 10, and it can be a little tough to see images and text clearly outdoors, but this is the best tablet you can get without spending a lot of money.

    Paying the extra $20 for the Fire HD 8 Plus is wise, as it nets you extra RAM (it helps when you're juggling multiple apps) and wireless charging, so you can recharge it on any Qi-supported wireless charger (which is most of them). You can use Amazon's own wireless charging dock, which also turns the tablet into an Echo Show. And we recommend picking up Amazon's magnetic cover too, which helps prop up the tablet when you're catching up on your favorite shows.

    PHOTOGRAPH: SAMSUNG

    Best Android Tablet

    Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite (10.4-Inch, 2020)

    Google's Android operating system doesn't offer a great tablet experience. You won't find as many apps optimized for larger screens as you will on iPads, but the Tab S6 Lite is the best alternative if you don't want to use Apple's software. Samsung has a special DeX desktop mode that automatically turns on when you connect the $159 keyboard cover, and it makes it possible to do some office work with this Android-powered slate.

    The Lite has a nice screen and good speakers, making it great for watching movies, and Samsung's S Pen stylus is included (it magnetically sticks to the back of the tablet). The S Pen is nice to have for scrolling through apps or for sketching, and it's rare to see it included. (Pro tip: to mitigate your palm activating the screen as you use the stylus, look for a "Pen-only" mode in your favorite drawing app.) My only other gripes are that performance is just OK—you'll notice stutters here and there—and there's no fingerprint sensor for easy unlocking.

    PHOTOGRAPH: SAMSUNG

    Another Good Galaxy Tab

    Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 (10.5-Inch, 2019)

    If you want a little more power in an Android tablet, get the Galaxy Tab S6. It comes equipped with the Snapdragon 855, the flagship chip from 2019, and that means it's capable of running intensive games and apps with no lag whatsoever. The AMOLED 10.5-inch screen is a step up over the LCD on the S6 Lite, and even the keyboard cover (a $160 separate accessory) is better, as it packs a built-in trackpad. You get a Bluetooth version of the S Pen stylus too (which also attaches to the back), so you can use it to control certain functions on the tablet, like snapping a picture remotely.

    However, if you care about having the latest hardware, your should wait before buying one. The Tab S6's successor is right around the corner—the Tab S7 and Tab S7 Plus. You get two size options to choose from now, even better performance, 5G access if you want it, and other perks like a 120-Hz screen refresh rate. They're launching on September 18, and we'll update this guide after we spend some time with them.

    PHOTOGRAPH: AMAZON

    Best Kids Tablet

    Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

    When you're giving a tablet to a kid, you want something durable and cheap so if it breaks, replacing it won't be too costly. Amazon offers kid-friendly versions of all its Fire tablets, and the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition sits in the sweet spot of having a portable size and a nice price. It's the exact same as the Fire HD 8 above, but the extra $50 gets you a bulky case to keep it protected and a two-year worry-free guarantee. That means if your kid breaks it, you can return it and Amazon will send you a replacement for free. You also get a year of FreeTime for access to kid-friendly books, movies, games, and apps. It's $3 per month after the first year.

    The Fire HD 10 Kids Edition is also a good option, but it's pricier at $200 and might be too big for kids.

    PHOTOGRAPH: MICROSOFT

    Best 2-in-1 Tablet

    Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (12.3-Inch, 2019)

    If you're looking for more of a get-work-done-now tablet, the Surface Pro 7 is worth a look. It's one of

    Microsoft's premium devices and is basically a big 12-inch tablet that runs a full version of Windows 10, so it runs all the same apps as your Windows laptop. It also has a really nice adjustable kickstand, and it magnetically connects to the best tablet keyboard on the market ($123, sold separately). Sometimes you'll wish it was more comfortable to use in your lap, and Windows 10 still isn't the best for touch. But it's more powerful than a lot of laptops, and it beats any iPad for desktop-grade tasks.

    We also like the Surface Go 2 as a cheaper option. It's not as powerful, so it's better suited for simpler tasks, like writing emails, browsing the web, and watching Netflix.

    PHOTOGRAPH: MICROSOFT

    Most Powerful 2-in-1

    Microsoft Surface Book 3

    This is a more extreme option, but if you want a powerful machine for desktop-grade tasks (like video editing) with the option to use it as a tablet for watching Netflix, the new

    Surface Book 3 is the way to go. Just keep in mind that it's a laptop first, with a wonderful keyboard, a nice trackpad, and a beautiful 13.5-inch screen. It also lasts a long time thanks to the batteries in the keyboard and the screen.

    Detaching the screen is quite simple, but unfortunately, there's no built-in kickstand like the one you'll find on the Surface Go 2. So you'll have to get creative when you want to prop it up in tablet mode. No stylus is included either, so you'll have to pay extra if you want to sketch on it. A stylus is worth it too, as Windows doesn't have the best touch interface. Still, it's perfectly fine for reading and watching movies. If you're looking to replace your laptop and want the keyboard-free experience of a tablet, you can't go wrong with this upscale Surface.

    Julian Chokkattu is a senior associate editor at WIRED, covering personal technology and reviewing consumer products. Previously he was the mobile and wearables editor at Digital Trends, steering coverage and reviews of smartphones and smartwatches, and an intern at TechCrunch. He graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor's degree in... Read more

    SENIOR ASSOCIATE REVIEWS EDITOR

    Jeffrey Van Camp is an editor for WIRED, specializing in personal technology reviews and coverage. Previously he was the deputy editor of Digital Trends, helping to oversee the site’s editorial operations, and before that, its mobile editor. He’s covered tech, video games, and entertainment for more than

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