Staples.ca: The 10 Best Tablets of 2013 Reviewed
This competitive offer from HP balances performance with price for
a great value tablet.
Despite its impressively low price tag, there's nothing budget
about this tablet's look and feel. Sleek, sturdy and just a tiny
bit heavier than its main 7 inch competitor - the Nexus 7 - this
well crafted device has obviously had a lot of attention during its
Under the hood, the value continues. Operating on Android's 4.1
Jelly Bean with a 1.6GHz dual-core ARM A9 processor and 1GB of RAM
to keep things running smoothly, you won't notice any lags unless
you're asking a lot. The front and rear facing cameras get the job
done -- great for the odd snap or Skype chat. The battery has a
similar level of performance: you'll get an adequate five or six
hours of video playback before you need to find a power
If you're worried that the 8GB of onboard storage doesn't sound
like enough, the Slate 7 has a thoughtfully placed microSD slot on
the top edge that can stretch to another 32GB. As an Android
device, there is a lot of built-in Google and HP compatibility,
making this an intuitive tablet for youngsters or
The 7 inch (17.8 cm) screen, and 1024 x 600 pixel resolution could
look a little faded or out-of-date if you're used to a sharp smart
phone, but again - at such an accessible price, it's worth it. One
differentiator that's worth a mention is the Beats Audio sound
system with built-in stereo speakers (located on either side of the
micro USB charging and data transfer port on the device's bottom
edge), which gives the Slate 7 an edge over many more expensive
For users looking for plenty of bang for their buck, or who need
something sturdy for the kids to throw around a bit, the Slate 7 is
a great choice.
Well-designed and perfect for professional use, this tablet has its
fair share of fans. It looks great, particularly when viewed next
to its very reasonable price tag. Invest in a docking keyboard to
accompany the full-sized stylus and you'll have the equivalent of a
powerful and very lightweight Office laptop to work with.
The ASUS VivoTab measures 10.94 by 7.24 by 2.12 inches and weighs
581g. The plastic exterior feels solid and sturdy, and the slightly
rubberized back will stop the device from jumping off slightly
This Windows device runs on a dual-core Intel Atom Z2760 at 1.8GHz.
There's an impressive 64GB of storage, and because this tablet runs
the full version of Windows 8, you'll be able to use any existing
software on it. Of course, there's a microSD card slot to boost
storage, as well as a handy micro HDMI and a combination microphone
headphone jack. What's more, the battery's great: you can expect a
solid eight or nine hours before you need to recharge.
But this device isn't all work and no play. Something that makes
this functional tablet stand apart is its speakers. Thanks to
SonicMaster technology, you can expect a full audio experience. The
10.1 inch screen has a resolution of 1366x768 and uses IPS
technology to get maximum possible impact from multiple viewing
angles. Added to this, the VivoTab's ultra-portable design makes
this a great choice for any multimedia fans.
The 8MP rear facing camera has a powerful LED flash, helping you
take wonderful photos on the move. The video recording kit (a large
F/2.2 aperture and 5-element lens) means you'll also capture
excellent quality video. Meanwhile, the front facing 2MP front
camera delivers surprisingly good conferencing capabilities.
Arc 7 Tablet
Despite its strong resemblance to its KOBO ereader relations, the
Arc is a fully fledged, very affordable tablet that truly deserves
a place on this list. In fact, the Arc provides a unique tablet
experience that sets it apart from its competitors.
If you like stripped-back clean design, then the KOBO Arc will tick
a lot of boxes. The flat front features a page-sized screen, along
with dual speakers and the KOBO logo across the bottom section. The
microUSB port on the bottom edge and the 3.5mm headphone jack on
the right edge are the only ports, and you'll just find a power
button and volume rocker on the edge. The chiselled rear and
rounded corners are a nice touch.
This tablet runs on the android 4.0 Jelly Bean operating system.
Its 1.5 GHz dual core processor keeps things snappy and there's
16GB storage. It boasts a 7 inch 1920 x 1200 resolution, with IPS,
which is similar to the 1080p screen that you'd find on something
like the latest Nexus 7. However, the aspect ratio is better suited
for books, which tells you something about the target audience and
heritage of this particular device.
On top of the OS sits a unique custom KOBO interface called
Tapestries - an overlay designed to optimize your interaction with
all kinds of content, but mainly books and articles. The interface
is well-designed and won't stop you from easily accessing other key
tablet features, such as your chosen browser or Facebook. Even
better: if you decide Tapestries isn't for you, you can easily
replace it with an alternative from Google Play.
The battery is quite good too; you won't get anything less than a
solid 8 hours of video playback as long as you keep the wifi
switched off. Finally, the 720p HD front-facing camera, with its
1.3 mega pixels means you're not missing out with the great value
Nexus 7 2nd Gen
A beautiful, high end tablet that outstrips its much-loved
predecessor without adding too much to the price tag.
The second generation Nexus 7 (so good they named it twice) has
been brilliantly streamlined. It's skinny and light enough to sit
comfortably in one hand, while still managing to feel sturdy and
durable. Make no mistake though: this little beauty demands a case.
It'd be a crime to scratch that bevelled glass front, and that
sleek matte plastic back does tend to slide around.
As always with Google, beauty is more than skin deep. You can look
forward to an exceptionally high performance display, packed to the
enviable density of 323ppi. Text and images are very crisp indeed,
making this a great tablet for keen readers. Despite the excitingly
named 'antifingerprint technology', you might want to carry a silk
handkerchief round with your Nexus to keep unavoidable smudges from
sullying its perfect form.
Google is also closer to cracking the battery life problem than
many competitors. Presumably employing some kind of witchcraft,
they've managed to slightly reduce the Nexus' battery capability on
paper, without actually affecting it in reality. It probably has
something to do with improvements to battery management.
The device has 32GB and, unlike most non-Google tablets, doesn't
allow for extras to be added. Hardcore media lovers might struggle
with this, particularly when you realize the operating system takes
up 6GB of those 32 on offer. But maybe the dual cameras (1.2 MP
front, 5 MP rear), stereo speakers and Qi wireless charging will
make up for it.
Really though, this is a thoroughbred Google experience. Although
it's still running Jelly Bean, the Nexus 7 is now on 4.3 instead of
4.2 and, as an owner, you'll be first in line when the Key Lime Pie
upgrade does arrive. A Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 8064 processor
with a 2MB L2 cache and 1.5GHz processor speed make the Nexus 7 an
exceptionally zippy joy to use.
Galaxy Tab 3 Tablet
A distinctively large screen defines this excellent Android tablet
from Samsung. An extra inch makes all the difference, and the 1,200
x 8000 resolution, as well as a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and
expandable memory make the Galaxy Tab 3 a favorite for media
lovers. The pretty standard 16GB of memory can be easily pumped up
with a microSD card slot that allows for a whopping 64GB of extra
Looks-wise, the Samsung tablets are getting better and better. It's
a marvellous achievement to create an 8 incher that feels no
bulkier than its 7 inch competitors. The Tab 3′s edges curve
up slightly for a comfortable fit in the palm; you won't get cramps
from holding this one handed.
The dual-core processor and preloaded 4.2 Jelly Bean operating
system keep performance slick, and you can squeeze a comfortable 9
hours of battery life from one charge. There's a good quality 5
megapixel rear facing autofocus camera for decent photos, and a
front facing 1.3-megapixel camera that's great for video
There's some lovely attention to detail in this tablet. As well as
syncing beautifully with other Samsung devices, one extra feature
that's worth mentioning is how easy it is to turn this device into
a universal remote. With the preloaded WatchOn app and infrared
port, the tablet can be used to control most digital TVs and
includes a smart channel guide that learns what you like as you
Another user-friendly extra: you can put those 8 inches of real
estate to better use with a clever multi-window feature, which
allows you to use two apps at the same time. This makes it easy to,
for example, drag and drop images, or watch something with a chat
app open too.
Overall, the Tab 3 is an excellent, well-rounded choice for those
looking to do more with their tablet and at a faster pace.
MeMO Pad HD 7 Tablet
Fans of the original Nexus 7 will be thrilled with this tablet.
Both devices are made by ASUS so they’re extremely similar
under the hood, but this one knocks the price down while also
sorting out a few notable niggles. Together, these features make
the MeMO Pad a really solid offer.
Powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, you'll have to play some
demanding games to get any kind of stutter in performance. The
operating system is android 4.1.2. If you're a real tablet fanatic
this might not be quite up-to-date enough, but for everyone else
the cost savings make this small sacrifice more than worthwhile.
The screen is bright, sharp and easy to read, and you'll find it
responsive, slick and fast loading.
It's worth noting that ASUS has added a few extras to the basic OS.
You'll find some good apps snuck aboard, including a cloud storage
service, a password protection tool and some fun photo gallery
The expandable storage is one problem that's been fixed in this
tablet, as there's a microSD slot that lets you add a few critical
extra GBs to the built in 16. The other improvement from the
original Nexus is the addition of a rear-facing camera. Clocking in
at a more than adequate 5 mega pixels, you'll be able to capture
some lovely shots.
The 10-hour battery life (easily extendable over a couple of days
if you treat it with respect) is also worth a mention.
Now, no-one's claiming this is the sleekest tablet money can buy.
But it's also one of the few that comes in anything other than
muted monochromes. Some aren't keen on the plastic back, but, as
with most tablets and smartphones, it's worth getting a protective
case anyway. With a screen size of 7 inches and weighing just .67lb
the MeMO will easily become your lightweight, go anywhere
Offering a great value and even higher capabilities, the Acer
Iconia A1 Tablet has a lot going for it.
Let's start with look and feel. Measuring 10 by 5.73 inches, 0.43
inches thick, and weighing .905 pounds, the Iconia might feel just
slightly chunkier and heavier than its competitors. But, given
what’s under the hood, it’s actually pretty small and
light. Looks wise, the simple white and silver plastic design isn't
going to blow your mind, but it's not going to embarrass you
The 1GB of RAM and 1.2GHz quad-core processor keep things running
very smoothly. You'll be able to switch screens and applications
with no lags whatsoever. In fact, you'll have to throw some serious
games at this tablet, which runs Android 4.2.2, to notice any
Available as a 8GB or 16GB model, both options can be bulked up via
the microSD slot. While we're talking extras, the connectivity
ports (a microUSB and microHDMI) make this tablet a versatile
multimedia device. You'll be able to easily connect to a wide range
of other devices, making it ideal for sharing content on bigger
The 5 megapixel rear facing camera is great, although some might
find the front-facing 0.3 MP webcam less than they need for clear
video conferencing. No matter what you’re doing, you can
always expect high sound quality with headphones.
The screen will probably need to be set to maximum brightness to
get a performance that matches other tablets in this list, but the
strong battery life means this doesn't matter all that much. Acer
has also added a couple of nifty extras to how you can interact
with the device. A five finger tap will wake the device from sleep,
while a two thumb gesture can be set to activate the camera and
other applications. Although of course this also means you'll want
to keep wiping that screen clear of fingerprints!
All in all, a solid pick.
ThinkPad Tablet 2
Sleek, stylish and surprisingly sturdy with a beautifully
integrated stylus and impressive battery, the 10-inch Atom Windows
8 tablet is a dependable office tool.
This is one of the best looking Windows 8 tablets around: apart
from a signature splash of Thinkpad red, it's completely black and
looks very professional. It's a shade lighter than the iPad 4 at
1.26lbs and is just a little heavier than its closest Android
rival, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. The well-textured back
overcomes any challenges this might present though, making the
tablet easy to hold with one hand. Curved edges (the stylus' edge
is totally rounded) complement this.
The screen does exactly what it needs to: it's bright but doesn't
oversaturate colors, and 720p HD video looks really good from any
angle, thanks to the IPS screen. It's also a fabulously responsive
touchscreen - a real pleasure to use. The well-integrated
rear-facing camera and flash, and the 2.1 mega pixel front facing
camera are similarly impressive.
Under the hood you'll find an upgrade from the first ThinkPad's
Tegra 2 to an Intel Atom 1.8Ghz dual-core processor. There's also
an accommodating Intel Integrated HD SGX545 graphics chip, 2GB of
RAM and 64GB SSD storage. Having said that, since quite a lot of
this space is taken up with the Windows 8 install and other pieces
of pre-loaded software, the microSD card slot is an essential
feature. This all adds up to a powerful device that goes from 0 to
100 (off to fully on) in just 14 seconds flat.
Microsoft Office is extra, as is the docking keyboard, but once
they're up and running you'll more or less have an office away from
the office. This tablet is also easy and rewarding to customize
with multiple user accounts, making it ideal for family or business
Surface Pro 2 (6CX-00001) Tablet
A professional, high-performance tablet from Microsoft that's a
smart step up from the already stunning original Surface Pro.
This beautiful tablet from Microsoft really comes into its own when
you start to explore the capabilities of this operating system in
its natural environment. The device runs Windows 8.1 off a 1.6GHz
Intel Core i5 and boasts 4GB RAM and a 64GB SSD.
Performance is excellent. The Intel HD 4400 chipset keeps things
smooth and speedy whatever multimedia demands you're making on it.
Unless you're throwing tons of background processes at it, this
tablet could easily stand up to desktop use. The 10.6-inch screen
is a beautiful thing. Coming in at 1920 x 1080 resolution it's one
of the sharpest on the market, and balances contrast and brightness
Fans of the original Surface Pro will be pleased to hear Microsoft
has kept its promise to improve battery life in this upgrade.
Average use will squeeze a hearty seven hours out of the tablet,
and that number goes up if you're willing to sacrifice a little
The upgrade offers tweaks that improve this device, rather than a
wholesale reinvention. And when it comes to the design and build of
the Surface Pro, Microsoft has correctly thought - if it ain't
broke, don't fix it. Sturdy and professional, the almost seamless
frame is uncluttered and functional. The new kickstand is the only
real differentiator, enabling users to angle the screen at a much
more convenient height for desk use.
It's still not the lightest tablet around, particularly when you
add in the weight of the excellent Touch Cover 2 -- a more or less
essential accessory, and a huge upgrade from the original version.
Together with the well designed stylus, the Surface Pro becomes a
responsive and intuitive desktop device.
Surface 2 Tablet
A thin but strong tablet offer from Microsoft, at a great price
considering the considerable improvements from the original
Surface, and the fact that Office is preloaded.
Much like the Surface Pro, this edition of the Surface tablet
effectively fixes a lot of the issues found in its predecessor.
Running Windows 8.1 on its 1.7GHz quad-core Tegra 4 chipset and 2GB
of RAM, the Surface tablet feels fast and powerful. You won't get
any stutters or lags until you fire up some high end games. If the
32GB of storage doesn't sound like enough, you can still load up
more space via the microSD card slot, which accepts up to
Surface 2 has a similar look and feel to its predecessor: big,
sleek and smooth to hold. A notable difference though is the new
color. The chassis is now a pale silver-grey rather than black. At
1.49lbs it's a just a little bit weightier than the iPad 4, but it
also has a bigger screen so who's counting? The Surface is also has
one of the most useful collections of ports around, including a
full-size USB 3 port.
The screen is exceptionally good. Coming in at an indulgent 10.6
inches of HD display (1920 x 1080 resolution), text, images and
movies are crisp and bright. Compared to many of its competitors,
there's also a lot less glare, making this a great travel
For the multimedia lovers out there, the stereo speakers deliver
clear sound at an impressive volume. What's more, the two position
kickstand means this upgraded tablet is much easier to use on a
desk or lap. And the battery life won't let you down: video play
times were coming in at a very impressive 12 hours!
The 1080p cameras are also great, delivering better performance in
lower light than many competitors. And connectivity is strong, with
802.11n WiFi that seems to be able to find more access points than
other tablets. All in all, this tablet is a great pick, both for
those who are already Surface fans and for converts.