The Five Best Android Tablets Reviewed

Which one suits your needs?

Google Nexus 7 Tablet 2nd Gen

Excellent value and superb performance combine to make the Google Nexus 7 Staples' current Android tablet of choice. With its razor-sharp, uber-bright screen and compact, lightweight design, the Nexus 7 is the complete package.

Measuring just 4.5" x 7.8" and 0.34" thick, the Nexus 7 is the perfect tablet for use on-the-go. At a measly 0.64 pounds, it's the lightest tablet to date, and fits as comfortably in one hand as any smartphone. Its design is sleek, simple and minimalist: all black, with a high-gloss Gorilla glass front, curving around to a matte plastic back. The tablet's 1.2 megapixel front and 5 megapixel rear cameras are discreetly incorporated, as are the surround sound speakers.

One of the Nexus 7's biggest selling points is its first-rate screen, which features a staggering 323 ppi, so images are razor sharp and viewing angles are impressive. Its excellent brightness also means it can even cope admirably outdoors, whether you're gaming or sharing videos with friends. The tablet incorporates SlimPort, which allows you to use the Micro-USB port as an HDMI port via a $30 adapter.

Specs include a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, responsible for the tablet's fast, responsive performance; an Adreno 320 400 MHz graphics card, for sharp, smooth game play; a 3950 mAh battery life, which equates to roughly 10 hours of standard use; and 16GB of storage.

With regards to user experience, the Nexus 7 comes equipped with the easy-to-navigate and intuitive Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, which features Multi-User Restricted Profiles – great for ensuring kids browse safely – and OpenGL ES 3.0, which significantly improves polygonal graphics.

Overall, whether you're using it for home, school or the office, the Google Nexus 7 offers premier performance. This, coupled with its reasonable price, make it difficult to leave on the shelf.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Tablet

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 is a top-notch tablet, with a bright, colorful screen, comfortable design and intuitive user interface.

Measuring 4.8" x 8.2", the Galaxy Tab 3 is compact and slim and fits comfortably in the palm of one hand. Again, at just .7 pounds it's extremely lightweight, only marginally heavier than the Nexus. This tablet features a simple and straightforward design, with a 7", 189 ppi Multi Touch Capacitive LCD screen and well-calibrated home, menu and back buttons on the bottom bezel, which together provide quick access to options like search, settings and recently used apps. Other key features include a 1.3 megapixel front and 5 megapixel rear camera, Dolby Surround speakers and a microSD port – perfect for expanding the tablet's 16GB of storage.

Where the Samsung Tab 3 stands apart from its competition is in its operating system, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, which works quickly and smoothly and offers excellent apps and media through Google Play. The user experience is further boosted with the integration of Samsung’s TouchWiz UI skin, which helps make the tablet more accessible to novice users.

Features include display optimization options such as Reading Mode, which adjusts the screen to prevent eye strain, Dual View for easy multitasking, and Pop-up Video, which lets you watch a movie while performing other small tasks. Together, these features contribute to considerably improved convenience.

When it comes to multimedia, the WatchON feature is another unique benefit of the Galaxy Tab 3 – an easy to setup remote control/TV guide component that allows you to search for programs and play content on your TV with one click.

Spec wise, the Samsung Tab 3 houses a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and a 4000mAh battery, which equates to up to 7 hours of standard use.

All in all, this is a great little tablet with some extremely handy features, if at a slightly heftier price tag.

KOBO Arc 7 Tablet

The KOBO Arc 7 epitomizes the evolution of the eReader. You can be sure that this stylish and durable device is equal to its tablet competitors when it comes to core performance and value.

The KOBO Arc 7 measures 7.4" by 4.7" and weighs just under 0.8lb, so it’s one of the heavier Android tablets on the market. The 7", 215 ppi capacitive touch display has a 1280 x 800 HD resolution and an extra-wide viewing angle. At 0.5" thick and featuring interchangeable back covers, there are many reasons why this may be an appealing choice for younger (or clumsy) users.

With regard to hardware, the KOBO Arc performs admirably against its competitors. Specs include a 1.5 GHz dual core processor, 16GB storage, and a 4200mAh battery for up to 10 hours of use. It also features a microSD port – great for expanding memory.

The KOBO Arc 7 again runs Android 4.1, but with a customized UI that offers users a lot of great features. The KOBO homepage is an extremely user-friendly dashboard that’s tailored particularly to readers, with KOBO Reading Life giving users the opportunity to curate collections and switch to Reading Mode to minimize interruptions from social alerts. Those who'd rather a straightforward tablet experience, however, can access their favorite Android apps with one touch, and the Arc 7 comes preloaded with a wide range of social, productivity and multimedia apps such as Skype and Gmail, so it’s ready to go as soon as you get it out of the box.

Although the Arc 7 only features one front facing 0.3 megapixel camera and mono speaker, the price tag more than makes up for this minor downfall. For email, browsing, reading and basic mobile multimedia use, it's an excellent tablet for first-time users.

HP Slate 7 Tablet

The HP Slate 7 is an excellent value. Perfect for beginners, this straightforward, easy-to-use Android tablet fulfils all the needs of most tablet users – without breaking the bank.

Sturdier than other Android tablets (measuring 4.7" x 7.4", and weighing in at just over 0.8lb), the Slate 7 has a rubberized grey back and stainless steel frame, making it both comfortable to hold and durable at the same time.

This tablet's unique selling point is its audio capabilities: it comes equipped with USP Embedded Beats Audio for excellent sound quality, especially when used with earbuds and headphones. The device also incorporates a microSD card to enable users to boost its 8gb storage – great for saving music, films or photos taken on the 720p HD front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, which features Autofocus, Face detection with Face Unlock. There is also a convenient 3 megapixel rear camera. Best of all, the Slate 7 is Skype Certified, so it's great for chatting to friends or family.

Feature- wise, the Slate 7 runs on the excellent Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS. The only HP added feature is Beats Audio, so users can listen to all of their favorite tracks while they browse with Google Chrome, enjoy the wide array of pre-loaded apps, or take advantage of useful features like wireless printing.

The Slate's Arm A9 Dual Core 1.6GHZ processor is plenty for this tablet, which also supports integrated Bluetooth. The one cell 13.4WHr 2 Ah lithium-ion battery offers 5 hours of video playback.

Although the Slate 7 lacks some of the features available on some of the more expensive Android tabs, all in all, the Slate 7 is a good entry-level tablet that's perfect for the everyday user, at an extremely affordable price.

Toshiba Excite Pure

The Toshiba Excite Pure is an excellent budget tablet that stands out for its ThinkFree Office Mobile app. Whether it's for word processing, data management or general productivity tasks, the Excite Pure offers fantastic value for the more business-minded user.

The Excite Pure stands out from the crowd with its clean, modern design. It's a sturdy device, quite large compared to the others reviewed here, but this can be overlooked due to its more robust capabilities. It measures 10.3" x 7", and features a textured back for extra grip. At 1.39lb it's quite heavy for a tablet, but can be used easily when rested on a lap or other surface.

The screen is large and features a high-res, AutoBrite HD display. This, coupled with its 1.2 megapixel front facing camera with dual mic, make it great for video calls – perfect when you can't make it into the office.

The Excite Pure's hardware is mid-range. A NVIDIA Tegra 3 mobile quad-core processing allows for smooth multitasking and the 32GB memory, while sufficient, can be expanded with microSD via the built in port. The tablet also features a micro HDMI port to extend the display if need be – excellent for sharing presentations at school or work. With a 25Wh capacity battery, you need not worry about the Excite Pure running out of battery – it offers 9.5 hours of video playback.

But again, it's the software that sells the Excite Pure. The ThinkFree Office Mobile for Android productivity app, which allows users to create Microsoft Office compatible documents, is extremely useful for school or office use. When used with the Toshiba Bluetooth keyboard cover and stand, the Excite Pure offers laptop functionality.

All in all, the Excite Pure is an excellent business tool, perfect for getting the job done.