Portable devices are becoming ever more powerful, and users are increasingly using them to keep up with news and friends, get work done, and remain entertained. Smartphones and tablets have never been so powerful, and if you're in market for either, it's going to be a fun holiday season.
Whether it's for yourself or someone else, consider this your go-to guide for picking out the perfect tablet or smartphone. We're all about spreading the holiday cheer around here, and if it means sifting through dozens or even hundreds of devices to find the best ones, then so be it. This is what we do, and we'd much rather you spend your time this holiday season with your family and friends than clicking frantically through the web trying to make sense of all the available models. We've already done it, and these are our picks.
Kindle Fire HD ($199)
Is it a tablet? Is it an e-reader? It's the best mixture of both at the moment, and one of the few content-focused tablets that actually strikes a nice balance. It's nimble, fast, and affordable, and while it's best for those who already dabble in Amazon's ecosystem, Android loyalists will also find lots of familiar territory. For the loved one in your life who doesn't want to carry both a tablet and a reader, this is the solution we'd recommend. If you don't care of the Kindle Fire HD's cameras or the app and eBook ecosystem, the Google Nexus 7
would also be a great choice at roughly the same price point.
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity ($500+)
The Transformer Pad Infinity was already a top choice when it came to multifaceted tablets, but now that Jelly Bean is available on it, it's a no-brainer for a holiday pick. It's a tablet at heart, but an attachable keyboard makes it much more of a productivity machine.
From our review
: "The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity offers a level of performance that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 - 20% faster all around, versus the previous generation high-end Transformer Prime. In fact, the Transformer Pad Infinity in many test conditions, especially in terms of graphics performance, is one of the fastest Android tablets we've tested to date. In addition, its battery life actually improved in our light duty web browsing test setup, though your mileage may vary, especially if its rendering more graphics intensive content like HD video or otherwise."
Microsoft Surface RT ($599)
If you're a fan of live tiles, and you're a fan of Windows, you might be a fan of Microsoft's first branded tablet. The Surface RT is a great gift for that busy professional in your life -- that person who longs for a tablet, but needs access to Microsoft Office to get any real work done. At $499, it's a swift and sexy slate, but you'll want to spring for a Touch or Type Cover for the full experience, which adds another $120-$130 to the final price.
Asus Vivo Tab ($500+)
For the sake of variety, Asus has a pretty impressive Windows 8 slate, too. Much like the Transformer line, this unit is available with a snap-on keyboard. The Vivo Tab RT offered a very responsive, fluid and satisfying tablet experience overall. Switching between applications and multitasking in general was very impressive, actually besting or matching virtually any competitive tablet solution on the market currently, in general use. Though there were a few application glitches along the way for Windows RT and the Vivo Tab RT's camera didn't impress us much, overall Windows RT and the NVIDIA Tegra 3-power ASUS Vivo Tab RT is an impressive combination in terms of usability and general performance.
From our review:
Though we weren't able to fully quantify the numbers in dedicated benchmark tests, the ASUS Vivo Tab RT offered a very responsive, fluid and satisfying tablet experience overall. Switching between applications and multitasking in general was very impressive, actually besting or matching virtually any competitive tablet solution on the market currently, in general use. Though there were a few application glitches along the way for Windows RT and the Vivo Tab RT's camera didn't impress us much, overall Windows RT and the NVIDIA Tegra 3-power ASUS Vivo Tab RT is an impressive combination in terms of usability and general performance.
Google Nexus 10 ($399)
As far as 10" slates go, this one just has to be considered. It's a pure Google device, which means that it'll be first in line to get future Android updates. It also ships with Android 4.2 right out of the box, so you'll be gifting someone with the latest and greatest right from the start. It's built by Samsung, and the quality is top-shelf in, both in terms of speed and design. And at $399, it's on the cheaper end of the spectrum when it comes to high-end tablets.