Hot Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Tablets, Smartphones, Laptops, and Systems

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Tablet Tidings To You

It's hard to believe this year is nearly over. It feels as if our holiday gift guides are being assembled at an ever more rapid pace. Perhaps that has to do with the non-stop innovation in the tech sector, and our insatiable desire for ever-advancing product development. Each year, the leaps in processing power and graphics performance, in addition to the miniaturization and integration of advanced technologies, seems to constantly push the envelope, which means that there are almost always plenty of suitable replacements for our favorite gadgets and gizmos. And if you're on the hunt for gifts for a special someone, we think we've got you covered.

From budget products to flagship devices, your options have never been so diverse--or powerful. We’ve assembled our top picks in the pages here, and we hope you'll add your own recommendation in the comments below to help your fellow readers!

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA: from $199+

ASUS ZenPad S 8.0

The ZenPad S 8.0 didn't turn on the jets and fly through our benchmarks at breakneck speeds, though overall, it did a decent job in most tests. ASUS has a history of building Android tablets with solid specs for the money (like the MeMO Pad, and Nexus 7) and the ZenPad S 8.0 is yet another example. It has a really nice looking display with a 2048x1536 resolution, a fair bit of power provided by an Intel Atom Z3580 processor and 4GB of RAM, and even a newfangled (and reversible) USB Type-C port. ASUS ships the ZenPad S 8.0 with Android 5.0 Lollipop wrapped in its ZenUI, which itself is fairly lightweight and easy to navigate as far as Android UXes go. Read our review here.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4: from $899+

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
It’s almost as if Microsoft was reading our wish list for the tablet/convertible, as it has incorporated sixth generation Skylake-based Intel Core processors, up to 16GB of RAM and up to a 1TB solid-state drive (SSD). Microsoft has also made the device thinner and lighter. There’s also a new Type Cover that includes redesigned keys, which improve the experience and help make it Microsoft’s thinnest Surface keyboard yet. The keyboard cover also features a 40 percent larger glass trackpad and an integrated fingerprint reader which supports Windows Hello.

Dell Venue 10 7000: from $499+

Dell Venue 10 7000 620px

In many ways, the Venue 10 7000 is the tablet that road warriors have been waiting for. It's powerful enough to handle most office-type productivity chores, yet nimble enough to be easily used as an e-book reader or a multimedia consumption device. Yes, the $500 base price point is high, but you get a lot for your money. For casual computer users, you may even find enough here to serve as a laptop replacement.  The 2.3GHz quad-core Atom processor, paired with 2GB of RAM and 16GB or 32GB of eMMC flash storage, makes for a potent tablet. Toss in a magnetic keyboard/trackpad attachment, and it's even more functional. Read our review here.


iPad Air 2: from $458+

Apple iPad Air 2

For those seeking a powerful, all-around tablet, Apple's iPad Air 2 is still an excellent choice. Though the iPad Pro may be more suitable for the road warriots in the house, the Air 2 provides a solid mix of power, app support, portability, and battery life. iOS 9 has given this slate even more potential, with multi-screen app support and a host of great continuity features for those who use Macs. Read our review here.

HP Spectre x2: from $899+
HP Spectra X2

HP is the latest to take a stab at a “tablet with a kickstand” with its Spectre x2. You won’t find high-powered Core i5 or Core i7 processors in the Spectre x2; instead, you’ll discover a range of power-sipping Core m3, m5, and m7 processors which help contribute to its fanless design and long battery life. The 12-inch tablet has a 1920x1280 display which is surrounded by plenty of bezel and you’ll have your choice of either 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and tp to a 512GB SSD. Perhaps the most interesting that about the Spectre x2 is its kickstand, which can be extended with the slide of a switch on the side of the tablet. 

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi 2-in-1: from $500+

ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi

After spending time with the Chi T300, we feel this machine is a very good option for a user who wants both an ultraportable notebook and a tablet without having to carry two devices. This system is very capable of executing everyday tasks such as browsing the web, editing documents, listening to music, and other standard computing tasks. Overall performance of this system was solid at its price point and its benchmark scores reflected this. Read our review here.

NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet: From $199
NVIDIA Shield Tablet
NVIDIA set out to build the best tablet for mobile gamers with the SHIELD Tablet, and that’s just what they did in our opinion. But to build a good gaming tablet, the company first had to build a good general-purpose tablet. The build quality on the SHIELD tablet is top notch; the device is rigid, it looks great, and it feels good in the hand. The screen is also very good, the front-firing speakers sound great (for a tablet) and the overall experience is excellent. We understand why many tablet manufacturers customize Android on their devices, and dig some of the unique features available on other products, but we also like the clean, unmolested versions of Android NVIDIA puts out. Plus, the new low price makes the SHIELD Tablet even more attractive. Read our review here.

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