Ranking the best large Android tablets might seem odd with mere hours left until IFA 2013’s official kick-off. After all, even though 10-inchers are no longer the hottest things in town, they’re still deemed fairly important for the tablet businesses of OEMs such as Sony, Samsung, Asus, Acer and so on and so forth.
In other words, odds are the 10-inch slate class will be turned upside down by the IFA unveilings. But will it really? The new Nexus 10 is unlikely to make any sort of cameo appearance in Berlin, Samsung seems to have set its sights higher, Sony looks mostly focused on the Xperia Z1 and Acer has already brought to light the Iconia A3, which is nothing special.
That only leaves Asus with an ace or two up its sleeve, but even if the new Transformer Pad turns out to be spectacular, it’s unlikely to actually go up for sale earlier than next month. So, you see, if you want a 10-inch Android and you want it now, these are your top five choices and will remain so for the foreseeable future:
5. Asus Transformer Pad TF300T
Tablet/laptop hybrids haven’t taken off as some predicted, both in the Android décor and in the Windows world, but I highly doubt there aren’t people out there that get the benefits of owning a gadget like the TF300T.
Especially if you’re a student or always-on-the-move professional, there’s nothing cooler than having both a portable, sleek tab and full-sized, fully functional notebook at your disposal. Or, you know, close enough, as the Transformer Pad is a little cramped when used along with its keyboard dock.
And forget about paying an arm and a leg for a 2-in-1 device, as this particular hybrid costs around 300 bucks nowadays with 32 GB of internal storage, plus $100 give or take for the docking station. $400 for the entire ensemble? Dayum, that’s cheap.
But let us talk about specs for a second too, which of course are not exactly high-end material… anymore. Then again, they’re not entry-level either, including a snazzy quad-core Tegra 3 CPU, 1,280 x 800 pix res IPS panel, 1 GB RAM, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and… 8 MP rear camera. Not too shabby, eh?
4. Asus Transformer Pad Infinity 700
The 700 works essentially the same as the 300, it also shares a number of design elements, but it clearly ups the ante when it comes to raw performance and display crispness. Not to mention it rocks a much sturdier, more elegant exterior, with aluminum all over the chassis, plus it’s a lot thinner (8.5 vs. 9.9 mm) and lighter (598 vs. 635 grams).
The overall piece de resistance is definitely the 1,920 x 1,200 pixels resolution Super IPS+ LCD screen, though my guess is Asus isn’t ashamed with Infinity’s 1.6 GHz quad-core SoC, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean or 8 MP camera either.
On the not so bright side, the 700 is much pricier than its “cousin”, going for $420 with 32 GB of on-board memory sans the optional keyboard dock. Ouch!
3. Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
This is a much more conventional tab, in that it can’t seamlessly transform into a mini-laptop, but in a way it’s also focused on functionality and productivity first and foremost, courtesy of its S Pen support and the unique apps that go with it.
One big flaw of the Note 10.1 is that it doesn’t run Android 4.2… yet, although 4.1 is really not that bad. The quality-pricing ratio is a little off as well, since Sammy’s 10-incher sports a fairly modest 1,280 x 800 display and still costs a whopping $450 in a 16 GB flavor.
On the whole though, the Exynos quad-core CPU, 2 GB RAM and massive 7,000 mAh battery should make the Note 10.1 worth your while… and hard-earned money.
2. Sony Xperia Tablet Z
I wanted to rank the Tablet Z at number one, I really did, but as much as the design and hardware leave me breathless, the thing is too darn expensive. $500 with 16 GB of storage? Come on, Sony, you can do better than that.
Aside from the pricing, the Z has two big flaws in my eyes. It packs a 6,000 mAh battery, which I’m afraid is petite, and a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU that has aged fairly well, but, unlike the Tegra 3, has the disadvantage of being followed by two outstanding chips – the S600 and S800.
Other than that, the design is flawless, you get water and dust protection, which is really unique, the 1,920 x 1,200 display is mind-blowingly crisp, multitasking is a breeze courtesy of 2 GB RAM and there’s even a high-res 8.1 MP camera slapped on the slate’s back.
1. Samsung/Google Nexus 10
Who needs an iPad when the biggest, fanciest Nexus device ever can be had for just 350 bucks, or two thirds of the price of Apple’s leading tab?
And no, the N10 is not only about affordability, running silky smooth software (aka Android 4.3) with no ugly skins on top, plus boasting the most incredible display ever seen on an Android – a Super PLS panel with 2,560 x 1,600 pixels resolution and 299 ppi pixel density.
True, the dual-core Exynos 5250 CPU inside the tab is likely no match for Apple’s A6X when it comes to raw speed, but the 9,000 mAh battery, splendid design, 2 GB RAM and wide array of connectivity options more than make up for it.
Honestly now, don’t you feel a little guilty for ripping Google off when you purchase such an outstanding piece of technology for a more than modest $350? I know I would…
And that’s a wrap, ladies and gents, but be sure to hit back at us with your own personal top five and any future potential contenders you can think of. The floor is all yours.