Looking for a large, uber-productive, robust, physical keyboard-boasting and/or stylus-supporting tablet to meet your enterprise needs? The answer to your prayers is only a couple of clicks away. How about a rugged, muscular, almost unbreakable Android slate? We have you covered there, too.
Don’t want much, just ultra-fast LTE connectivity and keeping non-vital expenses to a minimum? Here’s a list of the best inexpensive 4G-capable tabs available stateside. Meanwhile, students and teachers can browse our recommendations for classroom-ready gadgets, and the all-around top budget choices are indexed here.
Talk about something for everyone. Well, not quite everyone. Not yet, as we’ll cater to very particular sets of requirements in the next few weeks. Namely, we plan on rounding up the longest-lasting jumbo-sized Androids, the best tablets for gaming, and the ones that can support your obsessive Netflix binge-watching with the most grace.
We’ll start with the latter, and without further ado, here are the top ten Android tablets for video content playing. I.e., the tabs with the best, highest-resolution, crispest screens. We also have options for (almost) every budget, from $199 to $649:
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 – $649 with 32 GB storage; $748 in 64 GB configuration
Yes, this gargantuan laptop replacement is really that costly. And for the most part, it’s worth every penny. Which doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy it. Unless you absolutely, without a doubt need to have the extra screen real estate compared to 10 inchers.
Porn nature documentaries will feel almost as spellbinding as if you’d watch them in your living room, on a 50-inch 4K TV. Well, not exactly, but you get the point – the large 2,560 x 1,600 pix res Super clear LCD panel is outstanding.
Oh, before we forget, there is a way to score the Note Pro and save a buck – purchase it certified refurbished, at only $369.
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
- $450 in Wi-Fi-limited international version; $400 with contracts and $650 outright in LTE-capable Verizon flavor
We know what you’re thinking, but the Xperia Z2 name inaccurately sends all the wrong signals. This is by no means outdated, although technically, it sounds like it’s two generations behind the times. Still, it’s a tad pricey, given the less-than-stellar 1,920 x 1,200 pixels resolution.
That’s over the Full HD mark, but produces a ppi inferior to the Note Pro, even if Sony’s big guy is a “measly” 10.1 inches in diagonal – 224 vs. 247.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 – $448 in white or bronze
Ah, yes, now we’re talking. Crowned by countless reputable media outlets as the Android tablet with the best display in history, the 10.5-inch Tab S is ironically not the most expensive product on our roster. It’s roughly 73 percent screen (ultra-slim bezel alert), and delivers staggering 288 pixel density.
In comparison, the smaller iPad Air 2 merely touts 264 pixels per inch. And the icing on the cake is the Super AMOLED tech used to manufacture that remarkable 10.5-inch glass. Kevin Spacey has never looked this handsome on a tablet before. Or, you know, Crazy Eyes, whichever way you’re leaning.
Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact – $418 international version
Oh, hello there, our first sub-10 inch contender. Refreshing to see you in the mix, for diversity reasons and more. Yes, this thing is tiny, compared to the GNote Pro, but the 8-inch TFT LCD screen is pixel-packed: 1,920 x 1,200, resulting in 283 ppi. Not too shabby, and if squinting isn’t too big of an inconvenience, we highly recommend the compact, bang-for-buck-tastic Z3.
Google/HTC Nexus 9 – $350 with 16 GB native storage; $430 in 32 GB variant
Not too large, and not too small, the N9 may well hit the sweet spot with its breathtakingly sharp 2,048 x 1,536 pix res 8.9-inch IPS LCD screen. The 4:3 aspect ratio is slightly unorthodox for the Android ecosystem, but if it works for Apple, why wouldn’t it for Google and HTC also?
That said, old habits die hard, and most people unconsciously prefer 16:9 or so content players. Good thing the N9 is affordable, and has a slew of other things going for it besides video friendliness – Tegra K1 punch, 2 GB RAM, 6,700 mAh battery juice, etc., etc.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 – $348 in white; $400 in bronze
Reasonably priced, at least in white, Super AMOLED, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, 359 (!!!) ppi density. Need I say more? Well, perhaps the octa-core Exynos chip and 3 GB RAM will help seal the deal, ensuring 2K movies and clips are shown glitch and stutter-free. Did we mention size isn’t everything? The 8.4-inch Tab S is ultimate proof.
Nvidia Shield Tablet
LTE on the cheap is Shield’s number one forte, then you have an interface designed with gamers in mind, stylus support and, last, an above-average 1,920 x 1,200 8-inch touchscreen sandwiched between a pair of slightly too thick horizontal bezels.
PPI? A cool 283. Graphics processing unit? A powerhouse 192-core (!!!) Kepler, meant to improve video quality in gaming first and foremost, but good for YouTube and Netflix optimizations as well.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 – $299 brand new; $220 certified refurbished
Slightly larger than the Shield, the 8.4-inch Tab Pro makes a lot more sense as a multimedia playing purchase for film buffs, even if it’s not as colorful and vibrant as its Tab S sibling. No Super AMOLED love here ergo, but the impressive 2,560 x 1,600 resolution remains impressive. And the quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU can breezily play Full HD+ vids.
LG G Pad 8.3 – $280 Wi-Fi-only; $130 and up with Verizon LTE
In desperate need of a high-end, high-res refresh, the G Pad family relies on the aging 2013 8.3-inch model for a spot under the video-friendly sun. But really, the only way the 1,920 x 1,200 slate can be deemed a sensible buy is, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, when acquired on-contract at Verizon.
No, the IPS LCD panel ain’t half bad, despite its advanced age, but the quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor can hardly keep up with content streaming advancements. Bottom line, go cheap or look away.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 – $199 (discounted from $239)
How in the world can a 7-inch tablet ever be a top-shelf entertainment-centric option? Simple, you take 1,920 x 1,200 resolution, generate 323 ppi, add 100 percent sRGB color accuracy on top, and wrap everything with a nice Amazon Prime Instant Video bow.
Sure, nothing makes up for the cramped viewing surface, but as long as you’re young, and your eyesight as dependable as an eagle’s, you shouldn’t let anything stop you from procuring the best all-around sub-$200 Android-based slate.
Our work here is done, and so it’s time to pass the mic over to you, our dear, demanding readers. Did we forget your video-watching favorite? If not, which of the nominated ten is the best of the best?
- Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 – $649 with 32 GB storage; $748 in 64 GB configuration
- Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 – $448 in white or bronze
- Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact – $418 international version
- Google/HTC Nexus 9 – $350 with 16 GB native storage; $430 in 32 GB variant
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 – $348 in white; $400 in bronze
- Nvidia Shield Tablet
- Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 – $299 brand new; $220 certified refurbished
- LG G Pad 8.3 – $280 Wi-Fi-only; $130 and up with Verizon LTE
- Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 – $199 (discounted from $239)