'What is the best tablet of 2012?' is a question that has got more and more interesting as the year has progressed. Back in the early months of the year it looked as if 2012 would be another year that promised so much, but ultimately failed to delvier. Then all of a sudden the tablet market exploded.
This is where we take a look back at all the tablets that have come through PC Advisor's door this year - and there has been a lot of them - determining what the best tablet of 2012 actually is became a very tricky task.
Best tablets of 2012
10) Microsoft Surface RT
The Surface RT is Microsoft's first own-brand tablet running on its Windows RT operating system. The real appeal of this tablet is it fully compatible USB slots and amazing clip-on keyboard that pretty much turns it into a laptop.
Our Verdict: The Surface RT is a very well built and cleverly designed tablet. There's decent hardware on offer and Windows RT runs smoothly but at present a lack of decent Modern UI apps is a big issue.
9) Barnes & Noble Nook HD
The Nook HD is a cheap 7 inch tablet with a stunning HD screen, its only downside is the lack of UK-specific content.
Our Verdict: We can hardly find fault with the hardware, but UK-specific content - including magazines, newspapers, books and apps - is sorely lacking. Much is promised, but you're taking a risk if you jump in and buy a Nook HD right now. As with the Kindle Fire HD, the Nook HD will be good option for anyone wanting something that's easy to use, and there's the bonus of user profiles as well. However, if you don't want to be completely locked in to the Nook store, you're better off with a Nexus 7 at this price.
8) Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
With pen input and a highly customized version of Android 4.0, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 distinguishes itself in a crowded market.
Our Verdict: Granted, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 lacks the one competitive spec that other top-tier tablets—specifically the Acer Iconia Tab A700, Apple iPad, and Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700—have at the same or lesser price. Samsung's rendering enhancements help lessen the sting of this omission somewhat, but the difference is clear, particularly with text-heavy content. But, when you factor in the handy stowaway S Pen and Samsung's pen-optimized software, and suddenly the Note 10.1 gets an edge all its own. Throw in the Galaxy Note 10.1 Wi-Fi tablet's solid performance, and the Note 10.1 is squarely back in the mix.
7) Leapfrog LeapPad 2
The Leapfrog LeapPad 2 is a great tablet for kids, stuffed with fun and educational games and apps for children.
Our Verdict: We loved the original Leapfrog LeapPad Explorer tablet for kids, and the LeapPad2 is a great update – with improved hardware and a bunch of new games and educational and creative apps. It's not a toy, it's a proper little tablet that boasts access to over 300 apps. Although a lot less sophisticated than an iPad children didn’t seem to compare it badly, seeing it as another type of gadget altogether. It’s a better size for children than the iPad, and while the games and apps aren’t as slick they capture the child’s imagination just as well. Cheaper and more robust than adult tablets the LeapPad 2 is a definite hit with younger kids (aged 3-7).
6) Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700
The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 raises the bar for Android tablet performance and design.
Our Verdict: The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 takes over from its predecessor as the top Android tablet available. You get high performance mixed with high style, and you don't have to make a lot of sacrifices to get both. Other tablets - including the Prime, which is expected to drop in price once this model gets into the market - may provide better value, but no other Android tablet will give you the full package that the Infinity does.
5) Amazon Kindle Fire HD
The Kindle Fire HD is the first Amazon tablet available in the UK. With its 7in LCD screen, dual-core processor and tempting price, it appears a bargain.
If you're after a 7in tablet that's very easy to use, you don't need GPS and don't want to stretch your budget to £200, the Kindle Fire HD is a good buy. However, although Google's Nexus 7 has half the storage for the same price, it's more versatile and has a better range of apps and games and is faster, too.
4) Google Nexus 10
The Google Nexus 10 is Google's larger flagship Android tablet. Like all recent Google Nexus devices, the real appeal of the tablet is its price. You won't find another tablet with the Nexus 10's specs for such a cheap price.
Our Verdict: The Nexus 10 is easily the best 10in Android tablet we've seen to date. It has a fantastic screen, decent cameras and software features all for a more than reasonable price. Those looking for an alternative to the full-sized iPad needn't look any further.
3) iPad mini
Apple has finally made its move into the smaller tablet market with the iPad mini. The iPad mini has a 7.9in screen and many, but not all, of the features that the 9.7in iPad has.
Our Verdict: The iPad mini is a premium small tablet, with a price to match. It's a shame Apple couldn't have included a Retina screen and newer processor - expect the next iPad mini to get those updates. This Wi-Fi only model also lacks GPS. It's not cheap by any stretch, especially if you want more storage spare or the 3G/4G cellular version, but it's great value compared to a full-size iPad. You can save £80 by buying a Nexus 7, which has double the storage, GPS and NFC, but if you must have an iDevice, it won't disappoint.
2) Google Nexus 7
The Nexus 7 is Google's first attempt at an own-brand tablet. It's price is so appealing that has become a bit of a game changer.
Our Verdict: Google has set a new standard for budget tablets with the Nexus 7. It's an unbelievably well equipped device for such an affordable price. The silky smooth performance and high resolution IPS screen are the highlights for us. If you're looking for a tablet under £200 then look no further than the Nexus 7.
1) iPad 4
The iPad is still the king of the tablets, both in terms of look and power. It's not as cheap as some of the Androids, but you really do get what you pay for here.
Our Verdict: Current iPad 3 owners needn't bother upgrading unless you desperately want 4G connectivity. For everyone else, the iPad 4 is the quickest iPad yet and a solid choice for a tablet in which we can barely find fault.