With displays of eight inches or larger, full–sized tablets, such as those in our tablets review, offer an expanse of screen that enhances almost any tablet app or activity. But if portability and low price are paramount, you might instead consider buying a mini tablet. Performance for the best small tablets is often on a par with the best bigger models, and downsizing can easily save you $100 or more.
Here’s a rundown of five of the best small tablets on the market, as identified by our partners at Laptopmag.com. All use the Android operating system, save for the Apple model, which uses the company’s iOS 7 operating system, and the Kindle tablet, which uses Amazon’s proprietary operating system. Prices and storage capacity are listed for the version that Laptop tested; most models are also available in higher capacities for higher prices.
1. Apple iPad mini with Retina Display
$399 (16 GB), 7-inch screen
The first-generation iPad mini shrunk Apple’s popular full-size tablet but didn’t perform to the same high level as the best big tablets. By contrast, the second-generation iPad mini allows you to have it all. As the review from Laptop puts it:
“Overall, [this] is the best midsize tablet on the market. The iPad mini with Retina Display boasts the sharpest screen in its class, a powerful A7 chip and epic battery life -- plus the best app selection -- all in a compact and elegant design.
2. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
$229 (16 GB), 7-inch screen
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets are designed to allow easy access to a large amount of content, including such Amazon offerings as Kindle books and Amazon Instant Video. Here’s Laptop’s take on this newest small Kindle Fire:
“The increasing number of very good sub-$200 tablets is making it harder to justify the premium for more expensive devices such as the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX. Nevertheless, this $229 (for base model) device is a fantastic value. You get a superior HD display for enjoying movies and games, along with best-in-class performance in a sleeker design.”
3. Google Nexus 7
$269 (32 GB), 7-inch screen
In addition to its search engine and other offerings, Google also makes tablets—and very good ones at that, including the small Nexus 7. Here’s the bottom line from Laptop's review:
“The market for 7-inch Android tablets is flooded with dozens of inexpensive devices that cost less than $200. Some of these slates are very good, too. But the new Google Nexus 7 tablet is well worth the slight splurge. Not only is it the thinnest and lightest slate with this screen size, it's the most powerful, too, and boasts a high-definition screen and stereo speakers.”
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 8
$229 (16 GB), 8-inch screen
Samsung’s Galaxy Note brand line spans both smartphones and tablets, and models come with a stylus that allows you to write on the screen. This Note lies in the middle of the size range for the brand line. Here’s Laptop’s bottom line on this tablet, from its review:
“With a design that's optimal for scribbling on the go, deep pen support, a bright and colorful screen and loads of powerful preloaded software, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is the best note-taking tablet on the market. [I]f you're willing to pay a premium for a pen-enabled tablet, the Galaxy Note 8.0 is the slate for you.”
5. ASUS MeMO Pad HD7
$149 (16 GB), 7-inch screen
This low-priced tablet not only exemplifies how inexpensive smaller tablets have become, but how you needn’t sacrifice performance or features by choosing a model with a sub-8-inch screen. As Laptop says in its review:
“With a gorgeous screen, strong battery life, performance that's good enough for real gaming and a ton of helpful software, the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 looks and feels like it should cost a lot more than its budget $149 price. [T]his is not only the leading tablet under $200, but one of the best you can purchase at any price.”