Tablets Worth Buying This 2016 Holiday Season

By on October 18, 2016

2016-guide

While demand for tablets has waned over the past few years, that doesn’t mean a tablet isn’t a great gift! With a few generations into product cycles, many consumers are looking to replace older tablets. This guide will help you cut through the noise and find exactly what you should buy for your family and/or friends (or yourself!) this year.

Buy This for Someone Who Won’t Shut Up about Apple: iPad Air 2 / iPad Mini 4

While the iPad Pro stole the show at Apple’s conference in 2015, it will still brutalize your wallet at a $599 starting price point for the 9.7-inch model and $799 for the larger screen. You are much better off going with nearly anything else in the iPad line. We recommend the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 4, both which will see solid discounts this holiday. We also recommend passing on the original iPad Air and sacrifice an inch of screen size to pick up the feature-loaded Mini 4 for the same MSRP.

MSRP (32GB model): $399 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $300

Apple-iPad-Air-2

  • Pros: Performance/speed has improved significantly due to improved A8X processor. Thinner, lighter design. Includes Touch ID fingerprint sensor and anti-reflective screen.
  • Cons: Audio playback with the built-in speakers is slightly worse than last year’s model.

Search Ben’s for iPad Air 2 Deals

Buy This for Someone Who Won’t Shut Up About Android: Google Pixel C

Definitely a gorgeous tablet due to the high resolution, 10.2-inch screen, the Pixel C tablet was announced at the end of 2015 in response to the iPad Pro. Replacing the Nexus 9, the Pixel C comes with the NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor, Android 7.0 and a native multi-window display feature. The one downside is that the table is a bit pricey at a $499 MSRP.

MSRP: $499 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a

pixel-c

  • Pros: High resolution 2560 x 1800 display. Speedy performance.
  • Cons: Somewhat heavy. Apps typically hit iOS before launching on Android 7.0.

Search Ben’s for Pixel C Deals

Buy This for an Office Drone Workaholic: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Yes, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 is still the flagship, but the price tag is way up in the clouds at a $899 starting point. The Surface Pro 3 received killer reviews over the last year and the price is still falling! It’s also compatible with both the Surface 4 Pro Type Cover and the new pen.

MSRP (128GB model): $999 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $480

Microsoft-Surface-Pro-3

  • Pros: Bright 12-inch display (2160 x 1440 resolution), specs are completely customizable, Dolby Audio, microSD card reader, awesome for productivity, solid battery life.
  • Cons: Still expensive for a productivity device, many laptops offer more complete options, Windows Store still lags behind iOS and Android.

Search Ben’s for Surface Pro Deals

Buy This for a Little Whippersnapper: Amazon Fire HD 7 Kids Edition

Not only is the Fire 7 an awesome bargain tablet, Amazon has the strongest parental controls of all regular tablets. While the LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi are also solid picks for this category, the Fire HD 7 Kid’s edition edges out the competition with a 2-year guarantee that replaces the tablet no matter what happened as well as 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited included.

MSRP: $99 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $70

amazon-fire-kids-edition

  • Pros: Includes streaming video apps like Netflix. Tons of educational apps. Durable design. Amazing parental controls. Includes microSD card (128 GB). Best warranty for parents.
  • Cons: Only includes 3GB of usable storage (8GB total), Limited battery life offers three to four hours of video / games. Resolution not as impressive as other tablets.

Search Ben’s for Amazon Fire Kids Deals

Buy This for an Video Game Addict: NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet

Providing killer graphics performance at a competitive price point, NVIDIA’s SHIELD tablet will do an admirable job of running relatively recent games and handle popular MMORPGs. While a Surface Pro 3 may be a better choice for someone who wants to play games and be productive, the SHIELD tablet is vastly more affordable for gamers.

MSRP (16GB model): $199 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $185

shield-tablet-controller

  • Pros: Uses the NVIDIA Tegra K1 2.2 GHz Processor. Excellent 1900 x 1200 display. Includes expandable micro SD card storage up to 128GB. Can stream games from NVIDIA PCs.
  • Cons: Screen brightness can suffer in direct light. Battery life fades quickly. Requires an additional $60 controller purchase to get the full gaming experience.

Search Ben’s for NVIDIA SHIELD Deals

Buy This if You are on a Budget: Dragon Touch X10

Blowing out performance at the budget price point, the Dragon Touch X10 is the best tablet that you have never heard of. Sporting a octa-core CPU that runs up to 2.0 GHz as well as a 10-inch screen with 1366×768 resolution, the X10 tablet offers an amazing 178 degree viewing angle. It’s the ideal tablet for watching Netflix or other streaming video services.

MSRP: $125  Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a

Dragon Touch X10

  • Pros: Includes a MicroSD slot to expand the memory up to 64GB, snappy performance for budget tablet due to advanced processor.
  • Cons: Limited to 720p, no additional screen sizes, doesn’t run the latest version of Android.

Check Amazon for Dragon Touch X10 Price

About Mike Flacy

By day, I'm the Editor-in-Chief for The CheckOut in addition to being the content manager for Steve's Digicams and High-Def Digest. During my free time, I love to write about pop culture, home theater, digital photography, social media, mobile technology and cool gadgets!

8 Comments

  1. Trasina McGahey

    November 11, 2014 at 10:07 am

    With so many tablets out there it’s good to know which are best. I personally love my Kindle HD7 and my recommendation goes to that!

  2. Bluescreen

    November 10, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    To expand storage on an android without an SD slot:
    get a USBOTG adaptor and a USB stick (format it in FAT32, or ES File Explorer won’t see it)
    Install ES file Explorer (no need to root your tablet!)
    plug it in and open the app, you should see the USB drive in there.
    If it doesn’t work you spent a couple of $$ for an OTG device (you can still use it to connect a USB mouse and keyboard), and installed ES file explorer which is a very nice app anyway.

  3. Sherry

    November 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Great breakdown of the options out there. Thanks!

  4. AC

    November 14, 2013 at 11:42 am

    What about the Kurio for kids? iPads are too expensive. My daughter has the leap pad, but we have to buy games for it.

    • Mode1Bravo

      November 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      What is wrong with an iPAD Mini? Those are totally affordable and feature the entire iLife and iWork suite of software for free! You can’t get that type of value on any of the other tablets. iPad is by far the best tablet money can buy, whether it’s the iPad 2, iPad Mini, or iPad Air. I wouldn’t get anything else.

      • Bob

        November 18, 2016 at 9:28 am

        The trouble with iPad for a lot of us is once you enter the Apple ecosystem, you’re stuck with expensive devices. If my kid drops his Android phone, he can have a $20 one to get by on until he’s saved up for something good. No such thing with iOS phones/tablets.

  5. David

    November 4, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    What about the tablet for the artist that wants to draw? A windows tablet or a Samsung Note or an ipad with the new Wacom digitizer pen?

    • Nirav

      November 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      @David, I draw on my surface pro a lot. It’s got a wacom digitizer built in and comes with the pen. Its extremely accurate.

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