Tablets Worth Buying This 2015 Holiday Season
While demand for tablets has waned over the last 18 months, 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
While the iPad Pro stole the show at Apple’s conference in September, it will also brutalize your wallet at a $799 starting price point. You are much better off going with nearly anything else in the iPad line. We recommend the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 2, 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 (16GB model): $499 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $350
- Pros: Performance/speed has improved significantly due to improved A8X processor. Thinner, lighter design. Includes Touch ID fingerprint sensor and anti-reflective screen.
- Cons: It’s still expensive starting at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, ranging up to $829 for the 128GB LTE model. Audio playback with the built-in speakers is slightly worse than last year’s model.
Buy This for Someone Who Won’t Shut Up About Android: Google Nexus 9
Definitely a gorgeous tablet due to the high resolution 8.9-inch screen, the Nexus 9 tablet was Google’s 2014 response to Apple’s iPad Air 2. The Nexus 9 has reigned as the Android champ all year, making it a better buy than the $500 Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7″ or Sony’s $600 Xperia Z4. If looking for a slightly smaller screen, Dell’s Venue 8 7000 is a fantastic option at a $349 MSRP.
MSRP: $399 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $299
Buy This for an Amazon Prime Member: Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch
Definitely a killer pick for anyone who’s invested in the Amazon ecosystem of books, movies and music, the 8.9-inch model of the Kindle Fire HDX line has been well-received by the press and community at large. Users will be able to access Amazon Instant Video, free books from the Kindle Lending library, streaming music from Prime Music and unlimited photo storage from Prime Photos. There’s also a newer 64GB model with a $480 MSRP ($300 when on sale).
MSRP (16GB model): $349 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $224
- Pros: Awesome 2560 x 1600 resolution. Competitive price. Speedy 2.2GHz quad-core processor. Dolby Atmos Certified. 24×7 video chat tech support with Mayday button. Best parental controls.
- Cons: Content is limited to the Amazon ecosystem. No microSD card slot. App support still isn’t as deep as Google Play or Apple. Ad removal still costs $15.
Buy This for an Office Drone Workaholic: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Yes, Microsoft just announced the Surface Pro 4, 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 falling! It’s also upgradable to Windows 10 for free and is compatible with both the Surface 4 Pro Type Cover and the new pen.
MSRP (64GB model): $799 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $600
- 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.
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: $99
- 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.
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 more affordable for gamers. Be aware that NVIDIA’s SHIELD 2 tablet is expected to come out soon, hopefully improving on the battery life.
MSRP (16GB model): $299 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $270
- Pros: Uses the NVIDIA Tegra K1 2.2 GHz Processor. Excellent 1900 x 1200 display. Includes expandable micro SD card storage. Can stream games from NVIDIA PCs.
- Cons: Screen brightness can suffer in direct light. Battery life fades quickly. Requires an additional controller purchase to get the full gaming experience.
Buy This if You are on a Budget: ASUS Memo Pad 8
While ASUS has launched the $200 ZenPad S to replace the Memo Pad line, the Memo Pad 8 is still available at a low $130 MSRP. Operating on Android 4.4 KitKat, the tablet offers a 8-inch HD IPS display along with 16GB of onboard storage. It’s also made by the same company that makes Google’s Nexus line of tablets, thus you can see some similarities.
MSRP: $129 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $50
- Pros: Sale prices are amazing, dipping below the $100 mark often. Solid screen resolution (1,200-by-800-pixel display). Long battery life (9 hours). MicroSD slot to expand the memory up to 64GB.
- Cons: Front camera is low resolution. Device can run warm to the touch after extended use. Some quality control issues have popped up, like decreasing battery life.