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The Best Tablets of 2021 to Replace Your Old Laptop

Find the perfect slate for your needs and budget right here.

apple ipad pro

Tablets have come a long way from being a bigger-screen alternative to your smartphone for web browsing, streaming video, and gaming. Constant improvements in processing power and screen quality, among many other bits, have made such products consumer favorites not just for entertainment but also for cranking out serious work. Believe it or not, today’s best tablets are so legit, they're considered to be sufficient laptop replacements.

Today, there are a lot of high-quality tablets to choose from, varying greatly in terms of size, hardware, available features, as well as the quality of their mobile platform. To determine the best worth spending your money on, we are constantly scrutinizing and testing products from today’s leading tech brands: Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Amazon, and Lenovo.

Best Tablets of 2021

What to Consider

When shopping for a new tablet, there are several things to consider in order to find the best tablet for you. What hardware specs do you need? How about the platform it runs on, like iPadOS, Android, or Microsoft Windows? Do you want a tablet that offers a large ecosystem of apps and games, or is a basic model the right option for you? These specs might seem overwhelming, but don't worry, we're here to break it all down for you.

Remember this golden rule when it comes to hardware specs: The more you spend, the more futureproof the product will be. This ultimately means that your device will have a longer lifespan as technology continues to advance. A great tablet must have a powerful chip, a sharp and vibrant display, ample onboard storage, as well as high-quality cameras and speakers. The last couple of bits are particularly important for remote work and teleconferencing.

Stylus pen support (bundled or optional) is also worth keeping an eye out for, which are great for taking notes and keeping your screen sanitary. Up-to-date wired and wireless connectivity features like Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, and USB-C are also essential features to consider.

When choosing the OS platform for your next tablet, you should know the advantages that each one offers. For example, Apple’s iPadOS — a centerpiece of every iPad out there — has an unrivaled selection of apps and games that look great on a big screen and have robust multitasking capabilities, while Microsoft Windows offers a full-on PC experience on a super portable device. Translation? Windows tablets are built to feel more like an actual computer, while iPads give you a true tablet experience that can feel limiting at times.

Android tablets offer excellent integration of Google content and services. That said, Amazon’s ultra popular Fire tablets run the same platform but without official access to Google apps and services. But don’t worry — you can still access your Gmail account out of the box, and there are plenty of apps to choose from via the Amazon app store.

When shopping for one (or more) of Amazon Fire products, you should also keep in mind that their most affordable iterations come with dreaded lock screen ads. Unless you are hellbent on spending as little as possible on your next tablet, we highly recommend plunking down the extra $10-15 to skip this feature.

We've considered all the above factors when evaluating our top picks and have only included the very best tablet options for your consideration below. Find the perfect option for your lifestyle and budget, and don't forget to stock up on the screen cleaner.

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Our Top Pick
Apple iPad Air
Apple walmart.com

Key Specs

• Apple A14 Bionic chip with a Neural Engine
• 10.9-inch Retina display
• Up to 256GB of storage
• Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, optional cellular connectivity
• Touch ID fingerprint scanner

The latest iPad Air is hands down the best big-screen tablet for most consumers. It offers the most graphics and processing power in its price range, a gorgeous 10.9-inch Retina display, a timelessly elegant design, exceptional craftsmanship, as well as a peerless ecosystem of protective cases and accessories, all at a budget-friendly price. You can order the device in five colors: blue, green, gold, silver, and space gray.

Thanks to Apple's iPadOS, the product comes with the best selection of tablet-friendly apps and games in the business — giving it a massive advantage over rivals that utilize other mobile platforms.

When equipped with the Apple Magic Keyboard, the iPad Air is a legitimate mini laptop replacement. The device is also compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil. The latter is among the best accessories of its kind, making the tablet an incredibly capable tool for productive and creative tasks.

More: Our Review of the iPad Air

Best Budget
Apple iPad (10.2-inch)
Apple amazon.com

Key Specs

• Apple A12 Bionic chip with a Neural Engine
• 10.2-inch Retina display
• Up to 128GB of storage
• Apple Lightning port, optional cellular connectivity
• Touch ID fingerprint scanner

Starting around $300, the Apple iPad is the best tablet for thrifty buyers. It has solid hardware specs, headlined by a high-quality 10.2-inch Retina display, a powerful A12 Bionic chip, and compatibility with the excellent Apple Pencil.

Best of all, thanks to iPadOS, the affordable iPad gives users access to countless apps and games designed to look great on its large display, including augmented reality titles. Also, unlike its non-Apple rivals, the iPad comes with many years’ worth of timely OS updates, guaranteeing a solid user experience until you upgrade. 

There are three colors (silver, gold, and space gray) and two storage variants to pick from, as well as the option to equip the device with LTE connectivity. We highly recommend that you opt for an iPad with 128GB of storage, because it’s more futureproof. The 32GB starter version will fill up too quickly with apps, games, and documents.

More: We Tested the Entry-Level iPad

Best Compact Tablet
Apple iPad mini
Apple amazon.com

Key Specs

• Apple A12 Bionic chip with a Neural Engine
• 7.9-inch Retina display
• Up to 256GB of storage
• Apple Lightning port, optional cellular connectivity
• Touch ID fingerprint scanner

More than 2 years after it hit the shelves, the iPad mini is still the best compact tablet money can buy. It has solid hardware specs with a capable chip and a beautiful display, packed in an ultra-portable, sleek metal body with instantly recognizable design and exceptional build quality. Of course, the mini also comes with an unmatched selection of apps and games, courtesy of iPadOS.

The iPad mini is compatible with the original Apple Pencil, and you can recharge the stylus via the device’s onboard Lightning connector. There are plenty of cases and accessories for making the device your own.

One setback you should be mindful of is that the iPad mini lacks futureproof connectivity features like Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5. Also, countless rumors suggest that Apple will launch an updated iPad mini later this year. Until its arrival, this iteration is the best small-screen tablet worth your attention.

More: Our Review of the iPad mini

Best Laptop Replacement
Apple iPad Pro (11-inch)
Apple amazon.com

iPad Pro (12.9-inch)

Key Specs

• Apple M1 chip with a Neural Engine
• 11- or 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display
• Up to 2TB of storage
• Thunderbolt-compatible USB-C, Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G connectivity
• Dual rear-facing camera, Face ID front-facing camera

Available with an 11- and a 12.9-inch display, the latest Apple iPad Pro is once again the absolute best tablet available today, as well as a legit touchscreen laptop replacement. It's packed with cutting-edge tech, including the incredible Apple M1 chip that’s powering several Mac computers, a captivating display, and a sophisticated camera setup. Like its predecessor and many iPhones, the latest iPad Pro features Face ID tech instead of a fingerprint sensor.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a next-level Liquid Retina XDR screen, whose mini-LED display panel is significantly brighter and even more vibrant than one of the 11-inch versions. All iPad Pro screens have a high refresh rate, making all interactions incredibly smooth.

Overall, the iPad Pro is totally worth maxing out your new tablet budget. You can customize the device by choosing from an amazing selection of accessories and cases.

More: Our Review of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro

Best PC Tablet
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Microsoft amazon.com

Key Specs

• 10th-generation Intel Core i3 chip
• 12.3-inch PixelSense touchscreen display
• 4GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD storage
• Surface Connect port, USB-C, and USB-A port, Wi-Fi 6
• Dual camera

The Surface Pro 7 by Microsoft is a PC powerhouse tucked into the body of a thin tablet. With an adjustable kickstand and optional Surface Pen and keyboard cover, the magnesium-clad slate can quickly transform from a work tool to an entertainment device and back.

There are multiple hardware configurations to choose from. Every Surface Pro iteration packs a capable Intel processor, a sharp touchscreen, a duo of high-quality cameras (front- and rear-facing), and an uncompromisingly futureproof set of wired and wireless connectivity options. 

If you're looking for an awesome PC tablet on a tighter budget, consider the Microsoft Surface Go 2. Priced below $400 for an entry-level variant, it has a more compact design with a 10.5-inch display and less powerful Intel chips. Our very own technology editor, Brandon Carte, loves this tablet, raving that “There’s a lot to like about the Surface Go 2.”

More: A Guide for Microsoft Surface PC Buyers

Best Chrome OS Tablet
Lenovo Chromebook Duet Chrome OS Tablet

Key Specs

• MediaTek P60T chip
• 10.1-inch IPS touchscreen
• 4GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage
• USB-C port
• Dual camera

Lenovo’s attractively priced Chromebook Duet is the best Chrome OS tablet. We recommend it over a similarly priced Android product because its full-fledged Google Chrome browser offers a desktop-grade experience with access to extensions. You can also install Android apps on the device, though there aren't many that are optimized for a large display.

The tablet has a cool design, a sharp touchscreen, and a bundled keyboard cover with a built-in trackpad. After putting it through its paces, my colleague Brandon Carte concluded that this product is “much better than other tablets and computers in its price range.”

Equipped with a MediaTek chipset, the Duet is not the most powerful option on this list, but still plenty capable of making quick work of Google’s Chrome OS platform. While we wish it had a more robust set of connectivity features, its affordable price point prevents it from being a dealbreaker.

Best Android Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite Android Tablet
Samsung amazon.com
$279.99 (20% off)

Key Specs

Exynos 9611 chip
10.4-inch touchscreen with 2,000 x 1,200 pixels
64/128GB of expandable storage
• S Pen stylus

The sleek, lightweight, and reasonably priced Galaxy Tab S6 Lite by Samsung is the best Android tablet for most consumers. It has a sharp and a bundled S Pen stylus. The accessory brings a host of productivity and creativity features, which set the tablet apart from its Android rivals.

Other highlights of the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite include a dependable chipset, expandable memory, a duo of AKG-tuned speakers with Dolby Atmos compatibility, and an optional keyboard cover. The latter will transform the tablet into a capable productivity tool.

If you have a bigger budget for a new Android tablet, consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 instead. It has a bigger 11-inch display with a higher resolution, a more powerful chipset, and a quartet of built-in speakers. The 12.4-inch Super AMOLED display-toting Galaxy Tab S7+, on the other hand, is Samsung’s most feature-packed tablet yet.

Best Under $100
Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet
Amazon amazon.com

Key Specs

• MediaTek MT8168 chip
• 8-inch HD touchscreen
• 2GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage
• USB-C port
• Dual camera

The Amazon Fire HD 8 deserves a spot on this list for its sub-$100 price tag, which successfully pushes the boundaries of tablet bargains. There are five colors to choose from — black, white, plum, and blue. A kid-friendly variant of the slate with a bundled protective case, an extended warranty, and a slightly higher price tag is also available.

But don't let its affordable price tag fool you — the 8-inch Fire tablet is still a surprisingly snappy performer. It's perfect for web browsing, social networking, and streaming the retail behemoth's vast library of movies and TV shows, which is best enjoyed with a Prime subscription. Rather impressively, the tablet also has built-in stereo speakers.

It’s worth noting that Amazon also offers a slightly pricier Fire HD 8 Plus tablet, which has similar design and specs, as well as support for wireless charging. There’s even an optional wireless charging dock for the slate.

Best Big-Screen Tablet Under $200
Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet
Amazon amazon.com
$124.99 (17% off)

Key Specs

• MediaTek MT8183 chip
• 10.1-inch Full HD touchscreen
• 3GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage
• USB-C port
• Dual camera

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is our favorite affordable tablet with a big screen. The 10-inch slate, in addition to a surprisingly excellent display panel, has stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support, which makes it perfect for streaming video. Thanks to an optional keyboard case, the product is also a capable productivity tool.

As expected, the Fire HD 10 tablet comes with Amazon Alexa out of the box, giving you the option to access content, as well as control smart home devices with your voice. There are four colors to pick from black, denim, lavender, and olive.

You can order a Plus variant of the device with more RAM for improved multitasking and support for wireless charging (via an optional dock). Amazon also offers a Kids Edition of the Fire HD 10 with a tough case, a year’s worth of exclusive content, and a longer warranty.

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