Notebookcheck's Top 10 Tablets

Redaktion (translated by Martina Osztovits), 04/05/2014

April 2014 update. Here you will find the current best tablets reviewed by Notebookcheck in the last few months. Our list of top models is regularly updated, maintained and commented on and should assist in purchasing decisions.

 

For the original German article, see here.

Almost every manufacturer of notebooks or smartphones now offers at least one and sometimes several tablets. This development is not really surprising, as the mobile browsing, mail, and gaming companions have taken a good chunk out of overall notebook sales. It is not only the premium manufacturers that are trying to take advantage of this trend, but also the cheaper brands. Most of these use inexpensive components manufactured in China, tend to emulate successful designs, and compete predominantly on price. So far, none of the bargain-basement tablets has managed to earn a spot in our exclusive Top-10 list, which is dominated by the stalwarts and led by the big players of the industry.

Notebookcheck Tablets Chart as of April 2014

Top 10 during the last 11 months at the time of writing; most recent reviews are listed first

#Date%ModelWeightDisplayCPUGPURAMCardreaderPrice/Buy
new03/1477%Acer Iconia B1-7210.317 kg7.0" 1024x600 glossyMediaTek MT8312ARM Mali-400 MP1 GByesstarting at $106 USD

Additional reviews during the month; most recent reviews are listed first

Editors' Comments

Our Top-10 has changed a lot due to our new rating system v4. This was not the primary goal of the new rating system, but tablets - and certainly also smartphones - can be evaluated more fairly and in more detail in the future. Especially the evaluation of aspects such as weight, camera, speakers, and performance are now more individually adapted to tablets. As a result, the differences of the results are bigger and the class-specific pros and cons became more important. Hence, most devices achieve a slightly lower rating with the new system and more room is left for future top models.

The models reviewed in March are also responsible for changes in our Tablet Top-10 - at least four of them, which all stem from Samsung. The South Korean giant continues to expand its tablet portfolio and recently launched its Pro series, including 8.4 to 12.2-inch devices. We reviewed four of them in March and all of them jumped into our Top-10. Two of them were Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 models, while the other two belonged to the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 series. While the LTE models feature the well-known Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, the Wi-Fi models are driven by the Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa eight-core SoC. Therefore, we scrutinized four models. The Acer Iconia B1-721 entry-level model is almost lost in comparison - despite being a budget model with a 3G module.

Big and powerful: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.
Big and powerful: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.
Not that big, yet as powerful: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1.
Not that big, yet as powerful: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1.
Only 3G is not sufficient: Acer Iconia B1-721.
Only 3G is not sufficient: Acer Iconia B1-721.
Still worth buying: Google Nexus 7.
Still worth buying: Google Nexus 7.

Samsung, Samsung, Samsung – our test lab seemed to be flooded by Samsung tablets in March. Everywhere you turned to and whatever was tested - it was nearly always a tablet from South Korea. The first one was the new top model, the 12.2-inch Galaxy Note Pro 12.2. The "Pro" hints at the target group: The South Koreans want to add models for very demanding users. Of course, the big Galaxy Note includes the comfortable stylus again. The Galaxy Note 12.2 Wi-Fi-only model comes with a processor completely new in Europe. Samsung has incorporated its eight-core Exynos 5420 Octa only in models without the LTE module. Why? Good question. The specialty of this SoC is that it uses the so-called big.LITTLE concept. The processor features four especially powerful A15 cores for demanding tasks and four frugal A7 cores for less CPU-intensive tasks and idling. So, there should be a lot of performance for games etc., and the battery life should be increased. Unfortunately, the expectations could not be completely fulfilled according to our test. While the powerful cores deliver high performance, even the menu is sometimes too much for the frugal ones. The tablet sometimes stutters, which is simply unsuitable for this price and performance range. Although the battery life is indeed good, it is hardly better than similarly equipped devices and especially its LTE brother's with Snapdragon 800. Finally, it is a very big, powerful tablet with great build quality, excellent display with extremely high resolution and convincing ease of use due to the stylus. There is little to criticize. One criticism is the Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa. We cannot understand why Samsung decided to use this processor instead of the Snapdragon 800. In addition, the display is not perfect in terms of black value and contrast. A further drawback is the very high power consumption in stand-by.

Its brother with the LTE module, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 LTE, also has the latter two disadvantages. It achieves a slightly better total rating than the Wi-Fi model because of two reasons: This first one is LTE, the second Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. This SoC is simply tops beyond all doubts and brings the highest performance in this big tablet and many other devices. Stuttering? Not at all. 4k videos? No problem - contrary to the eight-corer from Samsung. Finally, the LTE model outperforms its Wi-Fi counterpart. Currently, it is enough to place fifth - the large size brings both advantages and disadvantages.

If you prefer handier devices, you could consider the two smaller models called Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. The name already hints at it: The stylus is not included. For that reason, Samsung also offers the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. The Tab Pro series is virtually the same device, yet without stylus. Alike the big 12.2-inch Note Pros, the models feature different processors: Wi-Fi with Exynos 5420, LTE with Snapdragon 800. The consequences for use are therefore the same. Overall, the 10.1-inch tablets perform slightly better than the bigger Notes and jump to fourth place, because of their lower weight and their smaller size.

It is clear from the beginning that the Acer Iconia B1-721 is not a challenger for our Top-10. Nevertheless, the small tablet is interesting: A 3G module in the price range below 200 Euros (~$274) is not usual. However, that is the only aspect where the B1 differs from other cheap tablets. The other features are standard fare: cheap MediaTek processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB internal memory, fortunately expandable. The resolution of the display is low, the viewing angles are narrow and images appear blurry. Enough of the criticism? Not quite: the cameras... A positive aspect is the quite appealing performance. But, this alone is not sufficient nowadays.

Although the Google Nexus 7 from 2013 is no longer new, it is back in our Top-10 thanks to our new rating system. This tablet can still score points with its performance, display, and very attractive price. Thus, the Nexus 7 remains a recommendable, mid-range device.

Award: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 LTE

Even if the new top model from Samsung could not take the lead in our Top-10, we assign our "Editor's Choice" award to it. So far, such powerful and full-featured tablets are rare - especially with 12-inch size. Games, videos, surfing - everything works more comfortably with this bigger screen, driving away doubts about the inevitably heavier weight and larger chassis.

Awards of the previous months

Editor's Choice in March 2014: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 LTE
Editor's Choice in March 2014: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 LTE
Editor's Choice in February 2014: HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
Editor's Choice in February 2014: HP Slate 8 Pro 7600eg
Editor's Choice in January 2014: Toshiba Encore WT8
Editor's Choice in January 2014: Toshiba Encore WT8
Editor's Choice in November 2013: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
Editor's Choice in November 2013: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Automated top 10 list updated daily

of the last 9 month
1
90% v4
Review Apple iPad Air Tablet
Apple iPad Air
Review Apple iPad Air Tablet
Apple A7, Imagination PowerVR G6430, 11/25/2013
2
89% v4
Review Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Wi-Fi Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
Review Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Wi-Fi Tablet
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 04/09/2014
3
89% v4
Review Apple iPad Mini Retina Tablet
Apple iPad mini Retina
Review Apple iPad Mini Retina Tablet
Apple A7, Imagination PowerVR G6430, 12/06/2013
4
89% v4
Review Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, 2014 Edition
Review Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition Tablet
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 12/05/2013
5
88% v4
Double-Review Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 WiFi-Version
Double-Review Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 Tablet
Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa, ARM Mali-T628, 03/19/2014
6
87% v4
Review Update Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 LTE (SM-P905) Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 LTE (SM-P905)
Review Update Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 LTE (SM-P905) Tablet
Qualcomm MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 03/25/2014
7
86% v4
Review Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
Review Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 Tablet
Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa, ARM Mali-T628, 03/12/2014
8
86% v4
Review Microsoft Surface 2 Tablet
Microsoft Surface 2
Review Microsoft Surface 2 Tablet
NVIDIA Tegra 4, NVIDIA GeForce Tegra 4, 11/20/2013
9
85% v4
Review Nvidia Tegra Note 7 Tablet
NVIDIA Note 7
Review Nvidia Tegra Note 7 Tablet
NVIDIA Tegra 4, NVIDIA GeForce Tegra 4, 04/07/2014
10
85% v4
Review Toshiba Excite Pro AT10LE-A-108 Tablet
Toshiba eXcite Pro AT10LE-A-108
Review Toshiba Excite Pro AT10LE-A-108 Tablet
NVIDIA Tegra 4, NVIDIA GeForce Tegra 4, 08/11/2013
static version load dynamic

Comment this article:

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Notebookcheck's Top 10 Tablets
Author: Redaktion, 2014-04- 5 (Update: 2014-04- 5)