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Best Tablets: Holiday 2016  November 16, 2021 – 07:20 pm

It seems to me that holiday shopping occurs earlier and earlier every year. It's only mid-November, but some shops where I live are already covered in Christmas decorations and play Christmas music. With buyers already thinking about what sort of things they'll buy as gifts to give during holiday time in December, it's appropriate to refresh our quarterly tablet guide to reflect on the state of the tablet market, as well as to add some recommendations from the less-expensive media-focused devices of the tablet market.

iOS Tablets

Even if you use Android on your smartphone, it's always worth giving the iPad some consideration when looking for a tablet. It's can definitely be difficult to have to manage two different ecosystems with their own apps, but the iPad has a substantial platform advantage over Android tablets on both the software and hardware fronts, and to improve multitasking and productivity further you really need to move to a full blown Windows tablet.

iPad Mini 2 and iPad Mini 4

At the small end of the iPad line there's the iPad Mini 2 and iPad Mini 4. The iPad Mini 2 is the cheapest entry into the iPad line at $269. However, the hardware platform is really showing its age by this point. You still get a 7.9" 2048x1536 display, but it's a narrow-gamut panel which really stands out in a market where even $100 smartphones cover the sRGB gamut. It also has only 1GB of RAM paired with Apple's A7 SoC, which limits its current multitasking abilities, and will send it to end of life status in the near future. However, it does represent a relatively inexpensive way to get an iPad, and with Apple's recent move to double storage on almost every iOS device you now get a 32GB iPad Mini 2 for 9 where previously you'd be stuck with 16GB. For me, the iPad Mini 2 is like the content-consumption device in the iPad line, being usable for media, reading, and general app usage, with the RAM being the limitation that prevents multitasking and causes apps to be killed rather quickly.

As for the iPad Mini 4, it's the higher end iPad Mini. At $399 it's quite expensive though, but the price is a bit easier to swallow with the storage recently being bumped to 32GB. Compared to the iPad Mini 2 you get Apple's A8 SoC paired with 2GB of RAM, which enables support for iOS's split screen multitasking feature. However, its size means that you'll often only use the iPad Mini with a single app at a time, so the additional RAM is mostly useful for keeping additional Safari tabs and apps in memory. Split-screen can come in handy when pinning a chat app on the right side though, even with the smaller overall display area than other iPads. You also get full sRGB coverage on the display, along with laminated cover glass and Apple's AR coating which reduces reflections and increases effective contrast.

Sales of the iPad Mini have definitely been cannibalized by the 5.5" iPhone models, especially since they also use a regular horizontal size class which allows for the same split layouts that iPad apps have in landscape. It doesn't get updated as frequently as the 9.7" iPad even though the price remains constant, which means that the value for your money drops as the hardware ages over time. For that reason I wouldn't consider the iPad Mini 4 to be worth buying, but if you need a tablet of this size it's probably the best option you'll find due to iOS's tablet app ecosystem. At the very least, the recent storage increase means you get more for your money now than in the past, and an additional $100 bumps the storage up to 128GB.

Click here to read our reviews of the iPad Mini 2 and the iPad Mini 4.

iPad Air 2

For buyers who want a high-performance full-size tablet without approaching prices of $600 or $700, I think the iPad Air 2 is the best option overall. It now sits at $399 for 32GB, and it has the same hardware platform as when it launched. Normally one would think that to be a bad thing given that it launched in October of 2014, but lacking efforts from Android OEMs during the past two years have left the iPad Air 2 second only to the Pixel C as far as performance goes when comparing to Android devices, so it's really only "slow" relative to Apple's newer iPads.

The iPad Air 2 is like a larger and more powerful version of the iPad Mini 4. It has a 9.7" 2048x1536 display with the same AR coating, lamination, and color gamut. Something it has that the iPad Mini 4 lacks is Apple's 120Hz digitizer which scans for input at two times the rate of most other mobile devices, leading to lower input lag. Inside it has 2GB of LPDDR3 memory, and it uses Apple's A8X SoC which is slightly faster than A8 for general CPU tasks and significantly faster for GPU-accelerated workloads. It's no longer Apple's best SoC, but as I said before, Apple has almost no competition in this space anyway as far as performance goes.


Dragon Touch Y88X Plus 7 inch Kids Tablet 2017 Disney Edition, Android 5.1 Lollipop, IPS Display, Kidoz Pre-Installed w/ Bonus Disney Content (more than $60 Value)-Green
Personal Computer (TabletExpress)
  • Free Disney Content (more than $60 Value) included: With pre installed 10 audio e-Books, such as Monsters University, Big Hero and Brave, and 3 educational game...
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  • Exclusively Designed Case: The 2nd Gen of protecting silicone case comes with adjustable stand, which frees the labor of holding the tablets. Kids could enjoy the...
oxdozer Universal 10" Folding Pu Case Cover with Stand (10pp) for Deerbrook Xf-10a 10.1" (Purple)
Pet Products (oxdozer)
  • * Ultra Slim , Low Weight , Fashionable , New design, and Elegant PU Leather Protector Case Cover.
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  • * NOTE: There are NO OPENINGS on the back of the case for using your camera.
  • * NOTE: Top adjustable bracket (TAB) for more convenient to hold universal Tablet PC well; you can bend it for perfect and snug fit.
9.7 inch Tablet Octa Core 2560X1600 IPS Bluetooth RAM 4GB ROM 64GB 8.0MP 3G MTK6592 Dual sim card Phone Call Tablets PC Android 5.1 Lollipop GPS electronics 7 8 9 10 Black
Personal Computer (FX-960)
  • Enhanced performance: Featuring a powerful and robust Octa-Core CPU, Pro ensures quick app launches and ultra-smooth gaming. Android 5.1 lollipop enables quicker...
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Tetris Online, Inc. Tetris
Mobile Application (Tetris Online, Inc.)
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Generic Universal (7fl) Monster M7 7 Inch Tablet Case (Sunflowers Flowers Purple Pink Blue)
Home (Generic)
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  • * NOTE: Please make sure to check approximate dimensions for your reference before purchase.
  • * NOTE: There are NO OPENINGS on the back of the cover for using your camera.
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  • * Universal ultra Slim and Low Weight 7 Inch Tablet Case Cover Pu Leather Folio Style.

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