7 tablets for your holiday gift list

Consumer Reports

You don’t have to settle for a tablet with a less-than-great display. The iPad started the march to very high-resolution tablets a couple of years ago, but since then, many other models have followed suit. Screens with upward of 300 pixels per inch now grace tablets priced as low as $230. Such high resolution means crisper text when reading books and magazines, and sharper images when viewing videos and photos. Portability is also improving with thinner, narrower tablets that are easier to hold in one hand and models that have longer battery life.

Apple has a store full of digital textbooks that let you add notes, use interactive features, and more. The iPad Mini, $330, is perfect for a student—it can deliver everything the iBooks store has to offer in a portable package of just 0.7 pounds.

If picture quality is more important than portability, try the Apple iPad (4th gen.), $500. Its display is so sharp it's hard to see individual pixels.

Apple recently announced new tablet models, the iPad Air and an updated iPad mini. We'll be testing both in our labs soon, so check back to see how they fare.

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People who love to read want easy access to lots of books. Everything it takes to have the perfect reading experience comes together with the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+, $150, a Consumer Reports Best Buy. It has a great bookstore, a very high-resolution display for crisp-looking text, and a big screen that makes reading a pleasure.

There's also a smaller version, the Nook HD, which starts at $130 for 8GB. The Nook HD is also a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

Find the best model for your needs and budget with our tablet buying guide and Ratings.

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Spring break will be here before you know it. Help your favorite sun worshipper prepare with the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, $500. It’s water-resistant (yes, we dunked it and it passed the test!). The Xperia Tablet Z is great in bright sunlight, so it's a perfect choice for someone who spends a lot of time in the surf and sand. One of the thinnest tablets tested, the Xperia Tablet Z is comfortable to hold for long periods and is easy to use on the beach till the sun goes down.

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Show your hardworking spouse that there are other ways to get the job done besides toting around a bulky computer. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8, $380, comes with a stylus that's perfect for annotating a presentation. Even better, it has handwriting-recognition capabilities as well as a number of collaborative apps. For serious typing, an optional wireless keyboard will run you about $30. You can even multitask: Certain apps allow you to open two windows at once so, for example, you can check your e-mail while watching a video.

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You know her: She likes to watch movies whenever and wherever. Give her a tablet that plays videos with style. The Google Nexus 7 (2nd gen.) tablet, $230, has one of the highest-resolution screens we've seen yet, in a 7-inch tablet large enough to enjoy viewing but, at 0.7 pounds, still thin and light. It's also quite narrow and should easily fit into one hand. And you can't argue with the price, which qualifies this tablet as a CR Best Buy.

This article appeared in the December issue of Consumer Reports magazine.



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