Unlike high-end smartphones, the upper class segment of tablets hasn’t been terribly exciting this year. We’ve had the usual iPad refresh that happens like ritual and just a handful of Android tablets that really stood out, but other than that, the scene wasn’t really buzzing as expected. Next year would be a lot different with Microsoft entering the race with Windows 8.
In our high-end tablet edition of G.O.T.Y, we’ve tried to pick winners from products that we’ve already reviewed. So without further ado, here’s our winner for the best tablet of 2012.
High-end Tablet of the Year: Apple iPad (4th Gen)
We originally planned to award the iPad with Retina or 3rd Gen as the tablet of the year but since the iPad 4th Gen has now replaced it and is essentially the same device, we’ve declared it as the winner. The new iPad or just iPad retains the same Retina display from the 3rd Gen iPad but now comes with a speedier A6X SoC, that’s supposed to have twice the CPU and GPU power. The rear camera still remains the same but Apple has now bumped up the front facing camera to support 720p HD video. You also get faster dual-band Wi-Fi this time around and of course, the new Lightning connector. The new iPad replaced the 3rd Gen one rather quickly and that’s because it’s more of an incremental update than a brand new device, like the 4S was to the iPhone 4. This is easily one of the best tablets currently in the market, which is why it earns our top spot. You can read about our comparison of the iPad 3rd Gen with the iPad 2 here.
The undisputed winner
First Runner Up: Samsung Galaxy Note 800/10.1
The Note 10.1 or 800 as it’s called here in India, is easily the best tablet Samsung has created to date. The new design works very well in their favour. The idea of placing the speakers upfront and on either side makes it great for multimedia consumption. The Note 800 is more about creating however as it comes with plenty of productivity features, the biggest of them all being the new S Pen. Armed with Wacom’s stylus technology, the S Pen now has 1024 sensitivity points, which means you get light to heavy brush strokes and many in between while painting or even sketching. The tablet also has handy features like a split-screen mode so you can work on two apps at once.
Second Runner Up: Apple iPad mini
The iPad mini turned out to be an excellent alternative to the Nexus 7 and may have rendered the iPod Touch redundant. For a starting price of just Rs 21,900, this is possibly the first Apple tablet that’s truly affordable, even for the masses and we think that’s what Apple was hoping to achieve with it. They deliberately ditched the Retina display in order to keep prices down but even without that, it’s still a higher pixel count than say, the iPad 2. As the cost of manufacturing Retina displays of this size goes down, rest assured we’ll be seeing a Retina screen in the next mini. Apple hasn’t compromised too much though as you still get the HD FaceTime camera and iSight camera. The main attraction towards the mini is the light weight and compact size. You can actually think of using this as a full blown eReader for a change.
Since there are some other tablets that also are worthy of a purchase, we would like to mention a few here. These simply cannot be ignored as they too have some plus points over the other – be it the price or a feature-set or simply its performance. We've listed a few of them below.
Asus Transformer Prime TF201
The Transformer Prime took its own sweet time to get here but it was worth the wait. The Prime was the first tablet ever to showcase Nvidia’s quad-core SoC and till date, remains one of the most powerful tablets in the market. Its unique design helps it get from tablet mode to laptop mode in a jiffy, which many of the Windows 8 hybrids are adopting now days. Backed up by stellar battery life and superior connectivity options, the Prime deserves a mention in this segment.
Notebook and tablet in one
Google Nexus 7
The Nexus 7 was the platform used to showcase Google’s latest Jelly Bean OS. It’s still one of the cheapest 7-inch tablets you can buy without having to compromise on quality. Built by Asus, the tablet is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 SoC so it’s got plenty of fire power under the hood and just like the iPad mini, it’s very much pocketable.
Check out our other G.O.T.Y 2012 award lists here.