Over the course of a year, we test a lot of tech products, from laptops through tablets to mobiles, along with a range of other hardware from routers to external hard disks, and of course an abundance of software from office suites to security utilities.
And every year, products make improvements on the previous year’s offerings, both in terms of quality and value. Indeed, many product categories have a number of excellent offerings among their ranks – but sometimes you want things really narrowed down. Sometimes, you want to know the winner among the winners – and that’s what this series of articles is all about.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be running articles on each major product category, highlighting the top product for 2013 across all the main sub-categories within.
Today, we’re looking at the best slates you can buy, and we’ll pick out the top performers in terms of the best full-size and compact tablets, along with the champion eBook reader, and top iPad accessory.
Each product mentioned is the top of its class for 2013, and as such comes with an unreserved recommendation.
So, what’s the best large screen tablet out there – and which device is king of the e-readers? Well, read on and find out… and stay tuned for many more top products of 2013 in the coming days as we run up to Christmas.
Best large screen tablet: Apple iPad Air (£399)
Apple's iPad Air isn't a radical change from previous iPads, but it doesn't need to be. It's a well-built, slim, and light platform for a terrific range of tablet apps, with an unusually fast processor and a much lighter frame than last year's model, but no loss of battery life. As was the case with previous iPads, it's close to a no-brainer—Sascha Segan.
Best small screen tablet: Google Nexus 7 (£199)
The Nexus 7's £199 price is quite simply amazing value for money. Its high-res screen is extremely sharp, the battery life is long, and the tablet's body is narrow enough to hold comfortably in one hand. This tablet makes a perfect e-reader or backseat entertainment gadget—SS.
Best eBook reader: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (£109)
Amazon has rewritten the Kindle again to great effect. The revised Kindle Paperwhite is considerably faster and more refined than last year's model, with brighter edge lighting and a useful new Page Flip feature that makes it easier to scan through eBooks. It's comfortable to hold and lasts for weeks on a single battery charge. And don’t forget that Amazon's eBook store and overall app ecosystem remains the best in the business—Jamie Lendino.
Best iPad accessory: Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case (£99)
iPad keyboard cases generally come in either traditional folio or thin-and-light cover styles, but both have their drawbacks. The Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case splits the difference, combining great protection, sleek design, and a comfortable keyboard all in one great package (do note, though, that the iPad Air version is a tenner more, and that the cheaper iPad mini model isn't as successful a product as this)—Eugene Kim.