Apple’s third-generation iPad offers the best detail and most accurate colors Consumer Reports has ever seen on a tablet. The 4G version, $630, now tops CR’s ratings.
Apple pumped the camera up to 5 megapixels. The broadband version now offers 4G Internet access, which, in CR’s informal tests, was very fast and dependable. Finally, the battery lasts about as long as the iPad 2’s. Both exceed any other tablet’s battery life.
The iPad can be warmer in its hottest spots than the older Apple iPad 2 (Wi-Fi, 3G, 16GB), $530. But CR didn’t find those temperatures to be cause for concern. There’s an easy solution: Turn the screen brightness down to about two-thirds. Testers found that two Android tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi, 16GB), $400, and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201 (Wi-Fi, 32GB), $500, got almost as warm in similar testing conditions.
Several new Android tablets also receive CR’s recommendation. The Toshiba Excite 10 LE (Wi-Fi, 16GB), $530, is the lightest 10.1-inch tablet it has tested, weighing in at just over a pound. It’s also a very thin 0.31 inch.
Samsung added a new tablet to its Galaxy Tab line. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 (Wi-Fi, 4G, 16GB), $700, has an OLED display that provides deeper blacks and a wide viewing angle.
If you are worried about taking a device to the pool or beach, consider the Pantech Element (Wi-Fi, 4G, 16GB), $450, which is claimed to be waterproof. Its 10-hour battery life is the longest among the smaller tablets CR tested. But it’s not as readable in bright sunlight as some other models.
If you read e-books and miss the feel of a paperback, consider the Sony Tablet P (Wi-Fi, 4G, 4GB), $550. It has dual 5-inch screens, and you can hold it like a book, though that works only with books from Sony’s market. When playing some games, the lower screen is a controller. But the split screen can get in the way when Web browsing.
For 7- to 8- inch screen tablets, CR Best Buys are the Amazon Kindle Fire (Wi-Fi, 8GB), $200, and the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet (Wi-Fi, 16GB), $250.