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The best tablets that aren't the Apple iPad

If tablets were the Brady Bunch, the Apple iPad would be Marcia and, well, everything else would be Jan.

But that's not fair, right? Those other tablets have great qualities, too. (Just like Jan.) And just because they're not the most popular doesn't mean they're not worthy of your attention. (Just like Jan!)

Here are the best tablets that aren't the iPad, because they exist, too.



A tablet that can replace your laptop.

Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

For people who want to ditch their laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The Apple iPad Pro can't quite replace your laptop yet, but the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 can. It's basically a Windows 10 computer that can do anything your laptop can do, in a smaller package.

The tablet has a keyboard (sold separately) that adds small girth to the overall package, making it one of the most compact alternatives to a laptop. It also has an optional stylus, in case you're more of a writer.


The best Android tablet.

Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

For the Android fans who want an iPad-like experience: Google Pixel C

The Google Pixel line is getting more attention thanks to the kick-ass Pixel and Pixel XL phones released earlier this year, but the Pixel C tablet was here long before that.

What's impressive about the Pixel C is that despite being released in 2015 (late in the year, to be fair), it's still the best Android tablet you can buy. And since it's a Google-branded tablet, it gets the newest Android software updates first. Not only that, it has an incredibly sturdy magnetic keyboard that's stable to use on any surface, even your lap.


The Huawei MediaPad M3 is great for watching video on the go.

Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

For the expert binge-watcher: Huawei MediaPad M3

The high-end Huawei MediaPad M3 is like the iPad Mini 4 of the Android world.

It has a super sleek aluminum design that rivals the smallest iPad and it features a built-in fingerprint sensor, for extra security. Combine that with its sharp screen and loud speakers and you have one of the best small tablets for watching videos.


Do yourself a favor, skip the Fire and get the Fire HD 8.

Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

For the cheapskate: Amazon Fire HD 8

Now, I say "cheapskate" lovingly because everyone, including myself, loves a good deal. Sure, you could get the Amazon Fire which is dirt cheap, but the Amazon Fire HD 8 is still super affordable and it has a sharper screen. Considering that's the most important feature (without it you can't do anything) it's worth spending a little more on.


Good enough for your kids.

Photo by Nate Ralph/CNET

For the kids: Amazon Fire

If you're looking to buy a tablet for your kid, then it's totally okay to buy the Amazon Fire. In fact, it comes in a slightly-more-expensive-but-worth-it Kids Edition that includes a big, rubbery case and a two-year "no questions asked" replacement plan.


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