Thanks to the thinner and faster iPad 2, Apple had the tablet to beat in 2011. But raising the bar also made the competition step up its game, and the result was better slates from multiple competitors. The $199 Kindle Fire delivered the best value and an iTunes-like shopping experience, while other tablets focused on providing unique functionality, from scribbling down notes with a stylus to adding a keyboard to a quad-core powerhouse. After reviewing dozens of tablets during the year, these are our top picks.
No, it’s not an iPad killer. But it is a killer bargain. This $199 7-inch tablet, which has an IPS Gorilla Glass display and a dual-core processor, accesses all of Amazon’s content using an elegantly simple interface. You can buy movies, music, apps, books, and lots of color magazines with your Amazon account. The Kindle Fire also leverages Amazon’s Whipersync technology, so you can switch from your Fire to your TV and pick up where you left off in a movie. At 14.6 ounces, the Fire is light enough to hold in one hand as you surf the web using Amazon Silk, a breakthrough web browser that uses Amazon’s servers to speed up page-load times.