The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012S

The tablet market went through some huge changes in 2012. Apple finally introduced a (somewhat) more affordable iPad. Microsoft released Windows 8 and launched its own hardware. And for the first time, every major player had a tablet that was actually, you know, good.


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012S

10. LeapPad2

The original incarnation of LeapFrog's LeapPad was great! Virtually unbreakable, strictly education-themed apps, and kids loved 'em — to the point that they were impossible to find. And while three-year-olds aren't usually drooling over specs, even they can appreciate a significant hardware boost. The LeapPad2 carries all the perks of the first, but the vastly improved speed and resolution paired with the front and back camera make it worth an upgrade. If you can find one. [More]


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012S

9. 7-inch Kindle Fire HD

In some ways, the idea of the first Kindle Fire was more impressive than the product itself. It was a $200 tablet that actually worked. That alone was mind-blowing. The Kindle Fire HD held that price, but paired it with a retina display, the best speakers a tiny tablet could hope for, and Amazon's deep, deep well of content. [More]


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012

8. Asus Transformer Pad Infinity

Until Google finally got its tablet hands dirty with the Nexus line, the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity was the only Android tablet that could hope to keep pace with the iPad. No wonder Google tapped Asus when time came to build the Nexus 7. [More]


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012S

7. Asus Vivo Tab RT

Microsoft's Windows 8 plans were ambitious, but they won't mean anything without strong partners. Asus was the first OEM worth a damn—outside of Microsoft itself— to throw its weight behind Windows 8. And it turned out a pretty good product in the process. [More]


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012S

6. iPad 3

Apple's tablet dominance is so established now it runs the risk of being boring, but this year's "new iPad" was anything but. Its giant spec-bump was highlighted by a retina display that made reading on any other 10-inch device—including the iPad 2—feel downright cro-magnon. [More]


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012S

5. Nexus 10

Google and Amazon happily duked it out in the smaller tablet space for months, but then the Nexus 10 came along: the first tablet to pose a serious threat to Apple's 10-inch dominance. The hardware is impeccable; once the right apps come along, it's going to be quite a contender. [More]


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012

4. Kindle Fire HD 8.9

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9's larger size might exaggerate some of the flaws of its 7-inch sibling, but that doesn't change the fact that it's the best value for your dollar of any tablet on the market. And that's before the $50/year 4G LTE data plan. [More]


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012

3. iPad mini

For years, Apple swore it would never make a 7-inch iPad. This year, it made one. And while it's significantly more expensive than the competition, it's also very, very good. And it'll be a driving competitive force for years to come. [More]


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012

2. Nexus 7

Google's first tablet is also still its best. The Nexus 7 (eventually) matched the Kindle Fire HD's budget price with specs you'd expect from a device twice as expensive. It's important because it's Google's first foray into the hardware of the future, and because it's an incredible piece of hardware in its own right. [More]


The 10 Most Important Tablets of 2012

1. Microsoft Surface RT

A new operating system. An entirely new product category. A new keyboard cover technology. Microsoft Surface RT may not be the PC-tablet bridge we'd all been dreaming of—we're still hoping Surface Pro manages that trick—but it was without a doubt the most important demonstration of how far tablets can take us, and how much Microsoft is willing to risk to get us there. [More]