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2012 Best of Year Awards for Tablets

By TabletReaderInfo Staff

What a year! The tablet arena is now starting to get a lot more competitive, and we've seen some fantastic pieces of hardware come on the market in recent months. With a flood of new releases, exciting features like high-resolution displays and updated operating systems, and powerful manufacturers entering the ring, 2012 saw the ascent of the tablet continue at a near-exponential rate.

Managing to stand out among such a sea of competitors is no easy task. Those that rose to the top have earned our Best of the Year Awards for 2012.

Tablet of the Year: Google Nexus7
(MSRP $199 and up, comes in 16GB, 32GB, HSPA)

Taking the most trophies of any tablet this year, the Nexus7 is not only the tablet with the best battery, but also the best small tablet, and the best value. Want more? Its operating system is our best of the year, too, and it has the best screen of any Android device. Oh, and it naturally offers Google's entire suite of apps-something many iOS users are probably missing right about now. In the end, it was hard to pick any other tablet. Did we mention that it starts at just $199?

Easily the most popular tablet out there, the Apple iPad came oh-so close to taking our top award. With the best screen and the ever-reliable iOS operating system, the Apple iPad is a fantastic machine that earns its widespread market share through performance and ease of use. So why didn't it take the top spot? The Nexus7 outgunned it in several categories (though not all), winning out on a price to performance basis.

Runner-up: Apple iPad (MSRP $499 and up, comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 4G LTE)

Best eReaderAmazon Kindle Paperwhite
(MSRP $119 and up, comes in WiFi-only and 3G)

While not the first eReader with a light, nor the most feature-laden, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is the product that best marries content and function. The most common knock against eReaders is that you can't read them at night, but with the Paperwhite you can feel free to hit the lights and keep turning pages (virtually, of course). As an added bonus, owning a Kindle device gives you access to the Kindle lending library, and you can also borrow books in eBook format from your local libraries. Who doesn't love free content?

Best Operating System: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Now that Android has finally evolved into a lightweight operating system that just works from top to bottom, it snatches our best OS award away from iOS and easily brushes aside Windows RT's morass of inconsistencies. Google's fully-customizable interface is absolutely loaded with creative and functional features, offers the full suite of Google services, and gives you the capability to truly take control of your tablet and push its hardware to the limit.

Best Large Tablet: Apple iPad
(MSRP $499 and up, comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 4G LTE)

Runner-up: Asus Transformer Infinity (A700) (MSRP $499 and up, comes in 32GB, 64GB, and 3G)

The latest iPad saw a modest spec bump including a better processor, and also had some of its rougher edges smoothed. With the same screen as its predecessor and more powerful internals, the fourth iteration of the iPad is the best large tablet on the market today.

Narrowly missing out on the top honors is the Asus Transformer Infinity, easily the best large tablet running Android. With a huge display and impressive performance, Asus' Transformer Infinity is the best-equipped model in their Transformer line. Like the rest of the Transformers, it can be paired with a keyboard dock that also provides more connectivity options and a huge secondary battery. On its own, the tablet is impressive, but with the dock, it's a monster.

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