Choosing the Best Tablet for Your Travels

 

 

 

 

If you're going to take a tablet computer along on your travels, it has to do several things well. It needs to be light while also remaining durable. Battery life needs to be good enough to get you through a long-haul flight, and it needs to have plenty of storage for your apps, photos and entertainment.

 

Whether you need cellular data or not will depend on how connected you really want to be, and what other devices you travel with. You'll pay quite a bit extra for 4G tablets, so if you're happy with using Wi-Fi instead or can use your phone as a hotspot, this is a good place to save some money.

 

Here are my recommendations for both small/medium tablets and their full-size cousins.

 

Best small to medium sized tablet

 

If your priority is to keep luggage size and weight down, go for a small to medium-sized tablet with a screen size of 8.5 inches or less. That's about the limit for being able to comfortably hold it in one hand, and it will fit easily into a jacket pocket or small bag.

 

Samsung makes (far too) many different tablet models, but it's the Tab S 8.4 that shines for travellers. While the 16GB of onboard storage isn't great, a microSD slot lets you add extra space cheaply when you need it. It also includes 50GB of Dropbox cloud storage free for two years, which is handy for keeping those holiday snaps backed up.

 

It's slim and light, with a fast processor, bright, high resolution screen and battery that should see you through a day of moderate use. The Wi-Fi version is around £265 on Amazon.

 

For a cheap yet surprisingly decent option, consider the Asus MeMo Pad 7. For £99 you'll get a thin 7” tablet with good battery life, 16GB of storage plus a microSD slot for extra space, and a nippy processor.

 

I can't recommend Apple's iPad Mini 3. At £319 for the base model and £90+ more for one with reasonable storage, it's just too expensive compared to the competition. You'd be better off looking elsewhere or waiting for a new version later this year, but if you must have a small Apple tablet right now, the older Mini 2 has similar specifications and costs £80 less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best large tablet

 

If you're not travelling with a laptop, consider a full-size tablet instead – the extra screen size makes watching video and reading books and web pages easier, although you'll likely need a stand or both hands for extended use.

 

When cost isn't a concern, the iPad Air 2 is the best large tablet out there. The bright, high-resolution 9.7” screen and blazingly fast processor is coupled with a sleek, lightweight design. The battery will last a full day under all but the heaviest loads, and if you're one of those people who insists on taking video with their tablet, you can do it in full HD.

 

You'll need to shell out £399 for the base model with 16GB of storage, or £479 for a more useful 64GB.

 

The Samsung Tab S 10.5 (the bigger version of my earlier pick) is also a compelling choice. It has a super-high resolution 10.5” screen, will last a remarkable 14 hours when watching video and has the same microSD slot for storage upgrades. You'll pay around £345 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version.

 

For those who don't know whether they'd prefer a laptop or tablet, many hybrid devices aim to provide the best of both. Most don't even get close, but one that does is the £349 Asus Transformer T200. It performs well as a Windows-based tablet, with a sharp 11.6” screen and 32GB of inbuilt storage, but it's the included keyboard dock that makes it shine. You'll get extra battery life, a 500GB hard drive and, obviously, a real keyboard when needing to type anything longer than a few sentences.

 

So those are my picks for the best travel tablets in early 2015. Do you have any others to add?

by Dave Dean