Google's Nexus 7 tablet has done away with a rear-facing camera entirely, opting instead for only a front-facing camera for video chat

The best tablets to buy this Christmas for kids (both big & small)

Christmas presents are the best and worst aspect of the festive season. The look on a relative, or friend’s face when you get it right can make it all worth while, the challenge of finding something can be equally stressful. If you’re thinking of introducing someone you love to a new tablet, there couldn’t be a better year, with something to suit everyone. Here’s some of the best.

Nexus 7 (2013)

Google has consistently led the way with small 7-inch tablets. Using a sleek design and stock Android pre-loaded with the latest software; it’s hard to go wrong with this neat device. Offering all of the power of a larger tablet, but without the bloat and weight. It’s a light device, and easy to hold with one hand while you type.

While it’s great for apps, light surfing and reading, if you prefer full web experiences and use your tablet for typing, this might be too small. If you’re looking for a small tablet to fit somewhere between your phone use and your laptop, you can’t go wrong. It’s not the cheapest tablet for its size, but feature-for-euro, it’s the best value.

Google.com/nexus7

Available in; HMV, PC World, Arnotts, Carphone Warehouse. – €249

iPad Mini (2013)

The iPad mini is a beautiful device; light and small, it’s a very sleek and easy to hold device. Utilising Apple’s trademark minimalist design, it’s a head turner for sure. This year it comes neatly with the addition of retina display. This really makes everything pop off the screen, everything is crystal sharp and apps are quite snappy and responsive.

Fitted out with Apple’s A7 Chip, the processor is fast, and iOS7 is a very sleek look with a clear display, which really makes reading and playing games a joy. if you’re looking to splash out this year and make it really memorable, this might be the one. The Mini also has one of the largest storage allowances, with the top end being 128GB.

Apple.ie

Available in Arnotts, Apple.ie, Compub, PC World – from €349

iPad Air

If small screens aren’t your thing, and you like the full size device, the iPad Air is the best option. The thinnest and lightest iPad yet, this is a tablet which will slide into your bag and you might never notice it. Like the iPad mini, it’s not cheap – but it is fitted out with the A7 chip, running iOS7. The Retina display makes everything nice and sharp and you really get the full screen experience.

It’s ain’t cheap, but if you’re looking for a full-sized tablet, this might be the best option if you’re an Apple fan. Typing is a breeze and it’s a great, thin device which you really don’t mind taking around with you.

Apple.ie

Available in Arnotts, Apple.ie, Compub, PC World – from €489

Tesco Hudl

This is a tablet which had been roundly slated before launch, the idea of a supermarket producing a tablet made many commentators shudder slightly. However, as the cheapest tablet on the list, it’s not that bad. Many reviewers were pleasantly surprised at the device and how it responded in tests. While the specs by no means stand up to some of the others on the list, it’s a great tablet for the price.

Nice, light and easy to use, Hudl runs Android and has access to Play store, maps and comes pre-loaded with apps like Blinkbox. If you’re looking for a handy tablet for someone who’s not a serious user, this is the perfect solution. Not available in Ireland in shops, but if you live in the UK, or travel up north, it’s a great buy.

Tesco.com

Available in Tesco – £119 (c. €143)

Sony Xperia Z

If you like big tablets, and minimalist design, the Xperia Tablet Z is a good buy. This pure black, almost entirely glass, nicely waterproof, Jelly bean running tablet isn’t the smallest (in fact, it’s one of the largest on the list), but it is one of the best looking. Sony has been making a lot of very nice devices, which unfortunately have gone largely unnoticed by the wider markets and the Xperia Z is no exception. Sometimes this can be to a fault; it took at least a minute to find the lock button.

It’s an unashamedly large tablet, but it looks smart, and runs a very smooth version of Android. If you’re looking for a tablet to replace your laptop, this might be a nice treat to find under the tree. While it’s one of the best looking, and nicest to use; it won’t fit in every bag, making it difficult to bring about easily.

Sony.com

Available in PC World, Harvey Norman, Carphone Warehouse – from €499

Microsoft Surface 2

If you’re a Windows user, this tablet is probably the best running Windows 8. fast and responsive, this is a tablet that gives you a full desktop OS experience, without having to lug around a desktop with you. Surface 2 has tackled some of the biggest faults with the original Surface, which was launched last year; it’s a more slimline device, with fewer ports and a more tailored experience. Windows 8 is a great platform, and really lends itself to tablet usage. While it’s not the most popular tablet platform; it’s still sharp and is a nice change from the likes of Windows 7 and Vista setups.

Surface 2, while slimmer than its predecessor; is still a thick tablet; easily a little over twice as thick as the Nexus 7 (2012 and 2013 versions), and makes the iPad look like paper. If you, or your giftee is a screen typist, who is now used to gesture based controls; this may feel like a step backwards. The obligatory keyboard (Sold Separately) is needed for most serious typing and adds bulk when in use. Still a great device, this is more of a tablet introduction for someone just after giving up on their laptop as it’s not cheap, and could easily replace one.

Microsoft.com

Available in PC World, Harvey Norman – from €439

RTE Junior Pad

Not normally known for their device production, RTE has this year brought out a limited edition tablet, for ages 2-7, you might have seen it featured on the Late Late Toy Show. While Hudl might also work for kids, RTE’s version seems much more suited, coming preloaded with 5 hours of kids shows and games apps, while still having full access to the Play Store. The key difference between this, and other apps is the addition of RTE’s parental control, meaning that while your kids can access the web and app stores, you can set restrictions.
Overall, it’s a fantastic tablet and gift for kids this year, giving them a full tablet experience, but one which parents can stay comfortable with. Featuring Jelly Bean, and the usual Android feature, it’s a sturdy tablet in its own right.

RTE.ie

Available in RTE, Tesco, PC World, HMV, Xtra Vision, Power City – from €149

It’s a tough decision to make this year, tablets have in many ways, come into their own. Whether you’re buying for a friend, family member or a kid, there’s now pretty much a tablet for everyone.

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