These are our picks for the top tablets running the latest versions of the Android mobile operating systems, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.
SONY TABLET S
three and 1/2 out of five stars
The good: It goes above and beyond the typical Android tablet experience by offering exclusive apps, ergonomic design, PlayStation certification for mobile gaming, DLNA video/music streaming and an integrated IR universal remote control.
The bad: It's on the pricey side, the charging adapter is proprietary and screen brightness isn't what it could be.
The cost: $335-$520
The bottom line: Sony took its time with the Tablet S, and it shows. The industrial design is smart, and the software refinements are both practical and restrained.
SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB 7.7
three 1/2 out of five stars
The good: The screen provides gloriously deep blacks and super bright colors. The tablet is the thinnest small-form tablet yet and includes expandable memory, impressive games performance and an IR sensor that turns the tablet into a smart remote control.
The bad: Two-year cellular contracts for tablets still stink, and even if waived, the subsidized $500 price looks like a steal compared with the overpriced non-contract tag of $700 staring you in the face. Also, an HDMI or USB port would have been useful.
The cost: $500
The bottom line: It delivers a beautiful screen and fast performance but the price ultimately dampens our enthusiasm.
ASUS TRANSFORMER PAD INFINITY TF700
four out of five stars
The good: The high-resolution screen rivals the new iPad's display in sharpness and clarity. Also, apps launch quickly, GPS works well and its rear camera is the best we've seen on any Android tablet. The tablet's body has the same great thin and light design as the Prime.
The bad: So far, not enough Android apps take advantage of the TF700's higher pixel count. Also, its battery life isn't as good as the Prime's.
The cost: $589-$605
The bottom line: It's one of the fastest Android tablets available, combining an already proven design with a better camera, a faster processor and a beautiful screen.
GOOGLE NEXUS 7
four out of five stars
The good: Its quad-core Tegra 3 processor delivers fast performance and a beautiful and responsive screen. Also, it's comfortable to hold and Android 4.1 brings a surplus of welcome additions. At only $200, it's a steal.
The bad: The lack of built-in expandable storage and HDMI connectivity is disappointing, and the design follows the plain, black tablet mold. The top and bottom bezels are a bit too thick.
The cost: $200
The bottom line: With a beautiful screen, fast performance, a comfortable design and great media options, the Nexus 7 is easily the best 7-inch tablet available and one of the top tablets on the market.