Tech review

Tablets take their screen tests

Screen quality is critical to a great tablet, and in 2012 we saw the quality of tablet screens advance in leaps and bounds, especially in terms of clarity. Here are our favorites.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: A light, comfortable design with a sharp screen and a well-implemented user profiles feature. Books, videos and magazines look great and the microSD slot takes some of the sting out of the lack of internal storage.

The bad: App, movie, TV show and game options are thin and there’s no native music service. It’s missing some typical tablet features and 8GB is low for the price. Fingerprints easily sully the screen.

The cost: $199

The bottom line: The Barnes & Noble Nook HD can’t match competing tablets in media library breadth, but as long as you’re not looking for bells and whistles, its sharp screen and comfortable body make it an ideal tablet choice for books and magazines.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: 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: $479.88 to $590.37

The bottom line: The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 is one of the fastest Android tablets out there, combining an already proven design with a better camera, a faster processor, and a beautiful screen.

Google Nexus 10

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: A beautifully sharp screen is light, durable and has the fastest processor of any Android tablet. Photo Sphere is an incredibly cool concept. Google’s content ecosystem is only getting better.

The bad: The included charger isn’t fast enough to power the battery while playing a game; even while idle, it charges painfully slowly. There’s no storage expansion option, and apps that take full advantage of the screen are currently few and far between. Navigation isn’t quite as smooth as on the Nexus 7.

The cost: $399

The bottom line: The Nexus 10’s superior design and swift performance make it one of the best Android tablets to date. We expect post-launch updates from Google to make it even better.

Apple iPad (fourth generation)

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 (Outstanding)

The good: A6X processor adds extra system speed and graphics power. Improved worldwide cellular compatibility makes the LTE model a more appealing proposition. And the iOS App Store remains best in class, with the widest selection.

The bad: The fourth-gen iPad is otherwise identical to its recent predecessor — same size, weight and Retina Display screen. It’s heavy to hold in one hand, and most older accessories won’t work without investing in a pricey Lightning adapter.

The cost: $499 to $539.99

The bottom line: The latest iPad adds several tweaks and improvements to secure its position at the top of the tablet heap. It’s better all around, but third-gen owners don’t need to upgrade.

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