The Most Important Tablets Of 2012

The tablet market went through some huge changes in 2012. Apple finally introduced a (somewhat) more affordable iPad. Microsoft released Windows 8 and launched its own hardware. And, for the first time, every major player had a tablet that was actually, you know, good.

7. Asus Transformer Infinity

Until Google finally got its tablet hands dirty with the Nexus line, the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity was the only Android tablet that could hope to keep pace with the iPad. No wonder Google tapped Asus when time came to build the Nexus 7. [More]

6. Asus Vivo Tab RT

Microsoft's Windows 8 plans were ambitious, but they won't mean anything without strong partners. Asus was the first OEM worth a damn — outside of Microsoft itself — to throw its weight behind Windows 8. And it turned out a pretty good product in the process. [More]

5. iPad 3

Apple's tablet dominance is so established now it runs the risk of being boring, but this year's "new iPad" was anything but. Its giant spec-bump was highlighted by a retina display that made reading on any other 10-inch device — including the iPad 2 — feel downright cro-magnon. [More]

4. Nexus 10

Google and Amazon happily duked it out in the smaller tablet space for months, but then the Nexus 10 came along: the first tablet to pose a serious threat to Apple's 10-inch dominance. The hardware is impeccable; once the right apps come along, it's going to be quite a contender. [More]

3. iPad mini

For years, Apple swore it would never make a 7-inch iPad. This year, it made one. And while it's significantly more expensive than the competition, it's also very, very good. And it'll be a driving competitive force for years to come. [More]

2. Nexus 7

Google's first tablet is also still its best. The Nexus 7 (eventually) matched the Kindle Fire HD's budget price with specs you'd expect from a device twice as expensive. It's important because it's Google's first foray into the hardware of the future, and because it's an incredible piece of hardware in its own right. [More]

1. Microsoft Surface RT

A new operating system. An entirely new product category. A new keyboard cover technology. Microsoft Surface RT may not be the PC-tablet bridge we'd all been dreaming of — we're still hoping Surface Pro manages that trick — but it was without a doubt the most important demonstration of how far tablets can take us, and how much Microsoft is willing to risk to get us there. [More]

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