Not everything in the tablet space has to be an iPad: there's fierce competition between a number of new low-cost Windows 8.1 tablets and their Android equivalents. Whether you're giving a tablet to someone as a pure fun play, or with more productive aims in mind, there's a little something for everyone this festive season. Here's some tablet gift ideas to get you started.
As always, look around and you'll find cheaper pricing!
Lenovo's Miix 3 8-inch Mini Tablet combines an Intel Atom Z3735F 1.83GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage with a 7.85" IPS panel to deliver Windows 8.1 with a full year's Office 365 thrown in to boot. Like the HP Stream 8, this isn't a premium device, but one that shows off the potential for low-cost Windows tablets, and as a Christmas gift there's plenty of both productivity and fun potential here.
Want to really impress your gift recipient this year? Grab them Microsoft's innovative, stylish and powerful Surface Pro 3. Thanks to the Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processors underneath, depending on your budget, the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 can run rings around its competitors while still staying eminently portable, productive and fun at the same time. The Surface Pro 3 is really much more than a tablet, so we've also included it in our mega list of 2 in 1s for Christmas.
RRP: From $479
Google's Nexus devices have risen in price a little, but the basic appeal of having a clean slate Android tablet that gets the latest and greatest updates first every time remains. The Nexus 9 is a HTC-built tablet with an 8.9-inch 2048x1440, 281ppi LCD screen, and a 6700mAh battery nestled next to an 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor.
If the budget's really tight, you could consider giving Asus' very low cost MeMO Pad 7 this yuletide season. It's an Android 4.3 ("Jelly Bean") tablet with a 7-inch 1024x600 WSVGA display, 1GB of onboard RAM and 8GB of onboard storage, although you can top that up with a microSD card if needed. The MeMo Pad 7 isn't a fancy tablet, but for a younger family member — or a slightly technophobic older one — it could be more than enough.
Sitting on a tight Christmas budget? It's hard to look past the value proposition of HP's Stream 8 tablet, which gives you full Windows 8.1 With Bing and a full year's Office 365 subscription. The underlying Intel Atom processor is ideal for basic tablet tasks.
Want to give a tablet with extra flexibility? Lenovo's Yoga Tab 2 Pro offers a kickstand that supports everything from lap-based work to hanging on a hook, but that's not its only trick. It also comes with an inbuilt projector, so sharing those Christmas photos or making family movie time becomes that much easier too. The onboard Intel Atom processor is optimised for battery life, with a claimed 15 hour runtime, making this a long-lasting tablet choice.
RRP: From $299
The 10.1-inch VivoTab Smart from ASUS has an optional TranSleeve Keyboard that does double duty as both a sleeve and a stand. The VivoTab Smart can also be teamed up with the ultra-thin keyboard to transform the VivoTab Smart into a perfectly capable laptop. If you don't want to use the keyboard, the VivoSmart tablet itself is a mere 9.7mm thick.
You can expect to get nearly 10 hours of battery life out of the ASUS VivoTab Smart, despite its small and slim battery, thanks to its efficient Intel Atom processor — so you'll be able to manage long stints between recharges. This VivoTab Smart also charges over microUSB, so you can just carry one charger for tablet and smartphone when you're travelling or when you're at work.
Meanwhile, the bargain 11.6-inch ASUS VivoTab is a surprisingly powerful little portable productivity tool. It's a mere 8.7mm thick in its tablet mode, but you still get that full computing experience when you sit down to use it.
You even get a high quality Wacom digitiser stylus that lets you take notes or draw on the ASUS VivoTab's 11.6-inch HD touchscreen. An Intel Atom processor keeps the Windows 8.1 show running smoothly When bundled with its Mobile Dock, you can expect a massive 19 hours of battery life from the VivoTab.
RRP: From $349
Asus' 10.1-inch Transformer Pad TF103C Android 4.4 ("KitKat") tablet brings with it an Intel Atom Z3745 1.33Gz Quad-core Processor with 1GB RAM, up to 9.5 hours of battery life and 16GB of onboard storage, which you can top up via the microSD card slot if you figure your gift recipient might need a little more storage space. The real sweet spot with the TF103C, as we noted in our review, is when you pair it up to Asus's keyboard dock.
Powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor, Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4 stands out for what you don't get. What you don't get is bulk; this is an extremely thin and light 8-inch Android 4.4 ("KitKat") tablet with inbuilt fingerprint scanner for security and a truly gorgeous Super AMOLED display, making it a great choice for movie watching or game playing this Christmas season.
Intel's busy Atom Quad Core Z3735F makes another appearance in the 10-inch Toshiba Encore 2, a Windows 8.1 with Bing tablet at an appealing price point. Like other low cost Windows tablet a year's worth of Office 365 is also thrown into the bargain. The supplied 32GB of storage is decent, and it's upgradeable via either microSD or microUSB ports, giving it plenty of flexibility depending on your purposes.