This year is going to be a big one for tablets. People keep saying that, especially for smaller slates in the 8-inch range, and while that's true, there's more to it than that. With devices like the Xperia Tablet Z and Galaxy Note 8 arriving, we're likely to have the most diverse selection of tablets ever.
Many analysts also expect this year to be the one in which Android tablets break loose and bust out of Apple's iPad shadow. Both the Xperia Tablet Z and the Galaxy Note 8 sport Android Jelly Bean, and since we have no idea when the iPad mini 2 and iPad 5 will come out, it's likely that all of spring's slates run on Android.
CNET recently compiled a list of the top 5 tablets to hit shelves this spring:
1. Galaxy Note 8
Samsung is going directly after the iPad mini with the Galaxy Note 8, and it has packed the tablet with a higher resolution as well as the famous Note line's S Pen support. The Galaxy Note 8 sports real, honest-to-goodness multitasking, giving it a leg up on Apple when it comes to productivity. So what's the bad news? The Samsung slab is out now, but for its size it comes in at a costly $400, so you'll have to decide just how important that stylus is to you.
2. Xperia Tablet Z
Sony is really trying to make a name for itself in the mobile space, and the Xperia line just might be able to do it. In May, the Xperia Tablet Z will be sporting a beautiful 10.1-inch screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200. It's both thinner and lighter than the iPad mini, which is pretty impressive considering it's a full-size slate. Like the Xperia Z, it's waterproof and dustproof, too. The 16GB model will be $500 while the 32GB one will run you $600.
3. HP Slate 7
HP is back in the tablet market with the HP Slate 7. The 7-inch tablet won't wow you with any impressive specs, but it does pack Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and offers a price you just can't expect from the previous two. It will retail for $169 and should be available later this month.
4. Polaroid M7
Amazingly, the Polaroid M7 clocks in at an even cheaper price than HP's Slate 7. The M7 will cost $129, but it offers a better display resolution of 128 x 800. This one is also home to a 7-inch screen, but the screen will surely tempt some budget-conscious consumers, especially since it's an improvement over Apple's. There hasn't been a release date confirmed yet outside of spring, but the wait shouldn't be too long.
5. Archos 80 Titanium
This Android Jelly Bean-powered slate looks a lot more like the iPad mini than any of the other four, and the 8-inch screen features an identical resolution, at 1024 x 768. It also features a microSD expansion for extra storage space, and the 8GB model will cost about $170. No release date just yet, but it'll be out this spring.