The history books are spattered with more than their fair share of sadistic, cruel and, indeed, horrifically hapless leaders, each seemingly more grotesque than the last as we trundle through the trousers of recorded time.
And, no, I’m not having a sly dig at – what some people might see as – the shameless and shambolic hierarchy of our own sceptred isle over the past few months, as that’s been done to death. Instead I refer to one of the most reviled, debauched and feckless leaders that history ever spat out: no, not Tony Blair, but Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus himself – often better known as Emperor Nero of Rome.
Why drag up this unlikely inspiration for a coffeeshop chain after so long? Well, back in 64 A.D, Nero was criticised to have ‘fiddled while Rome burnt’. However, as any good historian will tell you, the fiddle was not invented until the 10th century, so that would have been both laughable and impossible! So, what by backwards extrapolation could he have been fiddling with? Yeah, you got it, baby, his tablet! Probably distracting himself from all the burny horror with an engrossing game of Hangpleb.
You see, although the wax tablets of the ancient world may have been basic, rather low-res affairs with a refresh rate very much dependent on how quickly the user could smooth out their previous imprints, the concept of tablets as entertainment was essentially and arguably the same back then just as it is with despots equally desperate to ignore the flaming end of their own empires today.
Thus, having proved beyond unequivocable doubt the importance the tablet holds within history, we now turn to the modern-day ancestor, the Gaming Tablet – a waxless fusion of cutting-edge portable tech, gleaming touch-sensitive glass and the applied knowledge of literally thousands of years of tablet evolution, all culminating in graphics so sharp, colours so realistic and gaming so immersive that the whole world could combust around you and you’d barely miss a beat, such are their powers of beguilement.
Sound like something you might want/need now that Sunak has ascended the Irony Throne? Then let me wax lyrical about the top tabs for all gamers’ pockets and levels of required preoccupation…
ASUS ROG Flow Z13
Best for: Gaming. Full stop
Right, before anyone starts, I’m well-aware that this absolute beast from Asus is not strictly speaking a tablet. But what it strictly speaking is, is a 2-in-1 laptop and tablet due to its uber thin and flexible keyboard which falls flat against the rear of the display for a tablet effect. So there.
Okay, those who skipped ahead may still be recovering from seeing the price, but let’s be straight about this: this is a pure gaming machine amained at those with both a high level of disposable income and the absolute desire to own the ultimate in portable next-gen playability.
Let’s look at the specs. Running on Windows 11Pro, the ROG Flow Z13 features a massively powerful AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor, teamed with a GeForce RTX™ 3050 Ti GPU, while that delicious 13.4-inch screen gives you the option to play with a 4K UHD or 120Hz FHD display – either way you’ll be whisked of to a world of gaming like nothing you’ve seen before. Or, indeed, heard, as the Flow Z13 comes armed with Smart Amp backed stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos too. And 16GB of RAM. And a whopping 1TB of internal storage… it just goes on and on to culminate in one glorious orgasm of gaming glory.
There are also cameras front and rear, but who cares? All you need to know is that this machine handles high-end, high-res content like the consummate computer pro that it is – everything looks, sound and handles exceptionally, meaning that the only negatives I can draw from having the opportunity to have this remarkable bit of kit pass through my hands is a) it is undeniably pricey, b) at 1.18kg, it’s also undeniably weighty, meaning you’ll not be able to game with it in handheld tablet form for very long before fears of RSI begin to gather, and c) ultimately, I had to give it back and return to life as grown father of two with responsibilities to take care of.
In short then: the Asus ROG Flow Z13 – if you can, do.
Operating system: Windows 11
CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900H at 2.50GHz
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050
Screen: 13.4-inch UHD+ 16:10 (3840 x 2400, WQUXGA)
Refresh rate: 60- or 120Hz
Audio: Dual Smart Amp speakers, Hi-Res certification and Dolby Atmos
Rear and front camera: 720p and 720p
Internal storage: 1TB
Battery: About 5-hours
Buy now £2349.00, Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra (2022)
Best for: Seamless smart gaming glory
Samsung make some very nice things and I know because I rely on some of those nice things to keep me organised, on time and not driving the wrong way down a dual carriageway – yes, I rely heavily on tech and will be utterly scuppered once society breaks down, I admit that. So, when the chance came to test out the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, I put down my Galaxy phone, unstrapped my Galaxy watch and seized the opportunity with both hands; which is how you really need to hold a tablet of this size.
Okay, it’s got quite the price tag, but that’s because it’s over 14.6-inches of gaming gorgeousness, from the epic display to the full 120Hz refresh rate to the powerful Octo-core processor, expansive RAM, exceptional storage and equally impressive audio. It also come with two utterly unwieldy megapixel-packing cameras, but they’re irrelevant right now as this is about gaming.
And the Sammy can handle any premium 3D games you want to throw at it – in considerable style. Images are so sharp you could cut your eyes without due care and attention, colours are richer than Elon Musk and blacks darker than Elon Musk’s soul, while gameplay is smoother and slicker than a velvet otter. In a whimsical mood for a whole world of vividly imagined adventure, I opted for entry into elemental arena of Genshin Impact and, yes, was rather blown away by the ocular and aural feast that the S8 Ultra delivers, to the point where hours became days and people came calling to see if I was okay.
In a nutshell, if unrelenting gameplay, whether battle-, strategy-, puzzle-, or driving-driven is what you want, with flowing and gloriously flicker-free images matched with sound quality that enhances the experience even more, oh and you can afford the entry fee, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the answer all day.
Operating system: Android
CPU: Octa-core, 2.99GHz, 2.4GHz, 1.7GHz
GPU: Adreno 730
Memory: 8- to 16GB
Screen: 14.6-inch (2960 x 1848 - WQXGA+)
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Audio: Quad speakers with Dolby Atmos
Rear and front camera: 13MP and 12MP
Internal and external storage: 128- to 512GB and up to 1TB
Battery: 11200mAh (8-hours or 6.5-hours at 120Hz)
Buy now £1249.00, Samsung
Apple iPad Pro
Best for: Gaming acolytes of Apple
Fresh fruit from Apple, the new iPad Pro comes in a choice of two sizes, 11-inches and 12.9-inches, but for the sake of this I’m going to focus on the far more wieldy and perfectly portable 11-inch option.
Naturally, this is an iPad and, as such, previous iPad owners/borderline obsessives will pretty much know what to expect. And, yes, its ruddy fast alright, thanks to the 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU and slick iPadOS 16 operating system. Plus, bringing the ‘A’ game for the most demanding gamers, yep, it comes featuring a full 120Hz refresh rate.
Screen-wise, as previously stated, it’s an 11-incher with a beautiful Liquid Retina display featuring a 2388 x 1668-pixel resolution for images that are as pin-sharp as they smooth flowing, making this a gamer’s golden delight.
The audio side doesn’t bring a downer on the party either, thanks to the inclusion of four speakers delivering a decent level of reasonably well-balanced sound, while internal storage options run from ‘ample’ to ‘cavernously capacious’, depending on how deep your pockets are, with 128GB coming in at £900 and 2TB at a cost-of-living-crisis cold-shouldering £2150.
Weight-wise, the 11-inch Apple iPad Pro hefts in at 466g, which – to put it in some kind of perspective that’ll enrage any metric martyrs reading, is slightly heavier than a standard bag of sugar, so most people will be able to manage hours of quality handheld play without having to worry about RSI setting in or, indeed, tearing tendons in their hands.
Good-looking to boot, and packed with all the innovative, non-gaming-led tech we’ve come to expect from Apple, the new iPad Pro is undoubtedly expensive and limits owners to other Apple gear, but price equates to performance, so buy the ticket take the ride.
Operating system: iPadOS 16
CPU: 8-core CPU with 4x performance cores and 4x efficiency cores
Screen: 11-inch LED backlit (2388 x 1668)
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Audio: Four speaker
Rear and front camera: 12MP and 10MP
Internal storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Battery: Up to 10-hours
Buy now £899.00, Currys
Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8 Plus (2022)
Best for: Low-cost, more limited fun
In its 12th Gen, this freshly baked bit of the Kindle-maker’s craft may not be strictly aimed at the next-gen gaming community due to its 60Hz refresh rate, but that doesn’t mean you should discount it as a means to gaming glory for those who don’t want all the stress of high intensity shoot-em-ups.
Indeed, featuring 3GB of RAM on top of a 2.0GHz hexa-core processor, the 8 Plus is fast. And, what’s more, it even comes with a dedicated Game Mode which automatically optimises memory and performance, while also disabling Alexa and turning off notifications, so that you can game away in peace and at full power.
Sure, it’s never going to be able to compete with your high-falutin, made-for-gamers models that are out there commanding a whole week’s worth of energy crisis winter fue-u-ell cash, but then if you (or the kids/older relatives) like a bit of mindful or mindless distraction that involves puzzling or basic play, then for £150 you really can’t go wrong.
With an HD display that’s crisp, sharp, colour-rich and responsive, more gentile gaming and very little delay, the shiny new HD 8 Plus delivers a refined performance in a form format that fits the mitts very nicely and at a weight that hardly going be a risk to your wrists.
Chuck in a pair of speakers for fair to middling audio (although you’ll probably want to feed out to headphones via the 3.5-inch jack or Bluetooth it to some audio-enhancing earbuds), expandable storage up to 1TB, a healthy battery life and rear- and front-facing cameras delivering 5- and 2-megapixels respectively and as long as your gaming expectations and desires are on the more laid-back and leisurely side, then the Kindle HD 8 Plus is more than money well spent.
Operating system: Fire OS
CPU: Hexa-core 2.0GHz
GPU: ARM Mali-G52 MC1
Screen: 8-inch (1280 x 800)
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Audio: Dual integrated speakers
Rear and front camera: 5MP and 2MP
Internal storage: 32GB/64GB
External storage: Up to 1TB
Battery: Up to 13-hours
Buy now £150.00, Amazon
HANNspree Pad Zeus 2
Best for: God-aping gaming for mortal money
The mighty Zeus; ruler of the gods of ancient Greece, sender of thunder and lightning, rain, and winds, multi-form lover of mortal and immortal alike, and more recently than anciently portrayed by Russell Crowe in the latest entry into the MCU, Thor: Love and Thunder – yes, these are the kind of hardcore mythology ‘facts’ you won’t find in any other gaming tablet review round-up today.
But with all that Zeus-lore in mind, you’d have to be pretty cocky to name your tablet after such a major deity, wouldn’t you? So, what are we looking at? Well, for starters in the battle between performance and price, the Zeus 2 comes packing a pretty decent MTK MT8183 Octa-core CPU, clocking up to 2.0GHz, which is not designed for gaming per se, but is more than capable of handling the less-demanding gaming apps that you might normally confine to your smartphone but which you can now enjoy unrestricted on a whopping 13.3-inch display. And that’s a Full HD, backlit LED display (1920 x 1080) too, which makes for some eye-popping images. Audio meanwhile comes in the form of two not particularly mighty 1W speakers, but as most people will pair it up with headphones or earbuds, that really doesn’t matter.
There’s 64GB of internal storage on offer, with external storage letting you boost your capacity up to 128GB via Micro SD card meaning you won’t run out of space any time soon.
Now, I like a hidden object game as much as the next boring person, but I also enjoy ragging my way around world-famous motor-racing tracks in all manner of over-powered hyper and F1 cars because, well, sometimes hidden object apps just don’t give you the right rush of adrenalin. In the case of the Zeus 2, EA’s Real Racing 3 seemed like a solid choice to put the HANNspree through its omnipotent paces, especially given all the updates this definitive racing game has received this year.
Gameplay did not disappoint – images were crisp and sharply defined, vibrantly colourful and free from glitching, and the accelerometer (or G-Sensor, if you’re feeling fruity) was accurate to a tee, letting me drive round and round in circles at breakneck speeds with all the fluidity of a liquified Charles LeClerc. And, yes, thanks to the recent NASCAR update you can also drive round and round at redneck speeds too.
So, in some form of summary, it may not have been created with gaming in mind, but the Zeus 2 still has the chops required to sate the appetites of all but the most online-adventure play obsessed. Maybe not quite a god amongst the upper pantheon of gaming tablets, but mighty enough.
Operating system: Android 10
CPU: Octa-core CPU MTK MT8183, up to 2.0GHz
GPU: ARM G72 MP3@900MHz
Screen: 13.3-inch IPS LED (1920 x 1080 – Full HD)
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Audio: 2x 1W stereo
Rear and front camera: 5MP and 5MP
Internal and external storage: 64GB and up to 128GB
Battery: 10,000mAh (6.5-hours)
Dimensions: 219.2 x 336.1 x 11.8 (HxWxD)
Buy now £252.00, CCL Online
HONOR Pad 8
Best for: Large, lightweight gaming on the go
What can you say about HONOR that has not already been said? Well, quite a lot actually, given that this Chinese brand is massive globe-wide but barely heard of here in the UK. Despite having been around, pumping out some pretty slick smart devices, since 2013, the UK store has only just celebrated its first anniversary of existence, so you don’t have to feel too bad for your breath-taking HONOR ignorance. It was while recently reviewing earbuds for this fine online organ that I first happened across HONOR and to say its Earbuds 3 Pro impressed would be an understatement on a par with saying Kayne West needs to give social media a rest. So, when I saw that HONOR also did a 12-inch tablet, it was an obvious choice for inclusion.
First of all, it comes packing a powerful Octo-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 processor with a GPU clocking 650MHz, so a smooth gaming experience is guaranteed. Being an angry middle-aged man who’s angry about being middle-aged, I went straight in with all-action messed-up multiplayer battle royale shoot-em-up to shut-em-up Free Fire, optimistically reckoning I could probably take out the 12-year-old scrote from Salt Lake City who kept shooting me in the back because I couldn’t figure to how to turn round.
Then there’s the decidedly crisp and vibrant 1200 x 2000-pixel LCD display, complete with supermodel-thin 7.2mm bezel which gives generously ample play space while giving you just enough room to rest your spare thumbs without interfering with your on-screen interaction.
On the sound side, HONOR gives you an abundant eight speakers complete with HONOR Histen and DTS: X Ultra for rich, immersive, 3D audio that really enhances game play, even if that sound is still mostly just you getting shot in the back.
In short then, the HONOR Pad 8 is a top bit of tablet tech that may not rank the refresh rates of slates specifically for gaming, but which still puts in a solid performance at an extraordinarily accessible price. Can it make you any better at battering a barely legal boy-gamer from Salt Lake City? No, sadly, it cannot.
Operating system: Android 12 + Magic UI 6.1
CPU: Octo-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 (4x A73 2.4GHz + 4x A53 1.9GHz)
Screen: 12-inch (1200 x 2000)
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Audio: 8x speakers with HONOR Histen, DTS: X Ultra
Rear camera: 5MP
Front camera: 5MP
Internal storage: 128GB
Battery: 7250mAh (10-hours)
Buy now £270.00, HONOR
Best for: Impressive gaming ability at a paltry price
Since it remerged into the tech market like some kind of Finnish phoenix from the flames, I’ve gotten hands-on with a couple of Nokia’s new devices, namely the T10 tablet and the G60 smartphone, and I found both to represent exceptional value for money.
So now onto the T10’s bigger brother, the T20. Firstly, the T20 comes blessed with the same solid build quality of the other Nokia reviewees I mentioned a moment ago, so has a real feel of quality about it. Secondly, it’s got a nice big 10.4-inch screen with a 2K resolution to keep graphics pleasingly sharp and colours suitably striking. And, thirdly, it features a UNISOC Tiger T610 octa-core processor, which may entry level when it comes to octo-cores CPUs, but it is still an octo-core CPU.
RAM runs at 4GB and storage at 64GB internally and at up to 512GB externally. But what you really want to know is how does it game? And quite right too. Firstly, I fell down a nostalgia hole and played a couple of hours of Sims. Then I got a grip, gave myself a stern talking to and download drive-like-the-devil track and tricks car-em-up Hot Lap Lead, which proved a far greater test of the Nokia’s abilities. And it acquitted itself sensationally, doing real justice to the game’s vibrantly coloured and detailed graphics, while response time was on the button with every Tokyo drift.
For a tablet costing a penny under £200, the T20 is very well-specced and delivers a solid gaming experience above its pricing and – although I very much liked the Amazon Kindle HD 8 Plus, for an additional Bullseye (that’s £50 for anyone not from the East End of London), you may want to give serious consideration to stumping up the extra.
Operating system: Android 11
CPU: UNISOC Tiger T610 Octa-core (2x 1.8GHz Cortex-A75 & 6 x1.8GHz Cortex-A55)
GPU: Mali-G52 MP2
Screen: 10.4-inch (1200 x 2000)
Refresh rate: 60Hz
Audio: Stereo speakers
Rear and front camera: 8MP and 5MP
Internal and external storage: 64GB and up to 512GB
Buy now £149.99, Argos
Look let’s not get silly here! If money is no object and the muscles in your hands are massively overdeveloped, then there is only one obvious conclusion here: the Asus ROG.
But as this will be beyond the reach/dreams/reachable dreams of most, then more accessibly priced options are the obvious order of the day. For me, this means the HONOR Pad 8 due to it cost, its performance, its size and its weight – gaming should go big and 12-inches hits the sweet spot nicely, while its light weight means you can also go for longer without fatigue causing your fingers to seize up in the gnarled fists of a cursed monkey.
Now go get your game on.