How to pick the best tablet computer for you

We've hand-picked the best out of today's crop of 7-inch and 10-inch tablets - including little-known bargain models including a 10-inch Disgo tablet for just £155.

Buying a tablet can be confusing, with models ranging in price from £129 to £600, and running Android, Windows or iOS.

Whether you're a reluctant computer user, a hardcore gamer or someone who wants a machine that'll help with work, there are now tablets to fit your needs - and not all of them are made by Apple.

The tablets below are hand-picked out of today's crop of 7-inch and 10-inch tablets - including little-known bargain models including a 10-inch Disgo tablet for just £155.

[Related: Get the best prices on new smartphones here]

Best for beginners

iPad Mini: With a starting price of £269, the iPad Mini is the cheapest most portable iPad to date, featuring a 7.9-inch instead of 9.7-inch screen.

With a single home button and apps in regimented rows, it’s near impossible to get lost when navigating the Mini, making it one of the easiest tablets to use.

If you are a tech novice, buy the Mini from the Apple Store and staff will set it up your email and even show you how to download apps.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Despite running Android, the Kindle Fire HD doesn’t look like a typical Android tablet and can’t access the Google Play Store - but it's actually must simpler to use.

This means the user experience is more streamlined than some Android tablets and you can buy apps, games, movies and music from the Kindle Store using an Amazon account.

If you don’t mind buying all your content from Amazon, the Kindle Fire HD is an affordable (£159) beginner-friendly tablet.

[Related: Get the best prices on new smartphones here]

Best for value

Google Nexus 7

Released at the end of 2012 the Google Nexus 7 was a groundbreaking tablet, running the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean) and packing a powerful quad-core processor for just £159.  Despite the low price, the Nexus 7 feels like a premium tablet, with performance ably matching pricier rivals.

Overall, the Google Nexus 7 offers a lot of features for a relatively small financial outlay and as a Nexus branded device, it’s guaranteed at least two more significant operating system updates, direct from Google adding new features.

Disgo Tablet

The Disgo 8104 runs the slightly older Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, but you’ll still be able to access email and browse the web on the generous 10.1-inch screen.

There are compromises - you can’t access the Google Play Store and the screen and processor are no match for the similarly priced Nexus 7, but a mini-HDMI output (for hooking the tablet up to a monitor or HD TV), front-facing camera and microSD card slot are surprising inclusions for just £155.

Best for business

Microsoft SurfaceRT/Pro

Competent Microsoft Office users will want to ensure work is easily accessible, editable and compatible across devices and there's no tablet better suited to Office's features than Microsoft's own Surface tablets.

The more affordable Surface RT and more powerful (but more expensive) Surface Pro support dedicated versions of the Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc), running on Windows RT and Windows 8 respectively.  When paired to the TouchCover or TypeCover keyboards, either makes for a powerful mobile workstation.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity

One of the most powerful Android tablets around, this HD, quad-core toting device features a hybrid design which lets users navigate via the hardware keyboard and trackpad or the touchscreen. Should the laptop-style form factor not suit your needs, the display undocks and works as a fully functioning, standalone 10.1-inch Android tablet for business on-the-go.
The Transformer Pad Infinity features a professional metal finish and there are a host of apps designed to support files from a range of software including Microsoft Office.

[Related: Get the best prices on new smartphones here]

Best for films and TV

Apple iPad

With a bright, sharp and colourful 9.7-inch Retina screen, the Apple iPad 4 is the perfect device for watching movies and TV programmes. 

Download BBC iPlayer, 4oD and ITV Player apps for catch up services, some live streams and thanks to a recent update on the iPlayer app; offline downloads. For a monthly fee Netflix (£5.99) and Lovefilm (£4.89) offer unlimited streaming of movie and TV shows. Alternatively user can download and rent TV shows and movies from the iTunes Store. In short it’s the rich selection of apps from content providers that makes the iPad so good for movies and TV.

Google Nexus 10

With pin-sharp detail and vivid colours the Google Nexus 10 is one of the best Android tablets for watching movies. The Google Play store offers a wide selection of movies to buy and rent, but unfortunately TV shows are only available in the US.

Streaming TV programmes falls to the likes of the ITV Player and BBC iPlayer apps, however there’s no option for offline downloads like on the iPad. Netflix is available for movie streaming but Lovefilm doesn’t currently allow streaming to Android devices.

Despite the Nexus 10’s fantastic hardware, more content is available for iOS uses, so the iPad is our tablet of choice for entertainment.

Best for gamers

Google Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 might not be the most powerful Android tablet you can buy, but thanks to a winning combination of portability, performance and price, it’s our choice for gaming. The quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor ably handles graphically intensive games and the TegraZone app provides access to optimised games like Shadowgun. Weighing just 340g, the Nexus 7 is small enough for gaming anywhere - from a commute to a holiday, but hardcore gamers should opt for 16GB or 32GB iterations.

Apple iPad 4

When Apple introduced the iPad 4 in late 2012 the powerful A6X chip, made it more powerful and responsive than ever, effortlessly running graphically intensive 3D games smoothly. Where the iPad really wins is in the quantity of games available - both free and paid.

From the 3D goodness of Temple Run 2, addictive throwaway Angry Birds Star Wars,  graphically intensive N.O.V.A.3 and Shadowgun -  there’s something for everyone and all look incredibly lifelike on the 9.7-inch Retina display.

Best for creative types

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

What makes the Note 10.1 stand out from other Android tablets is the built-in stylus - or S-Pen - suitable for writing, drawing and navigating on the 10.1-inch screen. 1024 pressure sensitivity levels provide exceptional control with optimised apps, such as Samsung’s S-Note (for note taking) and Photoshop Touch (for photo editing). For sketching, designing, or editing photos on-the-go, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is the tablet to choose.

Apple iPad

The iPad 4 is one of the best tablets for photo fans.  Apple released a Lightning to SD Card Camera reader (£25), allowing photos and movies to be imported directly for editing, alternatively the iSight camera takes respectable 5-megapixel photos and full HD movies. 

Bright, bold colours and exceptionally sharp, the 9.7-inch Retina Display is fantastic for performing fine edits using optimised apps like Sketchbook Pro or iMovie.