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Price and performance don’t often go together, but as a student, you need the best you can get for what you can afford. Here’s the good news: the tablet market has grown and improved since last year, and you have more options than ever before.

It’s debatable whether laptops or tablets are better Which Is Best for Productivity: A High-End Tablet Or a Cheap Laptop? Which Is Best for Productivity: A High-End Tablet Or a Cheap Laptop? How does a cheap laptop compare to an expensive tablet when it comes to actually working on a daily basis? Read More in terms of productivity, but for most courses, either one will do just fine as long as you avoid the cheap knockoffs Tablets Compared: Why You Shouldn't Spend Money on Cheap Chinese Android Imports Tablets Compared: Why You Shouldn't Spend Money on Cheap Chinese Android Imports To answer the question regarding the quality of cheap, Chinese-designed tablets, I purchased an ASUS Nexus 7 and a Hyundai T7. Ultimately, I determine whether Chinese tablets are worth importing. Read More . If tablets are your chosen path, start the school year right with one of these best-bang-for-the-buck purchases.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S ($400, 8.4″ or $500, 10.5″)

Quick Specifications

  • 0.65lbs (294g) for 8.4″, 1.03lbs (465g) for 10.5″
  • 8.4-inch or 10.5-inch screen at 2560×1600 pixels
  • 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa 5420
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16GB Storage

Is It The Right One For You?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S has one of the best tablet screens in existence, which is further accentuated by its thin frame. Available in both 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch models, the Galaxy Tab S is the absolutely best purchase when you need crisp and beautiful graphics, all made possible by its Super AMOLED screen Samsung Introduces New Galaxy Tab S Line With Super AMOLED Displays Samsung Introduces New Galaxy Tab S Line With Super AMOLED Displays Samsung announced a new line of tablets called the Galaxy Tab S that will be available in 8.4" and 10.5" sizes, both of which are only 6.6mm (0.29in) thick and include Super AMOLED displays with... Read More .

The Exynos 5 processor, which is a pair of 1.9GHz and 1.3GHz quad-core processors, is a dual-trick pony: it uses the 1.3GHz processor for mundane tasks in order to extend battery life, but when more juice is needed, the 1.9GHz processor kicks in. You get the best of both worlds.

Whether multitasking between a dozen apps or streaming an HD YouTube video, the Galaxy Tab S can handle it. At its price point, this is a steal.

Google Nexus 7 ($200)

Quick Specifications

  • 0.64lbs (290g)
  • 7-inch 1920×1080 screen
  • 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16GB Storage (32GB available)

Is It The Right One For You?

The Google Nexus 7 was one of the better selections in last year’s tablet buying guide Back-To-School 2013: Tablet Buying Guide Back-To-School 2013: Tablet Buying Guide Tablets are an important tool for students; they can be used for carrying your eTextbooks, taking notes during lectures, or doing online research. Read More , and it still holds up as a fantastic choice for those who are limited by budget. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another sub-$200 tablet that packs as much of a punch as this one.

Its beautiful 7-inch screen is large enough for most tasks and small enough that it remains comfortably portable. For this price, it would be unreasonable to expect an aluminum body, but nonetheless you won’t be disappointed by its build quality; it’s sturdy enough to withstand a rough college year. It’s only major flaw is the lack of a microSD slot.

However, do note that the Nexus 7 is currently sold out at the Google Play Store, and Google is expected to be coming out with a new version of the tablet later this year. You might want to hold out for that tablet if you’re itching for the latest and greatest.

EVGA Tegra Note 7 ($200)

Quick Specifications

  • 0.70lbs (320g)
  • 7-inch 1280×800 screen
  • 1.8GHz Tegra 4
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB Storage

Is It The Right One For You?

It seems strange to see a tablet released by NVIDIA, but the EVGA Tegra Note 7 actually fares better than you might expect. The draw of this device is two-fold and if you don’t fall into either group, you’ll probably want to skip this one in favor of the others on this list.

Coming from NVIDIA, it makes sense that this tablet is geared for games. The battery life isn’t terrible, particularly for the amount of processing stress that this tablet will likely experience while gaming, and the Tegra 4 CPU provides great performance The Best Technologies That Will Drive Your Tablet In 2013 The Best Technologies That Will Drive Your Tablet In 2013 This year, the tablet market will become saturated with a variety of CPUs designed specifically for tablets. Many major computer manufacturers unveiled all manner of touchscreen devices sporting such chips, with dramatic increases in performance... Read More . However, the low resolution screen is a massive shortcoming when compared to the Nexus 7 or Galaxy Tab S.

Then again, if you’re serious enough about gaming that you need a powerful device, tablets probably aren’t the place you want to look.

The other big draw of the Tegra Note 7 is its DirectStylus technology. Unlike Samsung’s Note series, which utilizes an active stylus, the Tegra Note makes use of a pressure-sensitive passive stylus. If you’re looking for a more mainstream stylus-toting tablet, though, you may want to check out the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, which we’ve reviewed Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition Review and Giveaway Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition Review and Giveaway The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition provided me with the most pleasant tablet experience I have ever had. Now's your chance to win one for free! Read More .

What all this means is: if you intend to handwrite your course notes but don’t want to shell out a ton of cash, the EVGA Tegra Note 7 is the tablet for you.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet ($500)

Quick Specifications

  • 0.97lbs (440g)
  • 10.1-inch 1920×1200 Screen
  • 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16GB Storage (32GB available)

Is It The Right One For You?

The tablet offering is light, stylish, and sleek despite its sizable 10.1-inch screen, making it a great purchase for those who place heavy emphasis on aesthetics. It has a gorgeous display that’s slightly detracted from by an overly thick bezel, but it fits in nicely with the Sony Xperia Z2’s overall minimalist theme.

More importantly, the Xperia Z2 can be submerged underwater for upwards of 30 minutes, making it the only waterproof tablet currently on the market. In the life of a student, that kind of protection against coffee spills and stray bathroom water can be a lifesaver.

At $500, this tablet is a bit pricey, but it’s a good choice for those who prefer the 10″ size, the waterproof aspect, and Sony’s aesthetic styling.

What About Keyboards?

As far as keyboards go, there are those who believe that tablet keyboards are unnecessary Why Tablets Shouldn't Have Keyboards Included With Them [Geeks Weigh In] Why Tablets Shouldn't Have Keyboards Included With Them [Geeks Weigh In] Once the love of all geeks, laptops are now defending their turf against smaller, lighter tablets that provide excellent battery life. While it’s not clear if tablets are the cause, laptops have seen their sales... Read More . However, practically speaking, external keyboards can be extremely convenient, in which case you should check out these affordable tablet keyboards Turn an Android Device Into a Laptop With Four Keyboard Technologies Turn an Android Device Into a Laptop With Four Keyboard Technologies Quite frankly, software keyboards just don't cut it for hardcore productivity. You should get a hardware keyboard -- and we'll help you decide which kind is right for you. Read More .

Which Tablet Will You Choose?

Are there any other tablets that weren’t listed but would be great for students? Post them in the comments below and tell us why you think they deserve a mention!

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  1. Alex Beck
    September 12, 2014 at 3:44 am

    Umm... The NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet is basically the new version of the Tegra Note 7. I have no idea why'd you would add the Note 7 above the SHIELD Tablet.

  2. Hildy J
    September 11, 2014 at 3:30 am

    For wasting time, the Nexus 7 is a good, inexpensive choice. For getting work done and moving between a laptop and a tablet I wouldn't recommend either an Android or an iOS tablet for a student. Instead, a Windows 8.1 tablet can be had for the same price. I'd recommend my Dell Venue 8 Pro with the optional stylus. It comes with Microsoft Office 2013 (including OneNote) and I'd look at adding a PDF editor which supports annotating PDFs with digital ink.

  3. rg
    September 10, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I'm very surprised you guys didn't mention Nvidia Shield tablet.

    It's definitely the best one right now (for students or whomever), until the Nexus 9 or whatever comes along...

  4. Srivatsan V
    September 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Nexus 7. I had the 2012, but I'm sure the 2013 will work just as well.

    Mainly for Google Drive for collaboration work with others, and the general form factor/size. It isn't enormous, yet you can read a textbook page vertically without needing to zoom in unless there's a table or a graph.

  5. Chinmay S
    September 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Why Android when you can buy the best tablet available for low price - iPad Mini.

    • dragonmouth
      September 10, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      Because this is an article about Android tablets.

    • Morgoone
      September 10, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      Forget about Android and iPad. They are useless when it comes to student work. You can get a full Windows 8 hybrid for less than $400 with a keyboard and Office. ASUS Transformer Book T100!

    • rg
      September 10, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      a) All the same reasons you'd buy any Android device over an ios device
      b) Cheaper?
      c) Stylus?

    • Chinmay S
      September 11, 2014 at 5:12 am

      It doesn't matter what the article is all about. The author mentioned "the best you can get for what you can afford". iPad Mini fits this line perfectly so why buy other tablets?

    • Bulk lau
      September 11, 2014 at 11:24 am

      It says ANDROID tablet you mouth breathing troll.

  6. Eren
    September 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I'd like to have a stylus as a student. I think there is not so many alternatives.

    • Manuel C
      September 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      I think you forgot the obvious note tablets from samsgung and the fantastic s-pen!

    • rg
      September 10, 2014 at 11:21 pm
    • jonen560ti
      September 11, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      I might be a little bit biased(i mean look at my username), but there is the Shield Tablet. if you`re into gaming, there`s no better choice and if you get the cover accessory(which also acts as a stand) and a bluetooth keyboard, you have a solid laptop replacement, at least for word processing. it also has an HDMI out and "console mode" where the tablet disables the built-in display to preserve power so you can work on a bigger screen. the Tablet and stand costs about 340$, but you can buy a third party cover to save a few dollars.