The tech gift guide: tablets for every type

13 Dec 2013

Be they big or small, Android, iOS or Windows, tablets are tipped to be one of the top Christmas gifts of 2013. To help you choose between them, we considered which would best suit different types of users.

For the space-saver

There are a number of small-sized tablets now on the market but you won’t find many more stunning than the new iPad Mini with Retina display. This 7.9-inch slate costs from €399 to €789 depending on your storage (16GB, 32GB, 64GB or 128GB) and connectivity options (Wi-Fi only or with data from O2, Vodafone or Three).

Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity have been improved on this iOS 7 device, which packs 3.1m pixels into a tablet you can hold in one hand. Available in grey or silver, each Retina-fitted iPad Mini features an A7 chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture, iSight and FaceTime HD cameras, and up to 10 hours’ battery power.

iPad Mini with Retina display

For big-screen appeal with added durability

Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z (from €499) has been on the market for some time now but it’s still ranking highly among the latest batch of tablets. Water and dust-resistant, this Android tablet offers rich HDTV viewing on its 10.1-inch Reality Display through its Mobile Bravia Engine 2. It’s also one of thinnest and lightest tablets on the market, measuring just 6.9mm thick and weighing under 500g.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z

The Xperia Tablet Z also features an 8MP rear camera and 2MP front-facing camera for video chat. If you have Sony products in your home already, it can double as a powerful universal remote control for these devices.

Inside, there’s a 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB RAM and dedicated Adreno 320 GPU. It’s 4G-ready and features Sony’s Battery Stamina mode to get the most from your battery power.

For the workhorse

For the hard-working divils out there, you can’t go wrong with the productive power of Microsoft’s Surface range. Recently updated to include the Surface 2 (from €439) and Surface Pro 2 (from €899), these Windows devices are ideal for a professional or student who likes to work on the go. For maximum impact, couple this gift with a Touch or Type Cover, which will set you back an additional €125 to €135.

Microsoft Surface 2

Microsoft Surface 2

The Surface 2 runs Windows RT 8.1 and features a 10.6-inch ClearType display with full-HD 1080p picture quality. There’s a 5MP rear camera and 3.5MP front-facing camera, both capable of capturing 1080p video.

Powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, this hard-working device offers up to 10 hours’ video playback and features a number of improvements on the previous model.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Microsoft Surface Pro 2 with Pro Pen and Type Cover 2

The pricier Surface Pro 2 comes running Windows 8.1 Pro. Power-saving fourth-generation Intel Core i5 Haswell processors help it to achieve 60pc more battery life than the original Surface Pro and a digital stylus is included in the price. The power and performance of the Pro 2 has been optimised to such a point that it’s hard to consider this a secondary computer; more like a primary desktop you can take anywhere.

For those who don’t like change

Since the majority of us already carry a smartphone, having a second mobile device can seem superfluous to some – not to mention bothersome when you have to set up your new tablet with all your current apps and accounts. For these users, you could gift them a Phonepad (stg£149.99).


Simply slot a Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4 smartphone into this touchscreen tablet dock and voilà, you have full-screen mobility with minimal effort. The device’s Wi-Fi and 3G or 4G connectivity are powered by your phone so there’s no new data plan required.

The Phonepad features a 10.1-inch LED HD (1080p) touchscreen with a resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels. Its battery lasts up to eight hours and your phone will even charge when docked.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.