It's been a relatively quiet year for tablets, but some of the biggest names in tech – including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and Amazon – still launched devices in 2017. These are our picks for the best tablets out of the ones released over the last 12 months, at a variety of price points.

1. iPad Pro 2017

At a glance

  • Screen: 10.5-inch or 12.9-inch LCD, 1668 x 2224 pixels (265 ppi) or 2048 x 2732 pixels (265 ppi), 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Internals: Apple A10X Fusion CPU, 4 GB RAM, 64/256/512 GB storage
  • Camera: 12 MP

Even the staunchest of Google and Microsoft fans would probably admit that Apple is still setting the high watermark as far as 2017 tablets go – the combination of a near-faultless, slimline design, state-of-the-art screens, and the slickness of iOS (complete with an app dock and multitasking features exclusively for iPad users) means these are still the tablets to catch. Top of the iPad range this year are the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros.

With powerful A10X Fusion CPUs, displays that adapt to the ambient light as well as to what's currently being shown on screen, support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, plus Touch ID and Siri, these two iPad Pros are serious powerhouses. As with most of the gear Apple makes, the only problem is getting them to work with anything that doesn't have the Apple logo on it.

2. iPad 2017

At a glance

  • Screen: 9.7-inch LCD, 1536 x 2048 pixels (264 ppi), 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Internals: Apple A9 CPU, 2 GB RAM, 32/128 GB storage
  • Camera: 8 MP

It's impossible to argue that the regular iPad Apple also launched in 2017 is anywhere near the iPad Pros in terms of power or features, but it also happens to be hundreds of dollars less. It retains that excellent build quality that we mentioned above, as well as all the tricks of iOS 11, so if you just want a tablet rather than something that's a fully fledged MacBook replacement then the standard iPad might be the best value buy for you (it starts at half the price of its more illustrious siblings, the lowest starting price for an iPad ever).

It's an iPad for the basics: FaceTiming, watching Netflix, checking email, and so on. There's no support for the Apple Pencil and no Smart Connector for Apple's own Smart Keyboard, though you can hook up a third-party keyboard via Bluetooth if you want. Performance gets a significant boost over previous regular versions of the tablet, and considering that low, low price it's certainly worth a place on this list alongside the two larger iPad Pros.

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

At a glance

  • Screen: 9.7-inch Super AMOLED, 1536 x 2048 pixels (264 ppi), 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Internals: Snapdragon 820 CPU, 4 GB RAM, 32 GB storage
  • Camera: 13 MP

If you want the very best Android tablet that money can buy, then it's hard to look past the excellent Galaxy Tab S3 from Samsung, certainly as far as 2017 tablets are concerned – the Pixel C came out way back in 2015, and Google now seems more interested in Pixelbooks. The Tab S3 goes toe-to-toe with the iPad Pro in a lot of areas, only it's powered by Google's mobile operating system rather than Apple's, and therefore loses a bit of the slickness and capability on the software side.

Despite Android not quite matching up to iOS as a tablet operating system, the Galaxy Tab S3 looks fantastic, runs without a hitch, and has its own set of accessories in the form of the S Pen stylus (included with the tablet) and the keyboard cover (yours for an extra $64.99). If you prefer Android on your mobile devices and want a tablet that's good for relaxing on the sofa as well as doing some of the jobs your laptop does, the Tab S3 is ideal.

4. Surface Pro 2017

At a glance

  • Screen: 12.3-inch LCD, 1824 x 2736 pixels (267 ppi), 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Internals: Intel Kaby Lake m3 and higher, 4/6/8 GB RAM, 128/256/512 GB or 1 TB storage
  • Camera: 8 MP

Despite a few bumps in the road early in the days of Windows 8, Microsoft's determination to turn Windows into an operating system that can run on tablets as well as traditional computers is now paying off, with a plethora of 2-in-1 Windows 10 devices now on the market. Microsoft markets the Surface Pro as very much a laptop replacement, but despite the desktop class of Windows 10, we're counting it as a tablet – the Type Cover add-on is sold separately, after all.

The benefit of having the full fat Windows 10 on your tablet is that you can run any app you like, from iTunes to Photoshop, and a proper, multi-tabbed web browser as well. Microsoft has combined those top-notch software specs with a superior hardware design and build quality, and a fantastic screen, making this very much worth a look for power users who have plenty of cash to spend. As well as the Type Cover keyboard, the Surface Pen is available as a separate accessory.

5. Amazon Fire HD 2017

At a glance

  • Screen: 8-inch LCD, 800 x 1280 pixels (189 ppi) or 10.1-inch LCD, 1200 x 1920 pixels (224 ppi), 16:10 aspect ratio
  • Internals: Mediatek MT8163 or MT8173 CPU, 1.5/2 GB RAM, 16/32/64 GB storage
  • Camera: 2 MP

For a number of years, Amazon has been churning out super-cheap, perfectly decent tablets for people who can live within the limitations of Amazon's bespoke Android app store, and the two tablets the company launched during 2017 are no exception. For the kids, or for the tablet basics like web browsing, video watching, and emailing, the Amazon Fire HD 8 and Amazon Fire HD 10 fit the bill very well.

You don't get the best internals, or the highest-resolution screens with these tablets, but their low price and their versatility make them well worth a spot on our list of the tablets of the year – these are obviously flying off the (virtual) shelves at Amazon, and it's not hard to see why. The smart Alexa digital assistant comes built in as well, and if you can put up with some Amazon advertising on the lock screen, you can get them for even less.

6. Asus ZenPad 3S 10

At a glance

  • Screen: 9.7-inch LCD, 1536 x 2048 pixels (264 ppi), 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Internals: Snapdragon 650, 4GB RAM, 32 GB storage
  • Camera: 8 MP

If you want a budget Android laptop but don't like Amazon's own custom take on Google's OS, the Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is just about the best option we've seen launched during 2017. Asus knows what it's doing with its hardware, and while the 9.7-inch ZenPad 3S won't win any design awards at the end of the year, it won't let you down either, and you've got to factor in the retail price when weighing up any device out there – you get a lot of tablet for your money here.

That Snapdragon 650 CPU is particularly speedy for a tablet at this price point, and Android 7.0 Nougat rolled out to the slate earlier this year, so you're almost right up to date with the latest goodies that Android has to offer. That 9.7-inch screen gives you plenty of room for web browsing, Netflix viewing, or emailing too, and the 2K resolution is impressive as well. Considering the tablet is now almost a year old, you might be able to bag it for a very decent price online.

View gallery - 7 images