Best premium tablets

You pay a premium for these high-end slates, but the cream of the crop comes at a cost.

Premium tablets pull out all the stops when it comes to specs and design. Sarah Tew/CNET

There are some really great tablets out there, but a lot of them suffer from expensive starting prices. Pricing usually declines to a reasonable point, but only after the slates are no longer shiny and new. If you don't want to wait, or don't have to, I've gathered the slates that offer a high-end experience for a premium price.

With speedy performance, sharp and colorful screens and comfortable-but-cool designs, tablet manufacturers make you pay for the perfect balance of fashion, function and quality -- literally. Whether you've been saving up all summer for a slate or are just picking up a third to use exclusively to buy rare caviar, these tablet picks are the best high-end buys any buck or bitcoin can cop.

The iPad Air 2 also packs one of the best tablet cameras. Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple iPad Air 2

The Apple iPad is the Brad Pitt of tablets -- if you've got the money to spend, it's a great choice, but a better suited possibility may be out there. However, if you're an iPhone user, the iPad supersizes that experience in an ultra-cool package. Like most Apple gadgets, they rock a premium price to complement their premium design. Read more about the Apple iPad Air 2.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S slates are great for movie buffs. James Martin/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S devices take the cake in the stunning screen category. Their vibrant super-AMOLED HD screens display richly saturated colors, black levels as dark as the abyss and lifelike sharpness. The 8.4- and 10.5-inch tablets are also sleekly designed and pack fingerprint scanners for extra security. Samsung releases a slew of slates every year, but the Tab S pair preeminently stands out as its best effort yet. Read more about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S.

The Nexus 9 is a midsize alternative to its 7- and 10-inch Google tablet counterparts. Josh Miller/CNET

Google Nexus 9

Google's latest tablet provides an exceptional Android experience in a fashionably subdued package. In addition to running the latest Lollipop 5.0 operating system, it houses one of the most powerful mobile processors and boasts state-of-the-art graphics. You won't find a fingerprint scanner on it -- or any other fancy bells or whistles -- but the tablet's speedy performance and solid build speak for itself. Read more about the Google Nexus 9 here.

The Surface Pro 3 is thinner and lighter than the previous model. Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

The Microsoft Surface remains one of the best productivity tablets available and the refreshed Pro 3 boasts a thinner, lighter design, and a larger, sharper screen. The slick removable keyboard cover and built-in kick-stand give the Surface a cool-yet-functional edge and its design -- inside and out -- is geared toward those who need to get work done. Read more about the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.

Want to see more? Check out our list of best tablets overall.


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