In the beginning, tablets looked more like the televisions that strap onto the back of a car's seat more than something out of "2001: A Space Odyssey." However, I'm happy to report that the times have changed and so have tablet designs.
After Apple released the iPad (let's give credit where credit is due), aesthetics and design became a more prominent selling-point for the emerging portable devices. Overall, tablet girth has declined, ushering in the new era of thin slates, and we've gathered the ones so sleek, their predecessors wouldn't even recognize them if they saw them walking down the street.
This post focuses on tablets smaller than 8.9 inches, but if you're interested in a bigger display without sacrificing too much bag space, check out our top picks for thinnest and lightest large tablets.
Thickness (in inches)
Weight (in pounds)
Screen size (in inches)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
iPad Mini with Retina Display
Asus MeMo Pad 8
Google Nexus 7
Google set a precedent with the original Nexus 7, offering a pure Android tablet with zippy performance at an affordable price, and the second iteration of the Nexus 7 continues in that fashion. It has few bells and whistles, yet its simplicity suits it and matches its minimal comfortable and lightweight design. It's as light as the Kindle Fire HDX (above) and only beats the Amazon slate in depth by a small margin.
It's not often that you see a budget tablet with a sleek look, so the MeMo Pad 8 stands out in the saturated crowd. Aside from it's bargain-chic look, Asus packs it with feature-filled user-interface, free apps and a few useful storage services. Those looking for a good deal who don't want to compromise on a slick aesthetic should take note of this Asus slate.
The invention of the iPad helped steer tablets into the mainstream and the iPad Mini model replicates the successful, sleek aluminum slate but in a more portable form. It's the smallest iPad available and rocks one of the most high-end designs, and if you're already wrapped into Apple's robust ecosystem, choosing an iPad is an easy decision.
The 8.4-inch Galaxy Tab Pro stuns with its razor-sharp, pixel-packed screen, and it comes with a ton of preloaded Samsung software (or bloatware, if you're a hater), and if you fancy a high-end small tablet that runs Android, put this one on your short list.
Planet Tablet in Samsung's Galaxy is a force to be reckoned with. The release of the Tab S solidifies Samsung as one of the most tablet-centric brands and, aside from a purportedly vivid, super-HD screen with life-like colors, the flagship Samsung Galaxy Tab S boasts industry-leading thinness, with the lightweight of a 7-inch tablet in an 8.4-inch package.