For the Apple aficionado

Oh, the places your grad will go -- and the many-a e-readers and tablets available to help set them on their way.

If shopping for a recent grad whose face is constantly glued to their iPhone, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the iPad is probably the best tablet to get them. The Apple tablet offers access to the vast app ecosystem they're used to, all in larger, but familiar, design.

The iPad Air is one of the thinnest and sleekest slates ever, but if it's too big, the smaller iPad Mini offers many of the same features in a more petite package. The downside to these bad boys are their high starting prices, with the iPad Mini starting at $399 and the iPad Air at $499. If these prices are too high, don't worry. There are many other great tablets available (hint: they're in this slideshow) but if an iPad is a must, older models are cheaper and easily available online.

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For the grad on-the-go

If your grad is constantly buzzing from one place to another, the Google Nexus 7 tablet with 4G LTE capabilities lets them quickly browse the Web and access all of their favorite apps on-the-go. They have to sign-up for 4G service through a carrier, but even without it, the Nexus 7 is an attractively affordable option.


The Google branded tablet gets the latest Android OS upgrades -- giving it an edge no matter how old it is -- and its minimal design is comfortable, yet cool. What's even more impressive is its reasonable $249 starting price. That's a great deal any mover-and-shaker would approve of.

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4 stars Excellent

For the overachiever

If your grad is the type who thinks an "A-" is the end of the world, the Microsoft Surface 2 may live up to their expectations.

The slate is hands-down the best productivity tablet available and, though it's a little hefty on the design side, the feature-filled slate is worth its extra weight. Whether they're taking on college, a new job, or a novel, the laptop-on-the-outside-tablet-on-the-inside duality of the Microsoft Surface 2 takes care of both work and play needs.

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For the no-frills nerd

Even the most passionate bookhuggers have to admit there's something magical about being able to carry thousands of books in the back of your pocket. The Amazon PaperWhite is the best e-reader, if you don't mind selling-out to the tablet trend just a little.

The Kindle e-reader has access to the 1.8 billion books offered through Amazon's ecosystem and its screen is easy on the eyestrain. For a simpler tablet experience, akin to a paperback instead of a hardcover, the Kindle Paperwhite appeases some high-tech desire while keeping it low-key.

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4 stars Excellent

For the non-techie grad

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is simple and easy to use, but it's not to be underestimated when it comes to performance and features. It's ultra-slim and comfortable to hold, and perfectly caters to the perks of Amazon's Prime Membership.

Any TV or movie buff will appreciate streaming video on the impressively colorful and sharp screen -- an acceptable indulgence for a hard-working grad -- and the slate also comes in a 7-inch version, if a smaller slate is preferred.

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For a traveling grad

If you're shopping for someone who is taking their books abroad, the Barnes and Noble HD+ is an affordable, yet feature-filled tablet that hits all the right spots.

Basics like e-mail, browsing, and apps via the Google Play store are available, but with prices starting at $179, its comfortable design, sharp-screen, and microSD card slot make it one of the best simple splurges.

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For the premuim Android alternative

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is an adequate Android alternative to the Apple iPad Mini. Aside from its competitively sleek and slim design, the Tab Pro 8.4's larger screen currently rocks the most pixels-per-inch of any slate.

Samsung's TouchWiz Magazine UX makes it easy to customize the tablet out of the box and consistent on-screen instructions will help your mom acquaint herself with the many, many features offered.

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Where to Buy

Google Nexus 7 (32GB, HSPA+)

Part Number: CNET-Google-Nexus-7-3G-LTE
MSRP: $299.00 Low Price: $288.00 See all prices

Where to Buy

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2013)

Part Number: B00AWH595M
MSRP: $119.00 Low Price: $99.00 See all prices

Where to Buy

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9

Part Number: 53-000730
Low Price: $379.99 See all prices
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