Apple iPad Air 2 ( gold, 128GB)
Apple iPad Mini 3 ( space gray, 128GB, 3G/4G)
One of last year's best, the iPad Mini 3 is still a compelling choice despite the lack of upgrades. However, the nearly identical and significantly cheaper iPad Mini 2 is a smarter buy.
ASUS VivoTab Note 8 M80TA
The 8-inch VivoTab 8 is a Windows tablet that doesn't particularly stand out in a crowded field, until you discover the Wacom stylus tucked inside its body.
Asus Transformer Book T100
The Asus Transformer Book T100 revives the Netbook value proposition (and Netbook usability issues) in a budget-price 10-inch laptop that doubles as a tablet. You won’t love it, but for sheer bang for the buck, it’s hard to beat.
Apple iPad Mini 2 ( silver, 16GB, Verizon)
The new iPad Mini somehow shrinks down the iPad Air into an even more compact package, sacrificing nearly nothing. It's more expensive than before, but it's also the perfect smaller tablet.
Microsoft Surface Pro 2
Microsoft's subtly updated Windows 8.1 tablet feels more like Surface Pro 1.5 -- improved battery life and better accessories make it a worthwhile (albeit pricey) laptop replacement, but it's still not an iPad-level category killer.
Sony Vaio Tap 11
Sony's thin, powerful Tap 11 tablet shows up the competition in terms of design. It's not ideal for everyone, but only a few tweaks away from being the runaway leader in this smallish category.
Acer Iconia W3 ( 64GB)
The smaller 8-inch Windows 8 tablet is a form worth exploring, and the Acer Iconia W3 can be fun to use, but it's also buggy and held back by shortcuts and lackluster features.
The Kobo Arc is a fine tablet that simply doesn't offer enough compelling reasons to seriously consider it.
Apple iPad Mini
If you want the full, polished Apple tablet experience in a smaller package, the iPad Mini is worth the premium price. Otherwise, good alternatives are available for less money.