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 Venue 8 7000b hosts a myriad of photography possibilities. Josh P. Miller/CNET

Dell Venue 8 7000

Tablet photography trails behind the impressive photo quality that these smartphones offer, but the 8-inch Dell Venue makes the best case yet for upsizing to a tablet. It features an ultraslim and sturdy design with a depth-sensing camera that allows you to adjust the focus of a photo after it's taken. The unique feature combined with a chic aesthetic makes the Venue 8 7000 a great swanky slate for gadget geeks. Read the full review for the Dell Venue 8 7000 here.

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.

Editors' note:This article was originally published on April 14, 2014 and is updated regularly to reflect changes in the marketplace.

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