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Tablets have found new life in our homes as the coronavirus pandemic has upped the need for a device that can handle entertainment, education and even some work. For 2020, Apple has updated nearly its full line: The high-end iPad Pro models were refreshed in the spring, while a new 10.2-inch baseline iPad and majorly overhauled iPad Air arrive this fall. The Pro and Air models boast seriously powerful processors, which allow for functionalities previously exclusive to computers and laptops, like photo editing. And while we're not retiring our laptops yet, the new features are more promising for the iPad's future as a productivity device than anything the company's added in years.  

Elsewhere in tablet land, Microsoft debuted new Surface models in May, including the 15-inch Surface Book 3 and the Surface Go 2, a refresh of its tiniest tablet. Android tablets, meanwhile, remain constricted by their phone-centric operating system -- bu tthat hasn't stopped Samsung is taking a shot at iPad-Pro-like productivity with the new Tab S7 Plus. And in the value segment, Amazon remains the best option for cheap and kid-friendly models with its Fire tablet. Each of these options offer app stores, but you'll want to check that your must-have apps and available on prospective devices before buying (don't look for Fortnite on the iPad right now, for instance).

Here are our picks for the best tablet available right now. We included budget tablet and premium tablet options, as well as devices at price points in between. We even threw in a tablet PC as a bonus. All of these products (or previous versions thereof) have been fully reviewed or anecdotally tested by CNET editors. We took several factors into consideration, including pressure sensitivity, screen size, the inclusion of a front camera, internal storage, the option to add a microSD card and whether or not the tablet offers a headphone jack. This story was published earlier, and we'll continue to update it as new products become available.

Note: The 2020 iPad Air is scheduled for release in October. We'll consider it for this list once we've had a chance to review it.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple just updated its entry-level iPad for 2020, adding a faster chip -- the iPhone XS-era A12 -- but keeping the base price at $329 for the 32GB Wi-Fi version. The important thing to know is that this 10.2-inch model will deliver a smooth experience and access to the iPad's rich library of apps. It keeps support for a connector-attached smart keyboard and the first-gen Apple Pencil, making it a solid option for distance learning, too. Just be on the lookout for price drops: The previous model was frequently discounted to $250 -- that's they price you should ideally wait for. 

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Updated for 2020, the newest version of the Apple iPad Pro adds a fancier rear camera array and even a lidar sensor for bleeding-edge AR features. But the biggest upgrade comes via the software, which now supports laptop-style trackpads. But to use that, you'll need something like Apple's Magic Keyboard Case for iPad Pro, a pricey add-on. 

Still, it finally makes us more enthusiastic about this highest-end iPad, which is otherwise a performance monster, with Face ID, USB Type-C, great battery life, a killer retina screen and the best processor and best design in Apple's line. This Apple tablet can also be counted among the best drawing tablets, especially when paired with the Apple Pencil from 2018. (If you already have the previous iPad Pro, there's no big reason to upgrade to this 2020 model.) Note that the iPad Pro is available in 11-inch and 12.9-inch models.

All that said, anyone looking at the 11-inch iPad Pro should give the new 2020 iPad Air -- which sports a similar design and newer processor -- serious consideration. Read more.

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Fire DeX up on the Tab S7, with the keyboard attached, and you get a remarkably laptop-like experience. Open multiple apps, resize them in different windows, minimize everything down to the taskbar. It's a much more familiar-feeling experience for laptoppers than even the latest iPad with keyboard and touchpad support.  One new DeX trick is pretty clever -- the ability to wirelessly throw your DeX desktop to another display or even a TV. Read our hands-on of the Samsung Tab S7 Plus.

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Apple refreshed the iPad Mini in the spring of 2019 with Apple Pencil support and an A12 processor. Now that the 10.2-inch model has caught up to it in terms of specs, it's tough to swallow the fact that this smaller 7.9-inch model has a higher price -- though you should know it frequently goes on sale for $350. Still, some folks love this model as a smaller, lighter option that's well-sized as an upscale ebook reader.  iPad Mini review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon's rock-bottom tablet prices are always shocking, and this year's Fire 7 is a solid budget tablet pick for basic video/game/kid apps needs. It has a relatively small screen size, but, as always, Amazon Prime lets you get a lot more out of it content-wise, though Amazon's Fire ecosystem is more limited than Android. But if you're buying for a child, definitely invest in the Kids Edition. Beyond parental controls, this version of the device includes a rubberized case, a free year of kid-friendly FreeTime Unlimited content -- and a no-questions-asked two-year replacement warranty for damaged units. Stop living in fear of a shattered screen! It also has an all-important headphone jack, so you don't have to worry if your wireless earbuds are charged. Read our Amazon Fire 7 (2019) review.

Amazon

The 10-inch Amazon Fire HD tablet is faster and better than the 7- or 8-inch Fire tablet, and it's still a pretty low $150 (or less). For the Fire HD 10, there are two storage options, 32 GB and 64 GB. The Fire HD tablet also charges its battery life via USB type-C now. Fire HD 10 gets an upgrade.

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For the right price, the Chromebook X2 could be the best tablet of the bunch as far as deals go. It's a functional Chromebook laptop that's also a detachable tablet, and it can also be used for photo editing and playing Android tablet apps. It comes with 4 GB of RAM. Read our HP Chromebook x2 review.

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