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Best tablets and e-readers for reading, games and more

Why carry around one book when you can carry around thousands? Check out our top tablet and e-reader picks for avid readers.

Jason Jenkins
1 of 8 CNET

Apple iPad Air 2

Tablets are a great way to browse the Web, catch up on TV, play games and a whole lot else besides. You can read books on them too, but most people will find a dedicated e-reader kinder on their eyes. There are a huge number of different models to choose from, but here are our favourite tablets and e-readers from the past year.

The first tablet in our roundup is the iPad Air 2, which represents everything a tablet should be. It's very light, powerful, has loads of cool apps and the screen is a knockout. If you can afford it, this is the tablet to get, but it's overkill if you just want to do a bit of Internet. Thankfully there are plenty of good value alternatives.

2 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon Kindle Voyage

King of the e-readers, on the other hand, is the Kindle Voyage. Its design is comfortably lightweight, with a sleek, flush glass front and magnesium back, and the sharp contrast of the e-ink screen is easy on the eyes. There's a backlight, for reading in dark environments, and there are more ebooks to buy on Amazon than you could ever hope to read.

£169.00 at Amazon.co.uk

3 of 8 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Tesco Hudl 2

The second version of Tesco's super-cheap tablet improves on the first in a few key ways, such as the quality of the screen. At just £129, it's incredible value and performs the basic functions of Web browsing and movie watching just fine. There are better models you can buy, but not for this amount of money.

4 of 8 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4

If you definitely want an Android tablet rather than an iPad, this is a good way to go, and it's a big step up from the Hudl. The Galaxy Tab S is superslim and light, and its bright, OLED display has excellent contrast. Magazine readers will revel in the colourful, vibrant display -- it brings lifelike clarity to images and HD video. Samsung's Magazine UX software is also geared towards having all of your favourite reads only a simple swipe away.

£263.99 at Amazon.co.uk

5 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple iPad Mini 2

If you look at the iPad Air's 9.7-inch screen and think, "That's a bit big," the iPad Mini with its 7.9-inch display is worth a look. Unusually, we're recommending last year's iPad Mini rather than this year's. That's because, even though it's around £80 cheaper,  the processor and screen are the same. The only thing missing of note is a fingerprint reader, and that's not worth £80. 2013's iPad Mini 2 would make a great gift.

Available at Amazon.co.uk, (in various storage sizes).

6 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Kobo Aura H20

If you have an affinity for reading in the bathtub, the £140 Kobo Aura H2O should shoot to the top of your list.

The waterproof e-reader is beautifully built and can be immersed in water up to 1 metre for 30 minutes. It also comes with a backlight for reading in the dark -- candlelit bathtime ahoy -- and a microSD card expansion slot for loading your own books.

7 of 8 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Sony may not be the first name you think of when looking for a new tablet, but its latest model is very lightweight and has a killer feature: it's waterproof. The 8-inch, full HD screen is bright and there's an 8.1 megapixel camera on the back.

£309.99 at Amazon.co.uk

8 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon Fire HD 6

Amazon's line of tablets aren't ones we would automatically recommend, but this one is so cheap it deserves to be in this roundup. Amazon Fire tablets run a custom version of Android that makes them simpler to use, but you can't install apps from the Google Play store. Instead you have to rely on Amazon's own collection.

That means you miss out on some popular apps, which is a problem for its high-end models, but less so for something that costs £79. The 6-inch screen is reasonable, and it's faster to respond to touch than you might expect for something this cheap.

For loads more gift ideas, check out the rest of our Christmas Tech Gift Guide 2014.

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