When history looks back at 2012 with a lens focused on the tablet world, it will likely call it the turning point for Android tablets. Although Android tablets had been incrementally pulling small bits of marketshare away from Apple's dominance with the iPad since 2010, the pace was glacially slow. In 2012 that all changed when Google decided to follow Amazon's example by offering a low-cost, yet powerful Android tablet called the Nexus 7. Amazon and Google figured out that you had to win the hearts and minds of the consumer before they could go toe-to-toe with the behemoth that is the iPad.
To do that, they couldn't compete on a level playing field with Apple. The previous big manufacturers had already tried and failed to do that. Certainly they created good products that sold relatively well, but they really hadn't made a dent in Apple's massive market dominance. By offering a robust, yet very affordable tablet experience with the $199.99 Nexus 7, this new strategy was able to circumvent the previous head-to-head battle with iPad. This finally established the Android tablet in the consciousness of consumers. Ever since then, the iPad marketshare has been eroding faster than a sand-castle at high tide. While Android tablets have not completely exceeded the global marketshare of the iPad, most analysts predict that is likely to happen early in 2013. Thus, it was with this new strategic focus in 2012 that Google (and Amazon) were able to make Android tablets a powerful force in the tablet world.
Because 2012 was the year of this turning point for Android tablets, we decided it would be fun to share a best 5 tablets of 2012 list with you guys. Here at HQ we discussed this for quite some time and decided that five specific tablets could be considered the best of the year. We would love to hear your thoughts on this list. We will share these five tablets in no particular order, and actually want to leave that up to you. This post will include a poll, and you can vote for which tablet is your favorite. We will even include an "other tablet" category, because we know your favorite just might not be on our list. If you disagree with our list, please share in the forums what tablets you think should be on the list and what order they should be in from top to bottom. It's fun to create these lists, but for us, it's more fun to hear what you guys think, so we can all discuss it in the forum.
Here are the top five Android tablets of 2012 in no particular order:
Google Nexus 7 - It would be silly not to include this one on the list. There are so many things about this tablet that make it deserving of being on this list: It sold the most of any Android tablet, it provides a solid, fast and reliable tablet experience, it offers fantastic value. In fact, one could argue that it was instrumental in transforming the tablet landscape for Android. Certainly it's not perfect. Many were disappointed that it didn't have a microSD card slot, but over-all most people that own one are very happy with it.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD - While this is not a purely Android device, because it is heavily "skinned" to give a different and more Amazon-focused experience, it is still notable and worthy of mention on this list. It is an excellent product that carries on the tradition set by it's predecessor the Kindle Fire. In fact, it was this series of tablets that pioneered the new strategy which helped catapult Android tablets into the mainstream. This new Kindle Fire variant improves on the original in several ways, and was also one of the most successful Android tablets of the year in sales and user satisfaction.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - This one wasn't too hard of a choice. Samsung has made some impressive Android tablets over the last couple of years, but this one seemed to bring the best features together from all of them in one svelt and powerful package. It even brings some of the great lessons Samsung learned from their Galaxy Note phablet series and makes them useable on a tablet. Sure, this puppy is a bit pricey, but this impressive evolution of product prowess from Sammy's engineers is worth every penny for those who can take advantage. If you are looking for a top-of-the-line Android tablet, you can't go wrong with the Galaxy Note 10.1.
Asus Transformer Pad Infinity - Choosing the Transformer Pad Infinity was both tough and easy at the same time. It was hard because Asus makes so many excellent tablets, that is hard to choose from amongst them. However, it was pretty easy because, of all of the Asus tablets that actually came out in 2012, this one seems to bring all of the best features together in the most evolved package. The impressive aesthetics, and powerful hardware, coupled with Asus' excellent reliability help the Transformer Pad Infinity take an easy top-spot for the year.
Fuhu Nabi 2 - It might surprise some of you to see this on our best of 2012 list, but we feel that it is definitely deserving of its spot. Even though the Nabi 2 is an Android tablet marketed squarely for kids, make no mistake about it, this thing is the real deal. Fuhu did a phenomenal job making a useable, fast, and robust Android tablet for the market they were aiming at, and it provides a rich experience for this demographic. In fact, even though it was designed for kids, the specs on this Android tablet blow away some of the top of the line, full-fledged tablets from just a few months prior. In some ways, it can even take on the Nexus 7 and give it a run for its money. When you factor in the excellent kid-friendly and parent-approved software package that it comes with, this tablet easily earns its spot on this list.
That's it for our list. We want to reiterate that we want to hear your perspective. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to sound off with your opinion as to which Android tablet of 2012 was your favorite and which order you would place these in from 1st to 5th. Please back up your perspective with a good argument and interesting points, so we can have a great conversation with this one! As always, thanks for making this a fantastic year!
We also want to give a huge shout out to wicked for doing such a great job on the pics for both of our 2012 Year in Review stories. Great work!