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We spent weeks testing capsules: Right here are the top 3 you should buy

We spent weeks testing capsules: Right here are the top 3 you should buy


Whether you’re procuring for a portable media expertise or a resounding, lightweight laptop replacement for sail, a capsule can match the invoice. These increasingly more stop-it-all devices can deal with work and play, and even exchange a laptop. After months of testing, we’ve chanced on four top picks, indubitably one of which should match your contact-masks needs, whichever platform you decide. Apple’s iPad can deal with work and play, the iPad Pro can exchange your laptop, Amazon’s Fireside HD sequence is wonderful for on-the-recede streaming and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab sequence continues to push Android capsules further with their DeX productiveness environment.

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Handiest capsule overall

The Eighth Gen iPad stood out as the easiest overall option in our testing due to a zippy processor that crushes play or work duties with ease. This capsule mixes efficiency and payment in a plan that no other capsule can.

Handiest efficiency

The 2021 iPad Pro is the fastest capsule we now possess ever examined and it runs easily by plan of all kinds of duties — Photoshop exports, video renders, gaming, productiveness duties and streaming all happen with out a hitch.

Handiest Android capsule

The Tab S7 is a certain winner, with enough energy to protect up and not utilizing a topic you can throw at it and heaps battery existence. While Android is no longer all the time undoubtedly somewhat on par with iPad OS, Samsung DeX brings Windows-worship multitasking to the Tab.

Handiest funds capsule under $200

The Fireside HD 8 Plus can deal with a bunch of everyday duties and fetch admission to Amazon’s library of screech, including streaming movies and TV reveals, e-reading and even some light gaming. For $109.99, it’ll stop rather a lot, but know that the Amazon App Retailer is limited.

8th-Generation iPad

Jacob Krol/CNN

Eighth-Technology iPad

Compared to the seventh-gen iPad, the eighth-gen iPad introduces a sooner processor. It keeps the classic fetch and a quality show masks. However we chanced on that the A12 Bionic chip internal boosted efficiency and improved the expertise with iPadOS 14.

We threw rather a lot at the eighth-gen iPad for the interval of a corpulent day of work. Throughout our testing, it had no bother handling lighter workloads, worship firing off emails, browsing the web, typing, streaming screech and even light gaming. Rendering video edits in iMovie or making minute changes to a series of pictures in Photoshop did result in the capsule slowing down. The eighth-gen handled multitasking worship a champ, even with three apps — Pages on the left, Safari on the true and Messages floating above — running simultaneously.

The eighth-generation iPad is easiest for everyday duties (mediate emails and web browsing, with a sprinkling of gaming on the aspect). One thing else more technical, though, and you’ll are searching to determine for the more mighty iPad Pro or the iPad Air.

And while we are in a position to bog you down with ingredient ratios and other tech jargon, we’ll fetch straight to the point: The iPad’s show masks quality shines. Text is spirited and valorous, meaning you obtained’t wish to stress while reading, whether you’re on your sofa or at the shoreline. We had an scrumptious expertise utilizing the eighth-generation iPad to form FaceTime calls, ask movies, browse the web or read a book, even in harsh lighting prerequisites. That’s due to its Horny Tone capabilities, meaning the iPad will alter the coloration temperature of the show masks in step with your environment.

The show masks accurately reproduces colors and doesn’t turn vibrancy up to 10. So nothing gets washed out, making streaming screech a completely scrumptious expertise. When watching “Avengers: Endgame,” for occasion, we were struck by how every thing on-masks undoubtedly popped — the comely orange and yellow of explosions, and the stark reds, blues and whites of the characters’ getups. While an immersive expertise, our handiest gripe is that the masks is no longer in fact edge-to-edge.

However these noticeable edges round the show masks aren’t going to raze, as the tried-and-depended on home button is a valuable control on the eighth-generation iPad. The familiar UX employs a single click on to direct you succor home and a double click on to tug up multitasking. You’ll furthermore web a camera up top in a vertical location, which can form for awkward selfies and FaceTime calls when utilizing the iPad horizontally. (The iPad Pro uses this same placement for the entrance camera, but our funds and Android employ possess it in the easiest spot: on its aspect.)

Arguably the most pleasurable addition lives on the left-hand aspect. The Dapper Connector gives you a true connection for accessories worship a Dapper Keyboard or the Logitech Combo Touch. No more worrying pairing or needing to payment a pair of devices, so you can easily pair accessories to beef up productiveness. Trackpads and mice are furthermore fully supported by iPadOS as an enter, together with contact, a keyboard or a pencil.

You don’t wish to worry about being tethered to an outlet, either. We purchased shut to 11 hours of filled with life use with the eighth-generation iPad. Heavier days with a complete bunch calls and streaming did result in shut to nine and a half of hours, though. Throughout our more formulaic battery take a look at — in which we establish the brightness to 50%, turned on airplane mode and looped a video except the instrument died — we chanced on the instrument lasted nine hours and 30 minutes. That’s an additional two hours compared to the previous-generation mannequin.

Any manner you gash it, the eighth-generation iPad continues to direct an mighty blend of efficiency and payment. We’d be keen to wager that this capsule will match your needs completely, no topic they would possibly perchance presumably be, and at a worth point that obtained’t ruin the monetary institution.

Apple has undoubtedly let the iPad Pro broken-down, and the fifth-generation Pro, in either its 11-walk or 12.9-walk configuration, can exchange your laptop if you’re keen to work internal the obstacles of iPadOS.

The M1 chip (optimistic, the same one which powers the MacBook Air, 13-walk MacBook Pro, 24-walk iMac and Mac Mini) is the superstar of the narrate on the iPad Pro, and it delivers extremely-spectacular processing energy. With an 8-core CPU, 8-Core GPU and 16-Core Neural Engine, the iPad Pro gives you a easy expertise, no topic the process. The environment pleasant, responsive chip is a core motive the iPad Pro outperformed every other capsule we’ve examined.

This capsule is largely up for any process. Neatly-organized screech exports happen in milliseconds. Saving a PDF happens straight away. We were in a location to render 4K movies, export huge pictures from Photoshop and import and export knowledge, all with MacBook-worship velocity and with out a hitch.

Apple’s iPadOS gives you fetch admission to to a whole lot of thousands of apps by plan of the App Retailer. While early iPad Pros fell rapid as laptop replacements given their lack of multitasking, Apple’s addition of aspect-by-aspect multitasking to iPad in iOS 9 made the iPad Pro a productiveness contender. Coming this tumble, the Pro will receive iPadOS 15, which good points a menu for managing multitasking. We’ve been utilizing the beta and web the contemporary come more straight forward, plus added parts worship the precious Rapid Sign (which lets you fetch a show masks from anywhere in iPadOS) give the Pro a more laptop-worship undoubtedly feel overall.

While the eighth-generation iPad’s show masks efficiency is spectacular, the iPad Pro united states of americathe ante with its ProMotion show masks; the larger refresh rate creates a buttery easy viewing expertise whether you’re simply sorting by plan of a spreadsheet or watching the latest episode of “Ozark” or “Loki.”

Whether you decide for the 11-walk or 12.9-walk variant of the iPad Pro, the show masks gives you quite rather a lot of room to multitask. Those that decide for the 12.9-walk will be in for a proper take care of, because it’s a Mini LED show masks. Over 10,000 LEDs leisurely the glass fetch immersive pictures that would possibly perchance pop with vibrancy and simmer all the plan down to direct deep blacks and incompatibility parts. It’s elegant in that it’ll form text scrutinize inky, scale to game with high refresh rates and give this capsule the eager ability for film improving in Luma Fusion. Mini LED is unfortunately handiest chanced on on the 12.9-walk, while the 11-walk sticks with a classic Retina show masks.

To sum it up, image quality bests the eighth-generation iPad, iPad Air and iPad Mini. For that reason of a bigger resolution, colors pop more, and a more complete vary of coloration beef up outcomes in a pristine viewing expertise.

Apple has added a trim trick for video calls — CenterStage repeatedly keeps you in focal point by plan of the entrance-going by plan of camera and is a dynamic expertise. As you physically trot round or transfer your head round, the iPad Pro will retain you in the shot. Better but, it undoubtedly works on FaceTime, Zoom, Webex, Slack and Google Meet.

The efficiency and show masks quality form the Pro a laptop competitor, but pairing the iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard, while costly, makes it undoubtedly feel worship a true 2-in-1 or even a corpulent-fledged computer. An iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard and an Apple Pencil is more costly than a MacBook Air, but you fetch a in fact multi-mode expertise that takes benefit of the corpulent energy of iPadOS. As the process requires, you can form, or use the Pencil (splendid for show masks-taking and drawing) or your fingers.

The iPad Pro isn’t the handiest iPad on the block that would possibly perchance stop this, though — the eighth-gen iPad (our overall employ) and the latest iPad Air both beef up these parts. The key incompatibility is the processing energy internal and better show masks, which makes the incompatibility for somebody searching to make use of an iPad as their predominant instrument.

One plot back is the single Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port (the MacBook Air has two). It’s going to stop rather a lot, but you’re caught with factual one. To fetch the most out of it — or even to protect it charged while running an exterior note — you’ll wish to pair it with a USB-C hub, worship the Satechi or Hyper objects designed namely for the iPad Pro (though other USB-C hubs should work if you want more ports). This kind you can hook up peripherals worship SSDs, cameras and even exterior shows. We stop use an iPad Pro as our day-to-day driver, and hook it true into a hub to fetch admission to exterior storage and a nice note.

Merely establish: The iPad Pro is a beast and undoubtedly excels as a multi-mode instrument that lets in for a plethora of inputs. The processor’s velocity paired with iPadOS enables you to shred by plan of exports, easily multitask with quite rather a lot of apps and gather the relaxation with out a hitch. Sprinkle the nice show masks and accessories on top of all that and you possess a winning recipe for a resounding laptop replacement.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

In the case of Android capsules, there aren’t many choices. Samsung, for the most segment, is the handiest firm that constantly releases contemporary Android-powered capsules yearly. Amazon’s Fireside capsules are Android-primarily based fully but mosey a heavily personalized version of the working machine that leaves beef up for Google’s apps and companies leisurely.

Restful, even in a restricted self-discipline, the flagship-stage Tab S7 shines. It’s running Android with corpulent Google beef up and a few Samsung customizations (dubbed the One UI interface). A Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor powers the expertise (which is somewhat rapid). It pairs that swift chipset with 6GB of RAM, which plan it turned into once up for quite rather a lot of multitasking.

The combination of processing energy here turned into once furthermore enough to energy Samsung DeX — which transforms the fashioned Android interface true into a laptop-worship interface — even supposing we did expertise some slowdowns in this mode. App compatibility, worship Android apps on a Chromebook, turned into once spotty, though it’s mild to hand for when you wish to work in a weird environment. You can robotically establish off it by connecting the S7 to Samsung’s keyboard accessory, which is out there individually for $199.

The Tab S7 parts an 11-walk masks establish in a 16:9 ratio. It’s slightly taller and thinner than, reveal, the 11-walk iPad Pro. It’s an LCD show masks and seemed crisp and spirited when streaming movies, browsing the web and even cycling by plan of pictures. Better but, it helps up to an iPad-rivaling 120 Hz refresh rate, which delivers a buttery easy viewing expertise. Now, the Tab S7 isn’t the handiest capsule Samsung dropped this yr. There’s the larger Tab S7+ with a 12.4-walk Monumental AMOLED show masks — that larger-quality show masks is the core incompatibility, but in our testing, it didn’t narrate itself as a certain winner by offering brighter colors or more lustrous imagery. The two shows seemed nearly identical no topic the take a look at.

Powering the S7 is an 8,000mAh battery. Throughout our benchmark battery take a look at that consists of taking half in a video on repeat with the capsule in airplane mode and masks brightness establish to 50%, the S7 lasted 15 hours and 22 minutes. In other phrases, the S7’s battery will closing all day and properly into the subsequent.

Tab S7 starts with 128GB of internal storage and even helps 5G connectivity on the cellular mannequin. It helps 45-watt rapid charging by plan of the USB-C port and comes with an S Pen stylus in the box.

Compared to previous Galaxy capsules, the Tab S7 gives a more complete equipment. From battery existence to efficiency to show masks quality, there’s no proper comparison. If you want a top rate Android capsule, the Tab S7 is your easiest different.

Jason Cipriani/CNN

From the 2nd we unboxed Amazon’s Fireside HD 8 Plus, we current its up to date fetch, comparable to that of the Kindle Paperwhite. The rounded edges are a helpful enchancment over the dated and undoubtedly boxy fetch of previous Fireside HD capsules.

The entrance-going by plan of camera has been moved so that it’s at the top of the masks when you’re maintaining the capsule in landscape mode — indubitably one of the few capsules to complete so — and in turn, it makes your video calls scrutinize higher.

Arguably the ideal addition to the Fireside HD 8 Plus is wi-fi charging. You can house the 8-walk capsule on any Qi-properly matched wi-fi charging pad, or declare the capsule together with Amazon’s have wi-fi charging stand for $139.99. And there’s no reason for separation dread while charging as, once in the stand, Indicate Mode is activated, changing the capsule true into a makeshift Echo Indicate dapper masks. You can work together with Alexa, factual worship you would any other Echo instrument, inquiring for weather updates, controlling dapper home devices and posing random questions or soliciting for jokes.

We’ll be true: This isn’t the fastest capsule we’ve ever examined, but it undoubtedly is mighty enough to deal with frequent capsule duties. For instance, you obtained’t possess a problem utilizing Amazon’s Silk browser to store on your favourite sites, serve Zoom video calls and scroll by plan of your social media feeds. You can even stop some light gaming — factual don’t request to be wowed by how rapid games load or how the graphics scrutinize.

In our battery existence checks, the Fireside HD 8 Plus lasted nearly 10 hours, which is bigger than enough for binge-watching your latest Amazon High Video sequence on a homely-country flight, with enough juice left over to fetch in a pair of hours with your favourite Kindle reads as you resolve into your resort later that evening.

The ideal hurdle you’ll wish to beat is finding out study how to navigate Amazon’s Fireside OS. It’s Android-primarily based fully but leaves out any Google companies. Meaning you obtained’t web Google’s Gmail or YouTube apps, to illustrate, and are compelled to make use of Amazon’s have app store and its restricted selection (even supposing, many spacious-title apps, including Netflix, Minecraft, Disney+ and Instagram are on hand). The interface has a steep finding out curve, but once you adapt to its layout, you shouldn’t possess any points.

Even supposing apps would possibly perchance purchase longer to load, multitasking isn’t the smoothest and the lack of Google apps would possibly perchance presumably be disturbing, the Fireside HD 8 Plus is by some distance the easiest capsule we’ve broken-down anywhere shut to this worth point. And the proven fact that it doubles as an Echo Indicate while charging supplies added worth to a instrument that would possibly perchance presumably robotically be nothing larger than a paperweight waiting to juice up.

Tablets can vary rather a lot in what they design to gather and direct, but we wanted to take a look at out a various vary of devices. After sorting by plan of dozens of expert studies (including our have) and making use of our have knowledge of the capsule market, we drew up an inventory of 12 devices to compare. These ranged wildly in worth from $109 to $999. However before we took worth into fable, we wanted to objectively take a look at qualities that we request from a factual capsule.

Every instrument turned into once scored on the following properties: fetch, show masks, battery existence, efficiency, software, audio system, connectivity, ports, accessories and warranty. The classes we regarded as key were weighted larger, namely fetch, show masks, battery existence and efficiency. A capsule is a largely visual instrument, seeing because it’s one spacious masks, so show masks and fetch are crucial. And efficiency determines how easy your expertise goes to be and what you can stop on the instrument. In spite of every thing, higher battery existence plan you don’t wish to position the instrument all the plan down to payment as in most cases.

With each and each capsule, we ran out the battery from corpulent to empty while taking half in a film with masks brightness establish to 50% and airplane mode engaged. We multitasked with a nice different of apps, streamed reveals and movies, listened to song, played games of diverse intensities and more. Plus, we seemed into the quality of the show masks and proper construction of a capsule. In the case of fetch, we seemed into the shape and portability, how it feels in the hand and more nuanced parts worship bezel-to-show masks ratio. Sooner or later, we regarded as and examined on hand ports and related diversified other tech by plan of Bluetooth.

Win a scrutinize at our in-depth category breakdown under.


  • Portability: We regarded as the dimensions, thickness and weight of the capsule. A lighter, smaller capsule that would possibly perchance slot in further containers or be more easily held scored higher here.
  • Perform quality: We took notes on how the capsule felt in our hands. We looked for capsules that weren’t too heavy and had parts worship rounded edges and quality materials that felt higher to serve.
  • Materials broken-down: We researched the self-discipline topic composition of the capsule. We compared whether capsules were fabricated from plastic or steel and glass, and what model of steel turned into once broken-down (e.g., stainless-steel versus aluminum).


  • Show size: We measured the bezel ratio, aka how great of the capsule’s flooring is serene of the proper show masks versus bezels (sections with out a show masks).
  • Resolution: We checked what masks resolution the capsule had by manner of pixels composing the width and peak of the show masks.
  • Vibrancy and incompatibility: We examined an array of visuals (both mild and transferring) with radiant colors and darkish tones blended for the interval of. We checked for any mixing, how radiant a coloration would possibly perchance fetch and how darkish a tone would possibly perchance presumably be.
  • Quality in everyday use: We took qualitative notes on how the capsule’s show masks held up in everyday activities under assorted light prerequisites, checking properties comparable to whether glare impeded the show masks and how certain it turned into once in the darkish.

Battery existence

  • Performance on the Underscored battery take a look at: We establish the capsule by plan of our fashioned battery take a look at. Particularly, we ran out the battery from corpulent to empty while taking half in a film on airplane mode with the masks brightness establish to 50%, recording exactly how lengthy the capsule lasted.
  • Qualitative use: We took qualitative notes on how the capsule carried out at diversified battery levels. We current how properly it would possibly perchance presumably be broken-all the plan down to multitask, circulation movies and stop other activities at high battery stage and undoubtedly low battery stage.


  • Processor and RAM: We recorded the proper processor internal the capsule and what number of GB of RAM were on hand.
  • Benchmarking checks: We ran GeekBench 5 checks on all devices when that you can imagine as properly as a series of exports and renders.
  • Day after day use all over entertainment and productiveness: We pushed the capsule to its limits on multitasking, video streaming and gaming, if this kind of limit would possibly perchance presumably be reached.


  • Software: We rated the capabilities and vary of the software that comes preinstalled on the capsule with iPadOS, Android or Fireside OS. If a capsule came with a bunch of bloatware, as in extra, pointless apps, we docked it. It turned into once furthermore a immoral tag if the capsule had bother running software that it came with.


  • Speakers: We listened to the same playlist on each and each capsule, consisting of diverse genres spanning jazz, rock, pop, rap, classical and EDM, among others. Between capsules, we compared properties worship soundstage, bass and vocal and instrumental readability.


  • Connectivity: We rated the consistency of the capsule’s connectivity to both the web by plan of Wi-Fi and diversified related Bluetooth devices.


  • Vitality/knowledge: We examined which ports the capsule featured for knowledge and/or energy transfer (i.e., USB Form-C, Micro USB or Lightning connectors). For instance, USB Form-C enables for sooner charging than Micro USB, so a capsule that makes use of the light would rating higher in this category.
  • Headphone jack: We checked whether the capsule incorporated a headphone jack (and whether it labored) and awarded some extent if it featured one. It’s all about person’s different, and opting to encompass an audio jack delivers more worth.
  • Proprietary ports: We current any ports that are weird to the capsule’s trace and the feature(s) of these ports.


  • Guarantee: We researched the warranty/warranties on hand for each and each instrument. Warranties that were longer and/or lined more points or hurt scored higher.

iPad Air 3rd Gen ($469, at the foundation $499; amazon.com)

The $499 iPad Air sits in the center of the iPad lineup. It’s sooner and more sleek-searching than the seventh-generation iPad, but it undoubtedly’s no longer as rapidly as the iPad Pro. It’s model of a stepping-stone between the spoiled and the top-of-the-line objects — but for quite rather a lot of, it’s seriously more mighty than the seventh-generation iPad. That’s why, given the worth incompatibility, we mediate the option rests between the seventh-generation iPad and iPad Pro.

iPad Mini 5 ($399; amazon.com)

The iPad Mini 5 mild serves a distinct segment as an extremely-portable but mighty iPad, but with 7.9-walk masks size, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is closing in from leisurely. It’s a packed instrument that runs iPadOS 13 undoubtedly properly and, even on a tighter show masks, helps appreciable multitasking. We factual mediate for quite rather a lot of folk, the iPhone would possibly perchance presumably be serving most of the use cases and selecting the seventh-generation iPad will give you more versatility and, in the demolish, more bang for your buck.

Fireside HD 10 (beginning at $149.99; amazon.com)

The contemporary Fireside HD 10 gets rather a lot true and fixes rather a lot from its predecessor — mainly a sooner processor delivers a fluid FireOS expertise that doesn’t choke under stress. It’s 10.1-walk HD show masks is factual magnificent for streaming, but at $149.99 it doesn’t scale great previous our funds employ. For the money, you’re higher off sticking with a Fireside HD 8 Plus. It’s furthermore more portable.

Galaxy Tab S6 ($649.99; samsung.com)

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 is an unbelievable Android capsule that lets you combine productiveness and entertainment. It’s rapid and top rate all over, but we undoubtedly feel that even at its $649.99 worth point, the instrument doesn’t let you fetch as great performed as a competing working machine.

Galaxy Tab S6 Lite ($279.99, at the foundation $349.99; samsung.com)

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 Lite gives an Android expertise with a tedious but regular efficiency and mighty battery existence. Its headlining feature is the incorporated S Pen stylus that works seamlessly with Samsung’s suite of productiveness apps. The Tab S6 Lite in the demolish falls rapid of being a top employ on fable of its slower efficiency doesn’t reside up to its $349.99 label.

Floor Run 2 (beginning at $399; microsoft.com)

Microsoft’s Floor Run 2 looks factual as factual as the previous generation and runs a corpulent-fledged version of Windows 10. Its show masks is spirited and crisp, and battery existence is bigger than enough to fetch by plan of a day of work. However the entry-stage mannequin isn’t something we would possibly perchance imply to someone, due to the affect its slower processor and storage has on overall efficiency. In the stop, you’ll wish to employ $629 for a more mighty mannequin. The Run 2 is good for any person that has a resounding wish to live internal the Windows 10 ecosystem with Microsoft’s hardware, but it undoubtedly’s going to payment you.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

We spent weeks testing capsules: Right here are the top 3 you should buy