This buyer's guide is brought to you in partnership with ExpertReviews.
Choosing a tablet as a gift — or for yourself — can be a challenge. There's a bewildering array of models on the market at hugely different price points.
Fortunately the testers at ExpertReviews have cut through the tech speak, and rounded up their pick of the finest tablets out there. Below you'll find the best of the smaller models — the 7" to 9" ones that are easiest to use single-handed on the tube or in the pub while waiting for mates.
If you're in the market for a bigger device, whether for work or watching films, check out these 10" recommendations. You can also consult this comprehensive buying guide for the lowdown on operating systems, battery life, display and performance.
Apple iPad Mini 4
ExpertReviews say: "The iPad Mini 3 may have been rather underwhelming, seeing as it was just an iPad Mini 2 with a fingerprint reader, but the iPad Mini 4 is a significant step up for Apple's compact tablet. The new model is thinner and more powerful, and also has a much better screen; its 2,048x1,536 panel can now display 94.8% of the sRGB colour gamut, compared to 67.1% for the previous model.
The tablet also has an updated processor: the A8, as used in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (but not the iPad Air 2, which has a faster A8X). It managed excellent scores in our 2D and 3D benchmarks, and web browsing is beautifully slick. This is the best compact tablet on either iOS or Android."
Price when reviewed: £319 For the latest prices and full information see ExpertReviews full Apple iPad Mini 4 review
Processor: Dual-core 1.5GHz Apple A8, Screen size: 7.9in, Screen resolution: 2,048x1,536, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage (free): 8/64/128GB, Wireless data: 4G (Wi-Fi + Cellular model only), Size: 203x134x6.1mm, Weight: 299g, Operating system: Apple iOS 9
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0
ExpertReviews say: "For its latest premium tablets, Samsung has decided to meet Apple head-on. Like the iPad Mini 4, the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 has an 8in screen with a 2,048x1,536 resolution, and unlike previous Samsung tablets, the new display has a 4:3 rather than 16:9 aspect ratio. This makes the tablet more comfortable to use when browsing the web in portrait mode, if arguably less suited to watching films.
It's an excellent screen, which managed to reproduce 100% of the sRGB colour gamut in our tests. Its AMOLED technology, coupled with the octa-core processor's four low-power cores, helped it last more than 14 hours in our battery life tests, too. The tablet feels beautifully made and runs Android 5 well, but it's not quite as quick as Apple's barnstorming iPad Mini 4 above. Nonetheless, if you're after a compact Android tablet, this is the one to get."
Price when reviewed: £319 For the latest prices and full information see the full Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 review
Processor: Octa-core 1.9GHz + 1.3GHz Samsung Exynos Octa 5433, Screen size: 8in, Screen resolution: 2,048x1,536, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage (free): 32GB (23GB), Wireless data: 4G +£40, Size: 135x199x5.6mm, Weight: 389g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2
Google Nexus 9
ExpertReviews say: "When we first reviewed the Nexus 9, we were blown away by its performance and it continues to dominate almost every other tablet currently available, from its raw processing speed to its excellent gaming capabilities. It's also a brilliant Android alternative to the iPad, as its display has the same 2,048x1,536 resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio. Whether you like the new aspect ratio is really a matter of personal preference; we find the squarer screen is a more natural fit when you're using the tablet in portrait mode, but you'll have larger black bars top and bottom when watching a film than on a widescreen tablet. Regardless, it's got a great battery life and it's guaranteed to receive new Android updates extremely quickly."
Price when reviewed: £319 For the latest prices and full information see ExpertReviews full Nexus 9 review
Processor: Dual-core 2.3GHz 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 Denver, Screen size: 8.9in, Screen resolution: 2,048x1,536, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: 4G (optional), Size: 154x228x7.9mm, Weight: 425g, Operating system: Android 5.0
Tesco Hudl 2
ExpertReviews say: "Tesco's first attempt at an Android tablet, the original Hudl, got the price right, but performance, design and screen were merely average. With the Hudl 2, the supermarket giant has addressed these complaints and produced a fantastic tablet that's incredible value and is far ahead of anything else for the price. It was £129 when we reviewed it, but has since dropped to just £99, so is even better value. The display's Full HD resolution is a welcome improvement over the original tablet, and Intel's Bay Trail Atom processor is perfectly capable of running apps and playing games."
Price when reviewed: £129. For the latest prices and full information see the full Tesco Hudl 2 review
Processor: Quad-core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735D, Screen size: 8.3in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,200, Rear camera: 5 megapixels, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: None, Size: 224x9x128mm, Weight: 410g, Operating system: Android 4.4.2
Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C
ExpertReviews say: "The Asus MeMO Pad 7 has a new 'clutch bag' design, but this excellent all-round compact tablet should appeal to all genders. It's well-built, and is extremely powerful for its size thanks to its quad-core Intel Atom Z3560 processor. It's also got a 1,920x1, 200 resolution display and brilliant battery life (although not quite as long-lasting as the Z3 Compact Tablet above). It's more expensive than the Hudl 2, but its colour-accurate screen and better battery life brings you some distinct advantages for just £50 more."
Price when reviewed: £150. For the latest prices and full information see the full Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C review
Processor: Quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z3560, Screen size: 7in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,200, Rear camera: 5 megapixels, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: None, Size: 114x200x8.3mm, Weight: 269g, Operating system: Android 5.0
Dell Venue 8 7840
ExpertReviews say: "Dell isn't known for its Android tablets, but based on our experiences with the Venue 8 7840, we wish the firm made more. It's extremely expensive at £320, but for your money you get one of the most desirable Android tablets out there. The 8.4in AMOLED screen has a huge 2,560x1,600 pixel resolution, with perfect sRGB colour reproduction and perfectly dark, deep blacks. The metal chassis also feels every bit as classy as it looks, and its battery life and performance are both great. The tablet's party piece is its Intel RealSense camera, which can (sometimes) accurately use the sensors on the back of the tablet, in conjunction with the camera, to measure sizes and distances in the pictures it takes. It doesn't always work well and it's frankly a bit of a gimmick. But then who said gimmicks aren't fun?"
Price when reviewed: £320. For the latest prices and full information see the full Dell Venue 8 7840 review
Processor: Quad-core 2.33GHz Intel Atom Z3580, Screen size: 8.4in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,600, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16GB,Wireless data: None, Size: 216x6.1x124mm, Weight: 305g, Operating system: Android 4.4.4