Graduation Gifts: Top 5 Best Tablets

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A tablet is a great gift for a high school or college graduate. Tablets are great for students heading into college, but they are also a great productivity enhancer for college grads entering the job market. But finding the right tablet for your favorite grad can be tricky. We’ve rounded up five very solid, very different tablet options that all make great gifts.

Want more great gift ideas? Check out our post on the best gifts for women, or our ultimate guide to the best gifts for men.

1. Microsoft Surface Pro 2

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You might wonder why we aren’t recommending the Surface Pro 3, which is newer and more powerful. In fact, we already recommended the Surface Pro 3 in our post on the best college graduation gifts. But the Surface Pro 3 is just too expensive for some families. In addition, some liberal arts majors that have fairly limited technical requirements for a tablet may find that the Surface Pro 2 is more than adequate for their needs.

For people who can’t afford the Surface Pro 3, the old Surface 2 is an option well worth considering. Pocket Lint and TheNextWeb both gave the Surface 2 favorable reviews on its initial release. This tablet runs touch-optimized Windows Store apps, and comes preloaded with Office and other apps.

Price: $339.99 and up, depending on options selected

Buy the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 here.

VideoVideo related to graduation gifts: top 5 best tablets2015-05-07T13:20:15-04:00

One reviewer shares their experiences with the Surface 2 after using it for two months. Check it out in the video above.


  • Comes with Office
  • Allows creation of different user accounts
  • Versatile
  • Up to ten hours of battery life
  • Full HD display


  • Somewhat limited app selection
  • Some dislike operating system
  • Some connectivity limitations
  • While it is a tablet, some may prefer to use it laptop-style with a keyboard attached
  • Quite expensive given its age

Find more Microsoft Surface 2 reviews and product information here.

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5-Inch Tablet

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If your favorite grad already uses a Samsung smartphone, then a Samsung tablet is the natural choice. There’s a lot to like here, including a solid front and rear camera. A Super AMOLED Display with 2560×1600 WQXGA resolution ensures that your recipient will be able to read the display in pretty much any light. There’s also an ultra power-saving mode, which both students and young professionals will appreciate. TechRadar gave the 10.5-inch version of this tab four and a half stars, with a full five stars given for the “performance” metric. The tablet includes the ability to expand up to 128 GB memory with a microSD slot.

There’s also an 8.4-inch version of the Galaxy Tab S, which may be a more appealing size for some tablet hunters. Both sizes of this tab come with lots of “Galaxy Gift” promos that offer your lucky grad plenty of cool tech freebies.

Price: $449.99 and up (10 percent off)

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5-Inch Tablet here.

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Check out the video above, which features over 40 tips and tricks for Galaxy Tab S owners.


  • Super AMOLED display
  • 3GB RAM
  • Ultra Power Saving Mode
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Decent battery life


  • Some apps feel bloated
  • Not all “Galaxy Gifts” will appeal to all people
  • No HDMI port
  • Fingerprint scanner placement is awkward
  • Unlike some of the bigger Samsung tabs, this only runs two apps side by side

Find more Samsung Galaxy Tab S reviews and product information here.

3. Google Nexus 9 Tablet

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Looking for a super lightweight tablet that’s also powerful? This user-friendly tablet is a wonderful choice for a new grad. With a 64-bit Tegra K1 processor under the hood, a gorgeous display, and loud speakers on the front of the device, the Nexus 9 is great for people who are looking for a tablet to use primarily for home entertainment.

Battery life is also great, with the battery lasting up to nine hours. The Nexus 9 is a good choice for anyone who’s buying into the Android L ecosystem of devices. Add in a magnetic keyboard, and this is a tablet that can be used for business or educational purposes for years to come.

Price: $399 and up, depending on options selected

Buy the Google Nexus 9 Tablet here.

Google Nexus 9 Review!The 9" Pure Android Tablet from HTC: Nexus 9! Android 5.0 Review: NVIDIA Shield Tablet: Leo's Fortune (game): Video Gear I use: Intro Track: Deadmau5 – Slow Down, Start Over ~

Check out Marques Brownlee’s review of the Nexus 9 in the video above.


  • Weighs under a pound
  • Powerful processor
  • Front-facing HTC BoomSound speakers
  • Easy to use one-handed, unlike bigger tabs
  • Nexus devices get the latest Android OS updates first


  • Battery life may be less than the Apple iPad Air 2 under certain circumstances
  • No SD slot
  • Limited onboard storage
  • Color options lack personality
  • Front camera only records at 720p

Find more Google Nexus 9 tablet reviews and product information here.

4. Apple iPad Air 2

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It’s just not a “best of” list about tablets without at least one iPad model. The iPad Air 2 is Apple’s most powerful tablet. CNET gave it a 4.5/5 star rating, and Engadget gave this tablet a solid 90 score in their own review. It’s just 6.1mm thick, making it ideal for people who want a slim, portable, lightweight tablet. It’s powerful processor makes this a stellar option for personal or student use, but it really shines as a business tab. This is hands down one of the best tablets on the market.

Price: $499 and up, depending on options selected

Buy it here.

Apple iPad Air 2 reviewOur review of Apple's new iPad Air 2. It's thinner, faster, and has a nicer camera, but is it any better than the competition? (Also we know we spelled the word "thinner" with three n's in the title card. You can either accept our apology, believe us that it's a joke where the word got…2014-10-22T01:00:27Z

Check out a short but sweet review of the iPad Air 2 in the video above from the Verge.


  • Weighs less than a pound
  • Great screen resolution
  • Battery lasts up to ten hours
  • A8X chip offers 2.5x faster graphics and 40 percent faster CPU than previous generations
  • TouchID for security and simplicity of transactions


  • Expensive
  • Using a case can ruin the line of the device and make it heavier
  • Some users may prefer a smaller form factor
  • Wired notes the Air 2 is heavier than the Nexus 9
  • Ars Technica notes the smart cover may not fit snugly

Find more Apple iPad Air 2 reviews and product information here.

5. Acer Aspire Switch 10 SW5-012-16AA Detachable 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop

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When is a tablet not a tablet? When it’s a 2-in-1, of course. A laptop that can convert into tablet mode is a really smart gift for a new grad, particular if you couldn’t decide between getting them a tablet or a laptop.

This inexpensive laptop can be used in notebook, tablet, tent, or display configurations, making it ideal for personal, educational, or business use. While it has relatively little on-board storage, that’s not much of an issue for people who store the bulk of their files in the cloud. While the screen is a bit small for a laptop, this device is a great size in tablet mode.

Price: $244.98 (26 percent off)

Buy the Acer Aspire Switch 10 SW5-012-16AA Detachable 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop here.


  • Eight-hour battery life
  • Also available in a 64GB version
  • Comes with Microsoft Office 365 Personal subscription (one year)
  • Intel HD graphics
  • Lightweight


  • Somewhat underpowered processor
  • Small screen
  • Some users find laptop runs better once you delete some of the bloatware
  • Not the ideal tablet/laptop for gamers
  • Some find the build quality feels cheap or flimsy

Find more Acer Aspire Switch 10 SW5-012-16AA Detachable 2-in-1 Touchscreen Laptop reviews and product information here.

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
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