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The cheapest deals on the best tablets

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Apple's iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Google Nexus are among the most recommended tablets, but where can you get these premium models for less?


Which? has compiled a list of the top tablet computers to go for in 2013.

A total of 42 tablets were included in the review, though just 22 made the list of best buys.

Apple dominates the recommended products with eight of the top 22 tablet computers made by the technology giant. But tablets from Asus, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and Google also scored highly too.

Here’s the full list of the top tablets:

Tablet

Model specification

Score

Typical price

Apple iPad with retina display

16GB + Wi-Fi + 4G

80%

£499

Apple iPad 3

16GB + Wi-Fi + 3G

80%

£499

Apple iPad Mini

16GB + 4G

80%

£369

Apple iPad Mini

16GB + Wi-Fi

79%

£269

Apple iPad 3

16GB + WiFi

79%

£399

Apple iPad with retina display

16GB + WiFi

79%

£399

Apple iPad 2

64GB + WiFi

79%

£476

Apple iPad 2

16GB + WiFi

78%

£329

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201

32GB + Wi-Fi

77%

£479

Asus Transformer Pad TF300T

32GB +Wi-Fi

76%

£399

Microsoft Surface RT

32GB + Wi-Fi

76%

£399

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

16GB + WiFi

76%

£311

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

16GB + WiFi+ 3G

76%

£399.99

Google Nexus 10

16GB + Wi-Fi

75%

£319

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

16GB + WiFi

75%

£299.99

Asus Eee Pad Transformer

32GB + Wi+Fi

74%

£456

Sony Xperia Tablet S

16GB +WiFi

73%

£329.99

Sony Xperia Tablet S

16GB + Wi-Fi + 3G  

73%

£449.99

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

8GB + WiFi + 3G

73%

£299.99

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

16GB + WiFi+  3G

72%

£389

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

8GB + WiFi

72%

£179

Google Nexus 7

16GB +Wi-FI

72%

£199

Three models came bottom. The Gemini JoyTAB 8, Versus Touchpad 7 and Storage Options Scroll Excel 7 A4.0 all scored under 50%, leaving them on the ‘Don’t Buy’ table.

The scores were based on a number of factors including web browsing, touchscreen response, camera quality, virtual keyboard and ease of use.

But with the typical price range of the Which? recommended buys nearing the £500 mark, it’s clear the best really does come at a premium.

So where can you get the top tablets for less?

The sales

The January sales are in full swing, so now is as good a time as any to get your hands on a good tablet computer for a bargain price. 

PC World has knocked a whopping £120 off the price of an Apple iPad 3 16GB with WIFi  and 3G  bringing the cost down from £499 to £379. The tablet scored 80% in the Which? survey and came just behind the slightly improved iPad with retina display which marks the 4th generation of the range.

Amazon is selling the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 16GB with Wi-Fi for £279.99 instead of £299.99, which is a £20 saving, the best deal I could find.

Also at Currys the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300T tablet is on sale for £349.99, a saving of £50 on the typical price of £399.99 you usually have to shell out. Reviewers at Which? gave this model a score of 76% as they enjoyed the real detachable keyboard, long lasting battery and screen quality.

The only problem is the sales won’t last forever, so where else can you go to make a saving?

Refurbished models

For year-round discounts on tablets you could try to find out if the model you want is available refurbished.

Refurbished electronic items have been restored to full working order by a manufacturer and typically save you 5%-30% on the normal retail price.

For example if you wanted to go for the Apple iPad 3 16GB with WiFi you would normally pay about £399. But you can save 21% or £84 with a refurbished model available on the Apple website that costs £315.

Argos also has a refurbished outlet that it operates through eBay. Lots of Samsung Galaxy Tabs, Asus Transformers and Apple iPads feature. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 32GB with Wi-Fi for example is available for £269.99 which is over £40 off the price of the 16GB version of the tablet.

The products available as refurbished will vary throughout the year ,but all usually come with a 12-month warranty. Reasons for the refurbished tags could be from a product default, but also can be as minor as a cosmetic defect or opened packaging.

Of course if you are only interested in the newest model (the iPad with retina display came out in in October last year and costs between £399 and £659) then a refurbished item may not be for you as these don’t generally show up in refurbished sections of reseller’s websites.

However, if you are a savvy shopper you will know that sometimes models have little difference betweenthem . As the Which? survey shows the iPad 3 is just as good as the newest iPad, with both scoring 80%.

Cashback websites

If you don’t like the sound of getting a refurbished model you can still save on top price tablet computers with money off via cashback websites like Topcashback and Quidco.

Currently on Topcashback you can get a whopping 30.3% cashback on eBay electronic purchases. This generous offer means you can get a wide range of the tablets Which? mentions in its most recent best buys with nearly a third off! This could be on a second-hand bargain or a new item bought from an eBay shop like the Argos Outlet mentioned earlier where refurbished items are sold, meaning you could double the savings.

Elsewhere Topcashback also has 1.01% on Apple iPad Mini purchases, 1.01% on the latest iPad with retina display, and 2.02% on the iPad 2 when using the tracked link and purchasing through the Apple Store. These offers change regularly so it is worth keeping an eye out to see if the cashback on offer goes up.  

On Quidco you can get similar cashback rates with the Apple store or go for an even better £20 cashback  on all iPad purchases whether it be on a contract, with mobile broadband or standalone at the Carphone Warehouse. Elsewhere on the site Zavvi is offering  5% and The Hut has 2% cashback on electronic purchases.

More on tablet computers:

Google Chromebook vs Apple iPad Mini: battle of the gadgets

Tablet data plans: a waste of money

Microsoft Surface: a new rival for the Apple iPad 4

How to make the most money from your old tablet

iPads, Blackberry Playbooks, Samsung Galaxy Tab: how to insure your gadgets

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