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tablets

The holiday season is upon us. Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, or even Festivus, there is one tradition that transcends culture and rings true for all of us: last-minute, panic-stricken gift shopping. We here at MEGATechNews want you to have not only a happy holiday, but a calm, relaxed one as well. Buying gifts can be nerve-wracking, especially when it's a particularly expensive item. Tablets, or as I heard a guy on the bus once call them - "touchscreens," make for an especially stressful purchase because there are so many options to choose from.

We're here to help. We've whittled the choices down to just nine tablets spread across three distinct price ranges. These choices cover all three main operating systems - Android, iOS, and Windows - and they all have one thing in common and that is that they're solid, well-made tablets that are worth the money.

It should be noted that several of these tablets offer different models based on networking features and storage space, which may put them into different prices ranges depending on the configuration. In these instances, I've gone with the cheapest possibility, as well as the lowest price available, because we're all about saving you money.

Affordable Tablets for $99 to $199

These would be considered the "budget" tablets, but don't let the cheap prices fool you. All three of these devices offer plenty of bang for your buck.

Amazon Fire HD 7 - $114

Amazon has been pretty much knocking it out of the park with their tablets and the ultra-cheap Fire HD 7 is no different. This model has a quad-core processor, front and rear cameras, and 8GB of storage space, though you'll likely be storing most of your stuff in the unlimited cloud storage that comes with the purchase.

LG G Pad 7 - $119.99

The Wi-Fi model of the LG G Pad 7, which is the cheaper model, may only have 8GB of storage space, but a microSD card expansion slot more than makes up for that. It also has an IR blaster, an IPS screen with wide viewing angles, and features dual-window functionality.

LG

HP Stream 7 - $99

Unlike the other budget tablets listed above, the HP Stream 7 offers 32GB of storage. That may not beat the infinite space in the cloud or even a 64GB microSD card, but there’s something to be said about having the space available right out of the box. This also happens to be one of the most affordable Windows 8.1 tablets you can find.

Awesome Tablets for $200 to $399

Due to this being the middle category, I'm tempted to call these the mid-range tablets, but truthfully that would be selling them short. These are impressive devices that put a lot of power into your hands without costing Scrooge McDuck money.

NVIDIA Shield Tablet - $299

We’ve mentioned the NVIDIA Shield Tablet a few times on MEGATechNews. It would make a popular gift for the gamer in your life, especially if you got the $59.99 NVIDIA Shield controller to go with it. Even without it, it’s a powerful 8-inch tablet with exceptional performance.

Google Nexus 9 - $349

Google’s Nexus line is popular for a reason. It’s their flagship line, so they don’t skimp on the quality. At $349, the price on the HTC-made Nexus 9 is getting up there, but it’s worth it for the K1 chipset and Android 5.0 Lollipop.

googlenexus

iPad Mini 2 - $299

The iPad Mini 3 is actually already out, but the meager improvements--the inclusion of Touch ID and the option for a gold color--over the iPad Mini 2 simply don’t justify the higher price. The iPad Mini 2 is a killer little tablet with a stunning Retina display, a fast A7 processor, and great battery life.

Premium Tablets for $400 and Up

The best of the best, these are the tablets that the Monopoly Man just has lying around collecting dust.

iPad Air 2 - $449

Whoa, big spender! You’ll be happy to know that the iPad Air 2 is worth every penny with its A8X processor, anti-reflective screen, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and more. Plus, since it’s Apple, it’s light as a feather.

Galaxy Tab S - $459

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S is available in multiple sizes, but the 10.5-inch is a sight to behold. A wide variety of exclusive software goodies and a screen you have to see to believe make the 10.5-inch Galaxy Tab S one of the best entertainment-oriented tablets you can buy.

galaxytab

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 - $799

Yup, things just got real. Microsoft’s Surface line is more than just a line of tablets. They’re hybrids, meaning laptops that turn into tablets, not unlike Optimus Prime turning into a truck. So not only do they pull double duty, but they’re powerful as well, with the $799 model having a Core i5 in it.

A Tablet is a Tablet is a Tablet

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the quality tablets available out there. If the prospect of dropping several hundred dollars on a slate computer is still a bit overwhelming, just remember that, for most purposes, a tablet is a tablet. Unless you or the person you're buying it for has very specific, unique needs, whatever tablet you end up getting will probably fit the bill.