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The days when all tablets other than the iPad were looked at with haughty disdain by tech fanatics are long gone.

Apple’s rivals spent 2013 eating into Cupertino’s once imperious position as tablet top-dog, with Google, Samsung, Nokia and even Tesco delivering impressive slates in the past 12 months.

But that’s not to say Tim Cook and co have taken it lying down. They’ve delivered some pretty impressive kit too.

Want to know what’s made our tablet top five? Read on and we’ll reveal all.

1 Google Nexus 7 (2013)

google nexus 7 joe

Google’s first Nexus 7 wasn’t exactly a looker. Chubby and with a huge bezel, it was hard to love, even if it was cheap.

However, its second stab at a 7-inch tablet was, and is, a complete game changer.

Its super slim design, courtesy of manufacturing partner Asus, means it sits cosily in one hand. But it’s the screen that’s the real eye-catcher.

With 323 pixels per inch (ppi), it left Apple’s iPad Mini in the shade (until Cupertino added a Retina Display to its smaller slate in October) and made watching video and browsing the web a delight.

And despite packing such top-end smarts, it only came in at £199 for a 16GB model, rising to £299 for a 32GB version with 4G. Throw in the latest Android software and it’s hard to argue against this being the best value tablet ever.

2 iPad Air

ipad air review 1

If Apple was worried about Google’s efforts and the growing size of Samsung’s tablet portfolio, it wasn’t showing it.

While the iPad Mini with Retina Display turned heads (even if it was absurdly pricey), it was the iPad Air that proved Apple still had the ability to surprise and delight.

Impossibly thin, measuring just 7.5mm, it used the design of its smaller sibling to great effect.

The bezels were smaller, the whole feel somehow even more polished than the versions which had gone before.

The super-bright screen and iOS 7 helped make it a proper leap from last year’s model.

In terms of looks, it’s hard to beat this amped up version of the device which kickstarted the entire category.

3 Tesco Hudl

Tesco Hudl

An unlikely entrant into the tablet arena, supermarket Tesco’s Hudl garnered rave reviews and became a bestseller thanks to its £119 price tag.

Recent reports have claimed that the retail giant has been caught out by the massive demand for the slate in the run up to Christmas.

It’s no surprise punters are so keen. It has 16GB storage which can be boosted to 48GB via microSD, HDMI, colourful design and uses an unadorned version of Android.

In opting for a bloat free version of Google’s OS, Tesco was able to dodge concerns about naff, pre-loaded apps and keep costs down. A budget winner.

4 Nokia Lumia 2520

Nokia Lumia 2520

Microsoft’s Surface RT OS has taken a battering since it launched last year.

But appearing on Nokia’s first ever tablet, the Lumia 2520, it can’t help but look natty.

The Finnish firm’s failure to release a tablet in the wake of the iPad was always seen as a mark of failure, but this slate was remarkably well received. Its 4G skills, beefy battery life and bright design meant tech fans cooed over how different it was to anything else on the market.

That and the fact it proved to be a much smarter tablet than Microsoft’s own average Surface 2.

5 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)

samsung galaxy note 10.1 2014

Sure, it has a faux leather backing. But it’s hard to look behind Samsung when assessing the best tablets available right now.

The company is desperate to overhaul Apple and become number one tablet maker and its top-end model certainly looks the part.

Its slimmer bezels are great and the inclusion of Sammy’s S-Pen, while not required for general use, makes it ideal for creative types who like to illustrate and doodle.

The Samsung UI is sharp too and seems to work better on the big screen than it does on the Korean giant’s smartphones. This could be the device that finally knocks the iPad off its perch.

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