Best tablet for 2021 that you can get right now

Tablets have found new life inside our homes as the coronavirus pandemic has increased demand for a device that can handle entertainment, education and some work. Since last year, Apple has updated nearly its full line: Refreshed high-end iPad Pro models and an overhauled iPad Air arrived in 2020, and we got a new baseline iPad and a redesigned iPad Mini this year. The Pro and Air models boast seriously powerful processors, which allow them to do things previously exclusive to full computers, like photo editing.

And while we're not giving up on our laptops yet, the new features are more promising for the iPad's future as a work device than anything Apple has added in years.

Elsewhere in tablet land, Microsoft debuted new Surface models this fall, including the Surface Laptop Studio and the Surface Go 3, a refresh of its tiniest tablet. Android tablets, meanwhile, remain constricted by their phone-centric mobile device operating system -- but that hasn't stopped Samsung from taking a shot at Apple's iPad Pro when it comes to productivity with the Tab S7 Plus. And in the value segment, Amazon's Fire tablets remain the best option for cheap and kid-friendly models.

All these options offer app stores, but you'll want to check that your must-have apps are available on prospective devices before buying (don't look for Fortnite on the iPad right now, for instance).

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Find the best phones, apps and accessories with our CNET Mobile newsletter. Delivered Tuesdays and Thursdays. Here are our picks for the best tablet available right now.

We included budget tablet and premium tablet options, as well as laptop-replacement devices at prices in between, including Android tablet and Apple iPad options. We even threw in a tablet PC as a bonus. All of these products (or previous versions thereof) have been fully reviewed or anecdotally tested by CNET editors.

We took several factors into consideration, including pressure sensitivity, screen size, the inclusion of a front camera, internal storage, the option to add a microSD card and whether or not the tablet offers a headphone jack.