Computerworld's holiday gift guide 2013: Tablets and accessories

Part 4 of our annual gift guide showcases the best Android, iOS and Windows tablets, plus some choice tablet stands, cases and other add-ons.

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Dell Venue 8 Pro

If you've got a Windows enthusiast on your gift list, present them with the Dell Venue 8 Pro. They'll get an excellent 8-in. tablet, and you'll have made someone happy without breaking the bank.

Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet

Venue 8 Pro from Dell

Direct price: $300 - $370  |  Retail price: $300 - $370

For $300, you'll be giving them a full-blown Windows 8.1 tablet, not one based on the stripped-down, problematic Windows RT. That means they can run Desktop applications as well as Windows 8 apps (a.k.a. Metro or Modern apps).

Even though it's a relatively low-priced tablet, the Venue 8 Pro's performance is surprisingly zippy, thanks to the Intel 1.8GHz quad-core Atom Z3740 ("Bay Trail") processor. Apps launch without delay, and switching among open apps is similarly fast.

The 1280 x 800 HD screen is bright and vivid, as suitable for Netflix binges as for working with Microsoft Office. Speaking of which, the device comes with Office Home & Student 2013 included.

The design is simple and basic black, in the style of the Google Nexus 7. At 8.5 x 5.12 x 0.35 in. and 0.87 lb., it's light and easy to hold in one hand. It's got 32GB of storage (upgradable to 64GB for $50), plus a microSD slot for expandability. There's also a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel rear-facing one.

If you're feeling flush and want to give your giftee something extra, consider buying one of two bundles. The first, for $340, includes a useful protective case that does double-duty as a small kickstand. The other, for $370, includes the case plus a Dell Active Stylus for writing onscreen. Both are nice-to-haves, not must-haves. Just the Venue 8 Pro by itself makes a very good gift.

You might also like: If you're feeling really good about your bank account, consider buying Microsoft's Surface Pro 2; it starts at $899 for an entry-level model with a spectacular 10.6-in. ClearType HD display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. Add a Touch Cover 2 ($120) or Type Cover 2 ($130) keyboard/cover combo and it turns into an ultrabook.

-- Preston Gralla


Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad and Tablet Keyboard for Windows and Android

While those nifty combination keyboard-and-cover tablet folios might seem like great gifts, Logitech's discrete Tablet Keyboards -- one for iPads of all stripes and one for Windows and Android tablets -- are more versatile. You don't have to know the exact model of tablet your giftee has, and if he decides to upgrade from, say, an iPad 4 to an iPad Air, your thoughtful gift won't instantly become obsolete.

Logitech Tablet Keyboards for iPad, Windows, Android

Tablet Keyboard for iPad (pictured) and Tablet Keyboard for Windows and Android from Logitech

Direct price: $70 for iPad; $70 for Windows/Android

Retail price: $52 - $75 for iPad; $55 - $75 for Windows/Android

These small-yet-comfortable Bluetooth keyboards come with a protective carrying case. When you take the keyboard out to use it, the case converts into an adjustable stand to hold the tablet up in portrait or landscape viewing position.

The iPad version supports a long list of shortcut key combinations, while the Windows/Android model provides a Start key and other keys for navigating Windows 8. Both versions have keys for media control.

-- Jake Widman

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