• Which is the best alternative to the iPad?
  • Which other tablets are as good as the iPad?
  • Is it worth getting a cheaper tablet than the iPad

The iPad is without a doubt the most popular tablet on the market. However, Android-based phones are putting up a real fight in the smartphone space, and this year we’ve started to see some real fightback from rival tablets.

With the recent introduction of the iPad Air, shaving size and weight off its classic iPad, and the iPad mini with a Retina display Apple has once again created the best tablet range on the market. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other tablets on the market, and they have a lot to offer: iPad alternatives made by Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft and even Tesco all bring something new. Either in the way of additional features or more competitive pricing.

Read on to discover the five best alternatives to the iPad Air on the market.

See also:

iPad Alternative 1: Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Price: £719

Microsoft Surface Pro 2

There is an argument for moving beyond the iPad and iOS and into more laptop-esque territory. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 is the vanguard here, eschewing a pure tablet experience for the full version of Windows 8 (which is designed to run on touch screen display). So as well as using apps and doing all the usual tablet things, you can fire up laptop software like Adobe Creative Suite. There are downsides: it’s big and heavy and expensive, for example. And it runs Windows 8, which is itself a bit of a nightmare. But there are times when we’d love to be able to fire up Adobe Photoshop CS6 on our tablet.

See: Microsoft Surface Pro (128GB) review: Microsoft's attempt to build a laptop-class Windows computer inside a tablet

What others say: “The Surface Pro 2 crams a serious amount of power into a compact frame - enough to worry the latest Ultrabooks. Its design may be spot on for some but we can't help feel that instead of being the best of both laptop and tablet worlds, it's neither. The price quickly rises if you veer away from the base model - many people would be better off with a separate laptop and tablet, and you might even save money. Those less bothered about the tablet side of things should consider a convertible device.

Chris Martin, PC Advisor

Read More: Microsoft Surface 2 review

iPad Alternative 2: Kindle Fire HD

Price £119

Kindle Fire HD

From the very big to the very small. The new Kindle Fire HD is a small 7in tablet from Amazon that packs good specifications into a small space. It’s a highly customized Google Android tablet designed to deliver content from Amazon (books, movies, TV shows, and so on) into your hand. The Kindle Fire HD a good piece of kit, but we can’t help but feel its limitations would soon irk us: you can’t use the Google Play store, only Amazon’s more limited store) and be aware that Amazon is going to bombard you with adverts for things to buy at all times. Using a Fire HD can be an experience akin to visiting a store with a pushy salesman. Still: it’s a bargain.

See: iPad mini vs Kindle Fire HD 8.9 tablet comparison review: iPad mini and Kindle Fire compared

What others say: The Fire HD feels like a step backwards from the model it replaces: there's no camera, no HDMI output, half the storage and shorter battery life. Its faster, though, and has a slicker operating system which is now child friendly thanks to FreeTime. You're still limited to Amazon's app store which lacks the choice you get with Google Play, but it still makes a great kids' tablet.

Jim Martin, PC Advisor

Read More: Kindle Fire review

iPad Alternative 3: Google Nexus 10

Price: £319

Google Nexus 10

If you want a straight up direct alternative to the iPad Air (but a bit cheaper) then the Google Nexus 10 is the one to go for. It has a similar 10-inch high definition display, and similar specifications to an iPad then the Google NExus 10 is the way to go. There are some good deals around at the moment and a Nexus 10 2 is rumoured for early 2014.

See: How Apple's iPad mini compares with Android tablets 

What other say: The Nexus 10 is easily the best 10in Android tablet we've seen to date. It has a fantastic screen, decent cameras and software features all for a more than reasonable price. Those looking for an alternative to the full-sized iPad needn't look any further.

Chris Martin, PC Advisor

Read More: Google Nexus 10 review

iPad Alternative 4: Barnes & Noble Nook HD

Price: £159

Nook HD

Barnes & Noble doesn’t have the same brand name in the UK as in the US, so you’d be forgiven for having a bit of a “huh!” moment. The Nook HD Android tablet is a cracking alternative to the Amazon Kindle Fire. It enables access to the Google Play store (a key feature missing from Amazon’s offering) and you aren’t bombarded by advertising on the Nook. It’s available from Blackwell's bookstore, or you can pick one up at John Lewis, Argos and some UK supermarkets.

What others say: We can hardly find fault with the hardware, and at this price it's hard to find fault with anything. Since the Nook was set free from the confines of the Barnes & Noble content store it has been an amazing deal. An easy-to-use and well-built tablet at a great price.

Jim Martin, PC Advisor

Read more: Barnes & Noble Nook HD review

iPad Alternative 5: Tesco Hudl

Price: £119

Tesco HUDL

Tesco’s entry to the tablet market is intriguing to say the least. Unlike other branded tablets Tesco serious about delivering a good experience with its Hudl tablet: there is solid design and admirable build quality on display here, especially at this price. The built in Micro-HDMI port mean you can plug it into your television to show photos and stream online video. You can use your clubcard vouchers to buy a HUDL, and they’re worth twice the amount when you do (so you can, in effect, pick up a HUDL for £60).

See: iPad mini vs Tesco Hudl comparison review: Revenge of the bargain tablet

What others say: “The Tesco Hudl is a budget tablet with a nice design and good build quality. Key specifications are better than the price tag suggests such as the processor and good quality 7 in screen. A microSD card slot and Micro-HDMI port are two reasons to opt for the Hudl over Google and Amazon alternatives.”

Jim Martin, PC Advisor

Read more: Tesco Hudl