Modern tablets are still a relatively young category in consumer tech - but they're also one of the biggest. And while Apple's iPad has been the dominant player since its launch in 2010, many of its biggest rivals are catching up fast.

Samsung has made a big effort to release many new, often iterative tablets appealing to those who want to break away from the Apple monopoly. Its Galaxy Tab series, as well as the hybrid Note II, Note 8 and Note 10.1 devices, show that it's not ready to cede any ground to its great smartphone rival in this emerging space.

Meanwhile Google (with Asus) has made its own assault on Cupertino with the successful budget-minded Nexus 7. Sony, HP and Acer have also remained in the mix with Android devices, while Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble have carved out their own niches with content-focused tablet e-readers.

Oh, and then there's Microsoft. While its own Surface tablets made little more than a shallow dent in the market, its touch-focused Windows 8 OS has seen a proliferation in tablet-style computers, and the future's getting brighter with the prospect of new and improved Surface hardware on the horizon.

We've tried to make the job of picking a tablet easier with our list of the 9 best models on the market as of Spring 2013. Take a look, below.

Update: Added the Sony Tablet Z to replace the Nook HD

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  • iPad Air

    The new iPad Air from Apple is an incredible new upgrade to the tablet you know and love. It's far lighter and thinner, has an upgraded processor, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/05/ipad-air-review-4g_n_4217913.html?utm_hp_ref=uk-tech" target="_blank">and in our review we called it nothing short of a "masterpiece"</a>. If you have more than £399 to spend on a tablet, spend it on this.

  • Google Nexus 7 (2013)

    The new Nexus 7 has a higher resolution display (at 323 pixels per inch), a quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor and a thinner bezel on both sides of the screen. It's also the first device to run the new version of Android, 4.3 Jelly Bean, and a 5-megapixel screen at the same bargain-basement price.

  • iPad Mini With Retina Display

    At £319, the iPad Mini with Retina display isn't cheap. But on the other hand, it has the same screen resolution, processor and other internals as the larger iPad Air, but it's also smaller, lighter and cheaper by £80. It's a stunning tablet, and though it's pricier than other 7-inch devices it's got the benefit of Apple's amazing apps selection.

  • Samsung Note 8.0

    <a href="http://gdgt.com/samsung/galaxy/note/8-0/">The Samsung Note 8.0</a> is faintly ridiculous, in that it's technically a phone, and can be used as such when bought in the UK, but you'll look absolutely ridiculous if you try that in public. On the other hand, it's also a quite beautiful and cost-effective device, with a sharp screen, a good processor, a nice suite of S-Pen enabled drawing and note-taking apps. Yes, it's more expensive than an iPad Mini - and it also suffers on battery life. But for the right customer, it's a good choice.

  • Kindle Fire HDX

    The new Kindle Fire HDX tablet comes in both a 7- and 8.9 inch version, and both are tasty upgrades. The 7-inch has a 1920 x 1200 display, a quad-core processor, LTE, all the Amazon services you'd expect plus a new 'Mayday' support service for new users. It starts at £199. The 8.9-inch is pricer at £329, but has an even more impressive 2560x1600 display - and still comes in lighter than an iPad Air.

  • Nexus 10

    The<a href="http://gdgt.com/samsung/nexus/10/" target="_blank"> Samsung-built Nexus 10</a> has an excellent display, runs the latest version of stock Android (which has never been better for tablets) and is less expensive than the iPad - while also being quite a bit lighter. With Google Play's ever improving list of tablet-enabled apps and the availability of many options for watching and consuming media, there is nothing you want to do on a tablet you can't do with this. That said, it suffers from a less-developed app ecosystem, and the design of the machine is far clunkier than you might hope with a thick bezel being a noticeable downside.

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 2

    Microsoft's new Surface Pro runs a full version of Windows 8.1, has an improved kickstand and an excellent display and can do pretty much everything your tablet AND your laptop can do. You're going to pay for it - the device is £719 and up, plus the great keyboard cover is not included in the price. It's also heavy and there's no LTE option. But it's a lovely piece of kit for the right user.

  • Tesco Hudl

    Tesco's Hudl tablet is a budget affair, but it looks as though in terms of the fundamentals - particularly media playback - it's not a terrible choice. <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2013/10/27/tesco-hudl-review/">In a recent review Engadget said</a>: "Despite all of its failings, this meagre slate became our go-to piece of hardware for responding to emails and browsing Twitter. We had it playing movies on Netflix while we worked, and we rocked out to a playlist while cooking dinner. While its original purpose was to coax technophobes into the future, the Hudl is easy to use and, dare we say it, charming."