The year 2015 has been a good one for tablets, with consumers being treated to a wide variety of options from different manufacturers.

Here's a look back at some of the best tablets available throughout the year and how they stack up against each other heading into 2016.

Apple iPad Air 2

Apple's iPad Air 2 looks almost identical to its predecessor, but is lighter, thinner and more powerful due to packing the faster and more energy-efficient A8X processor. The camera was also improved, and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor was added. The iPad Air 2 also features a 9.7-inch 2,048 x 1,436 Retina display and 2 GB of RAM, which is double that of the iPad Air 1.

However, the iPad Air 2 can be seen by the average consumer as just a modest improvement compared to the iPad Air, and does not represent a massive change such as what the Retina display iPad Mini did when it was released.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung's Galaxy Tab S2 comes in two variants: the 8-inch size and the 9.7-inch size. Both variants pack Super AMOLED displays with QXGA resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, and powered by octa-core processors consisting of Quad 1.9GHz + Quad 1.3GHz, supported by 3 GB of RAM. The Galaxy Tab S2 also offers a fingerprint reader.

The Galaxy Tab S2 was tagged as Samsung's main competitor to Apple's iPad Air 2, and its specs allowed it to become that.

Google Nexus 9 (2015)

Google's HTC-made Nexus 9 is the successor to the Nexus 7, and was the first tablet to be shipped with Android 5.0 Lollipop pre-installed. The tablet has an 8.9-inch, 1,536 x 2,048 IPS LCD display with a 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor that clocks in at 2.5GHz, supported by 2 GB of RAM.

The Nexus 9 is known as a hard-working device, packing a 6,700 mAh battery that is capable of streaming videos non-stop for six hours over Wi-Fi.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 has a 12.3-inch display with a 2,736 x 1,824 resolution, and is lighter and thinner compared to its predecessor. The tablet's accompanying Surface Pen received massive improvements on functionality and design, increasing the overall usability of the device.

The standard model Surface Pro 4 is powered by an Intel Core m3 processor and 4 GB of RAM, with customers having the option to bump up the specs all the way to an Intel Core i7 through a custom configuration on Microsoft's website.

Dell XPS 13

Dell's XPS 13 offers customers with a sleek design, a solid body and a high-end 13-inch QHD+ display. Dell offers a variety of options with the device, with one of the higher-end configurations being one powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM.

Apple iPad Mini 4

Apple's iPad Mini 4 has a 7.9-inch 2,048 x 1,536 IPS LCD display and powered by the A8 chipset with 2 GB of RAM. The aluminum unibody tablet weighs only 0.65 pounds with a 6,471 mAh battery, which makes it an ideal portable companion.

NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1

NVIDIA's Shield Tablet K1 is an update to the Shield Tablet that the company released in 2014. Marketed as a gaming tablet, the Shield Tablet K1 packs a Tegra K1 chipset, with four Cortex A-15 processors at 2.2 GHz and a 192-core Kepler GPU. The tablet has an 8-inch 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display, and is powered by 2 GB of RAM.

Buying any one of these tablets is a good choice, and it is actually up to the customer's needs, preferences and budget to determine which one is the best tablet of the year for him or her.

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