Google's Nexus 7 is currently the best tablet you can buy for £200. With a great 7-inch screen and a lightweight body that's light enough to hold in one hand, it's the tablet to beat. It's also just been updated to the latest version of Android, 4.4 KitKat, which makes it a good time to weigh it up against the competition.
You can get the 16GB version for £199, the 32GB for £239 and the 32GB with LTE and HSPA+ for £299, all from Google.
Let's talk some more about that 7-inch screen. It's very high resolution -- 1,920x1,200 pixels to be precise -- which makes text look very sharp. Google is far better than it used to be at giving you opportunities to buy books, music and movies directly from its Play store, and those books look lovely on the display. Amazon's Kindle app is available on the Play store too, so you can also buy books through that.
Games look lovely on the high-res screen too. I had a great time playing Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8 marvelling at how good the graphics have become on tablets. The level of detail is incredible for a device I personally mostly use for emailing and browsing. Movies and TV you buy from the Play store look similarly glorious.
The Android KitKat update doesn't add anything Earth-shattering to the Nexus experience. Probably most noticeable is the new 'immersive mode', so when you're reading a book, the controls go away so you can just concentrate on the words. The really big appeal of the latest version of Android is that it uses less memory than previous iterations, which doesn't mean much on this device as it already has 2GB of RAM.
A few of the Google apps crashed when I used them sometimes, which isn't ideal, although I've also had similar problems with the new 64-bit apps on the latest iPad, so slight tablet instability seems to be doing the rounds.
Personally I find iPads slightly easier to get started on -- with Android my sense is that new users will find the apps that await you when you turn it on confusing. Plus, with Apple giving away free copies of Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iMovie and Garageband with every new iPad (to download if you want them), there's slightly more with Apple to be getting on with for newbies. But the gap is much smaller than it used to be, especially if you have a Google account you use regularly.
There's no physical home button on the Nexus, which I found annoying. Instead the home and back keys are soft-keys underneath the screen. But depending on which way round you hold the screen, they change position -- that stumped me for a few minutes until I worked out what was happening.
Battery life is as good on the Nexus 7 as all the other best tablets. Google says you'll get nine hours of "active use" out of it, which reflects what it was like when I used it.
Any shortcomings of the device are more than offset by its amazing price. At over £100 cheaper than the retina iPad mini, it is a great bargain. If you can afford the extra money, I think an iPad mini is a better buy, and the screen is slightly larger. But otherwise this is a great product for emailing, browsing, playing the odd game and watching movies on the bus.