Best Tablets for Project xCloud and Xbox Game Streaming Windows Central 2020
Project XCloud is an incredibly promising service, giving you access to dozens of games in the cloud, and the ability to stream your entire digital Xbox library from your home Xbox console. These games run on existing Xbox One hardware, beaming them to tablets and phones that lack the local processing power to run them. Smartphones have generally been the target marketing pitch for xCloud thus far, but we find larger tablets to be a far more pleasant experience, owing to things like text scaling and so on. As such, we've compiled a list of our favorite tablets for Project xCloud and Xbox Game Streaming, although if you're looking for a place to start, we recommend the Galaxy Tab S5e.
- Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
- Best Premium: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
- Best Mid-Range: Samsung Galaxy Tab A
- Best Budget: Amazon Fire HD 8
Best Overall — Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
While Apple's iPad remains the king (at least in terms of mindshare) for tablets, as of writing, Project xCloud is available only on Android, with Windows 10 and iOS to follow later on. As such, the best overall tablet option that balances speed, price, and features, goes to the Galaxy Tab S5e.
This isn't Samsung's flagship tablet, but it is far more affordable at around $400. It's by no means cheap despite being the "budget" model, but the Android tablet landscape isn't as hot as it potentially could be, with few options out there for mid-range interests. It compromises on battery life compared to the more powerful S6, but it retains a gorgeous 10.5-inch AMOLED display and powerful speakers, ideal for gaming away from the TV.
It weighs just less than a pound, and there's a range of accessories compatible with the device, including bed mounts, kickstands, and more, ideal for xCloud and game streaming. It also comes with Samsung's brand of Android, which remains highly configurable with Microsoft services. You can also attach a keyboard and go into DeX mode for some productivity once your gaming session is done.
- Very light
- Gorgeous display for game streaming
- Quad speakers for immersive sound
- Full Android with Google Play, offering a huge app library
- Quite pricey
A high-quality Android tablet experience.
If you fancy the Galaxy Tab S6 but don't think you'll use the stylus, the S5e is a far more cost-effective option for xCloud.
Best Premium — Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
If you want a full-blown premium experience, the currently flagship Galaxy Tab S6 is probably your best bet. This is a tablet that includes the best of the best, including a rapid Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, and great storage options. You're also getting a Samsung best-in-class display, a metal build, an included S Pen for inking, and 10.5 inches of visual gorgeousness.
The primary downside is the price. This is a tablet that also incorporates inking for the creative among us, as well as impressive battery life and Samsung DeX support for productivity on the go. This is what you'll want to buy if your pockets are deep, and your standards are high.
- Best-in-class tablet screen
- Included S Pen inking stylus
- Latest One UI software
- Beefy battery life
- Optional keyboard for productivity
- Great quad speakers
- Very pricey for casual tablet use
The best premium Android tablet on the market.
This is Samsung's flagship tablet, comprising all the leading features you could ever want out of a tablet.
Best Mid-Range — Samsung Galaxy Tab A
For a middle-of-the-road 8-inch tablet the Galaxy Tab A (2019 version) is your best option. However, its availability is a bit patchy. It's available in the U.S., but only through Samsung itself and third-party sellers as of writing.
The Tab A compromises in a few ways over the S-series tablets, with a mono speaker, a lower-end processor and only 2GB of RAM, which makes multi-tasking a bit of a chore. However, it's more than capable enough for media consumption, making it a prime candidate for affordable Project xCloud streaming. The fact it has an 8-inch display might also make it a better option than some of the larger tablets on this list for those who want something more portable.
- Small size makes it super portable
- Amazing price
- Adequate performance for media apps
- Less performant across the board than the S-series tablets
- Not as available
Budget-friendly Android tablet
This is a light and portable tablet that will get the job done for xCloud, but will prove less versatile as a tablet.
Best Budget — Amazon Fire HD 8
If you're looking for the cheapest of the cheap, the Amazon Fire HD 8 is your best and only option, but it comes with a few notable downsides.
The hardware is decent enough, with solid build quality and an alright screen, but it lacks the Google Play Store. There's no word on whether or not Microsoft will include Project xCloud on the Amazon App Store natively, but Amazon sneakily allows you to sideload any APK onto the Fire HD 8 through the settings menu. A quick Google search on how to do that can make the Fire HD 8 a great tablet for xCloud.
Given this tablet's svelte price point, Amazon crams it with ads and a relatively annoying UI that is difficult to change. It's also painfully slow, given the price, and is probably best avoided unless you can land it in a sale.
- Great for basic tablet use
- Insane affordabilty
- Low-end specs
- Low-end build quality
- No Google Play Store (without some software meddling)
Cheap as chips
This tablet isn't the most impressive out there, but for the price you can't go wrong. You'll have to do some Google research on how to sideload APKs onto it.
When it comes down to it, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is most likely your best all-round option, with a solid balance of affordability and power. It has a stunning display which will futureproof it against future xCloud updates, and comes with large, powerful speakers perfect for gaming. It's a larger tablet which impacts its portability, but until game developers start using the xCloud APIs for text scaling on smaller screens, many games will just play far better on larger screens 8 inches or above.
We'll likely update this list in the near future when iOS and Windows 10 support comes to xCloud, but until then, these Android options are your best picks.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jez Corden is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing on Xbox, Surface, and Windows PC. He spends the vast majority of his time gaming, or writing about gaming, with a mission to provide gamers in the Microsoft ecosystem the best and most up-to-date info possible.
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