Welcome to the Engadget holiday gift guide! Picking presents for friends and loved ones is never a simple task, and with thousands of options for each category, buying technology can be an especially frustrating experience. We're here to help. Below you'll find today's bevy of curated picks, and you can head back to our hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the holiday season. We've also teamed up with AT&T to give away one hot smartphone with each and every guide, so scroll to the end for today's prize, then leave a comment to submit your entry!

DNP Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 tablets

You have to admit -- there's something extra special about receiving tablets. Perhaps it's their sleek and portable designs, or maybe it's because they're best for watching movies and playing games rather than pounding out important memos on a deadline. Their rep as entertainment devices is already changing, though: we've seen slates with pen input and bundled keyboard docks burst onto the market this year, and Windows 8 is only boosting that corporate-friendly image. Wherever you fall on the work / play spectrum, we've got some great slate choices for you. Hop past the break to dive in.

On the cheap

Apple iPad mini

DNP Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 tablets

Following years of rumors, the mini is finally here. Does it live up to the enormous hype? Yes -- and it manages to surprise in some ways, too, with a unique anodized aluminum backing, impressive battery life and performance that trounces earlier-generation iPads. The $329 price is a notch higher than the competition, but you get what you pay for. In this case, that's superior build quality and access to the tablet-friendly App Store.

Key specs: 7.9-inch (1,024 x 768) display, dual-core A5 processor, 16GB of internal memory, 512MB of RAM, weighs 0.68 pounds, rated for up to 10 hours of battery life.

Price: $329 from Apple

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Nexus 10

The big brother to the Nexus 7 impresses with a stunning 2,560 x 1,600 display, great gaming chops and strong audio quality. The downside is middling battery life: we're talking about seven and a half hours when the competition delivers 10-plus.

Price: $399 from Google

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Acer Iconia Tab A110

Looking for a slate that offers Jelly Bean and a lightweight design on a budget? The 7-inch A110 delivers, and it runs a 1.2GHz Tegra 3 processor, to boot.

Price: $230 on Amazon

Mid-range

Apple iPad 4

DNP Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 tablets

The mini may be stealing some of the new 9.7-inch iPad's thunder, but the smaller slate can't hold a candle to this device's super-fast performance -- thanks to the A6X chip under the hood – and the stellar 2,048 x 1,536 display. Like its 7-inch sibling, the fourth-gen iPad has the new Lightning connector, which makes it incompatible with older docks and accessories. If you have the money to burn, though, this is one worthy step up.

Key specs: 9.7-inch (2,048 x 1,536) IPS display, dual-core A6X processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage, weighs 1.44 pounds, rated for up to 10 hours of battery life.

Price: $499 from Apple

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Famous for its S Pen, the Note 10.1 is both a costly sketchpad and a capable Android tablet. Its plastic design isn't the most premium, and the price tag should be a good $100 lower, but features like pen input and multi-screen view are nifty and useful.

Price: $499 on Amazon

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Dell XPS 10

The XPS 10 is one of several productivity-minded Windows RT slates available, targeting the business set with security features such as TPM plus integration with corporate IT departments. There's an optional keyboard dock, which ups the ante with two USB ports, HDMI and longer battery life.

Price: $500 from Dell

Money is no object

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT

DNP Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 tablets

Redmond's slate boasts a business-friendly pedigree, with the sold-separately (but mandatory, as far as we're concerned) Touch Cover providing the productivity chops with a comfortable set of keys. The 10.6-inch slate is also impeccably built, and the cool matte surface feels great in the hand. That said, those who favor apps and entertainment over getting work done on the go will want to stick to the Android or Apple ecosystems, which offer larger content selections.

Key specs: 10.6-inch (1,366 x 768) display, quad-core NVIDIA Tegra T30 processor, 32GB internal memory, 2GB RAM, weighs 1.49 pounds, rated for up to eight hours of battery life.

Price: $599 (with Touch Cover) from Microsoft

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Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11

The ARM-powered Yoga 11 takes the cake for most unique form factor: as its name implies, it sports a flip-and-fold design that lets it transform from a notebook into a slate and vice versa. In addition to that versatility, you get Lenovo's keyboard know-how and a Tegra 3 processor.

Price: From $799 starting in December

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ASUS VivoTab RT

This device features the thin-and-light design and long battery life we loved from ASUS' Android-based Transformer tablets, and the optional keyboard dock provides a decent (though slightly cramped) physical keyboard and touchpad.

Price: $549 on Amazon

Giveaway

DNP Engadget's holiday gift guide 2012 tablets

HTC One X+

Ready to take home one of AT&T's hottest smartphones? Today's offering is the HTC One X+, which offers some key improvements to the much-lauded One X. To enter for your chance to win, be sure to review our full guidelines, then leave a comment below.

The rules:

  • Leave a comment below. Any comment will do. Duplicate entries will be filtered out and discarded, so adding additional comments won't increase your likelihood of winning.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States and the District of Columbia, 18 or older! Sorry, we don't make this rule (we hate excluding anyone).
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. One winner will receive one (1) HTC One X+.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes a contact email. Social media contact details are not carried over into our system.
  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. AT&T, HTC and Engadget/AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries can be submitted until December 31st, 2012 at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!

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