Best Black Friday deals on tablets

Tablets are sure to be a hot gift this holiday season. Here's a rundown of some of the best Black Friday deals at Target, Walmart, and Best Buy.If you shop at Target, you'll pretty much pay face value for the iPad, even the older models. But Target sweetens the deal with some hefty gift cards. You'll get a $100 card with the iPad mini 2 ($300), so it effectively costs you $200. The new iPad mini 3 ($400), after a $100 card, will cost you $300. The original iPad Air ($400) will also run you $300 when you factor in the $100 card. The brand-new iPad Air 2 costs $500, but you get a $140 gift card, making the net price $360. With the older iPad mini ($250), you get an $80 card, which nets out to $170. All are 16GB, Wi-Fi models. (Of course, these deals are worthwhile only if you plan to spend that much money at Target anyway.)The deals aren't much different at Walmart, which will have the older iPad mini for a bit less than usual ($200) along with a $30 gift card, making the effective price $170--the same as at Target. The original iPad Air will cost $397 and will include a $100 card, for a net of $297, just $3 less than at Target.Before you - - hit the shops, check out our tablet Buying Guide and holiday shopping guide.Best Buy has a bit more variety and lower prices, with no gift cards. You'll save $100 on the iPad Air 2, which will cost $400, $40 more than at Target, but you're not locked in to spending the money you've saved at Best Buy. The iPad mini - - 3 will be $325, which is $75 below the list price, $25 more than at Target.The iPads have consistently ranked high in our Ratings, with excellent displays and fast performance. You can expect battery life to hover around 13 hours on all models, except the iPad mini, which lasted 11 hours in our tests--still pretty remarkable. The iPad Air 2 has a faster processor than the first iPad Air, as well as Touch ID, which lets you sign in with a fingerprint. The only difference between the iPad mini 3 and the older iPad mini 2 is Touch ID. So before you buy either of the newer models, think about whether you'd be happier saving some money with the prior versions.In addition to Apple tablets, Best Buy will also offer several Samsung tablets and a Microsoft Surface model. You'll find a Microsoft Surface 2 for $300, a significant savings over Microsoft's list price of $450. The Surface 2 was a very good performer in our tests, with battery life of more than 10 hours and a great-looking display. Add an optional keyboard ($120 to $130) and you have a Windows laptop.Best Buy will have a nice lineup of Samsung tablets as well. You'll see the biggest savings on the company's latest offering, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5. With 16GB of memory, the Wi-Fi model will sell for $400, well below the usual $500 price. The Tab S has a beautiful display and a long 11.9 hours of battery life.Best Buy is shaving $80 off the regular $280 price tag of the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, one of the best performers in our Ratings. Savings on the Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 amount to about $20, with a Black Friday price of $150.Make sure you look carefully at the fliers for these sales. Some items will be available early on Thanksgiving Day, while others won't go on sale until Friday.--Donna TapelliniCopyright 2005-2014 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.