They will have access to emails, custom-made police applications and internet sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Sussex Police, which must cut £50 million from its budget by 2015, will consider spending millions of pounds equipping its 3,200 officers with the technology if a trial proves successful.
Chief constable Martin Richards said yesterday that using tablets would allow his officers "to complete crime reports and witness statements on the move". It would be cheaper than using laptops or other alternatives, he said.
The force has not disclosed exactly which devices it is using, but the trial will involve 50 tablets and will cost £25,000.
Prices for Apple's iPads start at a few hundred pounds each for the simplest models. If the force gave the £999 BlackBerry PlayBook tablet to all its officers the bill could be greater than £3 million.
A spokesman said that officers would be able to go online "for legitimate purposes" only and would be monitored.
The trial, in the Lewes area, will run for three months.
In March, the same police force advertised for new posts to maintain its "popular website", "teach officers to use Twitter" and to help sell the idea of cuts to its staff.
Sussex was criticised for the spending while in the middle of its cost-cutting programme, which involves the loss of more than 1,000 staff in all.
In May the force came in for further criticism after its communications manager posted a picture of cake and treats for the press office on her Twitter account, writing: "A typical Friday in corporate comms!"