Which tablet computer?

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Which tablet computer?

In the market for a tablet? We round up a wide range of models for Android, iOS and Windows to help you get started.

Tablets quickly became part of business life, being lighter and more portable than notebooks, and bigger than phones. That makes them suitable – or even ideal – for a range of business tasks such as presentations, sales pitches, accessing documents on the go, email and more. Add a physical keyboard and a tablet becomes even more versatile.   

There are two main choices to be made: operating system and size. And, as it happens, there are essentially three selections in each.

The three operating systems are Android, iOS and Windows. You’re probably already in one camp or another. If you use Windows 10 on your desktop or notebook, a Windows tablet will seem very familiar. Both Windows 10 and the iOS/OS X combination provide convenient and useful integration between traditional and mobile devices, and there are many Android apps that work with those on desktop operating systems.

When it comes to size, it’s a question of large, medium or small. Large is perhaps epitomised by the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but there are various Windows 10 and Android tablets in this category too.

Medium is what we think of as the classic tablet form factor (largely thanks to the success of the original iPad), with screens in the 9–10in range. There’s no shortage of choices here.

Small is… well, smaller than medium. Some models are almost as small as a large phone.

So if you’re in the market for a tablet, here’s a selection in various sizes across the three operating systems to help you started. Remember to shop around and try the devices yourself before making a purchase. 

Android

Samsung Galaxy View

Screen size 18.4in
Screen resolution 1920x1080 pixels
Weight From 2.65kg
Thickness 11.9mm
Wi-Fi 802.11ac, 2.4/5GHz
Mobile broadband No
Storage From 32GB
Processor 1.6GHz Exynos octa-core
Battery life (claimed) Up to 8 hours
Fingerprint sensor No
Price From $899

Tablets don’t come much bigger than this. While Samsung positions the Galaxy View primarily as a video player, that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful in a business context once other apps are installed. It certainly isn’t for everyone – the relatively low resolution for a screen of this size is a particular issue – but it’s a convenient way of getting a large touchscreen for kiosk-style use.

Google Pixel C

Screen size 10.2in
Screen resolution 2560x1800 pixels
Weight From 517g
Thickness 7mm
Wi-Fi 802.11ac, 2.4/5GHz
Mobile broadband No
Storage From 32GB
Processor NVIDIA Tegra X1
with Maxwell GPU
Battery life (claimed) Up to 10 hours
Fingerprint sensor No
Price From $699

Perhaps the Pixel C’s biggest advantage is that it’s a Google product, so you can be confident that its Android operating system will be kept up to date. And you’re getting Android as its creators intended, not overlaid with a custom UI or odd apps. It’s also one of the most powerful tablets in its class. The optional keyboard – also best in class according to some reviewers – costs $199 and allows the screen angle to be adjusted.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8in

Screen size  8in
Screen resolution  2048x1536 pixels
Weight  From 265g
Thickness  5.6mm
Wi-Fi  802.11ac, 2.4/5GHz
Mobile broadband  Optional
Storage (from)  32GB
Processor  1.9GHz Exynos octa-core
Battery life (claimed)  up to 14 hours
Fingerprint sensor  No
Price (from)  $569

Regarded by some reviewers as the Android world’s equivalent of the iPad mini, the 8in Tab S2 is thin and light, and its screen has the same aspect ratio as an iPad rather than the 16:9 used by many models. Although it ships with Android 5, the Android 6 update has started rolling out for the Tab S2 family.

This is admittedly a high end product – it’s not hard to find a 7in Android tablet for well under $100 – but to a large extent you get what you pay for when it comes to performance and quality. And experience suggests low-end Android devices are less likely to be upgradable to new(er) versions of the operating system.

iOS

12.9in iPad Pro

Screen size  12.9in
Screen resolution  2732x2048 pixels
Weight (from)  713g
Thickness  6.9mm
Wi-Fi  802.11 ac, 2.4/5GHz
Mobile broadband  Optional
Storage (from)  32GB
Processor  A9X
Battery life (claimed)  up to 10 hours
Fingerprint sensor  Yes
Price (from)  $1249

With a whopping screen by iPad standards and the ability to run two apps side by side (where supported by the software), the iPad Pro is an impressive beast. Optional extras include the Smart Keyboard ($269) and the Apple Pencil (stylus; $165), so a fully kitted example costs nearly $2400.

9.7in iPad Pro

Screen size  9.7in
Screen resolution  2048x1536 pixels
Weight From 437g
Thickness 6.1mm
Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, 2.4/5GHz
Mobile broadband Optional
Storage From 32GB
Processor A9X
Battery life (claimed) Up to 10 hours
Fingerprint sensor Yes
Price From $800

As you’d expect from the name, it’s essentially the same as its 12.9in sibling, except with a smaller screen - in terms of both pixels and inches. There’s also the iPad Air 2 (from $599) with the same size screen, but Apple reckons the 9.7in iPad Pro is the go for small business users. The newer A9X processor delivers substantially better performance, so there’s less time spent waiting for apps to do their job.

iPad mini 4

Screen size 7.9in
Screen resolution 2048x1536 pixels
Weight From: 299g
Thickness 6.1mm
Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, 2.4/5GHz
Mobile broadband Optional
Storage From 16GB
Processor A8
Battery life (claimed) Up to 10 hours
Fingerprint sensor Yes
Price From $569

At 135mm wide, the iPad mini 4 is certainly compact though not usually pocketable. Compared with the 9.7in iPad Pro, the same number of pixels are packed into a smaller screen – so make sure you’re comfortable with the size at which text appears.

Windows

Lenovo ThinkPad X1

Screen size 12in
Screen resolution 2160x1440 pixels
Weight From 795g
Thickness 8.4mm
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Mobile broadband Optional
Storage From 128GB
Processor Intel Core m3-6Y30 
Battery life (claimed) Up to 10 hours
Fingerprint sensor Yes
Price From $1999

The detachable keyboard (included) increases the weight to 1.1kg and the thickness to 13mm, but that’s still pretty svelte. It also has an interesting adjustable design, so if you don’t like typing on a flat keyboard, you don’t have to – and there’s Lenovo’s signature TrackPoint device as well as a trackpad and touchscreen.

Unlike Apple, Lenovo includes its ThinkPad Pen Pro in the price. Windows 10 Home is standard, the Pro version is an optional extra. The mini DisplayPort means the X1 can connect to HDMI or VGA screens via optional adaptors.

Dell Latitude 11 5000

Screen size 10.8in
Screen resolution 1920x1080 pixels
Weight From 710g
Thickness 10.8mm
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Mobile broadband No
Storage From 128GB
Processor Intel Core m3-6Y30
Battery life (claimed) Up to 10 hours
Fingerprint sensor No
Price From $2658

This model is essentially a convertible where the keyboard is a $349 optional extra. Consequently, it includes a USB 3.0 port and a micro HDMI connector. Windows 10 Home is standard, the Pro version is an optional extra.

Note: We have not reviewed or tested – and therefore do not necessarily endorse – any of the products listed here. The above list of tablets is by no means exhaustive. It’s intended to be an introduction to products, prices and features on offer. 

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