Tablet workhorses compared
When tablets first began growing in popularity – right around the release of the original iPad back in 2010 – they weren't really designed for businesses or those wanting a new device for Word. Instead, they were designed for media consumption, like watching a movie in bed, reading an E-book or playing games.
Times have changed, and now people looking to buy a new laptop often consider buying a tablet instead. This is especially true with the latest crop of devices from the top tech giants – including the iPad Pro, Surface Pro 4 and Google Pixel C. Each device is a great option in its own right and we've compared them all to help you find which is best for your needs.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 had a lot to live up to, with the Surface Pro range in general being a pretty successful series. The Surface Pro 4 is no exception. Microsoft has upgraded the Surface Pro tablet with a higher, 2,736 x 1,824 resolution display.
There are also a number of other specs that really set the Surface Pro 4 apart, making it better equipped than other offerings. With RAM and storage being configurable up to 16GB and 1TB, respectively, users can configure the Surface Pro 4 with better internals than any other device on this list. Only the Dell XPS 12 comes close to matching the Surface Pro 4 with processor options ranging up to 6th generation Intel Core i7 chips.
The Surface Pro 4 also offers an improved Type Cover and Surface Pen. The Bluetooth-connected Pen features 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, which makes the device a pinpoint option for artists. Typists will love the new Type Cover, which features a widened spacing for the keys and a smooth glass trackpad.
Unfortunately, the Type Cover doesn't come with the device, which adds a $129 (£749, AU$1,349) surcharge to the Surface Pro 4's $899 (£749, AU$1,349) starting price. Although Microsoft's latest Windows tablet is a solid device, users should keep in mind there have been reports that the device's battery is plagued with performance issues.
Overall, the Surface Pro 4 is the device that comes closest to Windows 10 tablet perfection.
- Processor: Intel Skylake Core m3, i5, i7
- Display: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 resolution
- RAM: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB
- Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
- Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, microSD, headphone, Mini DisplayPort
- Battery: 5 hours, 15 minutes
- Price: Starts at $899 (£749, AU$1,349)
Apple iPad Pro
Apple's business-class iPad Pro has been highly anticipated for a long time, and it was finally announced at Apple's fall event in September. The device is Apple's largest tablet ever with a 12.9-inch screen, making it a massive canvas for media professionals. Unfortunately, some might find having a device that only runs the iOS mobile operating system a bit too limited compared to other slates running the full desktop version of Windows.
But what really sells the iPad Pro is the Apple Pencil that comes with it. In our hands-on time with Apple Pencil, we found that the device was great at sketching, while ignoring our hands rubbing against the touchscreen. The flat, rubber-clad Smart Keyboard will put off users who want a real keyboard, but we found the peripheral to be fast and accurate.
Under the hood, the device features Apple's A9X processor, which is a souped-up version of the A9 processor found in the latest iPhone, except it's optimized for a tablet.
The iPad Pro is basically the device for artists and business people who prefer to stay in the Apple ecosystem.
- Processor: Apple A9X
- Display: 12.9-inch, 2,732 x 2,048 resolution
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 32GB, 128GB
- Ports: Lightning port
- Battery: 6 hours
- Price: Starts at $799 (£679, AU$1,249)
Google Pixel C
The Google Pixel C was a surprise announcement by Google at the company's latest Nexus phone event. It's basically the Android equivalent of the iPad, with a matching premium metal body and the addition of a magnetically-attaching keyboard.
While the specs of the device aren't that impressive compared to others on this list, the Pixel C offers a sharp 10.2-inch screen. The keyboard for the device is also unique in that it doesn't need to be charged. Instead, it will charge when it's connected to the tablet, and can run for months on a very small amount of power. It also drops the annoying physical keyboard contacts for a Bluetooth connection to the Pixel C.
Of course, although the specs aren't absolutely incredible, they'll do just fine in most situations, and the device is quite a bit cheaper than the others on this list, starting at $500 (around £330, AU$698).
If you want an great Android tablet that does just a little bit more with a real keyboard and trackpad, the Google Pixel C is for you.
- Processor: NVIDIA Tegra X1
- Display: 10.2-Inch, 2,560 x 1,800 resolution, 308 ppi
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB, 64GB
- Ports: USB-C
- Battery: 10 hours, according to Google
- Price: Starts at $499 (about £330, AU$698)
HP Spectre x2
HP's Spectre x2 offers a sleek and stylish design. The device has a high-end look with a completely metal construction and industrial design. It's also intelligently engineered with a keyboard that clips to the tablet's chin, offering a comfortable typing position. Apart from the design, the HP device has one of the better batteries on the list that will supposedly last up to 10 hours on a single charge under normal use, according to HP.
The slate's quad speakers (two in the screen and keyboard) also offer an extra layer of depth and volume to music and movies. At the front and back of the device you'll also find Intel's RealSense cameras for some photography related hijinks and useful applications. HP has also taken a page from 1970s-era televisions with the kickstand bar, which enables the device to go as far back as 150-degrees, quite a bit more than is found on the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700, which offers 135-degrees.
- Processor: Intel Skylake Core m3, m5, m7
- Display: 12-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 resolution
- RAM: 4GB, 8GB
- Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
- Ports: 2 x USB-C, microSD card slot
- Battery: 5 hours, 45 minutes
- Price: Starts at $799 £799 (about AU$1,125)
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700
Lenovo's IdeaPad Miix 700 is another device that features a great design – that's arguably completely lifted from the Surface Pro 3 – with a sleek and stylish keyboard. While it's not the most original looking device, it incorporates a power-sipping Intel Core m7 processor. The device also matches most of its competitors when it comes to specs, featuring 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for storing large files and running multiple programs at once.
What really makes this device different, however, is that it offers a wide selection of ports. With a USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, microSD, micro HDMI, and even a microSIM port, there's plenty of options for plugging in a bunch of peripherals. Furthermore, the battery of the Miix 700 lasts 9 hours, according to Lenovo. Almost on par with the HP Spectre x2's projected maximum run time. Add all of that to a decent price, and we have a very nice tablet indeed.
- Processor: Intel Skylake Core m7
- Display: 12-Inch, 2160 x 1440 resolution
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB
- Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, micro HDMI, micro SIM, microSD, Headphone
- Battery: 9 Hours, according to Lenovo
- Price: Starts at $699 (around £454, AU$978)
Dell XPS 12
In releasing the Dell XPS 12, Dell's goal was to make the transition between a laptop and tablet as fluid and easy as possible, and it's gone as far as completely removing the hinge. The device uses magnets to hold the tablet to the keyboard, and you can literally just pull the tablet off when you want to use it in tablet mode, making the transition between the two device types very easy.
Another thing to note about the device is it offers customization options for up to an Intel Core i7 processor, meaning that it will be able to handle pretty much anything that you can throw at it. You will also enjoy the XPS 12's whopping 4K display, which is the highest resolution display on this list.
Lastly, the keyboard on the XPS 12 is nearly perfect. It offers chiclet-spaced keys and a nice roomy touchpad, along with a classy rubberized deck. And as far as ports go, the XPS 12 is the only one on the list to offer a Thunderbolt input.
If you want a high-end Windows 10 tablet with a keyboard that's truly made for typing and if you don't mind a thicker device, you should get the Dell XPS 12.
- Processor: Intel Skylake Core m5
- Display: 12.5-Inch, 3,840 x 2,160 Resolution
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128GB, 256GB
- Ports: SD Card slot, Thunderbolt, USB-C, headphone
- Battery: 10 Hours, according to Dell
- Price: Starts at $999 (£1,099, around AU$1,361)