Apple is ready for the enterprise. Since the announcement of the iPad Pro, Apple is talking up the tablet's larger 12.9-inch high resolution display, support for a keyboard folio case and digital inking with the Apple Pencil as key components that will help users create content and stay productive. However, there are already tablets that offer all these capabilities, and the best part is that these slates are cheaper than the $799 (£520, AU$1,146) iPad Pro plus the added accessories.
Another benefit of these five Windows-powered tablets is that they can be used as a replacement for your laptops. These convertible two-in-one notebooks can be used as your tablet for content consumption, as a laptop with the full power of Windows, and a few of them come with optional desktop docks that allow you to replace your desktop PC.
These multi-form factor designs mean you can carry less gear when traveling and save cost. With the iPad Pro's more limited iOS 9 OS, you'll likely still need to have either a desktop PC or a laptop in addition to the tablet.
Let's take a look at these tablets options:
- Read our iPad Pro hands-on
1. Microsoft Surface Pro 3
The Surface Pro 3 is perhaps the closest competitor to the iPad Pro, but the Microsoft-brand slate edges ahead of the iPad Pro in several key areas. It runs a full desktop-class operating system, comes with expansion through a USB port and micro SD card slot and gives you a legacy display out port. Additionally, backed by Windows 10 and an Intel Core i series processor, the Surface Pro 3 offers more robust multitasking.
Both slates start at $799 (£520, AU$1,146), but the Surface Pro 3 comes with a Surface Pen whereas the Apple Pencil is an optional $99 accessory. If you go with either tablet and want to convert them into a laptop form factor, be prepared to spend extra for a keyboard cover.
- Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review
2. Microsoft Surface 3
If size doesn't matter and you're okay with a slightly smaller screen, the compact Microsoft Surface 3 is an excellent contender in this space. With a 10.8-inch display, the Surface 3's 3:2 aspect ratio makes it more productive, requiring less scrolling. It's got an Intel Atom processor, rather than the Core i series, but that should give you enough horsepower for your computing tasks.
Like the Surface Pro 3, the smaller Surface 3 supports a keyboard cover and the Surface Pen. The Surface 3 starts at $499 (£324, AU$716), but the Surface Pen and Type Cover are optional add-ons.
- Read our Surface 3 review
3. Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2nd Generation
This tablet starts at $944 (£614, AU$1,354), and the price includes both the Wacom-powered stylus and a keyboard dock that gives it an Ultrabook-feel. You also get more storage with the Lenovo model with a 256GB solid state drive. For comparison, the 32GB iPad Pro equipped with a pen and keyboard comes to $1,067 (£694, AU$1,531).
The solid ThinkPad construction is a plus, and the tablet comes with two batteries, one inside the tablet and a second in the keyboard dock to help you get through your work day.
The ThinkPad has an 11.6-inch full HD display, and the same Intel Core M processor that's powering Apple's MacBook. The Core M means that the Helix's performance is between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3.
If you're a touch typist, Lenovo's keyboard dock offers responsive keys, and you'll also get more expansion ports than on the iPad Pro.
Lenovo also recently unveiled the ideapad MIIX 700, a tablet that's seen as a close competitor to the Surface Pro 3 with Intel's second generation Skylake-based Core M processor. Intel claims that this chip doubles the performance of today's tablets.
- Read our ThinkPad Helix 2nd Generation review
4. Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series
Dell's flagship tablet starts at just $699 (£455, AU$1,003) and comes with an Intel Core M processor. With a 10.8-inch display and a 16:9 aspect ratio, the biggest complaint about the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series is a cramped screen that's not as conducive for multitasking, but the tablet should handle most tasks fine.
Like the iPad Pro, the keyboard dock and the pen are optional extras, but at least the Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series has a lower starting price. You can choose from two different keyboard docks, and Dell also has a desktop dock that gives you more ports and the ability to connect an external display to use the tablet as a desktop PC replacement.
- Read our Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series review
5. Acer Aspire R13
With a 13.3-inch display, the Acer Aspire R13 is a versatile tablet that allows you to flip and use your screen in a number of different orientations. You can use the device as a laptop, swivel the screen around and use it as a tablet, or use it as an easel for artistic creation.
The Aspire R13's display doesn't detach from the keyboard, so its $999 (£650, AU$1,433) price means you'll get the keyboard included. It comes with 256GB of storage, or double the storage capacity of the largest iPad Pro configuration, and the pen is included.
- Read our Acer Aspire R13 review