Best business tablets: 10 great slates for work

TechRadar's first picks for business tablet users

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review

5. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and Z2 tablets

Sony launched the Xperia Z tablet line last year with the 10.1" Z2 model that suffers from a low resolution screen, a sin of omission that doesn't hold up to competition, or side by side in-store (or on-flight) comparison.

That said, the Z2 touts a water resistance that sent us dipping it into every single available bay of water. None of those tests showed signs of altering the life of this tablet, which is based around a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM.

Android isn't really pro-business, but the Google Play store features a number of app-based-solutions to assist your in terms of executing on their goals.

Unlike iOS, Android's a much more customizable operating system, allowing your company to optimize deeper-level preferences to suit your needs.

At 8.4", the Z3 is a smaller and friendlier version of the Z2, thanks to ditching the latter's shockingly large bezel (the bar of dead space around the screen, which some argue is there for your grip). Much closer to the look of a Kindle Fire or an iPad Mini, the Z3 offers an excellent thin form factor, ready to slip into a number of small bags, and thanks to an excellent 15-hour battery life, even the most active travellers will find it ready to support their tiring journey.

Much like its larger predecessor, though, the screen resolution just did not stack up against the market. Arguably, that's only a problem if you've seen the competition.

Panasonic Toughpad FZ M1 review

4. Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1

While Panasonic's Toughpad FZ-M1 ($2,099, £1,183, AU$2,358) is intended only for extreme work environments, it is the only Windows tablet worth mentioning if your team has such rugged needs. If your team has to execute in busy, hectic, and downright disastrous chaos, this is the tablet for you.

This beast runs Windows 8 through the worst conditions, thanks to a chunky and durable body, and an almost undentable screen. For a lot of people, that last part alone is worth the sacrifices inherent. Built for any situation, with a display you can read in almost any situation (its highest brightness levels hit 500 cd/2), this tablet makes a lot of sense if you're tired of treating your devices like precious fine china.

In terms of the FZ-M1's performance, our experience was solid, thanks to a dual-core Intel Core-i5-4320Y vPro processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 8GB of RAM (though we admit the machine defaults at a standard 4GB), and a 128GB SSD. The one area in which the FZ-M1 didn't perform like a road warrior was in battery duration, going kaput after six hours.

If you've had to deal with numerous device repairs with a team that relies on Windows, the FZ-M1 can even be downgraded to Windows 7, this is a device you cannot overlook. Even with a high end starting price.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S review

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S

Samsung's Tab S line, though, is where the South Korean-based manufacturer earns their highest marks from us. Made in both 8.4- and 10.5-inch form factors, these machines sing thanks to reliably long battery life and a screen meant to consume all the internet and video you could think of.

Of course, though, a half a star is missing from what could have been a flawless 5-star review, and it's the same reason Samsung always misses the mark. Weak design leading to a product that doesn't actually feel right.

The Wi-Fi Tab S 8.4-inch will set you back $399 (£319/AU$479.00), whereas the Wi-Fi Tab S 10.5-inch comes in at $499.99 (£399/AU$599.00).

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review

2. Microsoft Surface Pro 3

The Surface tablet series is posed to be a no-questions-asked easy choice for anybody looking to hunker down on real work, without needing a whole laptop. Bill Gates himself may be willing to admit that Microsoft missed the boat on smart phones, but the company's dedication to the tablet shows a focus on evolving the nascent form, rather than slowly iterating, as are their competitor's instincts.

The Surface is made to be the mobile companion to a life already lived inside of the Microsoft ecosystem, and since the Pro 3 thrives while running Windows 8.1, teams can expect to not lose any of their precious apps on the go, a problem that sunk the Windows Phone line out of the gate. As powerful as the Pro 3 is, though, our testing did show it can become too-hot-to-handle on occasion, and the battery isn't exactly something to sing about.

The Pro 3 (starting at $799, £521 and AU$988) continues Microsoft's assertion that they will replace the laptop by improving their input accessories, with a clearly improved Type Cover and their new Surface Pen. The keys on the cover feature with deeper travel and stronger feedback, a wider glass trackpad that actually clicks, and a new hinge that allows for much more comfortable use, this year's model could have enough to sell users on Microsoft's vision of the tablet future. The Surface Pen, though, in its first year, does seem more gimmick than solution, using a Bluetooth trick to launch apps with the click of its top.

Since the machine has so much going for it, the unit does come in at a premium price: the 64GB model with Intel Core-i3 runs $799 (around £521/AU$988), and the Surface Pro 3 maxes out at 512GB with a Core-i7 for $1,949 (around £1272/AU$2409). Additionally, when comparing comparably specced Surface Pro 3's and iPad Air 2s, the Surface Pro 3 is $300 more expensive, and that's without buying a Type Cover or Surface Pen.

Apple iPad Air 2 review

1. iPad Air 2

As time marches on in the tablet field, iOS has only gained strengths in the business market, thanks to Microsoft Office finally landing on the platform this winter, as well as Apple's new partnership with IBM for enterprise software.

These changes go under the radar for a lot of customers, because Apple markets the iPad to consumers, with plenty of new reasons to.

Thinner and lighter than ever, the iPad Air 2 is a great example of the iterative evolutions in Apple's current run of industrial design. Thankfully, though, reductions in size and weight are strictly positives here. The same can't be said for Apple's industrial design for its phones, since bending and a slippery form factor are leading many to question the usability of the iPhone 6 Plus.

Still, though, if your team can operate with the apps available on iOS, this is still the best-in-class, and the only tablet to earn a 5-star review from TechRadar.

The iPad Air 2 runs the gamut of the price tiers in the market, with the entry level model at US$499 (£399, AU$619), but the price can rise up to US$829 (£659, AU$1,019) for the top-of-the-line hard drive with both Wi-Fi + 4G. As much as people have talked about paying an Apple Tax when you buy one of the company's devices, this top-tier tablet is no more expensive than those comparable models from Samsung or Sony.