Tablet Buying Guide 2015
Tablets are revolutionizing industries and bringing an ease and accessibility to a plethora of tasks that were previously not doable. With each passing year, we are seeing tablets more ingrained in our lives and becoming our necessity. 2015 is no different, especially given the huge number of tablets hitting the shelves this year.
Tablets come in all forms and sizes, so we are going to break down our discussion and go over several of the best tablets this year categorically so that when the time comes you’re informed and ready to buy a tablet that matches your needs exactly.
Best Android Tablet
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
The release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S last year turned quite a few heads, going so far as to challenge the authoritative first place position of the iPad Air. There is no surprise then that the best android tablet in the market right now is the successor of the Tab S, i.e. the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2.
The Tab S2 has improved on some of the features of the Tab S, dramatically changed others, introduced a few new ones and kept some of the tried and tested.
One important change brought about in the Tab S2 is the shape and the dimensions. The aspect ratio has been improved, making this tablet perfect for movies, surfing and general tablet work (something which the Tab S users complained they were unable to do comfortably). The tablet comes in two sizes, like its predecessor, but unlike the Tab S which came in 8-inch and 10.4-inch sizes, the S2 comes in 8-inch and 9.7-inch sizes. The S2 has also thinned down to an astounding width of 5.6mm cinching the title of thinnest tablet around, and leaving the iPads behind.
Slimming down has caused some drawbacks, though, the biggest one being smaller battery life (because of smaller battery storage capacity) in comparison not only to other tablets in the market, but the Galaxy Tab S as well. Normal usage would procure about a day and a half of battery life.
The S2 has a 3GB RAM, superior to the 2GB RAM on the iPad Air, an 8MP rear camera and a 2.1MP front camera. The display of the Tab S2 is a slight step down from the Tab S pixel density wise, however, it is still a Super AMOLED, vibrant, 2048×1536 resolution display.
The Tab S2 is coming out in different types and prices, ranging from USD 399 to USD 650. On the lower end of the price spectrum is the WiFi only, 32 GB, 8-inch S2. On the higher end are the 9.7-inch tabs with LTE connectivity capability. All models can be upgraded to 128GB memory via the microSD slot.
If you’re looking for the best android tablet around – the Tab S2 is the way to go.
Best iOS Tablet
Apple iPad Air 2
The Apple iPad Air 2 has been reigning supreme for quite a while now, and although Apple products are a bit on the pricier end of things, there’s a reason why they’re top end – because they package in the best things a tablet can offer.
The iPad Air perfected the design of the tablet, so the need to change the shape and the look if the iPad Air 2 wasn’t felt necessary. The screen resolution remains the same 2048×1536 as introduced back in 2012 with the iPad 3. The screen, however, has not remained untouched. Apple has addressed the one of the greatest irks of tablet users – reflectivity. By incorporating a new technique of setting screen panels together, a whopping 56% reduction in reflected light has been achieved – and this amazing, especially for avid tablet users who’d take out their tablets on warm, sunny days only to find themselves squinting and awkwardly using their hands to block out the sunlight.
The iPad Air 2, fully fitted with the latest A8x tri-core chip, the latest iOS 8.1 and a 2GB RAM (1 short of the Tab S2) has allowed this tablet to become faster at some tasks and processes than some of the latest PC themselves. That’s a lot of firepower, and it remains up to you on how to use it.
A complaint people have had with the iPad Air 2 is that it does not provide adequate memory options. You can either choose the 16 GB one – which isn’t nearly enough, or you can choose either the 64GB or 128GB ones which are perhaps more than might be needed.
Another improvement the iPad Air 2 has over its predecessor is it’s rear camera which now is 8MP, a step up from the previous 5MP, and it also boasts more real color depictions compared with the iPad Air (this tends to decrease with decreased light).
The battery remains the same as that of the original iPad Air, and can last 10 hours in a day of normal use, including surfing, gaming, and making videos.
The price ranges from USD 499 (16GB) to USD 699 (64GB) (and may increase if you’re one to want 4G connectivity with your tablets). The iPad Air 2 is a solid investment and a huge step up from the previous iPads (however, only a slight improvement from the iPad Air). If you’re in the market for tablets and you want the best – this is it.
Best Windows Tablet
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
This isn’t a huge surprise. The company that made the OS would be best knowledgeable on how to utilize its potential to the fullest.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is an interesting choice, however, since it is being advertised as both a laptop and a tablet, it’s 2-in-1. Here lie its strengths, and here lie its weaknesses.
To the tablet users, the Surface Pro 3 seems more like a laptop with a detachable keyboard. Their reservations are its bulkiness (relatively speaking) and some of its other features – as will be discussed below. To the laptop users, the Surface Pro 3 doesn’t provide the level of comfort that a machine made for the sole purpose of being a PC would provide – the main reservation being how typing doesn’t feel natural enough.
But now that we’ve got the complaints out of the way, here’s why the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 made it to this list: it’s an incredibly powerful, portable, light weight device.
The Surface Pro 3 is a larger version of its predecessor, having been upscaled to a 12 inch screen from 10 inches. From the previous two tablets discussed you’ll notice this is a considerably large tablet. The screen resolution is 2160×1440, and the display is rich, bright and detailed.
The camera is a let down from the tablet side of things, having a 5MP camera (which is still good if you look at it from a laptop’s perspective).
The battery life is impressive, rivaling the best. The battery is supposed to last around 9 hours of web-browsing and can be appreciated from both the tablet and the laptop end of things.
The processors range from i3 to i7, which subsequently affect the price as well, which ranges from USD 799 to USD 1799.
And if you’re getting a Surface Pro 3, a Typecover is a must. A typecover is an add-on to the Surface Pro 3 which provides a stand for the tablet, as well as the keyboard and can fold up to provide a safe home to the device.
The Surface Pro 3 isn’t the replacement for laptops but it is the nearest alternative, that too at a bargain. At the same time it is a reputable tablet, especially if you’re a Windows enthusiast.
Best Entertainment Tablet
Nvidia Shield Tablet
The Nvidia Shield Tablet gets this prestigious award because of its sheer dedication and commitment to entertainment. The Shield is a niche device, so if you like it – you’ll like it and if you don’t, you won’t.
The slate targets the gamers amongst us, specifically. That particularly is being done by the 2.2GHz quad-core Tegra K1 super chip, providing faster processing than some of the best tablets around – and to gamers this is a big plus. Next up is the exceptional cooling ability of the Shield via passive cooling and a thermal shield.
The Shield has a 1920×1200 resolution, 8-inch display along with a 5MP front and rear camera. The battery life is comparable to the best around as well, capable of 5 hours of gaming or around 10 hours of normal usage. Another thing going for the Shield is that it is compatible with a Shield remote control, especially for gaming. And if you’re into movies then the front facing Shield speakers would be something you’d look forward to – especially since they provide the best sound quality in tablets for the moment.
The Nvidia Shield tablet has not yet granted portable PC gaming and there are a few things that need to be tweaked and improved on, but it is definitely a step in the right direction – and if entertainment is your thing then so should the Nvidia Shield Tablet.
Best Work Tablet
Dell Venue 8 7840
If you bring in a Dell Venue 8 7840 to a meeting you don’t look out of place – and that is saying a lot about how this tablet is best suited for the business environment, any other tablet would get you an odd glance or two.
The Venue 8 comes in black only, and that is another feature highlighting its position as an office accessory. The screen size comes in at a respectable and handy 8.4 inches with a 2560×1600 resolution. Equipped with a 2 GB RAM, 16GB storage and a microSD slot makes it just the right fit for business professionals who can customize the memory carrying capacity of this device. The camera isn’t the greatest, and that’s not a huge problem if you’re a business professional looking to buy this device. The battery rivals the best around, lasting almost ten hours of normal usage, and a few days of nominal usage – so you’ll get 9-5 out of this thing.
The slate has three very slim bezels, and the fourth, bottom bezel is wide and sporting front speakers allowing it to be gripped easily, providing excellent quality while simultaneously adding a professional look.
This is a beautiful tablet with the right features for the office environment – and if you’re looking for an office companion this is it!