New contenders in the battle of the boardroom tablets.
Tablets have become a must-have in many meetings, and the battle for the high end of the market is fiercely contested. On one side is the Apple iPad Pro; on the other, the Microsoft Surface Pro.
The face-off has cranked up a notch with new releases from both sides: two new iPad Pro models and the new Surface Pro (2017). Here’s how the new devices line up, along with some other options.
Apple iPad Pro: A$979 – A$1849
Apple has upgraded both of its iPad Pros, with a new 12.9in model and a 10.5in version that replaces the 9.7in model. Both include a faster processor (a six-core A10X Fusion chip) – so they’re blazingly fast – and three storage options: 64GB, 256GB and 512GB.
The most notable change is to the 10.5in iPad Pro which, as the name suggests, has a larger, higher-resolution (2224 x 1668pixel) screen – though the device itself is only marginally larger overall due to design improvements.
Prices start at A$979 for the 10.5in 64GB wi-fi only model, ranging up to A$1849 for the 12.9in 512GB model with 4G.
The Smart Keyboard, which many will want for everyday work, is an extra A$235 for the 10.5in iPad Pro or A$245 for the 12in model.
If you need to write and sketch as well as type, the pressure-sensitive Apple Pencil, sold for A$145, lets you do just that in apps including Notes, Paper and Penultimate.
Microsoft Surface Pro: A$1199 – A$3999
Microsoft wants you to think of the Surface Pro as a laptop, but unless you attach the optional Type Cover keyboard, it’s actually a tablet.
However, once you connect the Type Cover, the Surface Pro turns into a very nice ultraportable laptop – and the new model has some significant improvements.
The 2017 version looks no different from the Surface Pro 4, and the 12.3in display is much the same, but inside it has one of the latest, seventh-generation Intel Core processors: a Core m3, i5 or i7. Even better, battery life has improved to the extent that the new Surface Pro can now last a full day in most normal business circumstances.
Microsoft offers a variety of configurations and pricing varies accordingly: from A$1199 with a Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB storage, to A$3999 with a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 1TB storage. There’s no 4G version at the moment, so you’ll need to use your phone’s hotspot when away from wi-fi.
The new Type Cover keyboard is even better to use but you still have to pay an extra A$199 for it, which seems odd, considering the Surface Pro is being marketed as a laptop.
Still, the mid-range to top-shelf models are very quick indeed – and because the device runs the full version of Windows, the Surface Pro can be a genuine laptop replacement.
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The new iPad Pro and Surface Pro are excellent devices, but you don’t need to limit your choice to them. Apple’s regular 9.7in iPad is a step down from the Pro but a lot cheaper – starting at A$469. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is still a great device, from A$899.
Elsewhere, any number of budget Android tablets are available, including Lenovo’s 10in Yoga Tab3 for about A$300. You’ll find Samsung’s 9.7in Galaxy Tab S2 with wi-fi, from A$699, is a step up in quality, while Lenovo’s Yoga Book, priced from A$799, is an ultra-thin hybrid with a unique built-in keyboard that can double as a virtual piece of paper – and it’s available with either Android or Windows.
If you’re looking for hybrid Windows tablets there are also plenty of choices, ranging from Lenovo’s A$399 MIIX 320 to Acer’s Switch Alpha 12 (A$1390) to HP’s enterprise-grade Elite x2, priced from $1759.
Flip-over two-in-one laptops could be another option, although they are generally too heavy to use as a tablet for any great length of time.
Some tablets offer matching keyboards, although generally at extra cost. However, there are other options, such as third-party keyboards and covers for specific tablets. Brydge keyboards, for example, can turn just about any recent iPad or Surface Pro into a laptop (keyboard from US$100–$150, depending on the device). Alternatively, a multi-device bluetooth keyboard, such as Logitech’s K380 (A$69.95), may suffice.
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