Best Tablets Of 2015, A Buyer's Guide

Gaming and Professional Tablets

Gaming Tablets

More and more people are gaming on their mobile devices. Sure, we love a monstrous, uber-powerful gaming PC around these parts, But you can't take your gaming PC on the road with you.  a tablet built for gaming would to the trick, though...

shield lollipop
NVIDIA Shield Tablet with optional controller and folio case

Well, NVIDIA introduced the premier gaming tablet when they launched their Shield Tablet late last year.  NVIDIA has now re-released it as the SHIELD Tablet K1 with some minor revisions to bring down the cost.  This Tegra K1 driven slate still tops benchmarks after a year on the market.  However, it isn’t the horsepower alone that makes this a gamer’s device.  In addition to exclusive native games and access to NVIDIA’s Geforce Now service, this tablet is capable of streaming games from your Geforce GTX powered desktop with very minimal effort.  The Shield Tablet can also take advantage of an optional controller to dramatically improve your gaming experience. Of course, we also have access to the Tegra X1 powered Shield Android TV device, though many will still prefer the mobility the Shield Tablet affords.  This tab also performs very well as a general purpose tab so it is by no means a one trick pony. It is absolutely worth the new low asking price of $199.

Professional Tablets

In the professional space, tablet buying decisions get more interesting.  The last year has seen a lot of action and movement in the business-class tablet market.  Windows machines have finally blurred the line between ultrabooks and tablets, and cover a wide array of form factors and price points.

surface book with stylus
Surface Book docked in its keyboard with Surface Pen

Championing all of this is Microsoft’s own Surface line.  There are now essentially 3 tiers: The Surface Book, The Surface Pro, and the Surface.  If you need it all and money is no object, reach for the Surface Book. Starting at $1499, the Surface Book packs in everything you could want in a full fledged notebook, including mobile core i5 and i7 processors.  The magic here is in the keyboard, housing additional battery capacity and an optional NVIDIA GPU, which can be detached to leave you with a perfectly useful, though large, 13.5” tablet.

surface pro 4
Surface Pro 4 with Surface Pen and optional keyboard

Ratcheting back a couple steps gives us the Surface Pro 4.  Starting at a more reasonable $899, the Pro still offers notebook class processors but its 12” form factor leans more into the traditional tablet category.  While the Surface Book is a notebook that can be used as a tablet, the Surface Pro is still more of a tablet you can attach a keyboard to.  This makes the Pro a better value for most purposes if you can sacrifice lapability. Finally, we arrive at the modest Surface 3 which has yet to receive a refresh as the Pro has.  For just $499 you can have yourself a 10” tablet running full Windows 10.  The caveat here is that it is only available with Intel’s Atom processors, for now.  While this is great for battery life, it does limit the performance of the tablet.  Nevertheless, it stands as a decent choice if you need something to browse the web on the go, but still want the capability to run full powered applications like Microsoft Office.  Note that the Surface and Surface Pro require you to purchase the keyboard separately, though you may be able to score a combo deal and save.

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Dell Venue 10 7000 docked in its optional keyboard

Maybe you don’t need Windows but still want a tablet built for business with hybrid capabilities that aren’t just an afterthought.  The Dell Venue 7000 series tablets may fit the bill.  These come in 8” and 10” flavors.  The Venue 10 7000 runs head-to-head with the vanilla Surface 3 with the same $499 starting price point.  It is a little bit of a tough sell in that regard because Android still can’t match the multitasking productivity of Windows. Still, it is a very well built tablet worthy of consideration, especially for email and web browsing and light-duty office chores.

As the tablet market continues to evolve, and new products are introduced, we plan to update this piece and keep it current. For now tough, any one of these devices should please their target audience.

Tags:  Android, ipad, tablets, ios

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