Tablets burst onto the scene in 2010 when Apple got all up in our grills with the iPad. The surge in popularity soon waned, but what has remained is a fine array of tablets that are improving dramatically every year.
Most smartphone manufacturers make tablets, too, with the bridge between stationary computer and mobile phone seemingly large enough to support everyone from Apple and Samsung to Amazon and Microsoft.
But what caught our eye this year? Well, in truth, there can be only one winner.
Tablet of the Year: Microsoft Surface 3
Microsoft’s Surface 3 stands out head and shoulders above the rest, with our very own editor John Kennedy left smitten by the device back in March.
Since then the Surface Pro 4 has come out, but its improvements aren’t enough to justify the spend, with the 3 ticking all of the boxes.
“Microsoft doesn’t get enough credit for what it has achieved with the Surface family of devices,” explained John. “While we witness the slow death of the pure-play tablet computer genre, the promise of versatile networked computing has been realised in the Surface devices.”
Microsoft Surface 3 images, via Luke Maxwell
Starting at around €550 – the Pro 4 is twice that, thus our reluctance to justify the spend – the Microsoft Surface 3 is hardly the cheapest tablet out there but, considering the performance, it’s worth the punt.
The additional keyboard is a total rip off, though, coming in at an extra €150 or so, but we still can’t look beyond this as top dog.
The other contenders
Although quite taken by the Surface 3, there are plenty more great tablets out there, covering a wide range of prices. At the bottom end, for example, we have to note one or two budget-friendly pieces.
The Amazon Fire HD (€180) is the first Amazon tablet I’ve messed around with and it’s a nice piece of kit. As with most Amazon-branded products, it feels like it’s around €100 too cheap, but I’m not complaining.
The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 (€230) is designed better than any of the others. The stand is fantastic and it has a very attractive look to it. In terms of performance, it’s fine. A bit of lag, perhaps, but fine.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A, via Luke Maxwell
Elsewhere, the mid-range Samsung tablet, the Galaxy Tab A (€280, that €100 difference from the Amazon Fire HD is notable) is a great piece of kit. Battery power to see it last well into the next century, processing power to satisfy most consumers and it looks, and feels, very nice.
We also can’t ignore the elephant over there, sitting in the room, minding its own business, for Apple’s iPad Pro has started shipping around the world. We haven’t gotten our hands on one just yet, so we’re not in a position to give a fair spiel on it, but early reports are very positive.
Still, at anything from €940 right up to €1270, you’re talking crazy money.
Main tablet image via Shutterstock