Best business tablets: 8 great slates for work
25th Apr 2014 | 13:07
The best options for business tablet users
Best business tablets: part 1
Tablets are everywhere, but which is the right one for your business? TechRadar Pro chooses the top eight tablets for business users; from the tablet with the greatest wow-factor, through to the tablet that will tackle any job you throw at it.
In no particular order, here are the top ten tablets for business;
It's the best tablet on the market so whatever your reason for picking up the iPad Air you'll know it's going to give you a decent showing, business activities included.
A new design over the iPad 4 it replaces, the Air is thinner, lighter and just all round more portable than any 9.7-inch iPad that's gone before it meaning it's much easier to take into meetings and travel round the world with than a laptop.
That 9.7-inch display is packing an eye popping 2048 x 1536 resolution, making it an absolute joy to use, and Apple's 64-bit A7 chip sits under hood ensuring everything zips along nicely.
The Air comes running Apple's latest operating system, iOS 7, which sports a whole new look, more functionality and the strongest app selection of any platform.
Apple even offers its business software for free now, giving you the likes of Pages, Numbers and Keynote at your finger tips without any extra expenditure.
If your office is set up with Macs then the iPad Air will play nicely with them, syncing documents, data and media to iCloud, allowing you to access it from your tablet and computer.
The big draw back of the iPad Air? The price. As with all of Apple's products, the Air carries a premium price tag so equipping your whole office will set you back a fair bit - distribute sparingly however and the advantages could be huge.
- Read: iPad Air review
Microsoft Surface Pro 2
Probably the biggest rival to the iPad Air in the business arena is the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, which sets itself up as a device predominantly for the business market.
While the iPad Air will sing harmoniously with Macs, the Surface Pro 2 has a similar relationship with Windows PCs - allowing you to effortlessly sync your contacts, calendars and work between computer and tablet.
The Surface Pro 2 takes things a step further with the addition of a kickstand and a clip on keyboard, allowing it to bridge the gap between tablet and laptop, allowing you to have just one device instead of two.
Unlike iOS and Android tablets, the Surface Pro 2 runs the full desktop version of Windows 8.1, giving you all the same power and functionality of a computer on a tablet.
With the full Windows experience you also get the full Microsoft Office suite, allowing you to work on all your documents without having to settle for a pared down mobile version.
If you thought the iPad Air was expensive though you may want to look away now, the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is even more expensive. Of course it could replace your computer or laptop as well as providing a tablet option which goes some way to justify the cost, but it's still hard to swallow.
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
If portability and customisation are high on your priority list for a business tablet then the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet needs to be seriously considered.
At just 6.4mm thick and 439g in weight the Xperia Z2 Tablet is a highly portable 10.1-inch tablet with a great full HD display, 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM.
In fact it's even thinner and lighter than its predecessor, the Xperia Tablet Z, which clocked it at a very impressive 6.9mm and 495g.
Android isn't quite as clear cut as a business offering as Windows 8 or iOS 7, but there are plenty of applications in the Google Play store to ensure your Z2 Tablet is ready to tackle a days work.
What Android is good for however is customisation and Sony's has included its clever floating applications here. These can be opened on top of anything you're viewing, plus you can also tweak the operating system to best suit your company.
An added extra on the Xperia Z2 Tablet is the fact that it's both dust- and water-resistant, so you needn't fear if you're caught in a downpour during fieldwork, or simply waiting at the bus stop.
iPad mini 2 with Retina display
If the 10-inch tablets are too bulky for your needs then take a look at the iPad mini 2, which sports a smaller 8.9-inch display and the same power as the iPad Air.
A smaller screen also means a smaller price, so if you're committed to Apple's ecosystem, but your budget won't stretch to the full size tablet the mini 2 is an excellent alternative.
Other than the screen size and dimensions the iPad mini 2 offers up everything that the Air does, with the accomplished iOS 7 platform at its heart, ensuring everything keeps ticking along nicely.
Apple now offers its Keynote, Pages and Numbers office software for free, meaning once you've purchased the tablet you can get to work without any additional expense.
The iPad mini with Retina display is perfect for those who spend a lot of their time travelling, or require a tablet which doesn't impose itself as much in meetings.
- Read: iPad Mini 2 review
Best business tablets: part 2
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
Has the smaller form factor caught your eye, but iOS not appealing? Well there's a host of Android tablets competing with the iPad Mini and one of the latest is the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4.
There's a clue in the name here, with the "Pro" suffix denoting that this isn't just a casual entertainment tab, but rather one that Samsung is positioning towards the enterprise market.
As you may have already guessed the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 sports an 8.4-inch display, boasting a 1600 x 2560 resolution which gives a crystal clear image.
You get some impressive power too with a 2.3GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and the option to have a 4G version on top of the standard Wi-Fi only model.
The issue here though is the price, and for the cheaper, plastic body of the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 it's left a little in the wake of the iPad Mini.
Google Nexus 7 (2013)
Looking for the perfect balance of value for money and great performance? Then the keenly price Google Nexus 7 could very well be right up your street.
Building on the popular tablet of the same name from 2012, the new Nexus 7 is upgraded in pretty much every area, from a slimmer, more professional design to an eye popping full HD display.
The Android ecosystem is a strong one, even if business isn't totally at its heart, and the vast array of apps and customisation options means the Nexus 7 is highly versatile.
You get the very latest Android 4.4.2 KitKat software on the Nexus 7, and it'll be first in line for future updates too, ensuring it's always on the cutting edge of Google's development.
- Read: Google Nexus 7 review
Lenovo Miix 2
There isn't a huge choice of Windows tablets out there, and there are even fewer reasonably priced ones, but in the Lenovo Miix 2 you can get your Microsoft fill for under £250.
It does lack the power of the Surface, but at this low price that's hardly surprising. You do get an attractive design, nice screen and decent battery life, while the 8-inch display means it's far more portable than many of the tablets here.
While high powered operations may be a bit of a struggle for the Miix 2 you can expect a relatively quick boot time, plus all the standard operations such as email, Microsoft Office and web browsing are catered for well on the tablet.
The added bonus over the fleet of the iOS and Android slates is the Miix 2 can sync automatically with your work computer, allowing you to pick up where you left off when you leave the office and fire up the slate.
- Read: Lenovo Miix 2 review
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.1
For those who need as much screen real estate as possible, but don't want to be lugging around a laptop all day the Galaxy Note Pro 12.1 offers up a bag busting 12.1-inch full HD display.
As this is a "Note" series device the Note Pro 12.1 comes with Samsung's now well known S Pen stylus, perfect for graphical programs and navigating round complex spreadsheets.
Under the hood there's a quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, Android KitKat, a meaty 9500mAh battery and the option of 4G connectivity.
Again build quality doesn't match up to the Apple iPad standards, with an obviously plastic finish and creaky frame putting a dampener on the tablet - and you'll need deep pockets because the Note Pro 12.1 doesn't come cheap.