Gift guide: the best tablet PCs

By Hayley Tsukayama Time of article published Nov 26, 2015

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Hoping toget a tablet in your Christmas stocking this year? Hayley Tsukayama rounds up the best teablets on the market this festive season.

 

Surface Pro 4

Pro: All the power of a PC in a good-looking tablet.

Con: Needs keyboard, sold separately, to really shine.

The Surface Pro 4, from Microsoft, is a worthy addition to the line, with the functionality of a full PC in a lightweight tablet that can double as a laptop in a pinch. In fact, most people will probably be able to replace their laptops with a Surface if all they need is basic Web browsing and typing capabilities. The tablet includes the Surface Pen, a stylus that sticks on to the side of the device by magnet.

Those who've been impressed by past Surface models should find a lot to like about the Surface Pro 4 and its technical upgrades. As with previous versions of the Surface, however, the truth of the matter is that it really needs the keyboard to show off its fullest potential. On-screen typing is simply not conducive to normal work. Microsoft's keyboard covers are good, but they do add $130 to the price.

 

Surface Book

Pro: Power, power, power.

Con: A good first draft, but still a first draft.

It may be hard to believe, but this is Microsoft's first laptop. Ever. The Surface Book, which takes its name from Microsoft's laptop/tablet hybrid line, is designed to show off the ultimate in what Windows 10 can do. And it's priced accordingly.

The Surface Book is a powerful machine, and Microsoft boasts that it's able to handle everything including creative work and serious calculations - and act as a decent gaming computer as well. If you want a tablet, you can pull off the screen and leave the keyboard behind. It's mostly designed, though, to be used as a laptop - battery life drops significantly when you ditch the keyboard base. The laptop's main physical feature is a somewhat oddly designed hinge that never quite closes, by design. Overall, it's a strong first draft for Microsoft, though those who aren't early adopters may want to wait for revisions.

 

iPad Pro

Pro: A truly gorgeous screen.

Con: Lots of sold separately.

Apple's entry into the world of souped-up tablets is the iPad Pro, a 12.9-inch tablet that comes as close as any iPad has to being able to replace the laptop. Its gorgeous screen and beefy processors make it a great device for watching shows and movies, as well as for editing photos and video. The screen is also very responsive, meaning that your digital finger paintings can be produced with more nuance than ever.

For even more serious art, there is the Pencil, Apple's new stylus, which measures both the pressure and angle of your hand as you draw for fine detail while sketching. But there's a caveat: that $100 accessory is not included. And as with other laptop-like tablets, the iPad Pro works best with its accessories. This is less true of the iPad Pro than of, say, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, as the iPad Pro runs Apple's mobile operating system. But for lots of typing, and to get the most out of that stunning screen, you'll need to factor in the cost of the $150 keyboard and the $100 Pencil.

 

Lenovo Yoga 3 14

Pro: Flexible design.

Con: The screen can be a bit dim.

If you're looking for a less-expensive laptop that can still do some tablet-like tricks, you may want to consider the Lenovo Yoga 3 14. This laptop isn't too flashy, but it does do some gymnastics. While the screen doesn't detach, you can use it as a traditional laptop, invert the hinge to watch it in what's called “tent” mode, or flip the screen all the way around to work as pseudo-tablet.

While this isn't exactly a high-end laptop - the appeal is in its versatility - the Yoga 3 14 packs enough power for the average consumer and has enough battery to get you through the workday. Its screen is not particularly bright, however, which is a ding against a machine designed to be portable, as it's not likely to fare well in bright sunlight. – Washington Post

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