A few years ago, it was easy to scoff at the idea of using tablets for productivity. The hardware was too weak, and the software was too limited, so turning a tablet into a work device made sense only for a few fringe users.
But things have changed since Apple released the first iPad in 2010. Processing power and memory have improved to allow for heavier workloads, and tablet software has grown more sophisticated, with better ways to switch between apps and more productivity apps to choose from. (Microsoft has even released Office for iPad, if that's a hard requirement for your work.) Meanwhile, 2-in-1 Windows devices are blurring the line between tablets and laptops, so you can have a slim and portable device that doesn't make you let go of your old workflow.
While it's a lot easier now to use tablets for productivity, some are still better for work than others. Here are six tablets that are best-equipped for the job.
Apple iPad Air
Let's get the PC diehards' gripes out of the way: There's no windowing system, no persistent taskbar for quick app-switching, no file manager, no USB ports, and no mouse, keyboard, or trackpad support. In other words, it's not even remotely like a traditional computer.
That's the point. The iPad Air's simplicity turns it into a blank canvas for all kinds of productive tasks, whether it's writing your thoughts in a minimalist text editor, editing movies, or re-touching photos. The best part of iOS is that it gets out of the way and lets you concentrate on what you're doing. Even if you're sticking to your laptop, there are plenty of ways to use the iPad as an additional tool.
One other thing: The iPad's ecosystem is unparalleled, not just for apps, but for accessories such as keyboards, styluses, and music recording tools. The trick is to figure out how to bring the iPad into your work routine. Once you do that, it's a tough tablet to beat.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Microsoft's latest tablet sits on the opposite end of the spectrum from Apple's iPad, unashamedly embracing its PC roots. It has a full-size keyboard and a trackpad for precise pointing and selection. The full-size USB slot lets you connect a mouse, an external hard drive or a printer, and there's a pressure-sensitive stylus thrown in for good measure.
And of course, it runs full-blown Windows 8.1, with all the things you'd expect from a work laptop, including a file browser, a taskbar, and desktop programs. If you're used to working in Windows, the Surface Pro 3 doesn't require any change in workflow. And at 2.4 pounds with the Type Cover attached, it's lighter than most laptops of similar size.
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