One of the reasons Apple’s iPad was so successful was that, like many Apple products, it captured the public’s imagination – commercially, at least, there hadn’t been anything quite like it aimed at consumers, and it promised a bright sci-fi-like experience full of exciting possibilities.
The iPad introduced the idea of tablets to an unexpecting mass market. What wasn’t so predictable was the steady decline of tablets thereafter. Following the inevitable boom where everyone rushed to cash in on the sudden interest in tablets, sales have gradually dropped off year-on-year, and it’s not just competitor models this is happening to either, Apple itself is struggling to shift iPads in anywhere near the quantities it expected to or used to.
The catch, it seems, is that while users will happily replace their contract-tethered smartphone every year or two, buying a new tablet this regularly is a big no-no, and consumers seem to treat these larger devices similarly to laptops and PCs as a rare, carefully considered, and long-lasting purchase.
But that doesn’t mean tablets are useless. Indeed, they can be great content consumption–and even creation–devices. And the tablets on the market today are better than they have been during any time in the past.
Global market research firm TrendForce estimates that 2016 tablet sales numbered around 154.5 million units–or a decline of 8.3% from the year earlier. They also estimate that global tablet shipments for 2017 are likely to fall by 5.3% annually this year to about 146.4 million units. In other words, tablet sales are still decreasing, but not by as much.
“Most tablet brands will be more conservative in committing their resources during 2017,” TrendForce notebook analyst Anita Wang pointed out. “Amazon and Huawei on the contrary have ambitions to increase their tablet shipments by many folds. The two brands are expected to expand their offerings in the near future. Additionally, Microsoft will be releasing Surface Pro 5 in the first quarter of 2017. Generally speaking, tablet shipments will drop next year but the decline will be fairly limited.”
The number of Android tablets in circulation has dropped off at a rather alarming rate during the past 18 months.
Not so long ago you couldn’t go a week without an Android tablet launching and now there fast becoming as rare as hen’s teeth.
A lot of this is to do with Apple’s iPad; it dominates the space almost entirely, just as the iPod did in the MP3 player space.
However, all is not lost – things are starting to change. And we have Microsoft to thank for that. Windows 10 and the hybrid machines it gave birth to and growing in popularity through their ability to bridge the gap between traditional laptop and tablet.
What the Android space REALLY needs is a decent ChromeOS dual-boot slate; a tablet that runs Android, but features all the cool attributes of ChromeOS.
Google is doing more cross-over stuff with Android and ChromeOS, but progress is painfully slow.
I would 1000% buy a Android tablet that could dual-boot ChromeOS. Hell, I’m tempted to start a KickStarter campaign to make it happen!
Budget tablets and hybrids like the current Surface Pro 4 and upcoming Surface Pro 5, and also the iPad Pro, are expected to be the driving forces behind 2017’s tablet space.
Here are our favorite tablets for 2017 so far.
iPad Pro 12.9in
The iPad Pro was the newest tablet of 2016–and it’s a monster. It’s got a massive 12.9-inch 2732 x 2048 resolution at 264 ppi. But beneath that gorgeous display is a powerhouse of productivity. Inside you’ll find and INSANELY fast A9X chip–it’s actually faster than the Intel chips found in some MacBooks. Add to that the 4GB of RAM and four speaker audio and it’s no wonder this thing was labeled “Pro”.
You can actually edit 4K video on it without any lag. That’s not even to mention the optional Apple Pencil, dubbed by many as the best stylus ever made. The Pencil and the Pro work so well together, some artists are even saying it’s the first tablet that’s as good as a real pencil and paper.
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S
Samsung’s hybrid Windows 10 machine has an amazing screen, decent specs and it looks really smart. Also, the battery life is pretty decent as well. Combine this with all the benefits you get from running Windows 10 and you have one hell of a productivity machine that is great for working on the move and consuming media while on riding plans and trains (or your sofa).
The Galaxy TabPro S comes with a keyboard, but if you want to take advantage of Windows Ink, you will need to pony up for a stylus. Why Samsung didn’t include one from the get go remains to be seen. Ink is an awesome feature that lets you add notes to applications and web pages. You can then get Cortana to store these notes for a later date.
Who’s this for? Anyone that wants a portable, powerful Windows 10 machine with tablet properties and a truly STUNNING display.
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S Specs
- Windows 10.
- 12in Super AMOLED (2160×1440)
- 6th Gen. Intel Core M processor (Dual Core 2.2GHz)
- 128GB SSD.
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac MIMO.
- Wi-Fi Direct.
iPad Air 2
While the iPad Pro is probably too much for most people, the iPad Air 2 is designed for everyone. Surprisingly, the Air 2 didn’t receive an update last year–it’s the exact same model as the year before. Given that it’s still one of the best tablets on the market it goes to show how ahead of its time it was for its 2014 release.
The iPad Air 2 features a 9.7-inch display with a 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution at 264 ppi. Though its A8X chip can’t compete with the A9X found in the iPad Pro, it’s no slouch either. The iPad Air 2 is not only great for browsing the web and sending email, but for getting major productivity tasks–such as video and photo editing–done.
iPad mini 4
Though the iPad mini 4 hasn’t seen an update recently, it’s still probably the best small-sized tablet on the market. It’s 7.9in 1536 x 2048 display isn’t too big or too small. It features a Dual-core 1.5 GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and comes in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB options.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8
The Galaxy Tab S2 8 doesn’t have the best design. It’s got a rubber body, which makes it look rather clunky. But what it lacks in sex appeal it makes up in specs. It features an 8-inch 2048 x 1536 resolution AMOLED display at 320 ppi. Inside you’ll find a powerful Exynos 7 Octa Core processor and 3GB of RAM. Combine all that with Samsung’s excellent craftsmanship and a built-in fingerprint scanner and the Galaxy Tab S2 8 is one of the best all-around Android tablets on the market.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
It’s almost hard thinking about the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 as a true tablet. That’s because it does an amazing job doubling as a laptop (that’s good, considering Microsoft bills the Surface as a hybrid). The Surface Pro 4 packs a 12.3-inch 2736 x 1824 pixel display at 267 pixels per inch and comes in 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB storage options–far more than any other tablet on this list.
It also features Intel Skylake Core M3, Core i5, or Core i7 processors and 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB of RAM. Oh, and it runs the full version of Windows 10 so it can run any desktop app you own. And as with the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro, the Surface Pro 4 has gotten high marks for its stylus, which is included (unlike with the iPad Pro).
Asus ZenPad 3S 10
The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is perfectly proportioned for those looking for on-the-go usage. It has a 9.7in display and built-in support for high-resolution, meaning your tunes sound truly epic when fired through its built-in speakers or streamed or sent to your headphones.
It is also one of the cheaper tablets on this list as well, making it an ideal choice for those after value for money. This is a more of a traditional tablet compared to the likes of the iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4. But for those that want a large screen media and browsing experience, it simply cannot be beaten.
Even more so when Google REFUSES to update its Nexus 7 slate.
iPad Pro 9.7
Overall, however, the best tablet on the market has to be the 9.7in iPad Pro. It’s the perfect size for lots of people (let’s face it: the larger iPad Pro is just too big for most). It’s beautiful 1536 x 2048 display is accompanied by a A9X processor with 2GB of RAM and it comes in 32GB, 128GB, or a massive 256GB option. Oh, and add in that Apple Pencil and keyboard support and this is once of the best tablets ever made.