Best Tablets For 2017: Android, iOS & Windows 10


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)
  •     4GB(RAM)
  •     128GB SSD.
  •     Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac MIMO.
  •     Wi-Fi Direct.
  •     NFC.

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.



The best iPad Air 2 alternatives


When thinking of tablets, most people picture something like the iPad Air 2: A small, self-contained touchscreen device with a strictly mobile interface, ideal for personal entertainment, media and light productivity. However, it’s not the only option when it comes to choosing a tablet. Here are some alternatives that you might prefer.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2
You could easily mistake the 9.7-inch Galaxy Tab S2 for an iPad Air 2. It’s a solid choice if you like what the iPad has to offer, but you’re hesitant to jump to the iOS ecosystem.

The two tablets have similar dimensions, builds and displays, though the super-slim Tab S2 is 8-percent thinner than the already svelte iPad. The Tab also has a plastic back and aluminum frame, while the iPad is all aluminum. Check out their other minor differences in this spec-by-spec comparison.

The two tablets are also priced comparably. If you don’t need cellular data connectivity, a Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2 (starting price US$399) could actually be the more affordable choice. But if you do want to be able to run your tablet over your cellular data plan, the $499 Tab S2 starts off a bit cheaper than the $529 Wi-Fi + Cellular version of the iPad.

Either way, keep in mind that this tablet has been around since 2015 (though it received a processor boost in 2016). More importantly, Samsung is expected to launch a newer version of this tablet at the end of this month. Since the wait is so short, it’s probably worth seeing what Samsung comes up with next. Either way, shop around for a compelling bargain, as you’ll probably find one.

Google Pixel C
Google’s Pixel C tablet (not to be confused with its Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones) is a high-end tablet with an intimidating $599 price tag. But paying that premium will get you a top-shelf tablet with a classy aluminum build, 10.2-inch/308 PPI display and a pure Android operating system with the latest updates.

We’re a little hesitant to recommend this one over the iPad Air 2 considering its steep price, and the fact that it doesn’t have a host of universal advantages. However, it could still fit the bill for Android connoisseurs and Google fans.

iPad mini
If you mostly use your iPad as a toy (viewing music, videos, social media and the like) maybe you don’t need a lightning-fast option, and the increased convenience of a smaller size could serve you well. If that’s the case, choose an iPad mini over the iPad Air 2. You’ll get a more compact device, a less-speedy processor and possibly a lower price.

There are two options for Minis: the Mini 4, which is the same price as the Air 2 but has a slightly downgraded A8 chip (the Air has an A8X) and the Mini 2, which has a slower A7 processor but costs $269 for Wi-Fi only/$399 for Wi-FI + Cellular. Both have 7.9-inch Retina displays (though the one in the Mini 4 is improved over its predecessor).

iPad Pro
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is an upgrade over the iPad Air 2, starting at $599 for a Wi-Fi only version/$729 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular. Is the price difference worth it? Maybe, if you can justify the extra expense with increased productivity.

The iPad Pro has the same form factor as the iPad Air 2, but with the internals of its big brother, the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. That means the iPad Pro is trying harder to be stand-in for your laptop. It starts off with 32 GB of built-in storage (double the Air 2’s 16 GB) and supports the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard (sold separately for $99 and $150, respectively) so you can outfit it as a 2-in-1 convertible.

If you’re considering the iPad Pro, you could also check out this list of its popular alternatives. 2-in-1s are increasingly popular, and other manufacturers arguably have a better grip on this space than Apple does.

Emily Ferron

Toshiba’s DynaPad is a lighter, thinner and lower-end Surface alternative

While Toshiba provided a glimpse at a prototype of its dynaPad hybrid last month at IFA in Berlin, it didn’t have any details on the system. Today the company revealed much more about the device, which weighs less and is thinner than a Surface Pro 4 and has an optional keyboard.

Running on Windows 10, the dynaPad is a 12-inch tablet with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,280 (just 192 pixels per inch). The device has a monocoque carbon body with a rubberized gold finish that the company says makes it comfortable in the hand.

The optional keyboard works as a stand for the tablet, so there’s no kickstand on the slate itself, and the accessory doesn’t clip onto the device when it’s not in use. On the plus side, it does have full-sized keys with 1.5 mm of travel.


Perhaps more interesting is support for Wacom’s Active Electrostatics TruPen stylus (there’s one included in the box), which offers 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity (double the levels of the Surface Pro 4’s pen). Toshiba claims that the high-accuracy experience makes drawing or note taking on the dynaPad feel like you’re putting pen on paper.

The tablet itself weighs 1.25 lbs (567g) and measures 6.9 mm (0.27 in) thick, making it both thinner and lighter than Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 4. On the other hand, performance won’t be nearly as strong, with the the slate running on an Intel Atom chip, rather than the higher-end Intel Core processors you’ll find in the Surface Pro line. It’s also limited to just 4 GB of RAM.

There’s no official pricing for the dynaPad just yet, but we do know that’s it’s scheduled to arrive in the US in the first quarter of 2016.

Source: Toshiba

Windows 10 on the Surface Pro 3: Now the 2-in-1 makes perfect sense

The Surface Pro 3 is already one of our favorite mobile PCs, but if there’s anything to criticize, it’s its dual-natured Windows 8.1 software. But what happens when you replace that with the upcoming Windows 10? Based on our time with the latest previews, we think it could transform the Surface into the futuristic mobile productivity device that Microsoft has been trying to build for years.


Windows 8 (and its incremental follow-up, Windows 8.1) had a black & white approach to tablet/PC hybrids like the Surface. Windows 7-like desktop OS on one side, Windows Phone-like tablet OS on the other. The two UIs felt like they were coming from opposite sides of the universe (not to mention different eras), with no continuity and too many confusing transitions.

Windows 8 did make more sense on 2-in-1s than it did on non-touch PCs. But even on the Surface it still felt like you were looking at a painting where Jackson Pollock created one side and Andy Warhol the other. Each can be brilliant within its own gallery, but try to put them both on the same canvas and you just get spilled soup.

Windows 10 fixes all of that. Skipping “Windows 9” and branding it as “10” may be a smart way to distance Microsoft from the Windows 8 fiasco, but it’s also an accurate reflection of just how big a step forward the update is.

In Windows 10 the desktop gets a modern makeover, borrowing the dark menu backgrounds and Segoe UI font from the tablet UI, while the tablet side steals a few UI elements from the desktop (like a touch-friendly taskbar and browser toolbars). When added up, these cosmetic details create the consistent interface we all missed in Windows 8.

And when you attach or detach the keyboard, Windows automatically switches between desktop and tablet mode, with individual apps following suit (they’ll automatically go into full-screen in the tablet UI and a more traditional windowed view in the desktop UI). Gone is the jarring transition between old Windows and future Windows.

You may have already known all of this, but until you’ve used Windows 10 on a Surface, it’s hard to grasp just how seamlessly it all flows together. These little details combine to create the experience that some would say the Surface should have provided all along.

Perhaps Microsoft did rush its Windows 8 strategy to try to compete with the iPad (which, at the time Windows 8 was in development, looked like the future of computing), but you could also argue that Windows 10 wouldn’t be possible without the 2-in-1 groundwork that the clunky Windows 8 laid. It’s nearly impossible to see Microsoft, several years ago, jumping from the desktop-only Windows 7 to the seamless, beautiful and 2-in-1-friendly Windows 10.

Either way, if you dismissed 2-in-1s up to this point, it may be time to question whether it was the idea you were rejecting, or simply Microsoft’s messy implementation of it in Windows 8. Because we think Windows 10’s smoother execution is going to convert some true 2-in-1 believers.

Windows 10’s handwriting recognition could be another underrated update for Surface owners. It makes it easier to enter text using only the tablet and Surface Pen, cutting down on the annoyance of repeatedly reattaching the keyboard when you’re trying to use the device as a pen-based tablet. And since you can leave the handwriting input box open at the bottom of the screen while you do other things (taking up relatively little space on the Surface Pro 3’s huge screen), it’s easy to quickly jump in and out of handwriting when you’re, say, working in a Photoshop file where you’re primarily writing with the pen but also need some occasional text entry.

This simple change gives the Surface Pen a place of prominence that it didn’t have up to this point. The pen-based productivity tablet is something Microsoft has been aiming for since long before the iPad came along – and though the Surface has done a better job than anything else so far, it never completely lived up to that promise.


There are still many unknowns facing the consumer release of Windows 10. How will the Microsoft Edge browser (known in the previews as Project Spartan) shape up in its final iteration? Will desktop users be quick to forgive the touch UI nightmare they were forced to endure in Windows 8? Will the company get Windows 10 to a completely stable place by the time July 29 rolls around (the public preview builds are still fairly buggy, even at this late stage)? And will Microsoft have a Surface Pro 4 to sell alongside the big software launch?

No matter how those unknowns play out, from where we stand now it looks like Microsoft has steered its ship back on course with Windows 10, and could be on-track for an enormous brand-redeeming update. Windows 10 will be a sigh of relief for desktop users, but it also paves a road of prominence for the Surface that we hadn’t seen before.

With Windows 8, we could kinda see a future where 2-in-1s might have a prominent seat at the table. But with Windows 10, it’s hard to imagine 2-in-1s like the Surface not playing a central role in the future of computing.