Remember when tablets were supposed to replace our laptops? Well it turns out that, instead of replacing our laptops, tablets are actually becoming more like them. And the perfect example of this trend is our tablet of the year winner: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.
Previous generations of Microsoft’s Surface Pro left much to be desired. So what makes the Pro 4 so much better? This version comes loaded with Windows 10, rather than the catastrophe that was Windows 8. But that’s not the only reason the Surface Pro 4 takes the top spot on our list.
The tablet’s 12.3-inch screen is one of the best looking around, and it has enough horsepower inside to handle nearly every task you throw at it. On top of that, Microsoft finally built a detachable keyboard and touchpad combo that’s actually nice to use. Oh, and because it runs Windows 10, you can use it as either a tablet or laptop, depending on the mood you’re in.
The Pro 4 isn’t cheap, though. The base version will set you back $900, and with its optional keyboard and stylus that price grows to $1,100.
The runners up
Apple’s iPad built the tablet market into the juggernaut that it is today. And while its iPad Pro ($800) may not have made the splash that the original iPad did, it’s still one of the best in world. With a beautiful 12.9-inch screen, the Pro is purpose built for multitasking with Apple’s iOS 9 operating system, which lets you run two apps side-by-side at the same time.
Like the Surface Pro 4, the iPad Pro is a kind of laptop-tablet hybrid, thanks to its keyboard cover accessory ($170) and optional Apple Pencil stylus ($100). It’s an impressive device, and one that surely appeals to those looking for a larger slate, as well as one that can be used to create content. Still, the iPad Pro can’t run full desktop programs like the Surface Pro 4, which is why it falls just short of the top spot.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 (can’t we do something about that name?) might not have the kind of horsepower found in the Surface Pro 4 or iPad Pro, but it is one of the best Android tablets you can buy. Available in either 8- or 9.7-inch models, the Tab S2 has a beautiful design and brilliant display, and it lasts hours on a single charge.
Also: Unlike the other entries on this list, the 8-inch Galaxy Tab S2 is really affordable; the base model comes in at just $350.
What’s coming in 2016?
The trend toward tablets that offer laptop capabilities will likely continue into 2016, with Google expected to launch its Pixel C tablet at some point. Still, there will be plenty of regular old Android tablets and traditional iPads to go around for your Netflix, Facebook, and comic book reading pleasure.