The best tablets of 2016 are not just tablets but, in some cases, double as laptops.
Here are a handful of some of the best you can buy in 2016.
iPad Pro (9.7-inch): Apple still rules the tablet world. To keep apace, the company introduced the iPad Pro in the fall of 2015, looking to tap into the popularity of “detachables,” which are tablets that connect to a separate keyboard. The initial Pro offering has a big, gorgeous display and is laptop-fast. But it’s big for a tablet, at 12.9 inches, and expensive, starting at $799. The second Pro released in March of 2016 comes closer to the sweet spot: it is much smaller at 9.7 inches and starts at $599. In short, the 9.7-incher is Apple’s best tablet yet with top-notch quality, fast performance, a brighter display, great speakers, support for Apple Pencil, and the option for a Smart Keyboard.
The last two items (Pencil and keyboard) are what give it the “Pro” moniker. Snap on a Smart Keyboard (sold separately) and you can emulate a laptop experience. But note that iOS is not Apple’s desktop macOS, so it can be frustrating at times if you’re expecting a full-blown laptop experience. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro starts at $599 for Wi-Fi only and $729 for Wi-Fi + cellular.
iPad Mini 4: The is the best small tablet out there. It’s extremely compact and light (about 0.65 pounds), approaching the grab-and-go portability of large smartphones. It tops the previous generation of iPad Mini with an updated camera, better 7.9-inch Retina display, and a faster processor. It can also handle limited multitasking via split-screen apps. And like the iPhone, it runs Apple’s iOS, which means you have access to probably the broadest selection of quality apps. The Mini 4 is one of Apple’s cheapest tablets too, starting at $399. The iPad Mini 2 (still being sold) is cheaper at $269, but it’s slow and showing its age going into 2017.
Google Pixel C: Google’s Pixel brand is fast becoming the premier Android brand after the release of the well-received Pixel phone. Google has stuffed the 10.2-inch tablet with top-notch hardware including a fast Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, a very good high-resolution 10.2-inch display, long-lasting battery, and an anodized aluminum frame that’s as good as anything Apple makes. There is a well-conceived keyboard option (sold separately) that also serves as the tablet’s cover. The Pixel C starts at $499.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Microsoft is the undisputed leader in the detachable market. In fact, you could say that Microsoft invented the modern detachable, which combines a tablet with a separate keyboard. The 12.3-inch Surface Pro 4 is the latest iteration of the popular detachable and adds a larger, higher-resolution display, a better stylus, a 6th-generation Core Intel processor, and an improved optional keyboard with a bigger trackpad. The Surface Pro 4 starts at $899, but is often on sale. Because it runs the full version of Windows 10, there are applications galore. The excellent Surface Pro Type Cover keyboard is $129.99.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2: Easily one of the thinnest, lightest high-quality tablets out there, the Tab S2 has a bright, vivid AMOLED display and a speedy 8-core processor for running Android – and the smaller version is cheap, to boot. The 8-inch version, weighing in at a mere 0.58 pounds, starts at $399. The 9.7-inch version starts at $499.