How to buy a productivity tablet

IDG.TV | Nov 23, 2015

Whether you're opting for an iPad or a Surface, here are five things to consider before you buy a tablet.

Tablets are great for games and video, but don’t count them out for serious productivity work. With the right specs and accessories, you can turn a tablet into a legitimate workstation. Just consider the following features before buying anything.

First off, figure out what operating system you want to invest in: Android, iOS, or Windows.

If you already own a Mac, your safest pick is an iPad, as sharing files with Android or Windows 10 tablets can be rather challenging.

If you’re a PC user, you have a few decisions to make.
The Android hardware universe will give you more tablet options to choose from, but Android's native productivity apps aren't as useful as either iOS or Windows apps.

A Windows tablet offers the most graceful option for diehard PC users.
You can buy one of Microsoft’s own Surface tablets, and it will immediately drop you into the Windows universe you’re already familiar with.
Just not are your main productivity apps, you can’t go wrong with any OS.

A dead tablet is a useless tablet, so long battery life is a must. In our most recent video rundown tests, Apple's iPad Air 2 lasted 10 hours 14 minutes, Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 lasted 8 hours 1 minute, and Google’s Nexus 9 Android tablet pushed past 11 hours.

Bottom line: If you care about battery life, check the battery tests of reputable websites. Manufacturer claims don’t always tell the whole story.
When considering a productivity tablet, bigger is better.

So ignore smaller 7-inch tablets and consider something with a large, text-friendly display.

Apple designed the 12.9-inch iPad Pro specifically for productivity apps, but the 12.3-inch Surface Pro 4 and the 10.1-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 will do just fine as well.
These large displays not only allow you to see more, but you can also split the display into separate windows to get more done.

A big display is good, but a second display is even better. So when you’re buying a tablet, think about how you’ll connect to an external HDMI monitor. For this, you’re going to need an adapter:

This means an MHL adapter for most Android tablets, the Apple Digital AV Adapter for an iPad, and a miniDisplayPort or micro HDMI cable for a Windows tablet.
You’ll need a keyboard, and it will probably be Bluetooth.

Most tablets don’t have an external USB connector, and typing on the tablet surface is a pain on the glass.

If you buy a Microsoft Surface, make sure you spring for the Type Cover. The cheaper Touch Covers simply don't feel like real keyboards, and this isn’t an area where you should compromise.
So with all that, what should you buy?

We have three suggestions: the Apple iPad Air 2 for Apple fans, the 10.1-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 for Android users, and either the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 or Surface Pro 4 for Windows -- the Surface Pro 3 is a bit cheaper, . All three are well-regarded.