Eight years on from its initial release, lo and behold, the iPad isn’t quite what it was cracked up to be. As the public interest has veered towards tablets that aren’t restricted to mobile applications, Microsoft itself seems to be steering in another direction altogether. Though the best Windows tablet today comes running Windows 10, as expected, the ecosystem could appear vastly different soon enough.
As Windows 10 S begins to spread its wings, now bolstered by the lot of Qualcomm Snapdragon 835-based laptops, the best Windows tablet of today may not even resemble the best Windows tablet tomorrow. That’s because, right now, you can use a slate to access x86 and x64 Windows apps, including full-fledged Photoshop CC and Premiere Pro, you’ll want to shell out for one sooner rather than later. A year from now, a Windows-based tablet could be as limited as an iOS one.
Henceforth, after careful thought and consideration, we’ve rounded up the best Windows tablets, reviewed them and then narrowed them down to a modest selection of only five. Among these are not only the obvious choice of the Surface Pro, but the USB Type-C-equipped Lenovo Miix 510, the astonishingly powerful HP Spectre x2 and the gorgeously illuminated Samsung Galaxy TabPro S.
1. Microsoft Surface Pro
The best all-around Windows tablet
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-7660U | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 512GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: 8MP rear-facing, 5MP front-facing | Weight: 1.73 pounds | Size: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.33 inches (W x D x H)
Despite the subdued naming convention, this is actually the fifth iteration of the Surface Pro. As a follow-up to the winning , it would have been every bit deserving of a number attached to it, too. That’s because the latest Surface Pro sees not only the battery life improve by as much as 32%, but, of course, the processor has been updated to as well. Plus, although it’s now sold separately, the Surface Pen has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro
2. Acer Switch 3
Half the price, but not half the tablet, of the Surface Pro
CPU: 1.1GHz Intel Pentium N4200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 505 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.2-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 WUXGA IPS LCD | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Connectivity: 802.11ac; Bluetooth | Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Dimensions: 11.6 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches
The Acer Switch 3 arrives at a time when most of the best Windows tablets are premium 2-in-1 devices designed to oust both your PC and your tablet. But for anyone who doesn’t need the horsepower of a Surface Pro, the Acer Switch 3 is a wallet-friendly alternative. Even without cutting-edge specs, this tablet is highly competent in other ways. Its impeccable build quality, for example, is complemented by a top-notch active digitizer and pressure-sensitive pen.
3. Samsung Galaxy TabPro S
The ultimate Windows 10 media tablet
CPU: 900MHz Intel Core M3-6Y30 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12-inch Super AMOLED Full HD+ (2,160 × 1,440 resolution) multi-touch | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, VHT80 MIMO, Bluetooth v4.1 | Camera: 5MP front-facing webcam; 5MP rear camera | Weight: 2.4 pounds | Dimensions: 11.43 x 7.83 x 0.64 inches
The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is a knockout 12-inch tablet that’s thinner and better built than most Windows 10 slates. It also offers a uniquely vibrant Super AMOLED screen you won’t find on any Windows device either, plus a pair of punchy speakers that actually sound good. Its keyboard feels a bit lackluster but if you get over this short coming, it’s the perfect Windows 10 tablet to use while streaming media and games.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy TabPro S
- This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Microsoft Surface Pro
4. HP Spectre x2
Fighting fire with spiffier fire
CPU: Intel Core i7-7560U | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 WLED-backlit multi-touch-enabled edge-to-edge glass | Storage: 360GB PCIe SSD | Connectivity: Intel 802.11b/g/n/ac (2×2) Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2 | Camera: 5MP webcam and HP IR camera with integrated dual array digital microphone (front-facing); HP 13MP camera (rear-facing) | Weight: 2.49 pounds | Dimensions: 11.57 x 8.15 x 0.52 inches (W x D x H)
Originally positioned as a budget alternative to the Surface Pro, the HP Spectre x2 has effectively been rebranded to take Microsoft’s throne. In some ways, it succeeds. You can get an i7 processor, albeit a slower one, for a lower price. And, we believe most people won’t object to our contention that it looks better than the Surface Pro. What’s more, the Active Pen stylus and keyboard come with the HP Spectre x2, making it hard to resist despite its trackpad woes.
Read our full review: HP Spectre x2
5. Lenovo Miix 510
A Surface Pro rival with the ports of the future
CPU: 2.71 Intel Core i5-7200U | Graphics: Intel HD 620 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.2-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD IPS | Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera | Weight: 2.76 pounds (1.25kg) | Size: 11.8 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches (W x D x H)
In a sense, the Lenovo Miix 510 is the Surface Pro alternative that you buy when you’re fed up with Microsoft’s reluctance to move forward with its connectivity practices. USB-C is here, and it’s brought USB 3.0 with it. While the screen is limited to 1080p, the Lenovo Miix 510 comes with an active stylus, a detachable AccuType keyboard and an articulating kickstand for flexibility without limits. While the battery suffers, the Lenovo Miix 510 is still a surefire win.
Read the full review: Lenovo Miix 510
- This product is only available in the US and Australia as of this writing. UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the Acer Switch 3.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article