Although the tablet PC has long been a dream, it’s only in the last few years that it’s become a reality. Thanks to the popularity of Android and iOS tablets, the advent of the Windows 8 and Windows 10 operating systems, and manufacturers’ ability to fit more powerful hardware into ever slimmer and lighter devices, it’s now possible to hold in your hand a tablet that can do almost everything your laptop does—and, in most cases, is even more portable.
Just as with any system, however, a Windows tablet requires you to make choices. How big and powerful do you want (or need) it to be? What sort of features are you looking for? And do you care about using it when you’re out and about, or will you only need it while you’re around a Wi-Fi connection? We’ll help you answer all these questions and more, and tell you which of the many Windows tablets on the market are our favorites.
Tablets run the gamut from low-power entertainment devices to potent tools for productivity. A lot of this comes down to the processor. Intel’s Atom processors, which are built for low power usage and passive cooling, are perfect for inexpensive tablets. They don’t require built-in cooling fans, and they offer usable performance that lasts for hours on a single charge. They lack the processing oomph you might want for applications like Photoshop, but they are ideal if you want to check Facebook and Twitter, then kick back with some YouTube videos.
Features and Connectivity
The switch from laptop to tablet also brings some new features to these handheld PCs. Sensors previously seen in smartphones bring new ways to interact with your PC, with accelerometers, gyroscopes, and e-compasses providing positional awareness for both automatic screen rotation and new immersive applications. And let’s not forget touch. With capacitive screens that track five or 10 fingertips at a time, you can pinch, swipe, and tap your way through any task, even those that would have required a keyboard and mouse only a couple of years ago.