Best tablets for business 2017: What's the best tablet for your business?
Tablets are becoming increasingly useful when working away from your desk. However, with many platforms and even more manufacturers from which to choose, it is difficult to know which one is the best for you. Our best tablet for business article is here to help.
See also: Best laptops for business 2017
1. Best tablet for business: Price
If you buy an iPad you will be looking at a high end price tag. The latest iPad, simply called iPad, will cost between £339 to £559 depending on your chosen specification. If you are looking for something more powerful the iPad Pro, that is available in two sizes, the 12.9-inch or the 9.7-inch model. You can pick one of these up for £549 to £1,029, which is a lot of money.
It is not the most expensive, however. A more powerful tablet is the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. If you want a powerful Windows device, the Surface Pro is your best option. The Surface Pro 4 starts at £629 and tops at £1,699. More expensive but still a powerful and sleek option for a business tablet.
If your budget doesn't stretch that far then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8 is also a good option. At £319 it is competitively priced against the iPad Air 2, which might not be the newest tablet, but does offer a great Windows alternative tablet, with a price point of £379 and up.
Google's Pixel C Android convertible tablet and laptop is extremely capable, fast and compared to others is a good choice for the price conscious. The Pixel C cost upwards of £479.
2. Best tablet for business: Office software
A big factor in deciding which tablet is best for your business is how much it helps you to work while away from your computer. Apple's iPad range is compatible with Microsoft Office, but also comes with its own office software called iWork. This contains Pages (Word), Numbers (Excel) and Keynote (Powerpoint). You do have to pay to install iWork on your iPad as you do Office. It could be worth using iWork on your iPad, if you use it also on your desktop Mac.
As Microsoft office is the most common choice for Office software, a Microsoft tablet would seem like a good idea. All Microsoft tablets come with Microsoft Office preinstalled. And even if you don't use Office at work, Google Docs is available to download for free from the Windows Store. iWork isn't available for Windows.
Google Docs is becoming increasingly popular because of the convenience of cloud and the way it promotes collaborative working. So if you go Android maybe you should just use Google Docs. Again, iWork is not available for this platform, but a version of Office is.
3. Best tablet for business: Battery life
We haven't been able to test every tablet, so we will have to trust the manufacturers' own figures. Battery life is, of course, crucial if you are going to work away from the main power supply. On paper, the iPads have a pretty strong battery with claimed figures of 9 hours of web surfing using mobile data for the iPad Pro and 10 hours for the iPad Air 2.
Microsoft has similar figures for its devices with 9 hours of video playback on the Surface Pro 4 and up to 10 hours on more budget light tablets such as the Nokia Lumia 2520.
Fighting the Google corner is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 with up to 8 hours of web surfing using Wi-Fi and up to 12 hours of video playback, so it should definitely last as long as you are away from the desk.
4. Best tablet for business: Data security and virus protection
Another major factor in deciding which device is best for business use is security. In this respect, Apple fares quite well with the iPad's two-factor authentication feature. This allows an acceptable layer of security when accessing your files.
This works by you first entering in your Apple ID and then a six-digit code sent to either your phone by text or another trusted mobile number.
Apple tablets also now feature Touch ID which is a fingerprint identity sensor which allows only the person with that registered fingerprint to access your tablet. And of course, viruses are virtually unheard of in Apple iPads, because you can install only pre-approved software from the Apple App Store. However, this does not mean it's immune from them completely and as the amount of Apple OS users increases, so does the chance of getting a virus.
For those thinking of buying a Windows tablet, there is a vast amount of antivirus apps free to download that claim to protect you from all sorts of internet nasties. Although, the effectiveness of these apps is up for debate. See also: Does mobile antivirus work? Best antivirus apps for Android and Windows. Continue to the next slide for more information on data security and virus protection...
5. Best tablet for business: Data security and virus protection, part II
While Apple is looking good in the security area, Microsoft is also quite good at protection - but it has to learn to be. Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender antivirus pre-installed so you have that peace of mind knowing your Microsoft Surface is at least protected from the worst malware. You can find additional some antivirus software applications downloadable from the windows store for free if you need the extra protection, and of course, you can pay for additional third-party support. Microsoft also offers some handy extras, for example with your type cover on your Surface Pro 4 you can get a fingerprint scanner.
While Google Android has many antivirus software options downloadable from the Google Play Store it is debatable as to how required or even how efficacious they are. Samsung backs up this available protection by building in "Multifunctional integrated fingerprint technology" which is a pretty quick fingerprint sensor. Again, you may not need antivirus. The main question is preventing your device, and your data being stolen.
In this respect, none of the tablets we looked at is entirely safe, but none is particularly vulnerable either.
6. Best tablet for business: Accessories
As the iPad is the newest of all the tablets here, it doesn't offer all that many accessories, with the new model offering no support for the Apple Pencil or Apple’s Smart Keyboard. However, the iPad Pro range does support these and you can pick up the Apple Pencil for £99, and the Smart Keyboard which is £149.
The Surface Pro 4 has an impressive array of helpful optional extra equipment including the free Surface Pen stylus, the excellent Microsoft Pro 4 type cover and the Microsoft Surface dock. You can pick the Surface Pen up for around £53.99.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 offers a book cover keyboard for £109.
7. Best tablet for business: Conclusion
I think the Surface Pro 4 is the best tablet for business use as in terms of software, access to entire Windows world is almost unbeatable. It is a power PC in a tablet shell, so it is definitely excused for its high price tag. For a little less money the other two high-end devices are very close contestants, with the Samsung offering great battery life at an unbeatable price and the iPad Pro with its excellent cross-platform document compatibility.
However, if you're looking for a cheaper device then my choice would be the iPad Air 2 as it has great cross-platform file compatibility and great data and virus protection. If you can afford it, a Windows tablet is the best for business. But iPad offers a good compromise between cost and productivity. And Android is a viable option for those who wish to pay less. (See also: 10 best business antivirus 2017 UK: Best antivirus for business.)
We compare Apple's iPad Pro business tablet with the excellent Surface Pro from Microsoft
Another sign that Microsoft's aiming the 2-in-1 at the notebook market
After two years and nearly $2 billion in losses, Microsoft's Surface turned a profit in the September quarter.