Business tablets for making big bucks

Did you know that as of 2011 there were more than 100 tablet manufacturers in the world? Some of them made a big splash and are no longer producing tablets such as BlackBerry and Viewsonic, while others such as eFun, the Razer Switchblade and Vizio did not leave a lasting mark.

So who is left? And, which of these tablet makers make a suitable if not spectacular tablet for business purposes? Here is our list. Please let us know if we hit the mark or not.  We decided to look for tablets that have a seamless integration with keyboards and docking stations for this list. And, also 10 inch screen or higher was a requirement because if you are going to run Microsoft Office 365 you’re going to need some real estate. This means you will not see any Apple iPads on this list. The biggest iPad screen, the iPad Air is at 9.7-inches. Close but not close enough. Also, Apple does not produce its own keyboard unlike these brands. To be fair to Apple Office is available for the device from Microsoft and you can get a third-party keyboard from vendors such as Kensington, Belkin, Logitech and Zagg.

This list is in no particular order.

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The Acer Switch 10 tablet

Acer’s Switch 10 is basically a 10-inch tablet. However, with a quick snap of it magnetic latches, the device quickly transforms into a laptop.

The Switch 10 will soon be available in Canada for around $380. The device runs on an Intel Atom Z3745 Bay Trail processor. It ships with Windows 8.1.

The Switch 10’s snap-on magnetic latches draws inspiration from the magnetic snap-on soft keyboard found in Microsoft’s Surface tablet.

However, the Surface keyboard still requires a kickstand to fully secure it to the tablet device.

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Asus Transformer Pad Infinity

You would be forgiven for mistaking Asus’ low-cost convertible notebook-tablet device for one of the company’s early netbooks. With its detachable keyboard shut over the devices plastic shell the Transformer Book T100 does look, at first glance, a 10-inch Eee PC.

Grab hold of the device and the illusion quickly disappears. You’ll find that the 10.4-inch Transformer Book is extremely lighter than the typical netbook and definitely more pleasing to touch with a variety of finishes for the back, keyboard and bottom surfaces.

The muted colour scheme gives the T100 a classy look and the Gorilla Glass on the tablet’s screen gives it’s a solid feel.

For $419 for the 32GB version, the Transformer Book T100 is certainly a good buy.

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Samsung GalaxyTab S tablet

The latest Samsung tablets offer something every mobile worker wants: Less to carry.

Samsung said the Galaxy Tab S family will be its lightest and thinnest tablets yet, with features for multitasking.

The device comes in at 10.5-in., with WQXGA (2560×1600, 16:10) Super AMOLED displays.

This model costs $519.99 but for business users you’ll get a lot. There’s a Cisco WebEx Meetings app and Hancom Mobile Office for productivity. There is a built-in fingerprint scanner for secure access.

It runs Android 4.4 and has 8 MP rear cameras and twin speakers.  Samsung Smart wireless keyboard is compatible with this tablet and adds Bluetooth 2.1 interface; touchpad; hot keys; and multimedia keys. The docking station is also compatible and it can display your work on a larger screen, while charging the device.

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Lenovo ThinkPad tablet

Lenovo introduced two new Think branded models specifically built for business.

The ThinkPad 10 is a ten-inch tablet made with aluminum and Corning Gorilla glass featuring an HD display screen and four flexible operating modes: Tablet; Stand; Laptop; and Desktop.

The unit connects to an optional ThinkPad Tablet Dock or USB 3.0 docking station where a user can add large format display, mouse, and Bluetooth-enabled keyboard.

With the ThinkPad 10, Lenovo has developed a smart cover which they call a QuickShot Cover that can snap photos with just a flip of the cover. It comes standard with an eight mega-pixel camera. The camera app launches automatically when the cover is flipped.

The new ThinkPad includes Pen, voice, mobility and sensor technologies so that it can constantly monitor itself. Another business feature of the ThinkPad 10 is that it will be able to use legacy Windows programs and files and have 3G and 4G wireless capability.

The ThinkPad 10 starts at $599. But Lenovo is offering rebates of $30 and $50 on tablets through the channel this month.

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Dell XPS 11 hybrid tablet

The Dell XPS 11 is really an ultrabook or you can call it a two in one product. The machine runs Windows 8.1 and features an 11.6-inch display; the device can transition between a tablet and a laptop depending on your needs. It’s priced starting at $999.99, with Intel Core i3 and i5 models available and up to 256GB of storage so this hybrid packs a punch performance wise.

Dell also has a more professional tablet called the Dell Venue 11 Pro. It runs Windows 8.1 for those that need business or other Windows programs that Android just can’t offer. Configurations start at $549.99 and go from Intel Atom to Core i3 and i5, with a variety of accessories available, including a docking station.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet or notebook?

Microsoft went big with its new 12-inch Surface Pro 3, which it touts as “the tablet that can replace your laptop.” The device has a starting price of $799 and is available with a choice of Intel Core i3, or Core i5, or Core i7 processor.

The device still comes with a snap- on or click- on keyboard that transforms it from a tablet to a full function laptop. The device supports up to 8 GB of RAM. It has upgraded cameras and at 0.36 inches thick it weighs just 1.7 lbs. According to Microsoft the Surface Pro is 30 per cent thinner than the 11-inc MacBook Air from Apple.

Surface Pro 3 features a 12-inch full HD display, 4th-generation Intel Core processor options and runs Windows 8.1 Pro, including Microsoft Office. The Surface Pro 3 also delivers writing and drawing experience with Surface Pen. A new feature enabled users to launch a fresh page of OneNote with just a click of the pen.

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Toshiba Protégé Z10t hybrid tablet

Again, this model from Toshiba may not be exactly a tablet but it will work for business. Toshiba’s latest entry is a 10-inch hybrid laptop-tablet Protégé Z10t that’s powered by either an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor.

The Z10t A001 model comes with Core i5-3439Y vPro; 128 GB SSD, Windows 8 Pro, mSATA solid state drive and onboard memory of 4GB DDR3 for $1,449.99

Unlike other hybrid devices, the Z10t does not have a second battery in its keyboard. However, like the display, the keyboard has a power socket. The keyboard has a small touchpad as well as a blue pointer stick.

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HP Pro X2 tablet PC

HP’s  can be described as a business-friendly tablet PC.

The computing giant is aiming one of its latest mobility products at what it sees as a growing number of users that lean towards work-oriented tablet devices that also come with a full function keyboard.

The company is calling its new HP Pro x2 612 a “business-focused Detachable PC.” It’s a high-powered notebook which transforms into a sleek tablet when detached from its keyboard.

HP is positioning the Pro x2 612 “exclusively for enterprise users.” It has a 12.5-inch touch display and is available with either an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor and a vPro option. It also comes with a host of enterprise-friendly features you normally find in high-end HP laptops such as: HP BIOS, HP Client Security, HP Sure Star, smart card reader, HP TPM and optional fingerprint reader.

The price has yet to be determined by HP.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.