There's no doubt that tablets have become one of the most sought-after devices today. The craze seemed to be heightened further with the launch of the tablet-friendly Windows 8. With more and more consumers opting for the tablets' slimmer and lighter build, while being packed with the same PC-like features and an OS that allows multitasking, these handy devices may be here to stay.
Microsoft, Dell, and Asus are just a few of the several major manufacturers that vow to create 2-in-1 devices as a way to conquer both the world of tablets and the world of laptops. Each of them offers unique features in their "masterpieces" and each also claims superiority over the other.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3. The Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft's latest attempt at bridging the divide between slates and laptops. Like its older siblings, the first and second-gen Surface tablets, the Surface Pro 3 has been designed as a do-it-all device. Microsoft touts the Surface Pro as a powerful device that can rival Ultrabooks and Apple's iPad Air.
Software. Because the Surface Pro's touchscreen has been redesigned from being a tiny 10.6 inches to a larger 12 inches, its pixel count was also enhanced from 1920 by 1080 into 2160 by 1440. This gave a boost in pixels per inch, which is 216 ppi compared to the previous 207 ppi. The 3rd gen Surface Pro's aspect ratio is also set at 3:2. This allows the device's 12-inch screen to display more content, which is even better compared to the 13.3-inch MacBook Air that has an aspect ratio of 16:10. Furthermore, it gave the device an added notepad feel when it is held in a portrait position.
Hardware. The Surface exudes a premium feel with its bright, silver-colored magnesium shell that feels cool and smooth when touched. Other notable hardware features include front and back cameras (each having the same 5MP resolution), a redesigned Type cover, which is its best version to date, a brand new double hinge, and a newly improved Surface Pen.
The Good. The Surface Pro 3 is unbelievably thin and light for a device that boasts laptop-like performance. It's also easier to use as a standalone tablet. Performance is fast and the display is one of the best high-resolution displays available in the market. Lastly, the keyboard can be propped up at such an angle that is absolutely more comfortable.
The Bad. The keyboard may seem flimsy compared with a proper laptop's. It also comes as a separate accessory, which means that more spending can be incurred. Battery life is just okay.
The Verdict. Compared to its older siblings, the Surface Pro 3 is the biggest and the best tablet that Microsoft has so far offered. It only needs a better keyboard to make it a genuine laptop "terminator."
Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000. The Venue 11 Pro 7000 series from Dell combines the best of both the Core i5 model and the Atom. The device caters mostly to business users who are keen on using a 2-in-1 convertible hybrid that is built with an active digitizer.
Software. The tablet runs Windows 8.1 Pro and features several of Dell's own diagnostic and utilities apps. These include System Detect, which collects system data for support purposes, Digital Delivery, Command Update, Command Power Manager, and Backup and Recovery. It also features BitLocker security software and the so-called Remote Desktop Connection, which allows the user to connect to his PC from a separate computer. Other software features include bundled apps from Intel (PROSet Wireless Tools, WiDi Remote, Intel Management and Security), preloaded Microsoft apps (Internet Explorer, Maps, Office 365, Weather, Skype, OneDrive), and a 30-day free trial of McAfee Security Center.
Hardware. The 10.8 inch tablet features the new Core M processor of Intel. It also has 8GB RAM, 128GB hard drive, 2MP front camera, 8MP rear camera, headphone jack, volume buttons, speaker, a number of ports and magnetic connectors, an accompanying matte-black island-style keyboard, which has its own battery, a 3.5 by 1.75-inch touchpad, and a silver and black stylus.
The Good. The Venue 11 Pro 7000 boasts a sharp, vibrant display, long battery life (up to 8 hours of continuous usage), smooth pen experience, solid speakers, and more ports compared with the Surface Pro 3.
The Bad. The tablet has no dock for the stylus, which can be an issue for those who might mistake it as a regular pen since the best option for keeping it is probably in one's pocket. Lastly, the tablet tends to run fairly hot even if a full screen video has been streaming for only 15 minutes.
The Verdict. The Venue 11 Pro 7000 can be a compelling Windows 8.1 tablet and offers a more laptop-like experience with the accompanying keyboard dock. It also has a longer-lasting battery and a better performing keyboard compared to the Surface Pro.
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi. The Transformer Book T300 Chi is Asus' latest evolutionary device from its long-running iteration of detachable notebooks wherein it began with the use of Android-powered devices several years ago. With persistence and practice, the company successfully refined its formula, which led them to create a thin yet functional device that offers both laptop and tablet usability.
Software. Along with a relatively clean installation of Windows 8.1, the T300 Chi is packed with business-friendly Microsoft apps such as OneNote, Skype, and a trial version of Office. A full version of the latter would require extra payment. It also comes with a handful of third-party apps such as Twitter and TripAdvisor. Asus has packed the device with the WebStorage app that offers up to 16GB of free cloud storage.
Hardware. The 12.5-inch T300 Chi is run by Intel's 1.20-GHz Core M-5Y71 CPU and 8GB RAM. Other notable features include a Bluetooth keyboard, a Micro USB port, a Micro HDMI port, a microSD slot, an active stylus (sold separately), 2MP 720p webcam camera, 128GB SSD, and headphone/mic combo jack.
The Good. It's absolutely sleeker compared to the previously mentioned models. It's also sturdy and light. The detachable keyboard delivers excellent performance while the display is notably vibrant. It's also pocket-friendly with its bargain price of $459.
The Bad. The tablet's battery life offers below average performance. The trackpad seems too small while the keyboard hinge doesn't rotate far enough. Since it has limited ports, connecting anything to it would usually require an adapter.
The Verdict. The Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi is an impressive 2-in-1 device that offers both good performance and versatility in design. While it may not cater to serious business users, it's perfect for those who only seek something that can meet their basic computing needs. It's also a good option for those who are serious in having an authentically detachable display. Its clamshell design gives it a more functional appeal than the Surface Pro 3 while its 12.5-inch screen offers a more spacious working area than what the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 offers. If picking up a separate USB adapter is not an issue, then this tablet from Asus is one's best bet so far.