With Apple’s latest announcement of the new iPad Pro, it seems as though Christmas has come early. The Big Three — Apple, Google, and Microsoft — have within a month managed to shake up the entire tablet industry with their collective offerings. We’re also seeing the rise of the 2-in-1 trend, where the tablets today can easily switch between looking like a laptop to being a drawing pad with accompanying accessories. Will you get a tablet for the sake of portability, or will you stick with a laptop that can probably perform more, but would most likely have a larger profile (and a heavier weight)? We’d hate to call tablets “portable laptops,” that’s for sure. Keep reading to find out all the new updates (and a new addition) of our favourite tablets.
Apple iPad Pro
Last night, Apple debuted a new design for the iPad Pro. This year’s model sees a slimmer profile, Face ID, a USB-C connector, and a slew of other upgrades to the interior specs.
The biggest update to the iPad Pro is the new all-screen Liquid Retina display on the 11-inch and 12.9-inch variants. It’s not quite the beautiful OLED screen of the top-tier iPhones yet, perhaps due to the higher potential of burn-in happening on tablets where static elements are more frequent. However, it is still a True Tone display, and Apple touts this as the iPad’s brightest and most colour-accurate display yet (as they always do). This also means that the home button is finally phased out of Apple’s flagship models, paving the way for gestures just like the iPhone X did last year.
Underneath the screen sits a new A12X Bionic Chip that was built specifically for the iPad Pro. This benefits mostly the hardcore users, as this will allow the most strenuous applications to run smoothly and efficiently. Just imagine Xbox One S-level graphics on your iPad screen. The A12X also has a neural engine which can perform up to 5 trillion operations per second, making for better augmented reality experiences.
The last big change to the iPad Pro is the switch from Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector to the more universal USB-C. While this means more cables in the short term, it’s actually a benefit in the long run, as with more devices using new the port, you would only need to carry one or two cables in the future (the new MacBook Air announced the same evening also switched to USB-C, keeping in line with the MacBook and MacBook Pro). Oh, and the headphone jack is gone too, but that’s no longer causing a huge controversy, as there are many wireless headphone options out there today.
With the new iPad Pro comes a new storage tier of 1 terabyte. This allows for content creators to store even more on their tablets, and also providing users with a computer/laptop alternative that is more portable. Surely, its 10-hour battery life would attest to that.
There are also new accessories in case you’ve not splurged enough. The Apple Pencil 2 (S$189) makes away with the previous awkward charging method, attaching magnetically to the side of the iPad Pro and charges wirelessly. If you’re a power user that needs a keyboard, the Smart Keyboard Folio now has two typing angles for the tablet (opposed to the previous one). However, that’s gonna cost you S$269 for the 11-inch version and S$299 for the 12.9-inch version.
The new iPad Pro is now available for pre-order, with availability starting November 7. The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at S$1,199 for the Wi-fi model and S$1,419 for the Wi-fi and cellular model. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at S$1,499 for the Wi-fi model and S$1,719 for the Wi-fi and cellular model.
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Microsoft’s Surface Pro can be considered a veteran in the tablet world, seeing as this is the sixth update it has had since launching six years ago. The most aesthetically pleasing change it has now is that it comes in a cool black colourway, where formerly only a platinum grey was available.
You can also choose how you want your tablet’s specs configured. Need more storage? Just upgrade it to a 1TB solid-state drive. Need more performance power? Choose the Intel Core i7 processor over the default i5. It also boasts a battery life of 13.5 hours, but as always take this with a pinch of salt–it’ll only last that long if you’re doing menial tasks like typing up a document.
The Surface Pro 6, however, will come in one standard screen size of 12.3 inches. Although for a tablet, it has a remarkably powerful screen at 267 pixels per inch (PPI) with a 3:2 display ratio, dubbed the PixelSense Display by Microsoft. Again, we can see how tablets these days are becoming more like laptops. While you shouldn’t expect to play high-performance games on the Surface Pro 6, once you slap the (not included) Type Cover keyboard, it’s one foot in the door to being a computer on its own.
One caveat it has is that the ports on the Surface Pro 6 are USB-A. In an era where USB-C is dominating, it’s quite disappointing to see that Microsoft is not updating its ports to fit the status quo. There’s also a mini-DisplayPort, a microSD slot, and a headphone jack (surprise!), all reflecting the trends of ages past.
The Microsoft Surface Pro starts at US$899 for the basic model and can go up to US$2,299 for the most specced-out version. We’ll update this page when availability hits Singapore.
Google Pixel Slate
Google is finally making its return into the tablet ring with the Pixel Slate. Its announcement was unfortunately overshadowed by the Pixel 3 smartphone, but we can still expect the Pixel Slate to make waves in the tablet realm.
Like most tablets today, the Pixel Slate is a hybrid tablet that can pair with a detachable keyboard accessory. This is where tablets today truly shine: their versatility for when you want to use them simply as a second monitor, a doodle pad, or a portable workstation. There is also the slight rebranding with the Pixel Slate: it’s not running Android, but Google’s Chrome OS. The interface is adaptable, changing to a more desktop-like UI when you have the keyboard attached.
The sleekest part about the Pixel Slate, other than the gorgeous matte midnight blue finish, is its 7mm-thin profile. It also has a stunning 12.3-inch Molecular display made from Gorilla Glass with a 3000×2000 resolution, which makes it the best in class. The large screen also brings on a native split-screen feature that multi-taskers will be grateful for.
There are four models of the Pixel Slate, but they only differ in terms of internal specs. The most basic model has an Intel Celeron processor with 4GB of RAM and 32GBs worth of storage.
The highest tier kits out at with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GBs of RAM, and has a max storage space of 256GB. It’s a shame that Google isn’t putting more storage into these devices, seeing as how there are 1 terabyte variants of the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 6.
Thankfully, Google has designed the Pixel Slate with not one, but two USB-C ports. This lets you charge the tablet while it’s connected to an external display for presentations and what not. It’s also how you charge the device, which otherwise can last an estimated 10 hours on a single charge. The Pixel Slate also supports fast-charging: it can give you 2 hours worth of juice in 15 minutes.
Unfortunately, Google has yet to announce the availability of the Pixel Slate globally, but we suspect it’ll drop in time for Black Friday (end-November). We’ll update this page once we get the details.