RATED: The 5 Best Tablets For Business

eee pad

Tablets are becoming increasingly commonplace in today’s world, and it’s not just consumers who are enjoying the benefits of this new ultra-mobile format of computer. Businesses around the world have recognised the potential that tablets promise, leading to a surge of interest in these devices.

Businesses, however, have a completely different set of requirements from their tablets than the average consumer. Security and application compatibility are both top priorities for any business from small offices to large enterprises, thereby eliminating some of the more consumer-friendly choices on the market typically considered to be the best tablets.

We’ve separated the tablets that display promising business capabilities, and listed them in the pages that follow.

ASUS Eee Slate EP121

The ‘Eee’ brand initially applied to the original netbook, but has since been stretched to cover ‘nettops’ and videophones. The ASUS Eee Slate EP121 is rather large compared to the current generation of tablets, but the bigger size carries its own benefits.

The 12.1-inch screen features a resolution of 1280×800 pixels, giving plenty of working space various purposes. This is one of the faster tablets offered for sale today, with a dual core Intel Core i5 processor and up to 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM. Unlike other tablets and netbooks, multi-tasking is a non-issue.

On the other hand, the Eee Slate can’t compete when it comes to battery life – the manufacturer’s claim of 4.5 hours is less than half of what the iPad 2 can manage, with about 3 hours in real-world usage. This is in line with standard laptops, perfectly illustrating what the Eee Slate actually is. Though ASUS advertises the Eee Slate as a tablet, closer inspection reveals otherwise.

You won’t find trimmed operating systems or incompatibility with programs – the Eee Slate features Windows 7 Home Premium and functions like a real computer. This means that the standard security options are present, and can be adjusted and tweaked like any other computer in the office network. The downside is that Windows 7 was not originally designed to be a touch-based operating system. This makes the Eee Slate less intuitive to use than the other tablets, though the stylus used for the built-in digitizer can make things slightly less awkward.

The Eee Slate is considerably more expensive than the competition, but the ‘real computer’ functionality, versatility, and fast performance will justify the cost to many who require such a device.

ipad2

Apple iPad 2

The Apple iPad has already seen widespread acceptance in the business world, with many companies utilising them to consolidate multiple tasks into a single device. The iPad2 offers the same functionality as the original model, and Apple has taken the opportunity to addresses some of the criticisms leveled at the original iPad.

The iPad 2 now features front- and rear-facing cameras along with the FaceTime app, though video chat is restricted to Wi-Fi use only. Business users will be the most interested in the new dual-core Apple A5 processor and increased RAM (now 512 MB, up from 256 MB), which pairs with the improved iOS 4.3 to provide quicker overall performance.

The iPad 2 opens applications faster, and provides steadier performance than before. Presenters will appreciate the Digital AV adaptor, which can be used for video output including mirroring. This means that the iPad 2 can now be used as a presentation device, further adding to its versatility in business use.

Battery life is unaffected despite the increased performance, remaining at a cool 10 hours of real-world use. Take note, however, that the iPad 2 still does not offer Adobe Flash compatibility (nor is it planned). For this very reason, some business users may want to consider alternatives.

 

Motorola Xoom

With the extraordinary amount of excitement surrounding the Apple iPad 2, it’s too easy to forget that there is a genuine competitor among the crowd of pretenders. Motorola has entered the tablet market fully prepared for an all-out war, judging from the spec sheet of the Xoom.

This tablet is sized similarly to the iPad 2, but offers a slightly larger screen with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels for native 720p playback. The higher resolution also has the effect of providing more workable space, which is useful for multitasking.

The Xoom comes equipped with Nvidia’s Tegra 2 with a 1 GHz dual-core processor, and is paired with 1GB of RAM. This setup provides excellent all-around performance, and carries more potential for 3D graphics applications than the iPad 2.

Motorola Xoom

Photo: Motorola

Even with the powerful hardware, battery life is comparable to the iPad at around 9-10 hours. The Xoom is the first device to ship with the new Android 3.0 ‘Honeycomb’ operating system, which was designed specifically for tablet duty. This ensures future expandability, including the promise of 4G compatibility in the near future.One key advantage that the Xoom now holds over the iPad 2 is its Adobe Flash capability, which should endear this tablet to businesses which require that feature. Still, the high price may put off many prospective buyers.

Though the Motorola Xoom has been released for public consumption, its feature set is still in the process of being rolled out. Once the Xoom is up and running 100%, it stands a chance at being a superior tablet to the iPad 2. 4G network access and an expanded app market will Apple iPad

iPad

Now that the iPad 2 is here, retailers are scrambling to get rid of large quantities of the now old-model iPad. This is definitely good news for businesses looking to procure the coveted Apple tablets at more manageable prices.

When you consider that the iPad 2 upgrades are mainly aimed at consumers looking for the latest and greatest, it makes more sense to consider the original iPad. Although it lacks the front- and rear-facing cameras for FaceTime and has slightly less robust performance hardware (single-core Apple A4 processor and 256MB of RAM), the latest iOS version 4.3 is installable on the original iPad. This generally improves performance across the board, and should be more than adequate for business-related usage.

Battery life is one of the aspects that the original iPad was praised for, with a 10-hour real-world runtime that accommodates extended usage away from a charging port. Don’t expect Adobe Flash compatibility, though – none of the iPad models offer that feature at any price. The only area that the original iPad falls short of the new model is video mirroring via the new Digital AV adaptor, meaning presenters will want to look at the new model only.

There’s no doubt that the iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, and faster than the original iPad. That said, there’s no denying the fact that the original iPad took the business world by storm and continues to appeal to businesses on its own merits. There’s no shame in going for the old model – not when it’s this good to begin with.

samsung 10.1 galaxy tab

Photo: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy TabThe Samsung Galaxy carries a puzzling size difference, with the 7-inch screen size placing it neatly between smartphones and standard-sized tablets. Even with the smaller screen, the Galaxy Tab features a 1024×600 pixel resolution which provides similar work space as the larger-screen tablets. The specs include a 1 GHz processor and 512MB of RAM like what you would find in a 10-inch tablet, but the Android 2.2 operating system is straight out of a smartphone.

It’s clear that the Galaxy Tab was designed to please consumers, judging by the front and rear cameras and the smaller size. Despite that, there’s no overlooking the Flash compatibility and increased portability. The Galaxy Tab operates more like a scaled-up smartphone, though many users will miss the (physically) larger screen of the iPad. Swype text input is supported, just like Samsung smartphones.

The Android app collection is expansive, but very few apps are tailored for the Galaxy Tab’s unique size. The smaller form factor also means smaller batteries, meaning you’ll get around 7 hours of battery life from a single charge.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab has drawn lots of feedback since its initial release. Much of it is praise, though there are some obvious criticisms. Samsung has recently announced new Galaxy Tab models at the CTIA 2011 trade show, and are poised to address the drawbacks of the current model.

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