Microsoft unveiled its vision to bridge the gap between laptops and tablets when it previewed Windows 8 back in 2011. But Windows 11, which the company revealed on Thursday and will launch this holiday season, is its most promising attempt at this ambition yet.
Based on Microsoft’s presentation, Windows 11 has the potential to make PCs work much better as tablets without sacrificing their functionality as laptops, finally bringing Microsoft’s decade-old vision to fruition.
It replaced the traditional desktop operating system – including the beloved Start button and menu – with touch-friendly tiles, a new Start screen, and support for new swiping gestures. The problem, however, was that the learning curve was too steep. Rather than introducing gradual changes to make Windows more mobile-friendly over time, it forced users to completely re-learn how to use a Windows computer all at once.
Microsoft remedied this in 2015 with Windows 10, which walked back its aggressive mobile-first strategy by bringing back the Start menu and making other changes that improved the desktop experience.
Windows 10 devices with touchscreens and flexible designs can already be used as tablets, but doing so doesn’t always feel as consistent or smooth as it should.
Microsoft is addressing these aspects and more with Windows 11, feels like it could finally strike the right balance between mobile and desktop that the company has been aiming for all along. It’s striving to achieve the opposite effect of Windows 8; rather than requiring you to get used to the software, the operating system should effortlessly adapt to your needs.
With Windows 11, the interface for laptop and tablet modes is essentially the same, unlike Windows 10. Bigger on-screen buttons should also make managing windows in tablet mode easier in Windows 11. The new touch keyboard is much smaller and has moved to the corner of the display so that it’s easier to type with one hand as we do on our phones.
Windows 11 will also have a new and more refined feed of widgets surfacing news and the weather that feels much more like the ones on our smartphones, similar to Apple’s Today view for the iPhone. The swipe gestures also match the ones you would use to navigate Windows 11 on a touchpad, bringing even more consistency between laptop and tablet mode.
If these changes aren’t enough to convince you that Microsoft is serious about making PCs more mobile-friendly, the company also announced that Android apps will work on Windows 11. Doing so will keep Microsoft competitive with Apple and Google, both of which have already brought mobile apps to their respective macOS and Chrome OS operating systems.
But above all else, Windows 11 feels like it’s coming at the right moment. Windows 8 was in some ways ahead of its time since it launched long before most people cared about having a laptop that could double as a tablet. People simply weren’t using computers in that way yet, so how could Microsoft possibly understand what people wanted from a hybrid operating system? That question has finally been answered in 2021, and it shows in Microsoft’s plans for Windows 11.
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The iPad Pro and iPad Air have a similar design and work with the same Apple accessories.
But the iPad Pro runs on a desktop-class processor while the Air has the same chip as the iPhone 12.
There are also important differences in their cameras and sensors.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyPro (5th Gen. 2021) (small)iPad Air (4th Gen., 64GB) (small)
You’d be forgiven if you couldn’t distinguish the latest iPad Pro from the 2020 iPad Air just by looking at them. After all, they both have a similar design with a nearly borderless screen and flat aluminum edges.
However, there are plenty of important discrepancies that justify the Pro’s significantly higher price tag. The biggest difference comes down to the processor in each tablet. The iPad Pro runs on the same powerful Apple M1 chipset found in the company’s latest Mac computers. The iPad Air, by comparison, runs on the same A14 Bionic processor as the iPhone 12.
But there are a slew of other seemingly small changes that come together to make the iPad Pro a more capable device for creatives and multimedia editors. However, if that doesn’t describe you, skip the iPad Pro and opt for Apple’s less expensive (but still fairly costly) iPad Air instead.
Apple iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Which is best?
Although the iPad Pro has more power when it comes to performance and camera quality, the iPad Air is the best choice for most people. It’s the right model for those who want an iPad that looks and feels premium and has a sleeker design with a larger screen and more power and storage than the $329 iPad.
If you’re planning to use your iPad for tasks like watching movies, taking notes, checking Facebook and Twitter, managing email, playing games, and shopping, there’s no reason to spend nearly $1,000 or more on the iPad Pro. Creatives like musicians and photographers that want a lightweight device for working on-the-go would benefit more from the iPad Pro’s larger screen and extra features.
Apple iPad Air vs. iPad Pro Specifications
Apple iPad Pro (2021)
Apple iPad Air
Apple A14 Bionic
11 inches, 2,388 x 1,668 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate
12.9-inch mini-LED, 2,732 x 2,048 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate
10.9 inches, 2360 x 1640 resolution at 264 pixels per inch
12-megapixel wide, 10-megapixel ultra-wide
12 megapixels with Center Stage
LiDAR, Face ID
Estimated up to 10 hours
Estimated up to 10 hours
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB
64GB or 256GB
USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, Apple Smart Connector
USB-C, Apple Smart Connector
Design and display
The iPad Pro and iPad Air both have Apple’s more modern design that consists of an expansive screen with thin bezels and no home button. The edges are also flat on both of these models unlike the iPad and iPad Mini, which both have rounded corners.
The biggest difference in design between the two tablets is that the iPad Pro comes with a larger screen. The smaller-sized model has a slightly bigger 11-inch display compared to the iPad Air’s 10.9-inch screen, while the high-end iPad Pro features a massive 12.9-inch screen. That makes the larger Pro a better choice for those who want a laptop-sized device.
The other major distinction is that there’s much more choice when it comes to color options for the iPad Air. Apple’s mid range tablet comes in silver, space gray, blue, pink, and green, while the iPad Pro is only available in silver and space gray.
The iPad Pro and iPad Air both have displays that pack 264 pixels-per-inch. But unlike the Air, both iPad Pros come with Apple’s ProMotion technology, which cranks the screen’s refresh rate up to 120Hz for smoother performance. It’s a nice perk, but sketching and coloring with the second-generation Apple Pencil feels just as pleasant and smooth on both tablets.
The larger iPad Pro, however, has gotten a major display upgrade over the iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Pro. The 12.9-inch tablet is Apple’s first to come with a mini-LED display, which gives it a big boost in brightness and contrast. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro can reach brightness levels of up to 1,000 to 1,600 nits, while the 11-inch iPad Pro has a max brightness of 600 nits and the iPad Air’s highest brightness is 500 nits.
Of course, what really makes the new iPad Pro stand out from Apple’s other tablets is its M1 chip. It’s the first iPad to share the same processor as Apple’s latest MacBooks, further signalling that the iPad Pro is intended for serious computing.
The iPad Air runs on the same A14 Bionic processor found in the iPhone 12, which is still pretty powerful but doesn’t have as many computing cores as the M1. The more cores a processor has, the better it generally is at juggling multiple tasks.
Both iPads offer fast performance, but the iPad Pro brings slightly speedier performance when it comes to processing photo and video edits. It also earned higher scores on benchmarking tests like the Geekbench 5 CPU test, which measures overall performance for everyday tasks. This was also true for graphics benchmarks such as the Geekbench 5 Compute test and 3DMark Wild Life, which measures how a device provides high levels of performance for short bursts of time in mobile games.
Geekbench 5 (CPU)
Geekbench 5 (Compute)
1,578 (single); 3,568 (multi)
8,618; 51 FPS
3 minutes, 45 seconds
iPad Pro (11-inch)
1,723 (single); 7,319 (multi)
17,227; 103 FPS
3 minutes, 25 seconds
However, what’s more interesting than the raw computing power is how developers put this power to good use in their apps. The songwriting app StaffPad, for example, is updating its app to add a new feature for M1 devices that automatically recognizes notes as you’re playing an instrument.
Cameras and sensors
Performance aside, the camera system is the other major area in which the iPad Pro has gotten a major upgrade compared to the iPad Air. Both new iPad Pro models come with a new feature for the selfie camera powered by Apple’s M1 chip called Center Stage, which keeps the focus centered on the subject during video calls.
The iPad Pro accurately zoomed in to better frame my face as I shifted from the left to the right of my couch when reviewing the tablet back in May. This feature alone shouldn’t influence your buying decision, but it’s a useful addition for those who make a lot of video calls from their iPad and are already leaning toward the Pro. The iPad Pro also has a higher resolution 12-megapixel front camera compared to the iPad Air’s 7-megapixel selfie camera.
All three tablets feature a 12-megapixel main camera, but only the iPad Pros also have a 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera. That means you can capture photos with a noticeably wider field of view on the iPad Pro compared to the iPad Air.
The iPad Pros also both have a few extras that photographers and videographers might find useful, like the ability to zoom out by 2x, a brighter flash, stereo recording, and more frame rate options for 1080p video recording. Most people probably aren’t buying an iPad specifically for photography. Still, these features could be important for multimedia editors that want to shoot and edit content on one single device.
The iPad Pro comes with another extra sensor the iPad Air lacks: a depth-sensing LiDAR scanner for enabling better performance in augmented reality (AR) apps. I’ve noticed that Apple devices with LiDAR are slightly faster at detecting surfaces when using AR apps than those without the technology.That’s not likely to be a deal breaker unless you frequently use your iPad for working on projects related to architecture or interior design.
It’s also important to remember that the iPad Air lacks Face ID and instead has a Touch ID sensor built into its top button. Both iPad Pros have Face ID instead of Touch ID.
Storage, speakers, and battery life
The iPad Pro has a four speaker audio system compared to the iPad Air‘s two speakers. In my experience, even the smaller-sized 11-inch iPad Pro can pump out tunes at a noticeably louder volume than the iPad Air.
Since the iPad Pro is optimized for productivity, it also comes in higher storage capacities than the iPad Air – although this can drive up the price considerably. The iPad Air comes in 64GB and 256GB capacities, while both iPad Pros are available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB options.
Battery life is fairly similar across the iPad Air and iPad Pro, despite the fact that the Pro runs on Apple’s M1 chip. Apple estimates that the iPad Air, 11-inch iPad Pro, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro should all last for 10 hours when browsing the web or watching video via Wi-Fi. See below for the results of our video streaming battery test.
Apple iPad Pro (11-inch, 2021)
Apple iPad Air (2020)
Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch 2020)
5 hours, 54 minutes
5 hours, 17 minutes
The bottom line
Overall, the iPad Air is the better choice for most people. It has a sleek design that feels more modern than Apple’s $329 iPad, a large and vibrant screen, plenty of power for gaming and productivity, and compatibility with newer Apple accessories like the Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil. Creative professionals will benefit more from the extra features that make the iPad Pro more expensive, like its extra-powerful processor and LiDAR sensor.
Pro (5th Gen. 2021) (small)iPad Air (4th Gen., 64GB) (small)
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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Amazon Prime Day 2021 is here, and that means there are plenty of deals to be had on tech devices – especially tablets. This year’s annual shopping holiday ends on June 22 and includes many tech deals in addition to discounts on kitchen, home, beauty, and other products.
Regardless of whether you’re eyeballing a tablet in the budget or premium price range, Amazon Prime Day is a great time to pick up a new device and save some money. But remember that you must have an Amazon Prime Day membership to access exclusive Prime Day deals.
Prime Monthly Subscription (small)
Best Apple iPad deals for Prime Day 2021
Apple’s iPads are best-suited for Apple users that are either seeking a device that can serve as an extension of their iPhone or for serious productivity. The 10.2-inch iPad is the most affordable option and is the best choice for general usage.
But those who are willing to pay more for a brighter, sharper screen and better performance will be happy with the iPad Air. And finally, the new M1-powered iPad Pros are the right choice for those who need a tablet for processing heavy workloads, such as multimedia editors.
The best Prime Day Amazon Fire tablet deals available now
Amazon has several different Fire tablets to choose from, many of which are ideal for children. If you’re already set on purchasing an Amazon Fire tablet, size and budget are the other major factors you’ll want to consider.
The Fire 7 only costs $50 and is Amazon’s most compact tablet, for example, but it barely has any storage and isn’t very powerful. The Fire 10 HD is a better choice for those who want a general purpose tablet that’s still affordable, while the Kids line of those same tablets comes with protective covers to keep the tablet safe from drops and scratches.
Fire HD 10 32GB Tablet (2021 Release) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Fire HD 8 (32GB) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Fire HD 10 Kids Edition (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Samsung tablet deals on Amazon Prime Day 2021
When shopping for a Samsung tablet, you’ll want to decide whether you want a tablet for productivity, entertainment, or portability, and how much you’re willing to spend.
The Galaxy Tab S7 is our favorite high-end Android tablet, thanks to its gorgeous screen, premium design, and included S Pen, which is great for those who love to use their tablet for taking notes or drawing. But for those who want to spend less, there’s also the Galaxy Tab A7, which lacks 5G and the S Pen but still has a large 10.4-inch screen.
Like any tech product, choosing the right tablet comes down to what you intend to use it for. The operating system will be your biggest concern. If you want a tablet that’s more like an extension of your smartphone, consider an iPad or Android tablet. Amazon’s Fire tablets are ideal for those seeking a cheap secondary screen for watching movies and TV shows.
You’ll also want to consider aspects like size, storage capacity, and processing power. If entertainment is your main priority, a large tablet with a 10-inch screen and average processing power is your best bet. But if you want a tablet for editing multimedia projects on-the-go, you might want to consider a tablet like the pricey iPad Pro.
Tablets typically cost anywhere between $100 to more than $1,000 depending on the model. Basic tablets designed for simple tasks like watching videos are usually cheaper, while powerful devices meant to replace your laptop can get very expensive. Amazon’s child-friendly Fire 7 Kids Edition, for example, is priced at $100, while the top-of-the-line 12.9-inch iPad Pro could cost as much as $2,400.
What’s the best tablet to buy in 2021?
Our favorite tablet right now is the 10.2-inch iPad, which usually starts at $329. It has the right balance of performance, useful features, and affordable pricing to make it the best pick for most people. Apple’s iPad software and app selection is generally more polished than many Android tablets. This specific model runs on the same processor that powers the iPhone XS, which means it’s fast enough for casual use, and is also compatible with accessories like the Apple Pencil.
If affordability is your main priority, check out the Amazon Fire HD 10. The 32GB model usually costs $165, but is on sale for just $95. We already loved the previous version for its low price and solid integration with Amazon accounts, and the new model has a faster processor and brighter screen. It’s an ideal choice if you primarily want a tablet for streaming video from apps like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Disney Plus and little else, but remember that it’s not very powerful and doesn’t have access to the Google Play Store.
Amazon usually discounts its own products on Prime Day, so it’s a great time to look out for deals. Check out our guide to the best tablets for more buying advice.
Fire HD 10 (10.1-inch, 64GB) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Its access to the Google Play Store gives the Nook a big advantage over Amazon’s Fire tablets.
It only costs $129.99, but lacks power and the 1080p screen found on Amazon’s tablets.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyNook 10-inch HD Tablet Designed with Lenovo (small)
Barnes & Noble was late to enter the e-reader market, coming two years after Amazon released its first Kindle. But with its newest Nook tablet, the bookseller is making up for lost time.
Barnes & Noble partnered with PC maker Lenovo to release an inexpensive 10-inch Android tablet with a focus on the reading experience. Without question, this Nook is a solid alternative to Amazon’s tablets, especially the Fire HD 10.
Barnes & Noble and Lenovo’s Nook tablet offers a sturdy aluminum construction and full integration with the Barnes & Noble reading apps for an affordable price of $129.99. But the Nook’s biggest selling point is that – unlike the Amazon Fire tablets – it runs on the full Android 10 operating system with access to the Google Play Store.
The screen on the Nook isn’t as sharp as the Fire HD 10, nor is the tablet particularly powerful. But it’s a great tablet for anyone on a budget interested in streaming video or reading books across multiple apps.
The new Nook is basically just the Lenovo Tab M10 HD stuffed with Nook applications. By looking at the box, you might not know that you were getting a Nook at all. That’s because it displays the Lenovo Tab M10 HD’s image without a single mention of Barnes & Noble or the Nook. It’s clear that this is an Android tablet first, and a Nook second.
The tablet has thin side bezels with slightly thicker borders at the top and bottom of its smooth aluminum casing. There’s a smart connector on the left, though Barnes & Noble currently doesn’t sell any accessories that take advantage of it.
The tablet’s 10.1-inch display only has a resolution of 1280 x 800. This is the one area in which the Amazon Fire HD 10 has a clear advantage over the Nook. The Kindle Fire HD 10 features a full 1080p display at 224 pixels-per-inch, while the Nook is stuck at 149 pixels-per-inch. Even the $90 Kindle Fire HD 8 – at 189 pixels-per-inch – offers more in this regard than the Nook.
Words on the Nook are certainly legible, and the low resolution doesn’t affect the reading or viewing experience too much. But it’s definitely noticeable – especially for people who are coming from iPhones, iPads, and other devices with sharper screens. Like many tablets, the new Nook has a blue light filter, which is especially useful on a tablet like this that’s designed for reading.
The Nook is noticeably lighter than the Fire HD 10 – coming in at 14.8 ounces versus the 16.4 ounces of the Fire – which means it won’t weigh down your bag.
Nook Features and reading experience
Barnes & Noble and Lenovo’s tablet is mostly an Android tablet, but it does have some Nook-specific features. The home screen features two prominent widgets that display your Nook user profile along with what you are currently reading, along with a separate widget showcasing your recent book purchases.
There are also three black-and-white icons pinned to the bottom of the home screen: Library, Bookstore, and Current Read. The Library app houses your Nook books collection, the bookstore sends you to Barnes & Noble’s online bookstore, and Current Read launches the book you’re currently reading. You can easily rearrange or disable these apps, but can’t delete them.
Despite the low screen resolution, reading on the Nook is pleasant. The tablet is great to hold, and the Google Play store offers just about any reading app you might need – including the Kindle. That’s right, you can read your Kindle books on the Nook. All you have to do is download the app and sign in.
Both the Nook and Kindle apps offer similar reading experiences – so much so that it’s sometimes easy to forget which app you are using. They both feature tons of adjustable font sizes, styles and margins. The Kindle app allows for a few more customization options than the Nook, such as two additional font choices and more background colors.
But both apps can estimate the amount of the time left in a chapter or the entire book and display page numbers where supported.
Which app you use really depends on where you purchase most of your books. Amazon and Barnes & Noble both offer expansive ebook collections, with new releases heading to both platforms.
What sets this Nook apart from its Amazon counterpart is that it’s an excellent platform-agnostic e-reader. As an e-book enthusiast with a robust collection across multiple platforms, the ability to download multiple e-reading apps on the Google Play Store is an absolute gamechanger. I can read all of my books on this Nook, no matter where they come from, at a fraction of the cost of an iPad or more robust Android tablet.
Unlike Nook’s tablet, Amazon’s Fire tablets are firmly locked into the Amazon ecosystem. For example, it’s not possible to download the Nook app onto a Fire device from the Amazon App Store.
The selection of library apps and other e-reader apps is also severely limited on Amazon’s tablet. Apps like the library app Libby, comic reader Marvel Unlimited, browsers like Google Chrome, and popular games like “Plants vs. Zombies” are all missing from Amazon’s tablets.
For those who find Amazon’s options too restrictive, the Nook is a breath of fresh air. The tablet might not be powerful enough to run all of my favorite apps and games, but at least it offers the chance to try them.
Performance and battery life
This Nook runs on a MediaTek Helio P22T Tab processor and has 2GB of memory, meaning it’s not particularly fast or powerful. That’s not surprising at this price point.
It succeeds at streaming movies, loading books, and turning pages, but don’t ask it to do much more. Even the smallest actions can cause stuttering. For example, there is sometimes a slight delay when opening apps like Chrome or surfacing the on-screen keyboard.
Games are tricky for the Nook. Older, less graphic-intensive games, such as “Plants vs. Zombies,” play without so much as a hiccup, but newer 3-D games stutter and crash.The Geekbench 5 benchmarking app that’s meant to evaluate the processor’s performance quit halfway through its assessment of the Nook multiple times.
But watching movies and TV on the Nook is seamless. The two speakers on the tablet punch way above their weight, providing sound that is loud enough to fill a small room at only a quarter volume. Plus, the Google Play Store has just about every streaming service you might want.
Barnes & Noble claims that the Nook gets up to 11 hours of battery life based on reading, watching videos, and web browsing. I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. It generally lasts me three days on a charge after spending two hours per day reading and another two hours watching TV.
The cameras on the Nook perform less admirably than the battery. The tablet has a 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. The latter of which can – in theory – be used for face authentication, but usually fails to recognize me.
Should you buy it?
Barnes & Noble’s latest tablet built with Lenovo is a good choice for those seeking an affordable tablet designed mainly for reading and watching videos. Access to the Google Play store means that most reading and streaming apps work well on this tablet. But the Nook is slow and lacks a full 1080p screen.
What are your alternatives?
There is little incentive to opt for the Nook if you are thoroughly immersed in the Kindle ecosystem and never plan to read a book outside of it. The Amazon Fire HD 10 offers a much sharper screen and other benefits for only $20 more.
You could also opt for the $179.99 Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus – which is almost identical to the Fire HD 10 except for the addition of wireless charging and an extra gigabyte of RAM. Both tablets feature integration with Alexa – including the ability to control smart-home devices, set alarms, and ask for news or recipes. The major trade-off is that you lose access to the Google Play Store.
A pricier choice is the 10.2-inch iPad. It offers a jam-packed app store, Apple’s fast and powerful A12 Bionic processor, multitasking capabilities, and support for the Apple Pencil and other accessories. We even called it the best overall iPad. But priced at $329, the iPad is almost three times more expensive than the Nook.
The bottom line
The $129.99 Nook 10-inch HD Tablet Designed with Lenovo is a great alternative to Amazon for those seeking an inexpensive tablet for reading books and watching videos. The processor is sluggish and the screen resolution is less than ideal. But the sturdy design and access to the Google Play store make this a perfect pickup for those who need more than Amazon will give them.
Pros: Good battery life, sturdy design, access to the Google Play store, loud speakers
Cons: Slow processor, lacks a full HD screen
Nook 10-inch HD Tablet Designed with Lenovo (button)
Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 is our pick for best hybrid laptop for its excellent design and performance.
But there are also cheaper options we love, like Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5.
Check out our guide to the best tablets for more touchscreen computer buying advice.
There are two main types of 2-in-1 laptops – detachables and convertibles. Detachable devices allow you to remove the screen from your laptop’s keyboard so that you can use it as a tablet separately. Convertibles, meanwhile, have a flexible hinge that allows you to bend the display backward and flip it around so that it can be used in different modes as a single device.
Shopping for a 2-in-1 is a lot like picking out a regular laptop. That means taking factors like the operating system (OS), processor (CPU), memory (RAM), overall size, and display quality into account.
But since 2-in-1 laptops are ideal for creatives thanks to their flexible designs, you’ll also want to consider whether they have any extra features that may be beneficial for your workflow. Some 2-in-1 laptops, for example, come with styluses for sketching or different screen ratios for watching movies.
Here’s a look at the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy based on our testing and research.
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 offers a beautiful design, plus it’s powerful, and the display can fully rotate around the body for 2-in-1 use.
Pros: Excellent compact design, attractive screen with slim borders, good performance
Cons: Not much port selection
Dell’s XPS 13 is still our favorite laptop, and thankfully it comes in a 2-in-1 configuration, too. Like the standard notebook version, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 offers the right combination of stunning design and powerful performance to make it the best choice for most people.
Let’s start with the design. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a convertible 2-in-1, meaning you can rotate the display to use it in tablet mode. You can also stand the device up in tent mode, which is perfect for tasks like watching movies on planes, or using the touchscreen without having to physically hold the device.
The Dell XPS 13 has a high quality 13.4 inch- screen with a 1,900 x 1,200 resolution. The laptop is thin, too — it’s only 0.56 inches thick, meaning that it’s easy to slide into a bag.
Of course, it’s what’s under the hood that makes this device among the best. The base model offers an Intel Core i3 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD).
But, it can also be upgraded to offer up to an 11th-generation Intel Core i7 chip with 32GB of RAM and a hefty 1TB SSD. In other words, while the device isn’t necessarily the best gaming or video editing machine, thanks to the lack of discrete graphics card, it will easily handle heavy multitasking and productivity apps.
Dell has scaled the port selection down a little for the XPS 13 2-in-1 series, and you’ll get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. That’s not a huge selection, but it should be enough for most basic use cases.
The best detachable 2-in-1 laptop
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is sleek and portable with excellent performance for on-the-go use — making it still the most premium 2-in-1 tablet to date.
The Microsoft Surface Pro series has been a go-to for Windows fans for years now. Now on its seventh generation, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the most powerful in the series yet, offering a very portable design, and a detachable build. That means that you fully use it as a tablet, if you so choose.
The Surface Pro 7 is built for versatility. It comes with a high-end keyboard cover and offers a great typing experience. But when you want to use it in tablet mode, simply detach the main body of the device and you’re good to go. The base model isn’t necessarily the most powerful device out there, but it’s not bad, with its 10th-gen Intel Core i3, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
But it can be updated all the way to a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. In other words, it’s a productivity machine, and will work great for everything except the most demanding gaming and video editing.
This device is built for ultra portability, and as such its thin build doesn’t allow for tons of ports. But, it’s not bad in that respect either, offering a USB-C port, a USB-A port, a headphone jack, a MicroSD card slot, and the Microsoft Connect port for charging.
Most reviewers love the Surface Pro 7. PCMag gave the device an impressive 4/5, while The Verge scored it an equivalent 8/10. The main downsides are that the ports are a little dated, considering they’re not Thunderbolt 3, and that the design is aging a little compared to the Surface Pro X.
The best 15-inch 2-in-1 laptop
If you want a big-screen experience with ultra powerful specs, the Microsoft Surface Book 3 is absolutely the way to go.
Pros: Very powerful, beautiful big screen, excellent keyboard
Cons: Expensive, aging design
Like the big-screen experience but still want a powerful 2-in-1? The Microsoft Surface Book 3 is a workhorse that continues to remain so in tablet mode — after you fully detach the display from the keyboard.
The design of the Surface Book 3 is pretty groundbreaking. It has a hinge design that allows the device to fold like a laptop, while still detaching from the main body with the press of a button. Then, you can use the device as a nice big tablet.
Like Microsoft’s other Surface devices, the Surface Book 3 has an elegant metal build that gives it a premium feel. The keyboard and touchpad are also top notch; the keys provide the perfect amount of feedback to make typing a breeze, and the trackpad is super responsive without being overly sensitive.
The display on the Surface Book 3 is also pretty stunning. It has a 3,240 x 2,160 resolution, at least on the 15-inch model. That’s not bad at all.
Even better is what’s under the hood. The 15-inch model has a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, with either 16GB or 32GB of RAM and between 256GB and up to 2TB of storage. And, it has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti graphics card, so you can use the device for gaming and video editing if you so choose.
The downside is that it’s pricey since the 15-inch model starts at $2,299.99, although that’s not unheard of for a high-end laptop of this size. The 15-inch display can also feel a bit unwieldy to use in tablet mode.
The best 2-in-1 Chromebook
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is more than powerful enough to handle Google’s lightweight ChromeOS, plus it has a beautiful display and plenty of ports.
Pros: Great performance, good selection of ports, great display, inexpensive
Cons: Speakers aren’t the best
If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 that’s plugged into Google’s ecosystem, then the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is the Chromebook to beat. The device isn’t the most stylish out there, but it is pretty powerful, has a decent keyboard, and works great with Google’s cloud-based services.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a convertible 2-in-1, so the display can be folded back over the keyboard for use in tablet mode. Acer just announced a new version of the Spin 713 launching in June 2021 that comes with 11th-generation Intel processors, a screen with 18% more vertical screen space, the option for a fingerprint reader, and Thunderbolt 4 support.
Acer clearly had remote work use cases in mind with this update, considering these upgrades boost security and make it easier to use the Spin 13 with external displays.
Google’s ChromeOS isn’t known for needing high-end specs, but as far as Chromebooks go, the specs on offer by the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 aren’t bad at all. The previous-generation version I’ve tested came with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processor, with 8GB or 16GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage.
One of the best features of the device is the display — which offers vibrant colors and a 2,256 x 1,504 resolution. It also has a taller 3:2 aspect ratio that makes it great for reading and watching movies.
I’ve been using the older Acer Chromebook Spin 713 sporadically for work and personal use, and I’ve been impressed with its spacious and vibrant display and solid battery life.
The speakers can sound a little shallow since they’re located on the bottom of the notebook, meaning they’re usually covered while in use. But otherwise, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a solid laptop.
The best budget 2-in-1 laptop
Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5 packages reliable performance and useful features into an affordable machine that’s a joy to use.
Pros: Great price, excellent keyboard and trackpad, decent performance
Cons: Fans can get noisy
If you’re looking for an affordable yet reliable laptop that can double as a tablet, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex is tough to beat. For hundreds of dollars below the $1,000 threshold, you’re getting a recent processor that has plenty of power, a spacious touchscreen, and 128GB of storage.
The 15.6-inch version of Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5 is currently on sale for $479.99, down from its usual price of $579.99, which makes it an even more compelling reason to name it our best budget pick. That configuration comes with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor — which is just one generation behind Intel’s current chips — a 1080p touchscreen, and 4GB of RAM.
Those aren’t top-of-the-line specifications, but they’re more than enough for anyone that spends most of their time on laptops browsing the web, writing emails, streaming Netflix, taking notes, and managing spreadsheets. There’s also a physical webcam shutter to block your camera when it’s not in use.
The configuration I’ve been testing runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 processor and includes 16GB of RAM, a smaller 14-inch screen, and a digital stylus. That configuration costs a bit more at $629.99, but it might be worth it for those who want more performance at a reasonable price.
Other than the excellent value, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 stands out for its comfortable keyboard and smooth trackpad, which are consistent no matter what configuration you go with. But don’t push it too hard: the fans can get a little noisy if you have too many tabs open.
Essential buying advice for new laptop buyers
With so much choice out there, choosing the best laptop for your needs has become an involved process. Other than deciding whether a convertible or detachable design is the right choice for your workflow, here are other important factors to consider.
A laptop’s operating system (OS) is the interface through which you access everything in the computer, from work apps to games and more. The most popular laptop OS is Windows 10, which is found in hundreds of different laptops from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and more. It’s a widely adaptable OS and most supported by third-party app makers.
Apple’s macOS is exclusive to Mac laptops and desktops, and is the most compatible with Apple’s other products like iPhones. Finally, all Chromebooks run Chrome OS, Google’s Chrome browser-focused OS that works best when connected to the internet and integrates deeply with Google services like Google Drive and Gmail.
The internal hardware that powers a laptop is considered the “specs,” and will dictate how effective your laptop is at various tasks. The processor (CPU) and memory (RAM) impact the laptop’s raw power and multitasking capacity, respectively. The storage (hard disk drive or HDD, or solid-state drive or SSD) will determine how much space for files the laptop has.
The graphics processor (GPU) dictates how effective the laptop is at rendering video and 3D visuals for games. Many laptops, particularly in the low-to-midrange, utilize what’s called internal graphics, which shares RAM with the CPU rather than a dedicated GPU.
The laptop’s display sharpness is determined by pixel density, with 1080p (or Full HD) being the generally desirable target. Finally, all of these factors contribute to the laptop’s battery life, with eight hours generally being the minimum acceptable number — unless it’s a gaming laptop.
Another thing you’ll want to think about is how big the laptop is. A smaller laptop will ultimately be more portable, but a larger one will have a larger display, which is better for watching movies, photo editing, video production, and playing games. Common sizes for laptops are 13 inches and 15 inches, though 11 inches and 17 inches also appear every now and then.
Other 2-in-1 laptops we look forward to testing
Laptop makers launch new models throughout the year, and the 2-in-1 notebooks below are at the top of our list to test next. Intel also just announced two new additions to its family of 11th generation processors with faster clock speeds of up to 5GHz. That means we’re expecting to see new thin and light devices in the coming months, many of which will likely be 2-in-1s.
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360: Samsung’s Galaxy Book Pro 360 seems like it has the potential to be the laptop of choice for Samsung phone owners that prioritize screen quality in a laptop. Samsung’s new convertible laptop comes with an AMOLED screen similar to the one on many of its popular smartphones, Intel’s 11th-generation Core i7 processors, and comes with Samsung’s S Pen. It also has features like background noise removal for those who often take conference calls on their laptop while working remotely.
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2: Samsung aimed to make a premium Chromebook with its original Galaxy Chromebook, but its high price ultimately hampered its appeal. Now, Samsung has launched a more affordable $549.99 sequel known as the Galaxy Chromebook 2, which comes in an eye-catching red color, features a 13.-3-inch QLED screen, and runs on an Intel Core i3 or Intel Celeron processor. It looks like a potentially compelling choice for those who want a stylish yet affordable Chromebook.
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Screen protectors are the easiest way to protect a device from scratches, bumps, and other injuries.
The best screen protectors are, per the Moh scale of mineral hardness, nearly as hard as diamond.
Many are also designed to resist smudging, fingerprints, and other blemishes.
The screen is one of a smartphone or tablet’s most important aspects. That’s why it’s so important to protect it from scratches, dents, and other damage that can make using a device almost impossible. (Or at least unpleasant.) Some cases protect the display, but not all of them do, and not everyone wants to use a case. A screen protector can offer a middle ground by protecting the display without changing the look and feel of a device too much in the process.
Many quality screen protectors offer 9H hardness, which means they’re more durable than most glass, as well as some form of impact protection. The former defends against scratches; the latter helps absorb some of the force of an unexpected collision with another solid object. Modern screen protectors have also made it easier than ever to enjoy that protection without having to worry about dust, fingerprints, or air bubbles getting trapped underneath them.
Screen protectors aren’t one-size-fits-all, however. They have to be made specifically for the device they’re supposed to be paired with. Otherwise they would be frustrating to install, uncomfortable to use, and worse at protecting the underlying display. Here we’ve collected some of the best screen protectors for the iPhone 12 series, the Samsung Galaxy S21 line, the latest iPads, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 line, and the most recent Amazon Kindle Fire tablets.
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The best screen protector for the iPhone 12 series
The best screen protector for the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max is the Spigen EZ FIT screen protector. This tempered glass screen protector ships with the titular EZ FIT alignment kit that, according to Spigen, offers “quick and fail-proof installation” on any supported device. All you have to do is remove a protective film, align a tray with your phone, and press firmly on the screen protector housed within that tray. Then your device should be ready to go.
Spigen says the EZ FIT Screen Protector boasts 9H hardness that should be able to withstand practically any kind of scratch your device would encounter during everyday use. It also features oleophobic coating that should prevent undue smudging, fingerprints, and other blemishes that could distract from whatever’s happening on-screen, and its rounded edges should make it just as comfortable to use your phone for extended lengths of time as it was before the screen protector was applied.
Just be warned: The EZ FIT Screen Protector features a cutout designed to accommodate the notch on every iPhone 12’s display. That notch houses a speaker used during phone calls as well as the TrueDepth Camera that enables Face ID, portrait mode photos, and other features that justify the controversial design introduced with the iPhone X. Spigen probably didn’t want to risk interfering with Face ID by covering the notch, so that part of the display remains exposed to the outside world.
That aside, the EZ FIT Screen Protector is said to be a durable, easy-to-install way to protect the latest-and-greatest iPhone from accidental damage. Spigen also offers two screen protectors in each box, an added bonus.
EZ FIT Screen Protector (iPhone 12) (small)EZ FIT Screen Protector (iPhone 12 Mini) (small)EZ FIT Screen Protector (iPhone 12 Pro Max) (small)
The best screen protector for the Samsung Galaxy S21 series
Pros: Advanced impact protection, compatible with the in-display fingerprint scanner, antimicrobial treatment
Cons: Pricier than other screen protectors, only includes a single unit
Zagg offers a variety of screen protectors for the Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra that debuted in January. The best for most people is the InvisibleShield GlassFusion+ D3O screen protector because it offers advanced impact protection and an antimicrobial treatment without the potentially contentious blue light filter found in the pricier VisionGuard+ model.
Many of this screen protector’s defining features are included in its name. The GlassFusion+ refers to a hybrid polymer that “provides powerful, flexible protection with a glass-like feel,” Zagg says. D3O is an impact additive used alongside GlassFusion+ to offer up to 20% better impact protection than the company’s previous screen protectors. And of course the InvisibleShield refers to Zagg’s promise that using these products will protect your phone’s display without obscuring it.
Zagg also includes an installation kit that’s supposed to make it easy to apply the InvisibleShield GlassFusion+ D3O to the latest Samsung Galaxy S21 series. Unfortunately the product is more expensive than other screen protectors—it costs over three times as much as our pick for the iPhone 12 series—and Zagg only includes one unit in each package. That shouldn’t be a problem for most people, but it does mean the company offers less bang for your buck than some of its competitors.
InvisibleShield GlassFusion+ D3O (Samsung Galaxy S21) (small)InvisibleShield GlassFusion+ D3O (Samsung Galaxy S21+) (small)InvisibleShield GlassFusion+ D3O (Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra) (small)
The best screen protector for the iPad series
The JETech Screen Protector‘s rounded edges and thin design make it comfortable to use while still providing excellent protection for an array of iPad models.
Pros: Offers high scratch resistance, easy to install, affordable
Cons: It can be hard to find the right version, some packages only include a single unit
Apple offers a wide variety of iPads with various screen sizes. The best screen protector available for most of the iPad line is the JETech Screen Protector for iPad, which is available in sizes designed for the iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Air as well as the 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions of the iPad Pro. Just make sure you know what generation iPad you have before you start looking for a screen protector—Apple changed the size of the display as it released new versions of some of the models. There is some amount of backwards compatibility, luckily, but it’s not as straightforward as buying a screen protector for a new phone.
All that aside, the JETech Screen Protector for iPad is made from tempered glass that’s rated to withstand scratches up to 9H hardness despite being just 0.3mm thick. Versions designed for Face ID-compatible iPads include a cutout for the notch, just like most iPhone 12 screen protectors, while versions designed for Touch ID-compatible iPads have a smaller cutout at the top for the front-facing camera as well as a hole on the bottom for the Home button. (Which houses the fingerprint scanner.) JETech also says the screen protector shouldn’t interfere with your ability to use the Apple Pencil on iPad models that support it.
Unfortunately installing the JETech Screen Protector for iPad isn’t quite as straightforward as installing a screen protector on a smartphone. The company says its screen protectors still offer a “bubble-free and easy install,” but the process is more involved than you might think, because the iPad’s larger size makes creating an alignment tray more difficult. JETech instead relies on a number of guide stickers that you can use to help line up the screen protector with your screen during the installation process. This shouldn’t be too difficult, but it’s also more complicated and error-prone than installing a screen protector on a phone.
That frustration should prove worth it, however, because protecting an iPad’s display is arguably more important than defending the screen on a phone. Many people buy a new phone every couple of years, but an iPad is a larger investment that’s expected to have a longer life cycle than that. The JETech Screen Protector for iPad should make it easier to protect that investment and enjoy that extended lifecycle by keeping that massive (in comparison to a phone) display safe from most hazards. That promise should make the minor annoyances of finding the right version and properly installing it worth the effort in the long term.
Screen Protector (10.2-inch iPad) (small)Screen Protector (iPad Mini) (small)Screen Protector (iPad Air/11-inch Pro) (small)Screen Protector (12.9-inch iPad Pro) (small)
The best screen protector for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 series
Pros: Scratch, smudging, and fingerprint-resistant surface, 99.9% clarity, rounded edges
Cons: Only includes a single unit
It’s considerably easier to find the right screen protector for the latest Samsung tablets. The company introduced two models, the Galaxy Tab S7 and the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, in September 2020. SuperShieldz was quick to release a screen protector for each model with the aptly named Supershieldz Designed for Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 lineup.
These tempered glass screen protectors offer 9H hardness as well as a hydro- and oleophobic coating that should allow them to defend against most scratches, repel sweat, and resist fingerprints. SuperShieldz says they also feature “2.5D rounded edge glass” that’s supposed to make using the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 or Galaxy Tab S7 Plus as comfortable as possible, a thin design that shouldn’t interfere with the touchscreen, and “99.99% HD clarity” that barely obscures the display underneath.
Unfortunately the same caveats regarding installation that we mentioned with the iPad pick apply to the SuperShieldz offering. The company promises there will be “zero bubbles” underneath the screen protector, but there’s little guidance during the installation process. Fortunately the company also says the screen protector won’t leave behind any residue when it’s removed, and both versions are cheaper than their competition, so a little bit of trial-and-error shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Tempered Glass Screen Protector (Galaxy Tab S7) (small)Tempered Glass Screen Protector (Galaxy Tab S7 Plus) (small)
The best screen protector for the latest Amazon tablet series
The Sparin Tempered Glass Screen Protector is an easily installed first line of defense between the latest Kindle Fire tablets that should be able to withstand plenty of abuse from enthusiastic play.
Pros: Promised easy installation, high scratch resistance
Cons: No hydro- or oleo-phobic coating, finding the right version can be difficult
Amazon might be the only company that makes finding a worthwhile screen protector for its tablets harder than Apple does. The company offers numerous iterations on similar designs—there are three versions each of the Kindle Fire HD 7, 8, and 10 as well as a special Kindle Fire HD 10 Productivity model—and the latest releases are often slightly different from their predecessors. There isn’t a one-brand-fits-all solution here, but the best option for most people is going to be the Sparin Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Amazon Kindle Fire tablets because it comes in a variety of versions that each support numerous tablets. (As well as an easy-to-read guide on their Amazon store page indicating their compatibility with specific models.)
Sparin’s offerings are all made from 9H-rated tempered glass in widths between 0.3 and 0.33mm, which means they shouldn’t interfere with any of the Kindle Fire tablets’ touchscreens while they protect them from most scratches. The company also promises “99% high definition clarity and light transmittance” to “keep original and stunning viewing quality and experience,” and just like SuperShieldz, it says the screen protector’s “2.5D rounded edges” should afford maximum comfort during normal use.
Similar promises are made about a smooth, “hassle-free, and bubble-free” installation process afforded by the screen protector’s “anti-air adhesive.” Luckily the Sparin Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Amazon Kindle Fire is also affordable—it’s priced in line with the JETech and SuperShieldz screen protectors we recommended for the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 lineups—and ships with multiple screen protectors in case something terrible happens during installation.
It’s a shame that finding a screen protector for the latest versions of the Kindle Fire tablets is so difficult, but the note about needing to defend tablet displays even more than phone screens feels particularly relevant here. Many people buy these devices for their children (which is why Amazon makes versions specifically designed for kids) and it’s no secret that kids can play rough with their favorite toys. If you’re looking for a screen protector to defend a Kindle Fire tablet from even the mightiest of temper tantrums, then, your best bet is probably going to be starting your search with the Sparin lineup.
The 10.2-inch iPad offers solid performance at a reasonable price, making it our top pick.
Those who want a nicer screen and other features without splurging on the Pro should consider the Air.
The new M1-powered iPad Pro models are for those looking for the most powerful tablet they can buy.
Apple is the uncontested king of tablets. The iPad is the most popular tablet in the world, with Apple beating Samsung and Lenovo by claiming 36.5% of the global tablet market.
Apple’s tablet lineup is varied and surprisingly affordable. On the high end, Apple recently announced an update to the iPad Pro lineup which adds the powerful M1 chip, as well as 5G capability to the iPad for the first time, while maintaining the $799 price for the 11-inch model.
At $329.99, the 10.2-inch iPad is the cheapest iPad Apple has ever sold, but it’s quite powerful and supports the Apple Pencil, making it a great choice for anyone in need of a general purpose tablet.
Other iPads offer higher performance and more features and functionality, all of which come at higher prices.
The 2020 10.2-inch iPad offers the best balance of value, performance, and features, and is the best deal for most people.
Pros: Incredible price for an iPad, slick aluminum design, Touch ID for security and Apple Pay, gorgeous screen, supports the Apple Pencil
Cons: Low resolution front camera, very little storage at base price
The 2020 10.2-inch iPad is the most affordable model, and it’s the best option for those picking up their first iPad. It’s also a great choice if you’re looking to upgrade from an aging iPad or iPad Mini.
The 2,160 x 1,620-pixel resolution on the 10.2-inch model is sharp and clear. The A12 processor is still perfectly capable for most apps and tasks, the battery life is long, and you can buy things on iPad with Apple Pay, thanks to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Best of all, this iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, an incredible stylus with virtually no lag. You will have to pay $100 extra for the Pencil, but if you like to take notes or draw on your iPad, it is well worth it.
You simply can’t beat those specs at that price point. Comparable Android tablets cost hundreds of dollars more, and the iPad still has a better app library and accessory support.
The aluminum build looks and feels premium. Both iPads are quite light, too, so you can happily binge-watch Netflix in bed or take them with you. Tech nerds will say the iPads have a boring old design, but it’s tried and true. Plus, the aluminum build is durable.
However, there are some drawbacks that are worth considering. The 1.2-megapixel front camera isn’t very sharp, which is something to keep in mind if you make a lot of FaceTime calls. And, the base model only comes with 32GB of storage. That means you won’t be able to store many apps, videos, and photos on the device and will have to keep most of your content in the cloud unless you upgrade to the $429 model with 128GB of storage.
The best mid-range iPad
The 2020 iPad Air brings power and a premium updated design and features for $600
Pros: Updated design, sharp screen, Touch ID, works with accessories like the newer Apple Pencil, fast performance, new processor, mouse support, close to iPad Pro functionality and power while costing less
Cons: Only 64GB of storage, price gets expensive when you add on accessories Price is creeping up
The iPad Air got a big upgrade when the newest version debuted in September 2020. New features include an all-screen design with sharper edges that’s similar to the iPad Pro’s look, the powerful A14 Bionic processor that powers the iPhone 12 series, USB-C for faster charging and connecting to computers, and a Touch ID sensor on the top button.
The tablet also supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, which is widely considered the best stylus for drawing on a tablet and features an improved design compared to the first-generation pencil. The iPad Air also has a sharp 10.9-inch Liquid Retina True Tone screen with a resolution of 2,360 × 1,640 pixels.
If you’re looking for an iPad for work-related tasks, the 2020 iPad Air supports Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio and the Magic Keyboard, which includes a trackpad for mouse control. Support for the Magic Keyboard, in particular, brings the 2020 iPad Air closer than ever to the iPad Pro’s high level of functionality, making the 2020 iPad Air a less expensive alternative to the iPad Pro.
You can buy the iPad Air with either 64GB or 256GB of storage, and it comes in five color options: Silver, Space Gray, Green, Sky Blue, or Rose Gold. You can also choose either a Wi-Fi-only connection or a combination of cellular and Wi-Fi connections.
The best small iPad
The 2019 iPad Mini is essentially the smaller version of the 10.2-inch iPad, and it’s the best option if you prefer a smaller tablet.
Pros: Compact, affordable, new processor, sharp screen, works with the Pencil
Cons: Older design with bigger bezels, more expensive than larger 10.2-inch 2020 iPad
With a 7.9-inch display, the 2019 iPad Mini is Apple’s smallest tablet. It may not have the newer iPad-Pro style design, but it has all the latest specs we wanted in this update.
It’s powered by the same powerful A12 Bionic processor found inside the 2020 iPad, and it supports the first-generation Apple Pencil. We’re thrilled Apple gave the Mini Pencil support, as it’s the best stylus we’ve ever used, and it makes the Mini a great tablet for note taking or drawing.
The Mini’s True Tone, 7.9-inch screen has a sharp 2,048 x 1,536 pixel resolution, too, so you can really enjoy watching videos, reading, and creating on the screen.
You can choose between 64GB or 256GB of storage and three color options: Silver, Space Gray, or Gold).
Overall, the iPad Mini is the best choice for those who prioritize portability above all else in a tablet. If you want a screen that’s slightly bigger than your phone for reading, watching movies, and checking email, the iPad Mini is worth considering.
The best iPad for pros
Apple’s newest iPad Pros come with fast performance and excellent cameras at a high price, making them best for creative professionals.
Pros: Fast performance, great selfie camera that keeps you in frame, improved vibrant screen on the 12.9-inch model
Cons: Expensive, gets even more expensive when you add accessories, multitasking and general productivity is still better on a laptop
Apple’s recently launched iPad Pros come equipped with the company’s M1 processor, bringing faster processing and better camera performance to an already-powerful tablet. But the iPad Pro’s high price and extra power mean that it’s best-suited for creative professionals looking to get work done on their tablet rather than everyday users.
The 11-inch model starts at $800, while the 12.9-inch version begins at $1,100, just like their predecessors.
The new iPad Pro’s headlining feature is a camera trick called Center Stage, which adjusts the front-facing camera as you move to ensure that you remain centered in frame. Plus, the iPad Pro benefits from the Apple image signal processor in the M1 chip, resulting in more colorful selfies. That makes the iPad Pro a strong choice for those who plan to take a lot of video calls from their iPad, or for those who plan to record video projects using the iPad’s selfie camera.
The iPad Pros also have a dual-camera system with a 12-megapixel main camera and a 10-megapixel wide lens, another factor that makes it more appealing than the iPad Air for those who want to shoot and edit multimedia content on one device.
The larger-sized model also has a new display that uses mini-LED technology, meaning that it has much greater brightness and contrast compared to Apple’s other tablets.
But for that price, the iPad Pros are really best for those who want a tablet for more than just watching videos, browsing the web, and getting light work done. That’s especially true since the iPad Air is now compatible with Apple’s Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil. All told, the iPad Pro’s increased storage capacity, faster performance, better cameras, and Thunderbolt connectivity make the iPad Pro best for creatives that want a portable work device.
Pros: Works with even the cheapest 10.2-inch iPad, lack of latency, pressure sensitivity, made for the iPad’s screen, easy to charge, comfortable to hold
Over the years, we’ve tested a lot of styluses from companies like Adonit, 53, Wacom, and more. None of those styluses can hold a candle to the Apple Pencil. Whether you buy the first-generation Pencil or the second, you’re getting a stylus that was made by Apple in tandem with the iPad.
As such, the Pencil works with the iPads’ screens in special ways that no other stylus can. The result is improved pressure sensitivity and an impressively low level of latency. You won’t even notice a lag because it’s imperceptible. When you use an Apple Pencil, you actually feel like you’re using a normal graphite pencil.
There are a few differences between the first- and second-generation Pencils: the second-gen model has wireless charging and magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad. The first-gen Pencil charges with a lightning port on the end and doesn’t attach to your iPad. It’s also a bit cheaper.
As far as compatibility, the first-generation Apple Pencil is for the older iPad models, as well as the 2020 10.2-inch iPad and the 2019 iPad Mini. The second-generation Apple Pencil and supports newer and higher-end iPads, including most iPad Pros and the 2020 iPad Air.
Choose whichever makes the most sense to you, but the newer Pencil’s easier charging method and magnetic attraction to the iPad make it a winner in our book.
The best keyboard for your iPad
The Logitech K780 works with any device, connects wirelessly, and offers a full-sized keyboard with satisfying keys for typing.
Pros: Nice design, comfortable, two-year battery life
Cons: Needs AAA batteries
The Logitech K780 is the best Bluetooth keyboard for just about any device, including the iPad. Sure, it’s not a keyboard case, so it won’t protect your iPad and provide a keyboard, but that means you get a full-sized keyboard with a number pad and satisfying keys that have good travel.
The K780 supports connections to multiple devices, so you can use it with your iPad, phone, and computer if you want. The circular keys are comfortable to type on because they are full size. Logitech also incorporated a tablet and phone stand into the keyboard’s design, so it’s easy to prop your iPad up without needing to buy a separate stand or case.
The only downsides here are that it needs AAA batteries to run and it’s not the most portable keyboard you can buy. If you want a more portable option, the foldable iClever Ultra Slim 3 Keyboard folds up to one-third of its size and can be used in both wireless and wired modes.
What to consider when buying an iPad
Price: The biggest factor you’ll want to consider when purchasing an iPad is how much you’re willing to spend. The 10.2-inch $329 iPad is the best choice for anyone on a tight budget, since it’s Apple’s most affordable iPad. But if you want more storage space than the 32GB that comes with the cheapest standard iPad by default and are looking for something more compact, the $400 iPad Mini is your best bet. If you’re willing to invest in a tablet that you’re also planning to use for work purposes, particularly for photography, the top-of-the-line $800-$1,000 iPad Pro may be right for you. And then there’s the $600 iPad Air, which falls right in the middle and is best if you want a tablet for casual productivity and entertainment.
Size: Aside from price, size is one of the most important aspects to consider when buying an iPad. The 7.9-inch iPad Mini is Apple’s smallest tablet, and it’s the right choice if you mostly think you’ll be using your iPad during your commute or while traveling. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is best for those who want a laptop-sized tablet for getting work done or watching movies. And for those looking for something in between, there’s the 10.2-inch iPad, 10.9-inch iPad Air, and 11-inch iPad Pro.
Performance: When picking out an iPad, you’ll also want to consider what kinds of tasks you think you’ll be using it for. If you just want an iPad that can serve as a larger and more suitable screen for doing many of the things you’d normally do on your smartphone, like browsing the internet, watching Netflix, playing casual games, light productivity such as note-taking, and checking email, then the iPad or iPad Mini will do just fine. But if you need something more powerful that packs more graphics performance, which could be important for video and photo editors, you’ll want to check out the iPad Pro. And then, of course, the iPad Air falls right in the middle, offering performance that’s just as fast and snappy as the iPhone 12 for a lower price than the iPad Pro.
Features: All of Apple’s iPads run on the same software and can download the same apps from the App Store. But they do differ in several important ways when it comes to hardware-based features. Compared to Apple’s cheaper tablets, the iPad Air and iPad Pro offer sleeker designs, nearly borderless screens, USB-C input, compatibility with newer Apple accessories, and sharper cameras. The iPad Pro is also the only iPad to come with two rear camera lenses, Face ID, and a LiDAR sensor for augmented reality apps. Consider which features matter to you most when deciding which iPad is right for you.
You can preorder the new tablet starting April 30, and units are expected to ship in mid-May.
The M1 processor and 5G option are nice features, but 2020 iPad owners should wait for a bigger upgrade.
On April 20, Apple announced the fifth-generation of its iPad Pro line. The new tablet has a lot of the same features as the 2020 edition, but adds an upgraded display, 5G connectivity support, Apple’s M1 processor (CPU), and bigger storage capacity.
You can order the 2021 Apple iPad Pro from Apple and other retailers starting April 30, and tablets will be available in mid-May, according to Apple.
Prices for the 11-inch tablet start at $799, and the new 12.9-inch version starts at $1,099. Here’s how the new iPad Pro models stacks up to their predecessors.
The 2021 iPad Pro has the same resolution as the 2020 iPad Pro, but the new 12.9-inch edition uses a mini-LED design versus the standard LED backlight found on the 2020 model. Mini-LED can provide better contrast and higher peak brightness to create a more realistic image with better high dynamic range (HDR) performance.
2021 iPad Pro models also incorporate a faster CPU and better graphics performance thank to the addition of Apple’s M1 chip. We’ve been impressed with the performance improvements this chip makes in other recent Apple products, like the MacBook Air.
Other upgrades include new support for 5G on cellular models, as well as a new option for up to 2TB of storage versus last year’s max of 1TB. The front camera has been upgraded as well, making the jump from 7MP to 12MP.
These improvements make the new iPad Pro a better buy for power users over the previous version, especially the 12.9-inch model thanks to its advanced display. That said, we view this as more of a mid-cycle upgrade rather than a full overhaul.
Apple iPad Pro (2021) versus Apple iPad Pro (2020)
2021 iPad Pro
2020 iPad Pro
$799 for 11-inch, $1,099 for $12.9-inch
$799 for 11-inch, $999 for $12.9-inch
Up to 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display
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With iPads available at different sizes and prices, it can be difficult to know which model is right for you. Is it worth splurging on the $800 iPad Pro, or should you go for Apple’s less expensive, but still fairly pricey $600 iPad Air? Both tablets share many similarities, particularly when it comes to their size, design, and compatibility with accessories.
Just like any other shopping decision, figuring out which iPad is right for you comes down to one important question: What do you intend to use it for? The iPad Air and iPad Pro may look alike, especially if you’re eyeballing the 11-inch iPad Pro, but they come with some nuanced differences that are worth considering.
Those differences could become more pronounced in the next week, as Apple is holding an event on April 20th where it is expected to release new iPad Pros. We’ll be sure to update our recommendations as soon as we get our hands on the new product.
Overall, the iPad Air is the better choice for most people. Its new design gives it a more modern look that feels similar to the iPad Pro and Apple’s latest iPhones, it’s powerful enough for gaming, productivity, and basic tasks, and it’s incredibly lightweight. The Pro, on the other hand, comes with a few extra features that could be useful for specific circumstances and workflows, but aren’t necessary for most people.
Here’s a closer look at how the two compare.
Apple iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Which is best?
The iPad Air’s more affordable price and powerful chip that matches the one in Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup make it a great choice for anyone looking for a tablet that serves well for both work and play.
You’re not missing out on much by opting for the Air instead of the Pro. The most important factor in deciding between the two – other than the option for a larger 12.9-inch screen – comes down to the processor and camera. The A12Z Bionic chip in the iPad Pro should be better-suited for graphics performance compared to the Air, which could make it a superior choice for video and photo editors.
The iPad Pro also has a dual-lens camera with an ultra-wide-angle camera unlike the iPad Air, and since it has Face ID it can also capture Portrait Mode selfies unlike the Air. Other iPad Pro features that are missing from the iPad Air include a display that can increase its refresh rate for smoother scrolling, more storage space, and a LiDAR sensor for measuring depth.
But, the iPad Air has a lot of the other benefits that were previously only available on the Pro, such as a nearly borderless screen, USB-C charging, and compatibility with Apple accessories like the Magic Keyboard, Smart Folio Keyboard Case, and second-generation Apple Pencil.
Apple iPad Air vs. iPad Pro Specifications
iPad Air (2020)
iPad Pro (2020)
11 inches or 12.9 inches
2360 x 1640, 264 pixels per inch
2388 x 1668 , 264 pixels per inch (11-inch) or 2732 x 2048, 264 pixels per inch (12.9-inch)
12-MP wide lens
12-MP wide lens, 10-MP ultra-wide lens
128GB, 256GB, 512GB,1TB
Sensors and biometrics
Face ID, LiDAR
10 hours on Wi-Fi
10 hours on Wi-Fi
Silver, space gray, rose gold, green, sky blue
Silver or space gray
Design and display
If it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded your iPad, the look and feel of both the iPad Air and iPad Pro will feel new and fresh.
Both tablets have Apple’s more modern design that features a display that nearly covers the entire front of the tablet and flat aluminum edges, distinguishing them from the standard iPad and iPad Mini. Those tablets, comparatively, have the familiar Touch ID home button, curved edges, and thicker borders located above and below the display.
Both the Air and Pro have a sleek and sharp look that’s not only more aesthetically pleasing, but is also more comfortable to hold. The iPad Air and Pro each have their advantages when it comes to choice. The iPad Pro, for example, is available in two different sizes – 11 inches and 12.9-inches – while the Air only comes in one 10.9-inch option. That bigger 12.9-inch model starts at $1,000.
But, the Air comes in more color options, with choices including silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and blue, while the Pro is only available in silver and space gray. The iPad Air also has Touch ID integrated into the top button, unlike the iPad Pro which instead has Face ID. That could factor into your decision depending on your preference.
When it comes to their displays, both tablets have screens that pack 264 pixels per inch and are capable of offering a crisp and colorful viewing experience. When viewing them side-by-side, both screens look almost identical, displaying bold color and sharp detail. The only somewhat noticeable difference is that the iPad Pro’s screen is slightly brighter at 600 nits compared to the iPad Air’s 500-nit display.
They also both have Apple’s TrueTone feature, which adjusts the display’s color to match surrounding lighting conditions, and support for P3 Wide Color. But, the iPad Pro has ProMotion technology, which can boost the screen’s refresh rate up to 120Hz depending on the content being displayed. This could be useful for artists who plan to do a lot of sketching with the Apple Pencil on their iPad, but I didn’t experience much of a difference when drawing and coloring on both the iPad Air and iPad Pro.
All told, both tablets have slim, lightweight designs and screens that are plenty sharp enough for watching movies, viewing photos, reading, and working. But, the Pro’s screen is more fluid and comes in two different size options, while the Air offers more selection when it comes to color choices.
Apple’s iPad Pro and iPad Air both run on some of the company’s most powerful mobile chips. Driving the iPad Air is Apple’s A14 Bionic, the same processor found inside the iPhone 12 and the first one to be built on Apple’s 5-nanometer (nm) manufacturing process. That means the company was able to cram even more transistors into this chip for improved performance and battery life.
But, the iPad Pro’s A12Z chip has more cores when it comes to its central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), which should make it better at multitasking and graphically-intensive tasks like photo and video editing. The A12Z’s has an eight-core CPU and an eight-core GPU, while the iPad Air’s A14 Bionic has a six-core CPU and a four-core GPU.
Still, in most real-world scenarios, the differences in performance aren’t very noticeable. From sketching with the Apple Pencil to launching apps and playing games, the iPad Pro and iPad Air perform pretty much the same.
The Apple Pencil feels buttery smooth when drawing in Adobe Illustrator, and the first-person shooter “Shadowgun: Legends” runs seamlessly when set to the ultra-high graphics setting on either tablet. Editing photos and processing changes made to images in apps like FaceTune 2 and Adobe Lightroom is also a breeze on both the iPad Pro and iPad Air.
However, there are some differences in performance when exporting video clips, although it varies depending on the app being used. When exporting a 4K 25-second video clip to 1080p in Adobe Rush, the iPad Air is surprisingly, noticeably faster than the iPad Pro in every instance during my testing.
The iPad Air exported the clip in between 10 and 11 seconds, while the iPad Pro took between one and two minutes. But, when exporting a 25-second 4K video from iMovie, the iPad Pro beat the iPad Air by about 10 seconds every time.
When it comes to benchmark tests designed to simulate real-world app usage and graphics performance, the iPad Air and iPad Pro each excel in different areas. During Geekbench 5’s test that’s meant to assess the single-core performance of a device’s processor, the iPad Air’s A14 Bionic chip scored higher than the iPad Pro’s A12Z processor.
The iPad Air scored an average of 1,583 on this test while the iPad Pro scored 1,116. Yet the iPad Pro outscored the iPad Air during Geekbench’s test for measuring multi-core performance, which isn’t entirely surprising since the A12Z Bionic processor has more cores than the A14 Bionic. The iPad Pro had an average score of 4,676 during this test, while the iPad Air scored 4,257 on average.
The iPad Pro also scored higher than the Air on 3DMark Wild Life, a benchmark that measures graphics performance by rendering a demanding scene that simulates a video game in real time. Apple’s high-end tablet scored an average of 13,483 and reached 80 frames per second (fps), while the iPad Air scored an average of 8,895 and with a frame rate of 53 fps.
All told, the iPad Air’s performance is more than enough power for gaming, productivity, web browsing, and photo editing. But, the Pro should have a little bit of an edge when it comes to graphically demanding tasks, although it’s unclear why it performs more slowly than the Air in Adobe Rush.
Another characteristic that the iPad Pro and latest iPad Air share: they each work with Apple’s latest accessories. Both tablets are compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil, which launched in 2018 and charges and pairs by magnetically attaching to the iPad.
The previous version required that you plug the stylus into the iPad’s Lightning connector. Not only was that a less convenient design, but it also became obsolete for the iPad Pro and newest Air now that they use USB-C instead.
Apple’s newest iPad Air and iPad Pro tablets also both work with the company’s Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio cases. The Magic Keyboard is Apple’s top-of-the-line keyboard that most closely resembles that of a laptop keyboard. It comes with tactile, comfortable keys and a trackpad, while the $179 Smart Folio Keyboard case is smaller with softer, shallower fabric-laden keys. Both keyboards are expensive, but the Magic Keyboard is especially pricey starting at $300.
Cameras and battery life
There are many similarities between the new iPad Air and iPad Pro, but one of the biggest ways in which they differ is in their cameras. The iPad Pro is the only Apple tablet to come with two cameras: a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens. That means you can take images with a broader field of view on the iPad Pro in addition to standard photos just like you can with the iPhone 12.
The iPad Pro also has a brighter flash than the iPad Air, which only has a single 12-megapixel wide angle camera. And since the iPad Pro supports Face ID, you can take selfies in Portrait Mode using the front-facing camera, another feature that’s missing from the iPad Air.
The iPad Pro was also the first Apple device to come with a LiDAR sensor, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging. This sensor enables the iPad to measure the distance between objects by detecting how long it takes for light to reach an object and reflect back. The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max also have this LiDAR sensor, but on the iPad Pro Apple is pushing this sensor as being ideal for augmented reality applications.
These types of apps also run just fine on the iPad Air, but the iPad Pro is noticeably faster in certain scenarios. For example, when using Apple’s digital tape measure app to determine the length and width of furniture in my living room, the iPad Pro can automatically detect and focus on surfaces much more quickly than the iPad Air.
The LiDAR sensor is a nice perk that will probably make the iPad Pro more useful for those with occupations that call for taking a lot of real-world measurements – perhaps architects, interior designers, and artists – but it shouldn’t be the only reason you’re considering buying the iPad Pro.
Both tablets are also estimated to last for 10 hours when browsing the web and watching video on Wi-Fi, which I found to be generally accurate during my anecdotal testing.
The bottom line
Overall, the iPad Air is a better choice for those interested in a tablet for entertainment, general usage like browsing the web and checking email, and some light productivity. It has the same thin and sleek design as the iPad Pro, a sharp screen, powerful performance, and is compatible with the same accessories as the Pro. Not to mention, it also charges via USB-C instead of Lightning like the iPad Pro, so you can use your non-iPhone chargers with it.
The iPad Pro is only worth it if you intend to use it in a specific way that calls for a larger screen, a dual camera, and a LiDAR sensor, perhaps making it better-suited for artists, graphic designers, and others working in creative fields.
If you do feel like the iPad Pro is a better fit, don’t buy one just yet. Apple is expected to announce two new iPad Pros at an event on April 20 with improved processors similar to the M1 chip in the latest MacBook laptops, according to Bloomberg. That processor brought big gains in performance and battery life to Apple’s laptops, and the 12.9-inch model is also said to come with a better micro-LED screen for enhanced contrast. Even if you don’t need the newest model, you might be able to find the current iPad Pro at a discount once the updated versions debut.
If it came with your Galaxy device, you won’t need to connect it, but there are still a few steps needed to use it. And the newer your device, the more features you’ll have access to with the S Pen.
How to use S Pen on Samsung Galaxy
You can start using the S Pen by pressing on the end of it to release it from your Galaxy device. Your Galaxy will vibrate to let you know that it recognizes you’ve released it.
Your S Pen should start working immediately. If it doesn’t, hover the S Pen over the screen and quickly double-press the button in the middle of the stylus.
Ways to use the S Pen
You can use the S Pen to do anything that you could normally do with your finger. And depending on the Galaxy Note or Tab model you have, you may be able to use some or all of the following useful features. Test them all out and see which ones you like.
Take notes on the lock screen. Simply take out your S Pen and write on the locked screen.
Customize the pen button. Press and hold the pen button. Go into your settings’ advanced features section for the S Pen and select “S Pen remote” or “Air actions.” Then tap “Hold down Pen button to” and select the desired option.
Annotate a PDF. Open the desired PDF file in the Samsung Notes app and write your notes on it with the S Pen as you read.
Automatically change your handwriting to text. Turn on your S Pen and open the Samsung Notes app. Create your handwritten note and hit save, then tap the handwriting-to-text icon in the lower toolbar.
Turn your stylus into a remote. Go into your settings, then select “Advanced Features,” and then “S Pen,” followed by “Air Actions.” Then tap the toggle to turn on the “S Pen remote” option.
Remotely take photos and videos. Follow the steps above to use the stylus as a remote. Then, when you have the camera open and ready, simply tap the end of the stylus once to take a photo or begin a video. Tapping twice will switch between the front and rear cameras. This works when the stylus is less than 10 meters away from the device.
Control your music and other media with the S Pen. Once you’ve set up your S Pen as a remote, you’ll also have the ability to start and stop your media by tapping the end of the stylus while watching a video or listening to music.
Customize air actions. Swipe down on your device, and on the notification panel, select “S Pen air actions.” Under “App actions,” select the app you want to customize. Tap the item you want to customize and select either “Pen button” or “Gestures.”
Use direct pen input. This is turned on by default and allows you to write in text boxes, like in the Messages, Internet, or Phone app, and also converts your handwriting to text.
Advance through a slide deck. Open a presentation on your phone, then pull down your notification menu and choose to use your phone as a touchpad. Go into presentation mode and click your pen once to go to the next slide, or twice to go back a slide.