Living

Review: 4 tablets so good you don’t need a stylus, but they have one anyway

HP’s slim, attractive Spectre x2 follows the road not taken by Microsoft’s Surface Pro, using lower-power processors to keep the price down, as well as packing in the must-have keyboard cover.
HP’s slim, attractive Spectre x2 follows the road not taken by Microsoft’s Surface Pro, using lower-power processors to keep the price down, as well as packing in the must-have keyboard cover. Courtesy photo

Some people just prefer the handiness of a stylus; maybe you’re an artist who draws online comics, a writer who depends on hand-written notes or a germophobe who doesn’t want to smudge the screen too much. Here you’ll find a list of Windows, Android and iOS tablets that might suit your needs. Just note that some styluses, like most accessories, are sold separately.

iPad Pro 9.7-inch

CNET rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 (Outstanding)

The good: The new iPad Pro delivers a fast processor; a bright, antireflective display; support for Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories; better, louder speakers and top-notch cameras, in the same exact body as the iPad Air 2.

The bad: A higher price, plus expensive accessories. Less RAM and a slightly slower processor than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. iOS still limits overall flexibility of this iPad.

The cost: $599.00

The bottom line: It’s still not a full-fledged laptop killer, but the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the best iPad ever made – a near-perfect balance of tablet power and portability.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The Surface Pro 4 fits a larger screen with a higher resolution into a slightly slimmer body than last year’s model. The pen and keyboard cover are also improved, and this is one of the first mobile systems shipping with Intel’s latest processors.

The bad: Microsoft still refuses to include the Type Cover keyboard by default, forcing a separate purchase. Battery life still isn’t enough for a full day.

The cost: $859.99 to $899.00

The bottom line: A host of small refinements cements the Surface Pro 4’s position as the best-in-class Windows tablet – so long as you’re prepared to pay extra for the required keyboard cover accessory.

iPad Pro (12.9-inch)

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The new iPad Pro is the biggest and fastest Apple tablet to date. The pressure-sensitive Pencil stylus offers superior sketching and drawing, and the Pro’s gorgeous giant screen and quad speakers are ideal for split-screen apps, multitasking and watching movies.

The bad: At launch, very few apps are currently optimized to take advantage of the iPad Pro’s full potential. Its large size makes it less portable than other iPads. Once you’ve paid for the Pencil and keyboard peripherals, the iPad Pro costs as much as a good laptop, but lacks its flexibility.

The cost: $699.99 (refurbished) to $799.00

The bottom line: The iPad Pro is a dream machine for graphic designers and media mavens, but this elegant tablet needs more optimized apps and accessories before it can fully achieve laptop-killer status.

HP Spectre x2

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The HP Spectre x2 has a slim but sturdy design and a stiffer keyboard than Microsoft’s similar Surface Pro, plus the keyboard cover is included in the base price. A mobile broadband antenna allows for easy on-the-go data.

The bad: The kickstand is hard to operate, the processors are slower than many other premium hybrids, and battery life is merely OK.

The cost: $799.99

The bottom line: HP’s slim, attractive Spectre x2 follows the road not taken by Microsoft’s Surface Pro, using lower-power processors to keep the price down, as well as packing in the must-have keyboard cover.

Contributing CNET staff: Dan Ackerman, Xiomara Blanco, Scott Stein and Laura K. Cucullu

  Comments