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Best Overall: Microsoft Surface Pro 6 at Amazon
"One of the first 2-in-1s with a quad-core processor."
Best Bundle: Microsoft Surface Go at Amazon
"Shines for everyday usage and media consumption."
Best for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet at Amazon
"A nice little bundle for anyone taking their first steps into the Surface world."
Best for Gaming: Microsoft Surface Book 2 at Amazon
"Perfect for artists, designers, architects, or any professions that call for drawing, signing, or note-taking."
Best 12-Inch: Samsung Galaxy Book2 at Samsung
"Provides a boost to colors, contrast, and brightness."
Best 8-Inch: NuVision 8-Inch Touchscreen Tablet at Amazon
"It may surprise with the quality of its design and components."
Best for Drawing: Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 at Amazon
"A Windows 10 tablet with serious performance and a serious price tag."
The best Windows tablets allow you to simplify (or optimize) your life. Maintain an uninterrupted workflow when you travel, get some work done on the train, or break up your commute with some games, films, or Netflix. Unlike many of the best tablets overall, Windows tablets will integrate almost seamlessly with your home PC or laptop. In many cases, the picks on our list can completely supplant a laptop, in fact, and become your primary productivity machine, either at home or at the office.
So beyond that shared compatibility with the best Windows laptops, what are the critical features of a Windows tablet? The best are slim, sleek, and portable, and sport sharp, high-res screens appropriate for everything from art to word processing. They also pack handy accessories, often included, like a detachable keyboard or stylus, and are well specced enough to keep up with your most demanding productivity needs on the go.
Courtesy of Amazon
Bright, gorgeous screen
Excellent battery life
The Surface Pro line has long led the way in the 2-in-1 detachable computer market, and it keeps up the quality with its latest model. Besides adding a “6” to the previous unnumbered version, the changes are slight but significant. The tablet still has a gorgeous, bright 12.3-inch screen with an unconventional 2736 x 1824-pixel resolution. It’s the processor that sees a key upgrade, bumping up to Intel’s 8th-generation CPU (with options for the Core i5 or i7) and making the Surface Pro 6 one of the first 2-in-1s with a quad-core processor. This gives it better speed and performance than ever before, along with excellent, travel-friendly battery life listed at 13.5 hours.
The other change is aesthetic, but potentially a game-changer for some—you can now get it in black in addition to the traditional platinum.
The Type Cover accessory is still a separate purchase, which is unfortunate since its backlit keyboard is one of the best and most comfortable around. It’s almost essential to the full Surface Pro experience. The tablet attaches and detaches from it with satisfying smoothness, while the often-imitated kickstand behind the device props it up at a 165-degree range of angles. With the very useful Surface Pen sold separately too, adding accessories to an already premium-priced tablet definitely adds up, especially if you spring for upgraded hardware options (up to 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage). If you don’t mind the cost, you can rest assured you’re paying for excellence.
Great total package
Sleek and portable
Awesome SSD storage
Smaller display than the Pro
On its own, the Surface Go is an extremely portable 10-inch, 1.15-pound tablet with a fairly reasonable base price compared to its bigger Surface family members. It’s the adorable baby brother to the Surface Pro, sharing a similar attractive design and sharp PixelSense display, but with a slower Intel Pentium Gold processor. It can handle day-to-day Web browsing, video streaming, and casual gaming, but don’t expect to push it much more.
To make the most of the Surface Go as a 2-in-1 tablet–laptop, you’re best off with its top-end hardware configuration that’s included in this bundle: 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. You’ll also find yourself missing out on a lot of productivity unless you have a Type Cover keyboard to attach the tablet to. The Surface Go’s reduced-size keyboard has some smaller keys and is a little harder to keep on your lap, but typing on it is still a very pleasant experience. This bundle includes the Signature Type Cover, sporting an “Alcantara” material in a color to match the other accessories. One of those other items is a Surface Pen for natural and responsive drawing and note-taking on the screen. The last accessory, a Surface Mobile Mouse, may be the least essential element given the stylus and touchscreen input options, but it rounds out a nice little bundle for anyone taking their first steps into the Surface world.
Amazing "3K" display
Durable Gorilla Glass screen
Shorter battery life
Lenovo’s 3rd-generation ThinkPad X1 Tablet is a very powerful 2-in-1 detachable geared toward professional use but with a lot of overall versatility. The top-end configuration runs Windows 10 Pro on a 1.9-GHz 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16 GB of RAM, with up to 1 TB of SSD storage space.
Those are fine specs for a laptop, and you can spend a lot of time typing on the large included keyboard with the tablet resting back on its kickstand. But detach the 2-pound tablet and you can carry around a vibrant 13-inch in-plane switching (IPS) display with “3K” resolution at 3000 x 2000 pixels. It’s designed and tested to be durable, built with Gorilla Glass in the screen and sturdy weather-resistant materials all around. The tablet also comes with a ThinkPad Pen Pro stylus that clips to the side. It’s perfect for artists, designers, architects, or any professions that call for drawing, signing, or note-taking. Battery life a bit on the short side, hurting its portability, but the inclusion of two USB-C ports supporting Thunderbolt 3 is a fairly rare and forward-thinking feature for a tablet.
Up to a big 15-inch screen
Great dedicated GPU
GPU doesn't function in detached mode
Gaming on a tablet can be very limited unless your device has the hardware to handle it. Microsoft’s premium Surface Book 2-in-1 detachable definitely packs enough power, but at the expense of being more of a heavy-duty laptop than an easily toted tablet. You can choose between a 13.5-inch 3000 x 2000-pixel screen or a 15-inch 3240 x 2160-pixel screen. The larger version weighs 4.2 pounds all together, with a 1.8-pound tablet if you detach it from the keyboard with a press of a button. Thanks to an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU with 16 GB of RAM, you’ll be holding a device capable of serious performance.
When detached, though, you won’t benefit from a key piece of gaming hardware the Surface Book 2 includes: a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 discrete graphics card. This lets it take on HD gaming as smoothly as many gaming laptops. And, because it runs on Windows 10, you can play any full PC game rather than be limited to Android or iOS titles like you would with other mobile devices.
Even if you’re not playing games, the Surface Book 2 is a powerful tool for a variety of purposes. It serves as an excellent drawing table and can handle professional graphics work, including Photoshop and video editing. It just happens to also be a tablet with 17-hour battery life that you can pop out and carry around.
Courtesy of Samsung
Amazing Super AMOLED display
Spectacular battery life
Instant-start, always-on performance
Since they often serve laptop functions at least part-time, Windows tablets can run fairly large, with 12 inches being a common screen size. Samsung uses that size for its latest Galaxy Book detachable 2-in-1, coming close to the same dimensions as the Surface Pro. It also looks similar to it design-wise, including the folding kickstand behind the tablet. But the Galaxy Book2’s screen gets the benefit of Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology, which provides a boost to colors, contrast, and brightness. Along with the generous 2160 x 1440-pixel resolution, it’s a nice use of the 12-inch display size, even if the bezels framing the panel may be too thick for some tastes.
Another priority for the Galaxy Book2 is battery life, with a 6120-mAh capacity that can power the tablet for up to a whopping 20 hours. This is due in large part to the battery-friendly Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor, providing an instant-start, always-on, and—combined with the device’s speedy gigabit-class LTE connection—always-connected experience. The trade-off is in performance. You may run into some app compatibility issues and sluggishness if you try to push beyond what the CPU and paltry 4-GB memory can handle. But you can still do a lot for long stretches of time with this portable, fine-looking machine, and it helps that it comes with a full-size keyboard, S Pen stylus, and two USB-C ports.
Great for browsing and email
Ten points of touch
Lackluster performance vs. full size tablets
While eight-inch screens can be common for smaller Android tablets, you won’t find as many Windows tablets at the size today. Filling that space between tablet and smartphone size is NuVision’s very affordable Windows 10 device. It may surprise with the quality of its design and components, including an IPS screen that supports full HD 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution with 10 points of touch. Further emphasizing the Windows integration is a dedicated Windows button below the display that takes you straight to the Start screen or wakes the device up if it’s in sleep mode.
The small size puts some restraints on performance, though, and the NuVision tablet uses Intel’s lower-end 1.33-GHz Atom processor and 2 GB of RAM. It can handle your e-mail, Web browsing, movie viewing, and basic apps just fine, as long as you’re not trying to do too much at once. Using Microsoft Office may not be worthwhile given the size and hardware, but it’s at least nice to have Windows flexibility on a lost-cost tablet.
Built for professional artists and designers
Amazing 4K resolution
Digital tablets for drawing have been around a long time, and Wacom is no stranger to the field. The MobileStudio Pro is the company’s mobile pen computer for professional artists and designers, a Windows 10 tablet with serious performance and a serious price tag. It comes in 13-inch and 16-inch versions, with 3840 x 2160-pixel 4K resolution on the 16-inch screen. Any variety will cover all your on-the-go graphics needs, but the top-end model boasts an impressive 3.3-GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, 16 GB RAM, and a 512 GB SSD. That model also includes a Nvidia Quadro graphics chip to handles both 2D and 3D work, along with a RealSense 3D-scanning camera.
Of course, a drawing tablet is nothing without the drawing instrument itself, and the MobileStudio Pro comes with Wacom’s deluxe Pro Pen 2. It supports tilt, multitouch, and an astronomical 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. As you’d expect, it’s accurate, responsive, and feels great against the tablet’s screen. There is also a customizable touch ring and eight shortcut buttons to the side of the display, and the whole thing is flippable for the convenience of right- or left-handed users. A fully adjustable stand is sold separately, but it may be worthwhile for anyone already investing in the tablet as their professional creative studio.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is in many ways the perfect Windows tablet, delivering great performance in a gorgeous, portable form factor, with a beautiful display. But if you want a complete bundle that comes with some amazing extras, the Surface Go package we highlighted is an incredible starter kit.
Anton Galang has been writing about tech since 2007, specializing in Windows products and PC hardware and accessories. In his over 12 years covering the industry, he's written for a number of top tech media publications.
Display - The most crucial component of any tablet is the screen, and a number of factors come into play when determining a display's quality. Probably the most important is resolution, the number of pixels that make up an image, with a higher density meaning crisper, sharper images. But bear in mind that higher resolutions won't matter as much on smaller tablets, so 1080p may look as sharp on an 8-inch model as "3K" does on a 15-inch tablet.
Performance - There are few things more irritating when you're using a tablet on the go than an interminable wait for web pages to load or applications to start. Like laptops, Windows tablets are dependent largely on CPU in most use cases, though if you intend to game a lot on your tablet, GPU is also critical. In terms of load and boot times, getting and SSD rather than a traditional hardware can be crucial.
Size - The advantages of a larger display are obvious, but you should bear in mind that one of the best features of a tablet (as compared to a full size laptop) is how portable and easy to carry around it is. If you're looking for a full-fledged productivity machine, maybe you do need a 15-inch screen, but for the hybrid role tablets were initially designed to fill, an 8-inch screen can actually be a boon.