The iPad Pro is a weird beast; neither fish nor fowl, as the cliche goes. It's as big in terms of footprint as a 13" Ultrabook (say Apple's own MacBook Air), and the price with accessories exceeds that of the 13" Air. It's Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, minus the pro OS. This is an iPad, so it runs iOS rather than Mac OSX, which can be severely limiting or liberating, depending on your preferences. The upside is that this 12.9", $799 to $1,079 tablet is instant-on and pretty hard to fatally screw up by your own hand or via malware (iOS viruses and malware are very rare). For IT folks, it's heavenly because it's user-proof. On the other hand, a device this size and at this price should do more than run mobile apps, at least if you're looking for a true laptop replacement.
When Dell launched their dramatically redesigned XPS 13 in January 2015, the laptop-loving world went crazy (in a good way). It was smaller and lighter than other 13.3" laptops on the market yet it made no concessions to build quality, performance and materials. Of course, we couldn't wait for Dell to remake the XPS 15 in the new XPS 13's image, and now it's finally here. The Dell XPS 15 9550 has Dell's Infinity display-- there's nearly no display bezel, the glass reaches to the very edges. Dell claims this is the smallest 15" laptop in the world, and it's the size of a 14" model. That's even more impressive since the XPS 15 is as ever a powerhouse portable in the mobile workstation category--it has a quad core i7 CPU, dedicated NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics, two RAM slots and a 15.6" display. In short, the new Dell XPS 15 has earned our Editor's Choice award.
Microsoft's first laptop is also a tablet, and it's not quite like anything else on the market. The 13.5" Surface Book is chic, innovative and also very expensive with a starting price of $1,499 and $1,899 if you add that enticing dedicated graphics option. For your money you get a lovely magnesium alloy casing, fit and finish that rival any MacBook Pro model and a truly captivating 3000 x 2000 pixel display with touch and pen support. Surface Book has specs similar to the Surface Pro 4 we recently reviewed, and that means Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual core 6th generation Skylake CPUs, 8 or 16 gigs of RAM and NVMe SSD drives. The unique optional NVIDIA custom GPU lives in the keyboard base rather than in the tablet section. There's plenty to cover, so do check out our detailed written and video review.
Lenovo started the 360 degree hinge craze with their Yoga laptops. They’re up to the fourth generation of their consumer model with the Yoga 900 that replaces the Yoga 3 Pro. The Lenovo Yoga 900 runs on the new Intel 6th generation Skylake platform, and its packing some power thanks to a Core i7 CPU. It has the same impressively thin and light design as the Yoga 3 Pro, though it’s gained a little bit of weight. That’s OK, 2.8 lbs. is still darned light for a Windows 10 convertible with full laptop amenities pus tent, tablet and presentation modes. The Yoga 900 has a 13.3” QHD touch screen, SSD drives and your choice of 8 or 16 gigs of RAM. Currently the 2.5 GHz Core i7-6500U is your only option, with RAM and SSD being the configurable options. It starts at $1,199 with 8 gigs of RAM and a 256 gig SSD.
High end Bluetooth stereo headphones haven't exactly sounded very high end. Wireless introduces compression and the ensueing loss of highs and lows. Master & Dynamic's new MW60 headphones don't come cheap, but they sound better than any Bluetooth cans we've listened too-- in fact, they're some of the best among wired we've tested too. And for those who want to go wired when possible for the best possible audio quality, they have a 3.5mm jack that handles stereo in and voice out.
The more affordable of the 2015 Google Nexus phones is no slouch: it has a 5.2" full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS display, a very capable 12.3MP rear camera (the same as found on the Nexus 6P), a front 5MP camera, dual band WiFi 801.ac with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS with GLONASS and a 2,700 mAh battery. It's slim and light and it has more 4G LTE bands than you can list in one breath. It runs the new Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS on the capable Snapdragon 808 CPU. Better yet, the price starts at $379 and it's unlocked for use with any carrier, including CDMA carriers like Sprint and Verizon. Of course, AT&T and T-Mobile work too.
They're so different, yet they're after the same market. The iPad Pro is a huge iOS tablet that Apple believes can replace your laptop with the optional keyboard. Throw in the new Apple Pencil and it's clear that Apple is jabbing at Microsoft's Surface products. The Surface Pro 4 is a mature tablet that can replace your laptop and even work as your main computer. It runs Windows 10 and can do everything you'd expect from a PC. How do they compare? Watch our video to find out!
Surface Pro 4 is undeniably Microsoft's best Surface tablet yet that can replace your laptop. It's faster, the screen is a third of an inch bigger and it runs at a higher resolution. Windows 10 brings further improved display scaling and (finally!) Adobe CC programs play nicely with these high resolution beauties. Pricing remains the same as with the Surface Pro 3 line, and that means you can grab the base model Core m3 for $899. The Core i5 starts at $999, and a Core i7 is coming. Standard features include Intel 6th generation Skylake CPUs with integrated graphics, WiFi 802.1ac, Bluetooth 4.0, a front 5MP camera and a rear 8MP camera. A digital pen is included, and it now has an eraser and more pressure levels, but that lovely new Surface Pro 4 Type Cover will set you back an additional $129.
The HTC One A9 is HTC's "more affordable" but still stylish Android smartphone. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the iPhone 6s, but once you get past that, you'll admire the quality aluminum casing and slim design. The One A9 is available unlocked and via carriers, and it has a 5" 1080p AMOLED display, 32 gigs of internal storage and a microSD card slot. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense software on the Snapdragon 617 midrange CPU. The rear 13MP camera is a great improvement for HTC and it takes pleasing photos.
Who doesn't like a relatively affordable laptop with good specs for the price. Better yet, one that's available in three different sizes: 14, 15.6 and 17.3 inch. That's the Acer Aspire E5 laptop. There are a variety of configurations selling for $350 up to $700, and our 15.6" model nets you a hearty enough machine with NVIDIA dedicted graphics for $649 list (you'll find it for less though). It's is a well-equipped all-rounder with a 1920 x 1080 non-touch matte display, 8 gigs of RAM, a 1 TB HDD and NVIDIA GeForce 940M 2GB graphics. It has enough power to play a variety of current games on low or medium settings.
The Yoga Tab 3 is Lenovo's latest affordable Android tablet line that's available in 8 and 10 inch sizes. They feature Lenovo's Yoga hinge design for tablets: it's a barrel hinge with an integrated metal kickstand and room for a beefy battery. The design is sleek and the 180 degree swiveling 8MP camera is both your front and back (along with any other angle you devise) shooter. This is an affordable tablet, and we look at the 8" model that sells for $169. That nets you a pleasing and sharp looking IPS display, 16 gigs of storage plus a microSD card slot and a low end Snapdragon CPU.
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