TABLET computers have come a long way in a short time. No longer just a panel, the newest generation can float on water, or flip over to become a laptop.
Sony Xperia Tablet Compact
Sony / 4.5/5 / $499 / sony.com.au
This tablet is so thin and light, it doesn’t feel quite real. The thinnest Sony tablet yet has a profile of 6.4mm, and weighs 270g, making it feel more like a smartphone than a slate. Despite its size, it packs in cutting-edge features, including a 2.5GHz quad-core chip, 3GB RAM, an 8.1-megapixel rear camera, a battery with 13 hours of life, and a water-resistant exterior in case you want to take it poolside. Users will likely want to add a memory card to boost its 16GB memory, and its screen is not as sharp as some, but this tablet is more portable and useful than most.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Lenovo / 4/5 $2099 / lenovo.com/au
This machine is as versatile as it is sexy — and at just 12.88mm thick it is very sexy. Like previous Yoga models, it has a hinge that lets you fold its lid over so the 299 pixels-per-inch, 20-point multitouch screen becomes a 13.3-inch tablet with hidden keyboard. It’s powered by the Intel Core M chip and despite being slim, it has a full range of ports including a 4-in-1 memory card reader. Where it falls short is battery life, which is not much more than half of what you can expect of similar units on the market.
HP Pavilion x2
HP / 4/5 / $499 / hp.com/au
This 10.1-inch, 610g tablet slots into a detachable cover that is a thin but functional keyboard, making it a highly productive package. With elements of both a Microsoft Surface and an Apple iPad, the HP Pavilion x2 runs Windows 8 and has both USB 3.0 and HDMI ports. It doesn’t have the power of the Surface or the simplicity of the iPad and the keyboard lacks a reassuringly solid feel, but this unit it offers another interesting solution in the hybrid zone where tablets and laptops come together.
ASUS Transformer Book Flip
ASUS / 3/5 / $1247 / asus.com.au
Versatility is a good thing but this hybrid 15-inch laptop with screen that flips into tablet mode might make you question how often you’ll use a 2kg tablet. As a tablet, it’s big and bulky. As a laptop, it’s a sturdy unit with a well-spaced keyboard, powered by an Intel Core i7 chip and with 8GB RAM. An aesthetic complaint is that while the brushed-metal black lid is attractive it also shows all fingerprint marks. The unit’s ports include one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0 and a HDMI. Where the machine disappoints is in screen resolution and brightness.
LG G Pad 10.1
LG / 3.5/5 / $399 / lg.com.au
In a sea of Android tablets, LG’s G Pad seeks to stand out with a distinctive red or black rear panel that feels like rubber while looking like brushed metal. Running Android KitKat with a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, it has 16GB on-board storage plus a Micro SD port. Its build quality sits above budget offerings, with a decent 8000mAh battery, NFC and a usable 5-megapixel rear camera, but it falls down on its display, with a 150 pixels-per-inch touchscreen that can’t match high-end tablets from the likes of Apple and Samsung.