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29
Mar

NBC will finally air all of the Olympics live, across time zones


Today NBC announced that for the 2018 Winter Olympics, it will finally back off of its hated policy of tape delaying significant portions of the games. In 2016, it streamed much of the competition live, but segments like the Opening Ceremony and each day’s prime time programming got the tape delay treatment on TV. In a world connected in real time by phones, Facebook and Twitter, splitting up viewers makes less sense than ever, and NBC is finally acknowledging that instead of just pointing to the ratings or encouraging that viewers “move back east.”

Ratings for the 2016 Olympics dropped 18 percent from the 2012 London games, and going live everywhere could help turn that around. With the 2018 event occurring in PyeongChang, South Korea, big events that are scheduled to take place in the morning there will happen during the prime time window on the East Coast of the US. Rather than forcing viewers to jump on the internet to watch events live, going all live on TV could boost those ratings back up in the place where advertisers are paying the most money.

NBC will kick off its evening lineup simultaneously at 8PM ET, 7PM CT, 6PM MT, and 5PM PT, with a break for local news and then the “Primetime Plus” package in all areas. The network has already signed up for Olympics broadcasts rights through 2032, however, exec Jim Bell would only tell the LA Times that it is “likely” to continue the all-live broadcasts for Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022.

Source: NBC

29
Mar

PGA will test shot distance trackers on three tours


Not surprisingly, the PGA has been hesitant to let golfers use distance trackers on the course. In theory, they take all the challenge out of picking the right club. The association isn’t stuck in its ways, however. Officials have announced that they’ll let players test distance measuring devices at certain tournaments on the Web.com Tour, the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamérica. Competitors won’t be allowed to gauge elevation, slope or wind, but this could still help them take more informed swings.

The first tourney to allow trackers is the Essential Costa Rica Classic, which kicks off April 20th. It’s important to note that the PGA isn’t nearly so cautious about tracking for the sake of fans, by the way — the PGA has served distance info to viewers for a while.

It will take a while before you know whether or not these gadgets become mainstays. Once the relevant tours wrap up in July, the PGA’s Player Advisory Council will examine the data to see how the trackers influence play. And it could be a complicated decision. The PGA may not mind helping players out and speeding things up, but it also doesn’t want to risk removing so much of the challenge that tournaments become boring.

Source: PGA Tour

29
Mar

Install Creators Update early using an unreleased Upgrade Assistant tool, ISOs


Why it matters to you

Windows 10 customers, especially PC gamers, eager to get their hands on Creators Update early have two options available.

Digital Trends can confirm that Windows 10 users eager to get their hands on Creators Update early can do so using either of two methods: A new unreleased version of the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant tool or an ISO file for creating bootable media. Microsoft has yet to reveal the official release date of Creators Update but based on these two “unofficial official” methods, Microsoft is definitely on track for an April launch.

Here is how you can get Creators Update right now:

Upgrade Assistant:
An unreleased version of Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant (1703) can be downloaded using this link. Note that at the time we published this article, the new Upgrade Assistant executable isn’t the same executable currently distributed on Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 page located here.
—————
ISO File:
Two ISO files appeared on Microsoft’s servers. These are actually Windows Insider preview builds that will be released as the final mainstream Creators Update build next month.Windows10_InsiderPreview_Client_x64_en-us_15063.isoWindows10_InsiderPreview_Client_x32_en-us_15063.iso

We used the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant tool, which unlike the one offered through the Download Windows 10 page, acknowledged that an update was indeed available and went through the process of downloading and installing Creators Update on Windows 10 Pro. A quick check of the Settings app confirmed that we successfully installed Windows 10 Pro version 1703 (aka build 15063.0).

Of course, that is the easy way of getting Creators Update early. Using an ISO file means users can perform a clean install using a bootable USB-based storage device. To create the media, first download the ISO file to the computer, and then install a program called Rufus. Simply point the program to the location of the ISO file and it will create a bootable Windows 10 Creators Update drive to update or freshly install the operating system.

More: Windows 10 Creators Update bringing real changes to updates and privacy

Of course, given that Microsoft has yet to distribute Creators Update through the official mainstream channel, users are taking a slight risk in upgrading to Creators Update. Hardware manufacturers have yet to release compatible drivers, and OEMs are in the same boat with laptops and other “closed hardware environment” devices. However, for those who just can’t wait another few weeks, create a restore point before taking the Creators Update plunge.

Don’t know how to do that? The quick route is to type “restore” in Cortana’s search field and click on the “Create a restore point” option provided at the top of the list. This feature may not be made active until users click the “Configure” button and make sure “Turn off system protection” is enabled. After that, the “Create” button should be ready to use.

Microsoft is betting big with Creators Update. The huge deal is the addition of Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform enabling the native use of virtual reality/augmented reality headsets like Hololens. Microsoft is also addressing PC gamers with the new Gaming section in the Settings app. This area provides full control over the Game bar, Game DVR, and broadcasting features. There is also a new Game Mode for boosting the PC’s performance.

29
Mar

Switch to Windows 10 dark mode in seconds with our guide


Do you wish that Windows 10 was a little more… black? The built-in dark mode literally turns your windows black, changes the text and icons to lighter colors, and makes everything appear more shadowy. If you prefer to work with darker tones, or simply like the contrasting appearance afforded by dark mode, we’ll show you how to active the feature with a few simple step. Read on to find out how.

More: Latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build fixes Microsoft Edge bugs and others

Dark mode: Here’s the deal

In earlier builds, there was a rumor of a developer-only “dark mode” that turned all the Windows 10 colors to black and inverted the text. This dark setting wasn’t available in consumer builds of Windows, however, so users started looking for specific commands and coding to implement this hidden, ultra-black theme. This all changed with the Windows 10 Anniversary update, which added a method to switch to dark mode at will. The only thing this affects is the color of the operating system, specifically:

  • The windows you open default to a black background and white letters.
  • Your Start menu and taskbar will turn dark if you had them set to a different color previously (subject to change in color settings).
  • UWP — Universal Windows Platform — apps will usually recognize this setting and switch their various backgrounds to black.
  • It’s a bit harder to find your way around the edges of windows, though accent colors can help.
29
Mar

LiquidSky promises seamless PC game streaming with relaunched client


Why it matters to you

LiquidSky promises high-caliber gaming performance in exchange for viewing ads, making it an attractive prospect for PC gamers on a budget.

Gaming-focused cloud streaming service LiquidSky relaunched with support for hundreds of compatible PC games, promising high-quality, low-latency performance across Windows PCs, smartphones, and tablets.

Powered by remote PCs equipped with AMD Vega graphics cards, LiquidSky streams live gameplay via a cloud-based infrastructure, allowing gamers to experience modern PC games at speedy framerates without investing in pricy gaming rigs.

More: AMD’s upcoming Vega-based graphics cards will be called Radeon RX Vega

After signing up for LiquidSky, players import their existing PC game libraries and queue up into boarding groups for access to a fleet of virtual PCs. Once boarded, players pay by the hour for access to high-performance PC gaming hardware, allowing games to run at high resolutions with speedy framerates.

LiquidSky offers several performance packages based on the needs of individual users. Players who opt for the “Gamer” package can access the service free of charge for up to three hours a day by watching ads; each watched ad awards 40 “SkyCredits,” and up to 180 free credits can be earned daily.

Players can access the service’s Gamer performance package at a cost of 60 SkyCredits per hour, which grants control over a virtual PC with three vCPU cores, 8GB of RAM, and a 2GB GPU. The package promises framerates starting at 30 frames per second and supports resolutions up to 1080p.

More: AMD’s Vega graphics chip appears on CompuBench as its launch nears

LiquidSky’s “Pro” performance package bumps virtual PC specs up to six vCPU cores, 16GB of RAM, and a 4GB GPU. Hardcore gamers may also want to check out the “Elite” tier, which delivers 12 vCPU cores, 32GB of RAM, and an 8GB GPU. Access to Pro-level virtual PCs costs 120 SkyCredits per hour, while Elite packages charge 240 SkyCredits hourly.

In addition to earning SkyCredits by watching ads, LiquidSky users can purchase playtime via microtransactions, starting at $10 for 1,500 SkyCredits. Service sign-ups and client downloads are available free of charge.

29
Mar

Switch to Windows 10 dark mode in seconds with our guide


Do you wish that Windows 10 was a little more… black? The built-in dark mode literally turns your windows black, changes the text and icons to lighter colors, and makes everything appear more shadowy. If you prefer to work with darker tones, or simply like the contrasting appearance afforded by dark mode, we’ll show you how to active the feature with a few simple step. Read on to find out how.

More: Latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build fixes Microsoft Edge bugs and others

Dark mode: Here’s the deal

In earlier builds, there was a rumor of a developer-only “dark mode” that turned all the Windows 10 colors to black and inverted the text. This dark setting wasn’t available in consumer builds of Windows, however, so users started looking for specific commands and coding to implement this hidden, ultra-black theme. This all changed with the Windows 10 Anniversary update, which added a method to switch to dark mode at will. The only thing this affects is the color of the operating system, specifically:

  • The windows you open default to a black background and white letters.
  • Your Start menu and taskbar will turn dark if you had them set to a different color previously (subject to change in color settings).
  • UWP — Universal Windows Platform — apps will usually recognize this setting and switch their various backgrounds to black.
  • It’s a bit harder to find your way around the edges of windows, though accent colors can help.
29
Mar

Thermaltake’s View 28 is a gull-wing case with beautiful lighting


Why it matters to you

There is another option on the market offering easy access to components and attractive LED lighting options.

If you’re building your own PC, then one of the most basic decisions you will make is what case to pack everything into. While it may not be as exciting a choice as what motherboard, processor, and CPU to use, it is nevertheless sometimes the difference between a PC that works efficiently and one that struggles to perform.

Then there are other considerations when selecting a case, like how it looks and how easy it is to get into. Thermaltake has taken all of those things into consideration in the design of its new View 28 mid-tower case.

More: Brighten up your day – and gaming PC – with Thermaltake’s new RGB LED liquid cooler

The first thing you notice with the View 28 is the gull-wing side and top panel, which lifts out of the case and provides easy access to components through both the side and the top. It’s also largely see-through, with a large window that curves around the top to provide some nice viewing angles. The case is also completely tool-free for easy installation and configuration.

The aesthetic is enhanced by the including of the RGB Matrix LED lighting array on the front of the case that offers spectrum cycling, single color, and two breathing modes. The lighting system supports Thermaltake Riing Plus 12 RGB fans as well, with the ability to sync and control lighting through the same LED controller button on the front of the case.

More generally, the View 28 supports ATX motherboards and up to four dual-slot graphics cards that are horizontally mounted, along with two graphics cards mounted vertically with optional PCIe riser cables. The motherboard tray supports up four 2.5-inch drives and a separate tray can be used for two more 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drives.

The case can support an array of cooling options, including 360mm fans and radiators on the front of the case and 120mm fans and radiators around back. Clean cable management is enhanced via the integrated power supply shroud. Maximum tower CPU cooler support runs at 155mm.

Thermaltake hasn’t yet provided pricing or availability on the new View 28 in the U.S., but it’s available in Germany for 83 Euros and in the UK for 90 pounds. The company will also be offering a second version, the View 28 Ring Edition that includes one Riing RGB fan mounted in the rear of the chassis.

29
Mar

Close to the Metal Ep. 36: Whose Optane Memory is it anyway?


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Intel’s new Optane technology is finally making its way into consumer PCs, as promised, in the form of Intel Optane Memory, an M.2 drive that acts as a caching source for your existing hard drive. The chip manufacturer makes a lot of promises about performance, and which we haven’t had a change to test, but that won’t stop us from conjecturing based on what we know.

And what we know isn’t promising. Intel Optane Memory requires a Seventh Generation Intel Processor and newest generation motherboard with a Optane compatible M.2 slot, which you aren’t likely to find outside of expensive enthusiast boards. At $44 for the 16GB Optane Memory, you’re almost at the cost of a 120GB SSD, which would seem to most system builders to be a preferable option.

A better target for the Optane Memory are companies like Dell or HP. Everyday users looking to buy a system see 1TB drives, and it’s hard to convince them a smaller SSD is a better choice for responsiveness and load times. When they buy the computer with the slower drive, they’re inevitably disappointed by its performance. Optane allows those companies to sell the larger drive, hopefully exhausting their inventory of spinning disk drives, and still maintain solid performance with the caching power of Optane.

More: Intel’s Optane Memory hopes to give your aging hard disk a kick in the pants

So who is Intel Optane Memory really for? Will high-end gaming PCs forget about SSDs in favor of caching? Are OEMs interested in spending more on storage rather than jumping to increasingly speedy SSD technology? We’ll break down what we know, and what we think is down the road, for Intel Optane on this weeks’ episode of Close to the Metal.

Close to the Metal is a podcast from Digital Trends that takes a deep dive into computing and PC gaming topics. Each show, we’ll focus in on one topic, and leave no stone unturned as we show off the latest in hardware and software. Whether it’s the latest GPU, supercomputers, or which 2-in-1 you should buy,  we break down the complicated jargon and talk about how user experience is affected in the real world. Please subscribe, share, and send your questions to podcast@digitaltrends.com. We broadcast the show live on YouTube every Tuesday at 1pm EST/10am PST.”

29
Mar

The best tablets you can buy


dt-best-of-150_tablets-150x150.pngTablets may be fading in popularity, but there are still some great devices out there. If you’re in the market for a new tablet, then we’re here to help you cut down that short list and snag the right tablet for you.

More: Security fears prompt laptop and tablet ban from some U.S.-bound flights

Apple’s iPad range still dominates the scene, but there are some innovative alternatives running Android and Windows. We also have top picks for the budget-conscious and for kids. These are the best tablets you can buy right now.

Our pick


apple-ipad-pro-9-7_bestof

Why should you buy this: The iPad Pro offers the most power and flexibility in the best all-around size. It’s expensive, but worth every penny.

Our Score

The best

Apple iPad Pro 9.7

It’s the perfect blend of power and portability.

$599.00 from Apple

$599.00 from Target

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants the best and has the bank account for it

How much will it cost: $600+

Why we picked the iPad Pro 9.7:

The iPad Pro 9.7-inch boasts the impressive power of its larger sibling with the svelte form factor of the Air 2. That killer combo puts it head and shoulders above the competition. This is a versatile tablet.

It ticks all the boxes as a traditional tablet for entertainment consumption with a great display, long battery life, and the best library of tablet-specific apps and games you can find. It has four speakers for unsurpassed sound quality and volume. Even the cameras are a cut above the rest, with a 12-megapixel main shooter, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for Facetime and selfies.

You can also use the Smart Keyboard with it and our favorite stylus, the Apple Pencil. The iPad Pro is perfect for drawing, sketching, or taking notes.

It’s great for productivity in a pinch, too, but we’re not convinced that it’s a true laptop replacement. It is also very expensive. However, this is the best tablet you can buy, hands down.

Our full review

The best Android tablet


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the closest an Android tablet comes to replicating the iPad Pro, and boasts an absolutely gorgeous display.

Our Score

The best Android tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Slim and sleek with a great display and solid battery life.

$649.99 from T-Mobile

$599.99 from Verizon

Who’s it for: Anyone looking for an Android-based iPad alternative.

How much will it cost: $600

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3:

Despite some odd design flaws, the Galaxy Tab S3 is a quality gizmo, with an absolutely gorgeous display. There’s no tablet in the world with a screen capable of rivaling the S3’s 9.7-inch Super AMOLED, and it supports HDR content (which companies like Netflix and Youtube are making available more and more these days). Even viewing non-HDR content on the S3’s 2,048 × 1,536-pixel display is an absolute joy.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor (the same chip you’ll find in popular flagship smartphones like LG’s G5 and Samsung’s own Galaxy S7 Edge) works fine, despite its relative age, and 4GB of RAM is more than enough to keep the tablet humming happily. The included 32GB of onboard storage is a bit disappointing, but it can be expanded via MicroSD card if you’re looking to download lots of stuff.

The Tab’s speakers are respectably loud, and it’s got cameras on both the front and back — though, the rear-facing 13-megapixel camera is capable of recording 4K video at 30 frames per second, while the front camera is good enough for selfies and video chat, but little else.

This time around, Samsung has paired its custom TouchWiz interface with Android 7 Nougat, and it works like a charm. Split-screen functionality is better than ever, with lots of neat tricks to learn over time. Despite a bit of bloatware that the tablet won’t let you delete, the software here is generally very good.

The battery lasts an exceptional 10+ hours, and the included stylus pen interacts smoothly with the tablet’s screen. The downside is the physical design of the Tab S3. Most people use tablets in landscape orientation (read: sideways), but the S3 seems to be designed more for use in portrait. Also, the fingerprint sensor is frustratingly unreliable, and often requires multiple attempts (regardless of how you’re holding the device).

If you’re devoted to Android devices, the Tab S3 is a good choice. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the natural progression we had hoped for from the S2, and there are some annoying issues most people won’t be able to get past. Worth a look, but the price tag is pretty unbecoming.

Our full review

The best alternative tablet

lenovo-yogo-book_bestof

Why should you buy this: The Lenovo Yoga Book is amazing as a straight tablet, for taking notes/drawing, and is easier to type on than a standard tablet.

Our Score

The best alternative tablet

Lenovo Yoga Book

It features a unique design with a touch-sensitive slate.

$299.99 from Staples

$499.00 from Walmart.com

Who’s it for: Anyone seeking a tablet with a semi-keyboard or easy note-taking ability.

How much will it cost: $500+

Why we picked the Lenovo Yoga Book:

We were impressed with the innovative design of the Lenovo Yoga Book, so it had to make the list, but it doesn’t fit easily into any category. Ostensibly, it’s a 2-in-1 that combines a solid Android tablet (we don’t recommend the Windows version) with a clever touch-sensitive slate connected with an eye-catching, 360-degree, metal hinge.

The 10.1-inch touchscreen is good and it will work with any stylus, but the really interesting thing here is the capacitive touch panel on the other side of the hinge. It can act as a drawing pad for sketching or jotting notes, and it also has a keyboard mode that lights it up with a full set of QWERTY keys. It’s weird typing on a touch surface, but the haptic (vibration) feedback helps.

General performance is fast and responsive and the battery life is excellent, offering up to 15 hours. It does also have a decent 8-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. The folding action on the hinge is solid and it feels just like a book to hold, which makes it very comfortable to read on. It could be the perfect portable pal for artists, note-takers, and students.

Sadly, it’s not powerful enough to serve as a real laptop replacement and we can’t recommend the Windows version for that reason. However, as a tablet, it’s stellar, and it’s the best Android tablet you can buy that also offers something extra.

Our full review

The best small tablet

apple-ipad-mini-4_bestof

Why should you buy this: The iPad Mini is that perfect meshing of power and portability. You can take it anywhere and read or watch shows on it with ease.

Our Score

The best small tablet

Apple iPad Mini 4

You won’t find a better small tablet available today.

$399.00 from Apple

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a smaller tablet.

How much will it cost: $400+

Why we picked the iPad Mini 4:

It doesn’t quite hit the high notes of Apple’s bigger iPads, but the iPad Mini 4 still benefits from an attractive metal design, a fast processor, and a great app and game library.

You’ll find the 7.9-inch display is a pleasure to read on and it’s a great size and weight to hold comfortably. It’s good for watching movies or gaming, too, though you’ll probably want headphones to go with it. Battery life is solid, offering a good 10 hours between charges.

Portability is the reason to pick the iPad Mini 4. If you want an iPad and need something smaller in size or price, then this is it.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the size that has been scaled down here — the iPad Mini 4 is not as lightning fast as its bigger siblings. It’s also expensive. However, you can’t beat the iPad Mini if it’s a small tablet you want.

Our full review

The best giant tablet

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Why should you buy this: If you want to try and use iOS as a laptop replacement or need an extra big screen, this tablet can outperform some laptops.

Our Score

The best giant tablet

Apple iPad Pro 12.7

If you want the biggest and most powerful tablet you can get, this is it.

$1,079.99 from Verizon

$799.00 from Apple

Who’s it for: Power users and big screen seekers with deep pockets

How much will it cost: $950+

Why we picked the iPad Pro 12.7-inch:

It’s not the first huge tablet we’ve seen, but the iPad Pro 12.9-inch is the first giant tablet worth buying. It offers all the benefits of a smaller iPad, with a gorgeous design, a great range of apps and games, and solid battery life, but there’s more; that extra screen real estate makes it perfect for split-screen multitasking and serves as a canvas for digital artists.

Watching movies, playing games, and reading magazines is a joy on this display. But confining its use to Netflix in bed or morning news at the breakfast table would be a shame, because it’s packing some serious power. Combined with the Apple Pencil, this is a great device for designers and artists. You could also snag a keyboard and use it as a laptop replacement, provided you’re happy with Apple’s productivity suite.

The huge screen obviously cramps portability, but there aren’t many tablet activities that don’t benefit from the extra size. If your tablet stays at home anyway, then the iPad Pro 12.7-inch is just more of a good thing.

The price is enough to give many people pause and there’s no denying you could buy a decent tablet and a budget laptop for the same money. Regardless, this is the king of giant tablets.

Our full review

The best cheap tablet

amazon-kindle-fire-hd6_bestof

Why should you buy this: Amazon’s FireOS isn’t our favorite operating system, but it does get the job done at less than $100.

Our Score

The best cheap tablet

Amazon Fire HD 6

These rock bottom prices cannot be beat.

$69.99 from Amazon.com

Who’s it for: Anyone with a limited budget.

How much will it cost: $70+

Why we picked the Fire HD 6:

There’s a lot of choice at the budget end of the tablet market, but you will not find a better deal than the Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 8 from Amazon. Performance is decent, battery life is good, and they are extremely easy to get to grips with.

The specs in these tablets are far from world-record-breaking, but if you just want something for web browsing, watching the odd movie, and casual gaming, they offer unsurpassed value for money. Amazon does offer an even cheaper tablet, in the shape of the $50 Fire, but there are too many compromises to make it worth recommending.

If you want something really portable, the HD 6 is perfect, but the HD 8, currently on offer at $90, is probably the best deal on the market right now. You’ll want Amazon Prime membership to take full advantage of the ecosystem, but even adding that cost on top, the complete package Amazon is offering here is impressively cheap. Prime also gives you access to TV shows, movies, ebooks, and music.

The limited choice in the Amazon Appstore is a definite drawback, performance is limited, and the cameras are so bad they might as well not be there. But you will not find anything better at this price.

Our full review

The best kids tablet

firekidshd_bestof

Why should you buy this: It’s a dedicated kids tablet that works out of the box. There just isn’t any good competitors in this space. We recommend it above any other kids tablet.

The best kids tablet

Fire Kids Edition Tablet

It’s an affordable kid-friendly tablet that makes things easy for parents.

$99.99 from Amazon

Who’s it for: Young children with parents on a budget

How much will it cost: $80

Why we picked the Fire Kids Edition:

Truth be told, the kids tablet market is not brimming with quality. We would hesitate to recommend the basic Amazon Fire tablet for adults, but the Kids Edition has some important additions that make it well worth considering for young kids.

The Amazon Fire Kids Edition comes with a protective case and a two-year replacement warranty that covers accidental damage. If junior dunks it in the sink or jumps up and down on it, Amazon will replace it no questions asked. It also comes with a year’s subscription to Amazon FreeTime, which is a curated collection of kid-friendly books, TV shows, movies, games, and educational apps that you can tailor for your child’s age. Rounding out the package are some of the best parental controls we’ve ever used.

For young kids, this is an unbeatable deal and it makes things very easy for parents. You can hand this off to your child with minimal setup and have peace of mind that it’s safe for them.

As tablets go, the Amazon Fire is very limited. It’s quite slow, the 7-inch display has a disappointingly low screen resolution, and the blocky, plastic design is forgettable. As a first tablet for young kids, it makes a lot of sense, but for older kids, around ten years-old and up, we’d recommend something like the Fire HD 6, HD 8, or even the iPad Mini 4, if your budget allows.

The best Windows tablet

microsoft-surface-pro-4_bestof

Why should you buy this: We don’t love Windows 10 as a pure tablet, but the Surface is a very good laptop replacement that puts touch first.

Our Score

The best Windows tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

This is the best 2-in-1 PC we’ve ever used.

$1,233.49 from Amazon

$1,299.99 from Microsoft

Who’s it for: Anyone seeking a Windows tablet that can serve as a laptop

How much will it cost: $900+

Why we picked the Surface Pro 4:

The original Surface Pro was flawed, but it had a major impact on the market. Microsoft has refined the design since then, and the Surface Pro 4 is as close as you can get to a hybrid device that serves equally well as a tablet and as a laptop.

You’ve got a gorgeous 12.3-inch screen, a thoughtful design, and a choice of internal specs that range from basic to lightning fast. It is by far the most configurable device on our list. The pixel-packed display and loud speakers make it a pleasure to watch movies on. There’s also an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

The Type Cover and Surface Pen are excellent accessories and, combined with the full version of Windows 10, make this a great choice for creative professionals, students, and everyone in between. This is real portable productivity.

On the downside, battery life is bit disappointing and the Surface Pro 4 can be eye-wateringly expensive if you opt for top end specs.  Still, it’s our favorite 2-in-1 PC.

Our full review

How we test

The tablets we test serve as our daily drivers, so we use them extensively to put them through their paces. That means watching movies, gaming, testing out lots of apps, reading, working on them, and even taking photos and shooting video with them (which is impossible to do without looking stupid). We love new, innovative features, but we can also appreciate classic design done well. Ultimately, we look for tablets that will fulfill the needs of most people, so their ability to serve up entertainment is paramount.

Which OS is best for you?

If your top consideration is entertainment, and you’re likely to use a lot of apps and games, then we recommend Apple’s iOS as the best platform. There are a lot of polished apps made specifically for the iPad and you have access to all the top subscription services and an extensive content store. It’s also slick and accessible, so anyone can get to grips with it quickly.

Android has a larger selection of free apps and games, though they’re generally less polished, but that might be a tradeoff you’ll accept. Things are a little complicated by manufacturer UIs, or in the case of Amazon, forked versions of the platform. They can delay Android updates and make the user experience quite different. Amazon’s tablets, for example, run a version of Android called Fire OS and out of the box they only have access to the limited subset of apps and games that are available in the Amazon Appstore, not the full list that you’ll find in Google’s Play Store.

If you like the idea of accessing the same apps you have on your Windows PC, and you want a business device that ties seamlessly into your Microsoft services, then a tablet running Windows 10 is going to be tempting. It’s powerful, but it’s also relatively expensive to get decent hardware for a good user experience. If you’re not a business user, or you don’t need to run specific Windows-only apps, it may be overkill.

29
Mar

The best tablets you can buy


dt-best-of-150_tablets-150x150.pngTablets may be fading in popularity, but there are still some great devices out there. If you’re in the market for a new tablet, then we’re here to help you cut down that short list and snag the right tablet for you.

More: Security fears prompt laptop and tablet ban from some U.S.-bound flights

Apple’s iPad range still dominates the scene, but there are some innovative alternatives running Android and Windows. We also have top picks for the budget-conscious and for kids. These are the best tablets you can buy right now.

Our pick


apple-ipad-pro-9-7_bestof

Why should you buy this: The iPad Pro offers the most power and flexibility in the best all-around size. It’s expensive, but worth every penny.

Our Score

The best

Apple iPad Pro 9.7

It’s the perfect blend of power and portability.

$599.00 from Apple

$599.00 from Target

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants the best and has the bank account for it

How much will it cost: $600+

Why we picked the iPad Pro 9.7:

The iPad Pro 9.7-inch boasts the impressive power of its larger sibling with the svelte form factor of the Air 2. That killer combo puts it head and shoulders above the competition. This is a versatile tablet.

It ticks all the boxes as a traditional tablet for entertainment consumption with a great display, long battery life, and the best library of tablet-specific apps and games you can find. It has four speakers for unsurpassed sound quality and volume. Even the cameras are a cut above the rest, with a 12-megapixel main shooter, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for Facetime and selfies.

You can also use the Smart Keyboard with it and our favorite stylus, the Apple Pencil. The iPad Pro is perfect for drawing, sketching, or taking notes.

It’s great for productivity in a pinch, too, but we’re not convinced that it’s a true laptop replacement. It is also very expensive. However, this is the best tablet you can buy, hands down.

Our full review

The best Android tablet


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the closest an Android tablet comes to replicating the iPad Pro, and boasts an absolutely gorgeous display.

Our Score

The best Android tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Slim and sleek with a great display and solid battery life.

$649.99 from T-Mobile

$599.99 from Verizon

Who’s it for: Anyone looking for an Android-based iPad alternative.

How much will it cost: $600

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3:

Despite some odd design flaws, the Galaxy Tab S3 is a quality gizmo, with an absolutely gorgeous display. There’s no tablet in the world with a screen capable of rivaling the S3’s 9.7-inch Super AMOLED, and it supports HDR content (which companies like Netflix and Youtube are making available more and more these days). Even viewing non-HDR content on the S3’s 2,048 × 1,536-pixel display is an absolute joy.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor (the same chip you’ll find in popular flagship smartphones like LG’s G5 and Samsung’s own Galaxy S7 Edge) works fine, despite its relative age, and 4GB of RAM is more than enough to keep the tablet humming happily. The included 32GB of onboard storage is a bit disappointing, but it can be expanded via MicroSD card if you’re looking to download lots of stuff.

The Tab’s speakers are respectably loud, and it’s got cameras on both the front and back — though, the rear-facing 13-megapixel camera is capable of recording 4K video at 30 frames per second, while the front camera is good enough for selfies and video chat, but little else.

This time around, Samsung has paired its custom TouchWiz interface with Android 7 Nougat, and it works like a charm. Split-screen functionality is better than ever, with lots of neat tricks to learn over time. Despite a bit of bloatware that the tablet won’t let you delete, the software here is generally very good.

The battery lasts an exceptional 10+ hours, and the included stylus pen interacts smoothly with the tablet’s screen. The downside is the physical design of the Tab S3. Most people use tablets in landscape orientation (read: sideways), but the S3 seems to be designed more for use in portrait. Also, the fingerprint sensor is frustratingly unreliable, and often requires multiple attempts (regardless of how you’re holding the device).

If you’re devoted to Android devices, the Tab S3 is a good choice. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the natural progression we had hoped for from the S2, and there are some annoying issues most people won’t be able to get past. Worth a look, but the price tag is pretty unbecoming.

Our full review

The best alternative tablet

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Why should you buy this: The Lenovo Yoga Book is amazing as a straight tablet, for taking notes/drawing, and is easier to type on than a standard tablet.

Our Score

The best alternative tablet

Lenovo Yoga Book

It features a unique design with a touch-sensitive slate.

$299.99 from Staples

$499.00 from Walmart.com

Who’s it for: Anyone seeking a tablet with a semi-keyboard or easy note-taking ability.

How much will it cost: $500+

Why we picked the Lenovo Yoga Book:

We were impressed with the innovative design of the Lenovo Yoga Book, so it had to make the list, but it doesn’t fit easily into any category. Ostensibly, it’s a 2-in-1 that combines a solid Android tablet (we don’t recommend the Windows version) with a clever touch-sensitive slate connected with an eye-catching, 360-degree, metal hinge.

The 10.1-inch touchscreen is good and it will work with any stylus, but the really interesting thing here is the capacitive touch panel on the other side of the hinge. It can act as a drawing pad for sketching or jotting notes, and it also has a keyboard mode that lights it up with a full set of QWERTY keys. It’s weird typing on a touch surface, but the haptic (vibration) feedback helps.

General performance is fast and responsive and the battery life is excellent, offering up to 15 hours. It does also have a decent 8-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. The folding action on the hinge is solid and it feels just like a book to hold, which makes it very comfortable to read on. It could be the perfect portable pal for artists, note-takers, and students.

Sadly, it’s not powerful enough to serve as a real laptop replacement and we can’t recommend the Windows version for that reason. However, as a tablet, it’s stellar, and it’s the best Android tablet you can buy that also offers something extra.

Our full review

The best small tablet

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Why should you buy this: The iPad Mini is that perfect meshing of power and portability. You can take it anywhere and read or watch shows on it with ease.

Our Score

The best small tablet

Apple iPad Mini 4

You won’t find a better small tablet available today.

$399.00 from Apple

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a smaller tablet.

How much will it cost: $400+

Why we picked the iPad Mini 4:

It doesn’t quite hit the high notes of Apple’s bigger iPads, but the iPad Mini 4 still benefits from an attractive metal design, a fast processor, and a great app and game library.

You’ll find the 7.9-inch display is a pleasure to read on and it’s a great size and weight to hold comfortably. It’s good for watching movies or gaming, too, though you’ll probably want headphones to go with it. Battery life is solid, offering a good 10 hours between charges.

Portability is the reason to pick the iPad Mini 4. If you want an iPad and need something smaller in size or price, then this is it.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the size that has been scaled down here — the iPad Mini 4 is not as lightning fast as its bigger siblings. It’s also expensive. However, you can’t beat the iPad Mini if it’s a small tablet you want.

Our full review

The best giant tablet

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Why should you buy this: If you want to try and use iOS as a laptop replacement or need an extra big screen, this tablet can outperform some laptops.

Our Score

The best giant tablet

Apple iPad Pro 12.7

If you want the biggest and most powerful tablet you can get, this is it.

$1,079.99 from Verizon

$799.00 from Apple

Who’s it for: Power users and big screen seekers with deep pockets

How much will it cost: $950+

Why we picked the iPad Pro 12.7-inch:

It’s not the first huge tablet we’ve seen, but the iPad Pro 12.9-inch is the first giant tablet worth buying. It offers all the benefits of a smaller iPad, with a gorgeous design, a great range of apps and games, and solid battery life, but there’s more; that extra screen real estate makes it perfect for split-screen multitasking and serves as a canvas for digital artists.

Watching movies, playing games, and reading magazines is a joy on this display. But confining its use to Netflix in bed or morning news at the breakfast table would be a shame, because it’s packing some serious power. Combined with the Apple Pencil, this is a great device for designers and artists. You could also snag a keyboard and use it as a laptop replacement, provided you’re happy with Apple’s productivity suite.

The huge screen obviously cramps portability, but there aren’t many tablet activities that don’t benefit from the extra size. If your tablet stays at home anyway, then the iPad Pro 12.7-inch is just more of a good thing.

The price is enough to give many people pause and there’s no denying you could buy a decent tablet and a budget laptop for the same money. Regardless, this is the king of giant tablets.

Our full review

The best cheap tablet

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Why should you buy this: Amazon’s FireOS isn’t our favorite operating system, but it does get the job done at less than $100.

Our Score

The best cheap tablet

Amazon Fire HD 6

These rock bottom prices cannot be beat.

$69.99 from Amazon.com

Who’s it for: Anyone with a limited budget.

How much will it cost: $70+

Why we picked the Fire HD 6:

There’s a lot of choice at the budget end of the tablet market, but you will not find a better deal than the Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 8 from Amazon. Performance is decent, battery life is good, and they are extremely easy to get to grips with.

The specs in these tablets are far from world-record-breaking, but if you just want something for web browsing, watching the odd movie, and casual gaming, they offer unsurpassed value for money. Amazon does offer an even cheaper tablet, in the shape of the $50 Fire, but there are too many compromises to make it worth recommending.

If you want something really portable, the HD 6 is perfect, but the HD 8, currently on offer at $90, is probably the best deal on the market right now. You’ll want Amazon Prime membership to take full advantage of the ecosystem, but even adding that cost on top, the complete package Amazon is offering here is impressively cheap. Prime also gives you access to TV shows, movies, ebooks, and music.

The limited choice in the Amazon Appstore is a definite drawback, performance is limited, and the cameras are so bad they might as well not be there. But you will not find anything better at this price.

Our full review

The best kids tablet

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Why should you buy this: It’s a dedicated kids tablet that works out of the box. There just isn’t any good competitors in this space. We recommend it above any other kids tablet.

The best kids tablet

Fire Kids Edition Tablet

It’s an affordable kid-friendly tablet that makes things easy for parents.

$99.99 from Amazon

Who’s it for: Young children with parents on a budget

How much will it cost: $80

Why we picked the Fire Kids Edition:

Truth be told, the kids tablet market is not brimming with quality. We would hesitate to recommend the basic Amazon Fire tablet for adults, but the Kids Edition has some important additions that make it well worth considering for young kids.

The Amazon Fire Kids Edition comes with a protective case and a two-year replacement warranty that covers accidental damage. If junior dunks it in the sink or jumps up and down on it, Amazon will replace it no questions asked. It also comes with a year’s subscription to Amazon FreeTime, which is a curated collection of kid-friendly books, TV shows, movies, games, and educational apps that you can tailor for your child’s age. Rounding out the package are some of the best parental controls we’ve ever used.

For young kids, this is an unbeatable deal and it makes things very easy for parents. You can hand this off to your child with minimal setup and have peace of mind that it’s safe for them.

As tablets go, the Amazon Fire is very limited. It’s quite slow, the 7-inch display has a disappointingly low screen resolution, and the blocky, plastic design is forgettable. As a first tablet for young kids, it makes a lot of sense, but for older kids, around ten years-old and up, we’d recommend something like the Fire HD 6, HD 8, or even the iPad Mini 4, if your budget allows.

The best Windows tablet

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Why should you buy this: We don’t love Windows 10 as a pure tablet, but the Surface is a very good laptop replacement that puts touch first.

Our Score

The best Windows tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

This is the best 2-in-1 PC we’ve ever used.

$1,233.49 from Amazon

$1,299.99 from Microsoft

Who’s it for: Anyone seeking a Windows tablet that can serve as a laptop

How much will it cost: $900+

Why we picked the Surface Pro 4:

The original Surface Pro was flawed, but it had a major impact on the market. Microsoft has refined the design since then, and the Surface Pro 4 is as close as you can get to a hybrid device that serves equally well as a tablet and as a laptop.

You’ve got a gorgeous 12.3-inch screen, a thoughtful design, and a choice of internal specs that range from basic to lightning fast. It is by far the most configurable device on our list. The pixel-packed display and loud speakers make it a pleasure to watch movies on. There’s also an 8-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

The Type Cover and Surface Pen are excellent accessories and, combined with the full version of Windows 10, make this a great choice for creative professionals, students, and everyone in between. This is real portable productivity.

On the downside, battery life is bit disappointing and the Surface Pro 4 can be eye-wateringly expensive if you opt for top end specs.  Still, it’s our favorite 2-in-1 PC.

Our full review

How we test

The tablets we test serve as our daily drivers, so we use them extensively to put them through their paces. That means watching movies, gaming, testing out lots of apps, reading, working on them, and even taking photos and shooting video with them (which is impossible to do without looking stupid). We love new, innovative features, but we can also appreciate classic design done well. Ultimately, we look for tablets that will fulfill the needs of most people, so their ability to serve up entertainment is paramount.

Which OS is best for you?

If your top consideration is entertainment, and you’re likely to use a lot of apps and games, then we recommend Apple’s iOS as the best platform. There are a lot of polished apps made specifically for the iPad and you have access to all the top subscription services and an extensive content store. It’s also slick and accessible, so anyone can get to grips with it quickly.

Android has a larger selection of free apps and games, though they’re generally less polished, but that might be a tradeoff you’ll accept. Things are a little complicated by manufacturer UIs, or in the case of Amazon, forked versions of the platform. They can delay Android updates and make the user experience quite different. Amazon’s tablets, for example, run a version of Android called Fire OS and out of the box they only have access to the limited subset of apps and games that are available in the Amazon Appstore, not the full list that you’ll find in Google’s Play Store.

If you like the idea of accessing the same apps you have on your Windows PC, and you want a business device that ties seamlessly into your Microsoft services, then a tablet running Windows 10 is going to be tempting. It’s powerful, but it’s also relatively expensive to get decent hardware for a good user experience. If you’re not a business user, or you don’t need to run specific Windows-only apps, it may be overkill.

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