Monday 24 November 2014

The smaller machines that won't leave you stuck in the middle

Published 23/03/2014 | 02:30

DOWNSIZING: the new wave of versatile mid-size machines, clockwise from left, LG Gpad, Toshiba Encore, the Dell Venue 8 Pro and the Apple iPad mini Retina

IN this age of 11-inch slim laptops, there is not much of a portability advantage to a 10-inch iPad stuffed into a plump leather protective case. But what about smaller tablets in the business world? A new wave of mid-size machines, typically with an 8-inch screen, is cropping up for consideration. Here are four worth looking at.

Dell Venue 8 Pro from €300 (32GB)

Rating ****

For those who need their office software, the advantage that Windows tablets have over Android or iPad rivals is that they allow 'normal' PC software to be loaded.

In other words, you don't have to rely on apps (which is just as well, as the Windows app store is still a little thin). Dell's Venue 8 Pro is significantly cheaper and does much of what Microsoft's machine can do.

It uses Windows 8.1, which means you can use pretty much any work software you want on it.

It feels well made and has 32GB of storage on board, which matches what most tablets in the same price range offer. I think that is a reasonably decent work tablet.

iPad mini Retina from €400 (16GB)

Rating *****

Without any doubt whatsoever, this is Apple's best iPad – whatever you plan on using it for. Nicely compact and with a great screen, the premium machine gets access to more business-related apps than any of its rivals.

That's the tablet's real edge here, even if its extra power under the hood and svelte looks don't hurt.

There's also an impressive array of accessories available, including properly designed cases and keyboards.

Finally – if you need more convincing – because this is a newer iPad it won't become obsolete (and hence unable to update to future iOS versions) for at least three years.

LG GPad €300

Rating ****

When it comes to the business tablet, Android devices are distinct outsiders – for a few reasons. Superficially, they have neither the reassuring simple brand of Apple's iPad nor the business-centric focus of a Windows device.

There are also significant concerns over security management relative to other platforms. Nevertheless, I think that it would be a big mistake to overlook LG's superior 8-inch GPad.

Its slim design and high-end screen make it a genuinely worthy adversary for Apple's iPad mini on the hardware side. It also has a really decent battery. Few Android tablets beat this one.

Toshiba Encore €300 (32GB)

Rating ****

The 8-inch Encore, which uses Windows 8.1, doesn't have anything of the elegance that a machine like Microsoft's (larger) Surface Pro has.

Aesthetically, it strongly resembles an old iPhone 3G blown up about four times in size.

The screen is functional but feels a bit cheap. The tablet's Intel Atom power is reasonable, not impressive: it's understandably slower than a full-powered personal computer.

However, it comes with a lot less bloatware than an average Windows laptop, so this makes it more efficient. Some versions of this tablet come with Microsoft Office already loaded.

Sunday Indo Business

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