The best new tablets of 2016
1. Samsung Galaxy TabPro S
Productivity is the name of the game for one of the hottest trends in tablets, with 2-in-1 keyboard-equipped models giving users a good reason to ditch their bulky laptops. Samsung introduced just such a model at CES, the Windows 10-based
Galaxy TabPro S.
With a beautiful 12-inch AMOLED display in high-res 2160 x 1440, the TabPro S looks great, while its modern Intel Core M CPU is solidly equipped to handle whatever software you might throw at it. Samsung gives the tablet 4GB of RAM, storage configurations of either 128GB or 256GB of flash memory, and the option for wireless LTE data connectivity. Despite all that hardware inside, the tablet measures a scant 6.3mm thick - and still packs room for a 5,200mAh battery.
Pricing starts at just about $900 for the Wi-Fi-only 128GB model.
2. Apple iPad Pro 9.7
Last year came and went without bringing us a new standard-sized iPad, as Apple instead looked to refresh its iPad mini lineup and introduce the big-screen iPad Pro. But for 2016, it was finally time to get a new 9.7-inch iPad , while shaking up the tablet's branding in the process. Instead of another iPad Air model, Apple brought the new iPad Pro moniker to its 9.7-inch offering.
In doing so, this more petite iPad Pro picked up many of the same hardware features of its big brother, including quad speakers, Apple Pencil compatibility, and support for an optional Smart Keyboard cover. And with Apple's A9X chip under the hood, the new iPad Pro represents a big performance upgrade over the company's last 9.7-inch model.
Apple's giving shoppers more options than ever before with the iPad Pro 9.7, introducing both a new rose gold color selection and a 256GB premium storage option – a first for an iPad of this size. The most affordable iPad Pro goes for just $600, though storage and cellular upgrades can easily push that several hundred dollars higher.
3. Amazon Fire
Amazon's smartphone efforts may have crashed and burned in spectacular fashion, but the retailer has found some real success in the tablet market, dominating on the budget-priced end of the spectrum. Last year the company hit new levels of value with the introduction of its $50 Fire tablet , a model so audaciously low-priced that Amazon saw fit to sell them by the six-pack. With a seven-inch screen in a comparatively low 1024 x 600 resolution and other similarly meager specs, the Fire tablet may not win any performance benchmarks, but when we're talking about prices this low, those trade-offs are a lot easier to stomach.
This year, Amazon's not reinventing the wheel, but instead broadening the horizons of its most affordable tablet by introducing some new options . Those include a new $70 16GB storage option (which, like the 8GB model before it, comes with support for microSD expansion), as well as three new colors: magenta, blue, and tangerine. Right now, Amazon's even got the tablet on sale, knocking $10 off the already low $50 base price.
4. Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0
We've looked at Windows 10, iOS, and even Amazon's spin-off FireOS powering 2016's newest tablets; what about some good-old Android action? Interest in traditional Android tablets may have cooled off for the time being (though Android N and its split-screen support could soon help revitalize the market), but we weren't left wholly without fresh options to consider, as Huawei showed off some of its new MediaPad M2 models. Maybe the most interesting one there is the 7.35-mm-thick
MediaPad M2 10.0 .
The 10.1-inch tablet (in spite of its name) offers a respectable 1920 x 1200 resolution, runs one of Huawei's own Kirin 930 SoCs, and is available in either a standard configuration with 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, or a premium model with a 64GB/3GB setup. Users preferring pen input have the option to take advantage of support for Huawei's M-Pen active stylus, with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. There's a fingerprint sensor for user authentication, quad speakers for rich sound output, and pricing that comes in as low as $350.
5. Alcatel Plus 10
We're staying with Alcatel as we circle back around to the form factor that got this list going, taking a look at the company's new 2-in-1 hybrid Plus 10 . Unlike the Windows 10 Mobile-based Pixi 3 (
, the Plus 10 is running full-on Windows 10, and combines the power of that kind of software support with the mobile data flexibility you get from an LTE radio.
Alcatel implements that LTE support in an interesting way: rather than building cellular support right into the tablet itself, the detachable keyboard is essentially an LTE hotspot, receiving its own signal and sharing that connection with the tablet – or up to 15 other devices.
The Plus 10 runs a quad-core Intel Cherry Trail chip, has dual front-facing speakers, and a screen resolution of 1280 x 800. Alcatel gives the tablet itself a 5,830mAh battery, while its LTE tablet dock packs its own 2,580mAh charge. Internal storage may be a little on the low side at just 32GB, but like so many of these tablets, microSD expansion is ready to let you quickly add to figure. Sales should start closer to summer, going for around 350 EUR.