Summer & Fall 2019 / Spring 2020
How we evaluate tablets
When we perform a tablet evaluation, we first make certain the tablet meets the minimum specifications for the Speed school. Then we install and run required student software. We run a “Solidworks Benchmark” as well. Solidworks is a Computer Aided Design program that offers automatic benchmarking of computer systems. Based on the benchmark scores we can tell a little about how fast the computer calculates and draws objects on the screen.
We look at tablet durability and usability. In particular, we examine how the screen is attached to the keyboard because this can be a week spot for tablets. We try to find information about other factors, such as ordering and servicing issues if any.
Generally speaking, the evaluation units sent to us are business models rather than the consumer models sometimes sold in stores. Vendor links on the main tablet page will be available in mid-April and will point to the preferred business models with recommended accessories and warranty where available.
We do not compare price when evaluating tablets so a unit that receives kudos from us for one feature or another might be more or less expensive than another unit. We also do not check expected delivery times. When you order your tablet be sure it will be delivered before the beginning of the Fall semester.
Evaluation Model: HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2
Specifications: Intel i5 2.71GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB M.2 SATA SED SSD, Wacom active stylus (sold separately)
New this year to the line up of recommended tablets is HP’s EliteBook x360 1030 G2 and the Elite x2 1012 G2 Tablet. The x360 1030 G2 is a convertible tablet that folds 360 degrees between laptop mode, tent mode, conference mode and others. This device is a strong competitor to the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga and passed our battery of performance tests.
The tablet has plenty of connectivity options ranging from HDMI, USB C, 2 USB 3.1 and a micro SD card reader. At 3 pounds, it’s relatively light weight and easy to carry around. The feature that we enjoyed most and that sets it apart from other tablets in this class is the HP Sure View integrated privacy screen. With the touch of a button you may enable privacy mode on this device which prevents a passersby from viewing the information on your display.
The EliteBook has the 7th generation of Intel’s Core processor with integrated graphics and touts up to 16.5 hours of battery life. Neither the battery nor the memory can be upgraded or replaced by the consumer.
Although the EliteBook does have a place on the device to store the active stylus, we weren’t overly impressed with how the dangling cloth material adheres to the screen of the laptop.
Evaluation Model: HP Elite x2 1012 G2 Tablet
Specifications: Intel i5 2.4 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive, Wacom active stylus (sold separately)
We’re excited to recommend a device that competes with the Microsoft Surface tablet. The Elite x2 1012 G2 is thin and light weighing in at 1.77 lbs. It comes with an i5 processor and up to 8 GB of RAM. Although the Microsoft Surface can be more powerfully configured with a Core i7 and 16 GB of RAM, the Elite x2 still gives the Surface a run for it’s money.
This device has all of the ports that the Surface has but includes a USB C, USB 3.0 and a micro SD slot. The keyboard is backlit on this device. Unlike the Microsoft Surface, the Elite is fully field serviceable should work need to be performed on the device. Whereas if a hardware issue is present with the Surface, the tablet can only be replaced.
We found the kickstand to be stable but a bit noisy when moving across a table top. The keyboard seems a bit more rigid than the MS Surface and includes a sleeve to hold the pen, which we liked.
Evaluation Model: Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga
Specifications: Intel i7 4.2 GHz processor, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, Wacom active pen
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga has always impressed the Speed IT Group. Our staff still prefer the ThinkPad Yoga over other tablets, mostly because of the sturdiness of the construction and innovative physical design despite it being slightly bulky and heavier. This new generation of the ThinkPad Yoga has a 4 in 1 card reader and the latest Intel 8th generation technology.
This series of 2-in-1 devices is solidly built with two strong hinges connecting the screen to the backlit keyboard. The 13.3 inch screen is bright and adjusts for any desired viewing angle. In an interesting design, the keyboard rotates 360 degrees under the screen to form the bottom of the tablet. The keys themselves retract into the body of the unit. The tablet can also can be set up so the keyboard serves as a stand for easy viewing of movies or for showing presentations. Of course, this means the keyboard is always attached to the unit, which makes it a little heavier when used solely in tablet mode.
The ThinkPad Yoga X380 does well on our SolidWorks benchmark testing.
Note: The Yoga comes in several versions. The “ThinkPad” designation indicates a business class model rather than a consumer mode. Some versions of the unit do not have pens, which are required for Speed. Buyers should take care to purchase ThinkPad versions of the Yoga with Pen.
Evaluation Model: Lenovo ThinkPad L380 Yoga
Specifications: Intel i5 1.8 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive, Wacom active pen
The L380 Yoga is similar in size and design to the X380. Lenovo’s ThinkPad L series is a lower cost option that uses less expensive components and removes some of the features found on the X series. The evaluation device did not have a back lit keyboard nor do the keys retract when the 2 in 1 is converted to a tablet.
Evaluation Model: Fujitsu Lifebook T937
Specifications: Intel i5 2.7 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive, Wacom active pen
Back by popular demand, the Fujitsu T937 has returned to our list of recommended tablets. The staff liked the sturdiness of the hinge design and the 13.3 inch screen. The unit performed well on the benchmark tests.
The Fujitsu screen connects to the keyboard base with a swivel arrangement. The screen twists and then lays down on the keyboard to form a tablet. The connection between the screen and base appears strong enough.
Some noteworthy features include a compact digital pen that can be stored inside of the device and a unique wired network RJ45 connector that you don’t find on many other tablets. The unit has several USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI video connection, and a VGA video connection.
Evaluation Model: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Specifications: Intel i5 2.5 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive, N-Trig pen, Windows 10
The Surface Pro 4 is small and light. It works well as a tablet to take quick notes, or to set up on a desk for small projects. It is difficult to type in laptop mode unless a hard flat surface is available because of the cantilevered stand that holds the screen up. We’ve found that the keyboard has improved since the previous model and our students are pleased with the feel and key spacing. The unit scored well on our performance benchmarks.
The size and weight of the Surface Pro 4 makes it very portable and convenient to transport. At its native resolution, the text can be very small and difficult to read at times. Using the magnification and accessibility tools helps but not all programs were designed to properly utilize their functionality.
There is no internal pen slot on the Surface, but the magnetic pen helps prevent pen loss and is very comfortable to hold. The pen also features a button that will launch OneNote with one press.
Ready to purchased your tablet?
Purchase links may be found on the Purchase Recommended Tablet Page.