Tablets are a broad category, with some being used for art, and others as a cross between a Smartphone and a tablet, allowing you to work or stay connected wherever you are. This year, CGM was lucky enough to check out a few varieties from brands like Xencelabs, Apple, Windows, and Samsung topping the list. Size, speed and responsiveness can be vital whether you’re working or browsing, and we took these into consideration when choosing the best of the best.
Here are CGMs nominees for Best Tablet 2021/22:
Windows Surface Pro 8
Writer: Joe Findlay
The Surface Pro 8 has all the features you want in a tablet. The keyboard is an accessory, so it can be detached. It has a built-in kickstand that runs the width of the device and lets you sit the Surface Pro 8 at any angle for your ideal viewing experience. It also comes with two USB-C ports with USB 4.0/Thunderbolt and a surface connect port.
The Surface Pro 8 is lightning fast. From the facial recognition when you sign on to the apps themselves, the performance eclipsed any tablet I’ve ever used and rivalled my own PC in terms of speed. I loaded up multiple apps, played some media and pushed it to a reasonable limit and experienced no negative impact on its performance.
The Windows Surface Pro 8 packs a huge punch but comes with a huge price tag as well. Given your personal needs in a device, you may find it worth it as it is a much slimmer option than your average laptop and is much more adaptable to different use cases, but it is a serious expense that requires some serious thought on your part.
Xencelab’s Small Pen Tablet
Writer: Zubi Khan
The tablet itself features a 6.93 x 3.89” drawing area which visually looks cute and perhaps even a little cramped. However, I found myself quickly well-adjusted using it, producing clean and untapered lines with accurate pressure sensitivity and steadiness. In other words, I found the drawing and painting experience with Xencelab’s small tablet just as intuitive and responsive to use as my daily drivers (Xencelab’s medium drawing tablet and my iPad Pro 2018).
The tablet features three buttons that can be accessed from the top of the device, which, by default, allow you to change the pressure, adjust settings, and change your display, all via the free downloadable software that I recommend first-time users download, as it also provides profiles for popular apps such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Finally, the buttons can also be reassigned to other functions if desired, giving those the ultimate flexibility when looking for a setup that works for their needs.
There isn’t a whole lot more to say about Xencelab’s small drawing tablet and pen set, however in this case, that is a good thing as often, for drawing, simple is best, and Xencelab has excelled in offering an easy-to-use and intuitive product, best suited for both beginners and intermediate users.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
Writer: Joe Findlay
Samsung’s latest premium tablet is a true thing of beauty. At only 5 mm thick and weighing 590g, this is a slick design which loses nothing on toughness as it has one of the most solid builds of any tablet I have ever held. Add to that, the most powerful processor in an Android Tablet, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and 8 GB of RAM (6 GB in the 128 GBB model) should have you buzzing through any task that you can throw at the device.
The screen on the Galaxy Tab S7+ is worth the price of admission alone. The 12.4,” Super AMOLED, 120Hz display is incredibly beautiful and the screen’s 16:10 resolution helps fill more of the screen when streaming content as opposed to the usual 4:3 screen found on many tablets. The Galaxy Tab S7+ has eye-care certification, meaning less blue light to bother your eyes, allowing you to binge your favourite shows or work on that report for even longer.
The Samsung Galaxy S7+ is a premium price, but it delivers premium performance for the gamer, binge watcher and productive worker in all of us. Its build quality, power, battery life and beautiful display will leave nobody with buyer’s remorse.
Xencelabs Pen Tablet
Writer: Zubi Khan
Included in the box, users will be delighted to find a robust, carrying case with two pockets, complete with a soft liner to ensure your tablet remains scratch-free and pristine. Additionally, it ships with a glove and two styluses that come in their own carrying case, reminiscent of any premium-feeling glasses cases. Inside the case are some replacement nibs with an extraction ring and a USB Type-C dongle for pairing complete the package.
The tablet itself can be used wirelessly with the included Type-C dongle, which comes with a standard USB 3.0 adapter for those not wanting to eat up their thunderbolt port. Additionally, the SKU I was sent for review includes their Xencelabs Quick Keys Remote alongside the medium tablet.
Both the Xencelabs’ Medium Pen Tablet and Quick Key Remote are excellent drawing and design solutions that feel just as robust and high quality as other leading brands. I feel optimistic in seeing the future of the Still Burgeoning Company.
iPad 9th Generation (Winner, Best Tablet 2021)
Writer: Chris de Hoog
What’s new in the iPad (9th Generation)? At first, it may look identical to the previous two generations of this tablet tier, clocking in at the same dimensions with a 10.2” screen. However, it does differ in some key areas. This iteration has double the storage, with either 64 GB or 256 GB offerings. It packs an improved A13 chip which, as Apple boasts, will offer a 20% increase in power with 40% less power strain. Wi-Fi models start at either $429 or $629, and cellular models at $599 or $799 (Canadian dollars, 64 GB or 256 GB respectively).
It’s the perfect compromise of features for the iPad range—not as bulky or expensive as the Pro, but full-sized unlike the Mini, and retaining the core features, power, and performance of both. If you really want the larger or smaller screen, or above-and-beyond features, those models will serve you well. But for this year’s batch of Apple tablets, the standard iPad (9th Generation) does practically everything that most users could want, and it does it very well.
The 9th generation iPad cleaves the Gordian Knot of tablet selection, offering a full-featured, full-sized companion that doesn’t break the bank. It’s a compromise that doesn’t feel, at all, like a compromise.