Tablets are a bit ho-hum these days--especially if they don't have an Apple logo on the back. The earliest Android models from Motorola and Asus failed to catch on with the masses, despite a wealth of good apps from Google and many others. And, Microsoft keeps trying to drum up support for the Windows models, to varying levels of success. Yet, for business users, there is good news: several new models are on the horizon. Here's a sneak peek at them:
1. Samsung Galaxy NotePRO
After spending some time with this new powerhouse tablet at CES 2014, it became clear to me that Samsung wants to woo the business class. The Galaxy NotePRO feels sturdy and serious, not the ultra-thin Android models they've made over the past few years. The high-res 2560 x 1600 screen measures 12.2 inches. Samsung includes a new office productivity suite now, remote access software, and an app that lets meeting attendees see the same screen over Wi-Fi (and even draw in a whiteboard mode). No details yet on price or availability.
2. Microsoft Surface Pro 2
I've taken a few potshots at Windows 8 and the original Surface RT model (not to mention the Surface 2), but the Surface Pro 2 shows some promise. The most important finding is that this model can run normal desktop apps like Photoshop and your current version of Microsoft office. (The Surface 2 tablet only runs the non-commercial versions.) You can configure the Pro 2 with 8GB of RAM (double the original Pro model) with an Intel Core i5 1.6GHz processor (or, in Turbo Boost mode, the CPU runs at 2.6GHz). There's a version that comes with 512GB of storage.
3. Asus PadFone X
Here's a curious offering, one I tested at an AT&T event in Las vegas recently. The PadFone X includes a smartphone with a 5-inch screen that fits into a slot on the tablet. (The tablet gets its processing power from the phone but has its own battery power; no estimates yet on how long they last.) To use the phone, you slide it out of the tablet. Both devices run Android, but the best feature for business users is that the product is branded by AT&T so you can expect good 4G LTE service out of the box. You can share data between the phone and tablet; the phone and tablet battery extend the life of the device.