If you want the power and functionality of Apple’s top-end slate, but without the premium price or the toxic hellstew software that comes with it, you do have options.
Apple offers three different iPad lines: the iPad Mini 4, iPad 9.7, and iPad Pro (which you can get in either 12.9-inch or 10.5-inch sizes). In our review of the iPad Pro 10.5-inch model earlier this year, we said it totally replaced our MacBook. CNET called it a multitasking, file-sorting king and even named it the best tablet of 2018. As for the 12.9-inch model, it’s a dream for graphic designers, but it’s too large to be easily portable and costs as much as a laptop.
While the smaller iPad Pro starts at around $570, the larger one begins at $880. And if you get it with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, you’re looking at close to $300 more in accessories. Clearly, the iPad Pro isn’t a whim purchase, and if Apple or iOS aren’t your thing, it’s definitely off the table for you. Luckily, as we said, there are alternatives you can buy right now. We’ve also included a couple that are coming soon.
Here are your best options running Android, Chrome OS, or Windows 10. Not all of them are cheaper, but they do provide a computer-like experience in a tablet or hybrid form factor.
Best Apple iPad Pro alternatives you can buy right now
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Microsoft offers five different Surface device lines, one of which is Surface Pro. And its latest model — the 12.3-inch Surface Pro 6 — launched Oct. 16. It still has a detachable keyboard, but now comes in a new matte black color and updated eighth-generation Intel Core CPUs.
It offers LTE and up to 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. And while it still has USB-A ports, its display is improved to 267ppi. There’s also an autofocusing 8MP camera for video-chatting and Windows Hello login. You can get the Surface Pro 6 with Microsoft’s Surface Pro Signature Type Cover ($159) and Surface Pen ($99), too. So, if you want an Apple Pencil-like experience, look no further. The Core i5 model with 128GB of RAM starts at $899.
Also: Microsoft Surface Pro 6 review: Racing ahead of last year’s model CNET | Microsoft Surface Pro 6 alternatives you can buy right now
The $999 Pixelbook is another hybrid, meaning it can be used as a laptop or a tablet. This particular form factor doesn’t have a detachable keyboard, but the sturdy hinges easily rotate, so the screen sits flat on the Pixelbook’s body. But what’s most notable about 12.3-inch Pixelbook is the top-of-the-line model is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor. That’s a high-end Kaby Lake CPU designed for fanless, super-thin laptops.
ZDNet tested the device earlier this year and was able to have 257 tabs open at once and still have memory to spare. So, who should buy this? Anyone who needs a no-holds-barred, great 2-in-1. You also get, for buying it, a terabyte of Google Cloud storage for a year. And it works with an Apple Pencil-like Pixelbook Pen ($99). However, Pixelbook has no LTE and runs Chrome OS, so it won’t have every desktop-class app you may need. But, remember, it does run Android apps.
Also: Google Pixelbook review: The best Chromebook CNET | The Killer Chromebook: Google’s i7 Pixelbook
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
The iPad may be the most popular tablet, and it is great for many people, but there are some key business features missing from the iPad, including limited keyboard and no mouse support. The $650 Galaxy Tab S4 is a better option that functions much more like a computer in a lighter, portable form factor. It’s an Android tablet, with the Book Cover keyboard designed for business use. You can use it for typing, storing the S Pen, and tablet protection.
What we like most about the 10.5-inch Tab S4 is it includes LTE, Samsung DeX integration, mouse support, S Pen functionality with Air Command utilities, and a multi-window capability. You can also use the tablet as a touch pad, digitizer, or touch keyboard when connected to an external monitor. The Wi-Fi model with 64GB internal storage starts at $650.
Also: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review: A premium tablet CNET | Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 review: An Android tablet built for business
Lenovo Yoga 920
The 13.9-inch Lenovo Yoga 920 is a top-end Windows 10 convertible. It improves on the company’s premium two-in-one ultraportable by adding active pen support and Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, and by throwing in an eighth-generation Intel Core i-series processor for better performance and a long battery life. CNET said the super-slim bezels around its display, all-metal chassis, and unique watchband 360-degree hinge make it seem like a premium laptop.
In our review, we said it’s a good convertible laptop with minor niggles, like the lack of LTE and an SD card reader, and its price. The Core i7 model with 8GB of RAM starts at $1,399.
Also: Lenovo Yoga 920 review: One of the best 2-in-1 laptops CNET | Lenovo Yoga 920 review: A premium 2-in-1 convertible
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (third-generation)
In our review of the latest generation, we said it’s designed to compete with Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro, as it brings tablet computing into the office without compromising on traditional laptop features. It should be the only laptop a mobile professional needs. The 13-inch tablet is very solid, and its durable kickstand hinge supports a wide range of angles. The keyboard is detachable, too, so you can get the full Windows 10 tablet experience.
Plus, there’s an LTE variant.
The only drawback is it isn’t cheap. The Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM starts at $1,290.
Also: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet review: A Surface-like tablet CNET | Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 3rd Gen review: A top-quality 2-in-1
Best Apple iPad Pro alternatives that are coming soon
Samsung Galaxy Book 2
We had to include this one — even though you can’t buy it until Nov. 2. Arriving as a successor to last year’s 12-inch Galaxy Book, the $1,000 Galaxy Book 2 runs Windows 10 S and comes with 128GB storage, 4GB RAM, an 8MP rear and 5MP front camera, two USB-C ports, and a microSD slot. An S Pen and keyboard come bundled together with purchase.
It’s also one of the first devices to use the Snapdragon 850 platform, which promises Gigabit LTE connectivity and a 20-hours battery life. While not a traditional tablet, the Galaxy Book 2 can be used as one, and CNET thinks it’ll be great for those of you who want to work anywhere, anytime.
Also: Samsung Galaxy Book (12-inch) review: A great Windows tablet CNET | Samsung unveils Always Connected Galaxy Book 2 PC
Google Pixel Slate
When CNET checked out the just-announced 12-inch Pixel Slate, it described the device as a convertible tablet-meets-Chromebook with detachable keyboard that’s basically the iPad keyboard we’ve all wanted for years: one with a touchpad, one that feels like a laptop, and one that adds front and back protection to the tablet when traveling. The Slate is clearly designed to go up against the Microsoft Surface and its workplace-meets-tablet design, but it also seems to come within striking distance of the iPad Pro, especially in terms of price.
The model with Core i5 and 16GB of RAM starts at $599 and will be available from November. It can be paired with the Pixel Slate Keyboard ($199) and Pixelbook Pen ($99). It’s honestly a perfect model for where Apple should take its iPad next. Our only problem with it is the lack of LTE and good desktop-class apps, which can make it a problematic purchase.
Also: Google Pixel Slate, hands-on: the keyboard’s the best feature CNET | Google’s Pixel Slate problem: The Android apps are awful
For more great deals on devices, gadgetry, and technology for your enterprise, business, or home office, see ZDNet’s Business Bargain Hunter blog. Affiliate disclosure: ZDNet earns commission from the products and services featured on this page.
Previous and related coverage:
Apple to hold iPad Pro event on Oct. 30 in New York
The company is expected to announce new iPad models and possibly update its MacBook lineup.
Here’s the next iPad Pro Apple should build: Specs and speculation
Apple’s third-generation iPad Pro is likely to have important but incremental improvements over its predecessor and include technologies introduced in the iPhone X.
New iPad Pro: Fantasy features list
I’ve not owned an iPad in years, but if Apple updated the iPad Pro and added the following features, I’d be the first in line to buy a new one.
Apple iPad Pro Review: A superb tablet waiting for its time to shine
It’s hard to review the new iPad Pro without peering into the future and thinking of its true potential once iOS 11 is released.
I tried to write this article on an iPad Pro. It didn’t go well
Apple keeps insisting an iPad Pro is a computer. So could I switch to it from a MacBook Air?
New iPad Pro 2018: All the rumors on specs, prices, and features CNET
Will the new iPad Pro show up at Apple’s upcoming event?
The iPad Pro 2018 models: 8 things the pros need TechRepublic
The iPad Pro is Apple’s effort to build a tablet for the enterprise, but it would be a better business tool with these features.
Consumer groups and child development experts petition Facebook to drop ‘Instagram for kids’ plan – TechCrunch
A coalition of 35 consumer advocacy groups along with 64 experts in child development have co-signed a letter to Facebook asking the company to reconsider its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13, which Facebook has confirmed to be in development. In the letter, the groups and experts argue that social media is linked with several risk factors for younger children and adolescents, related to both their physical health and overall well-being.
The letter was written by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group that often leads campaigns against big tech and its targeting of children.
The group stresses how influential social media is on young people’s development, and the dangers such an app could bring:
“A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to adolescents. Instagram, in particular, exploits young people’s fear of missing out and desire for peer approval to encourage children and teens to constantly check their devices and share photos with their followers,” it states. “The platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation, and branding presents challenges to adolescents’ privacy and wellbeing. Younger children are even less developmentally equipped to deal with these challenges, as they are learning to navigate social interactions, friendships, and their inner sense of strengths and challenges during this crucial window of development,” the letter reads.
Citing public health research and other studies, the letter notes that excessive screen time and social media use can contribute to a variety of risks for kids including obesity, lower psychological well-being, decreased quality of sleep, increased risk of depression and suicide ideation, and other issues. Adolescent girls report feeling pressured to post sexualized selfies for attention from their peers, the letter said, and 59% of U.S. teens have reported being bullied in social media, as well.
Another concern the groups have is the use of the Instagram algorithm which could suggest what kids would see and click on next, noting that children are “highly persuadable.”
They also point out that Facebook knows there are already children under 13 who have lied about their age using the Instagram platform, and these users will be unlikely to migrate to what they’ll view as a more “babyish” version of the app than the one they’re already using. That means Facebook is really targeting an even younger age group who don’t yet have an Instagram account with this “kids version.”
Despite the concerns being raised, Instagram’s plans to compete for younger users will not likely be impacted by the outcry. Already, Instagram’s top competitor in social media today — TikTok — has developed an experience for kids under 13. In fact, it was forced to age-gate its app as a result of its settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which had investigated Musical.ly (the app that became TikTok) for violations of the U.S. children’s privacy law COPPA.
Facebook, too, could be in a similar situation where it has to age-gate Instagram in order to properly direct its existing underage users to a COPPA-compliant experience. At the very least, Facebook has grounds to argue that it shouldn’t have to boot the under-13 crowd off its app, since TikTok did not. And the FTC’s fines, even when historic, barely make a dent in tech giants’ revenues.
The advocacy groups’ letter follows a push from Democratic lawmakers, who also this month penned a letter addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to express concerns over Facebook’s ability to protect kids’ privacy and their well-being. Their letter had specifically cited Messenger Kids, which was once found to have a design flaw that let kids chat with unauthorized users. The lawmakers gave Facebook until April 26 to respond to their questions.
Zuckerberg confirmed Facebook’s plans for an Instagram for kids at a Congressional hearing back in March, saying that the company was “early in our thinking” about how the app would work, but noted it would involve some sort of parental oversight and involvement. That’s similar to what Facebook offers today via Messenger Kids and TikTok does via its Family Pairing parental controls.
The market, in other words, is shifting towards acknowledging that kids are already on social media — with or without parents’ permission. As a result, companies are building features and age gates to accommodate that reality. The downside to this plan, of course, is once you legitimize the creation of social apps for the under-13 demographic, companies are given the legal right to hook kids even younger on what are, arguably, risky experiences from a public health standpoint.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood also today launched a petition which others can sign to push Facebook to cancel its plans for an Instagram for kids.
Instagram Letter by TechCrunch on Scribd
Facebook to test new business discovery features in U.S. News Feed – TechCrunch
Facebook announced this morning it will begin testing a new experience for discovering businesses in its News Feed in the U.S. When live, users to tap on topics they’re interested in underneath posts and ads in their News Feed in order to explore related content from businesses. The change comes at a time when Facebook has been arguing how Apple’s App Tracking Transparency update will impact its small business customers — a claim many have dismissed as misleading, but nevertheless led some mom and pop shops to express concern about the impacts to their ad targeting capabilities, as a result. This new test is an example of how easily Facebook can tweak its News Feed to build out more data on its users, if needed.
The company suggests users may see the change under posts and ads from businesses selling beauty products, fitness or clothing, among other things.
The idea here is that Facebook would direct users to related businesses through a News Feed feature, when they take a specific action to discover related content. This, in turn, could help Facebook create a new set of data on its users, in terms of which users clicked to see more, and what sort of businesses they engaged with, among other things. Over time, it could turn this feature into an ad unit, if desired, where businesses could pay for higher placement.
“People already discover businesses while scrolling through News Feed, and this will make it easier to discover and consider new businesses they might not have found on their own,” the company noted in a brief announcement.
Facebook didn’t detail its further plans with the test, but said as it learned from how users interacted with the feature, it will expand the experience to more people and businesses.
Along with news of the test, Facebook said it will roll out more tools for business owners this month, including the ability to create, publish and schedule Stories to both Facebook and Instagram; make changes and edits to Scheduled Posts; and soon, create and manage Facebook Photos and Albums from Facebook’s Business Suite. It will also soon add the ability to create and save Facebook and Instagram posts as drafts from the Business Suite mobile app.
Related to the businesses updates, Facebook updated features across ad products focused on connecting businesses with customer leads, including Lead Ads, Call Ads, and Click to Messenger Lead Generations.
Facebook earlier this year announced a new Facebook Page experience that gave businesses the ability to engage on the social network with their business profile for things like posting, commenting and liking, and access to their own, dedicated News Feed. And it had removed the Like button in favor of focusing on Followers.
It is not a coincidence that Facebook is touting its tools for small businesses at a time when there’s concern — much of it loudly shouted by Facebook itself — that its platform could be less useful to small business owners in the near future, when ad targeting capabilities becomes less precise as users vote ‘no’ when Facebook’s iOS app asks if it can track them.
Instagram’s new test lets you choose if you want to hide ‘Likes,’ Facebook test to follow – TechCrunch
Instagram today will begin a new test around hiding Like counts on users’ posts, following its experiments in this area which first began in 2019. This time, however, Instagram is not enabling or disabling the feature for more users. Instead, it will begin to explore a new option where users get to decide what works best for them — either choosing to see the Like counts on others’ posts, or not. Users will also be able to turn off Like counts on their own posts, if they choose. Facebook additionally confirmed it will begin to test a similar experience on its own social network.
Instagram says tests involving Like counts were deprioritized after Covid-19 hit, as the company focused on other efforts needed to support its community. (Except for that brief period this March where Instagram accidentally hid Likes for more users due to a bug.)
The company says it’s now revisiting the feedback it collected from users during the tests and found a wide range of opinions. Originally, the idea with hiding Like counts was about reducing the anxiety and embarrassment that surrounds posting content on the social network. That is, people would stress over whether their post would receive enough Likes to be deemed “popular.” This problem was particularly difficult for Instagram’s younger users, who care much more about what their peers think — so much so that they would take down posts that didn’t receive “enough” Likes.
In addition, the removal of Likes helped reduce the sort of herd mentality that drives people to like things that are already popular, as opposed to judging the content for themselves.
But during tests, not everyone agreed the removal of Likes was a change for the better. Some people said they still wanted to see Like counts so they could track what was trending and popular. The argument for keeping Likes was more prevalent among the influencer community, where creators used the metric in order to communicate their value to partners, like brands and advertisers. Here, lower engagement rates on posts could directly translate to lower earnings for these creators.
Both arguments for and against Likes have merit, which is why Instagram’s latest test will put the choice back into users’ own hands.
This new test will be enabled for a small percentage of users globally on Instagram, the company says.
If you’ve been opted in, you’ll find a new option to hide the Likes from within the app’s Settings. This will prevent you from seeing Likes on other people’s posts as you scroll through your Instagram Feed. As a creator, you’ll be able to hide Likes on a per-post basis via the three-dot “…” menu at the top. Even if Likes are disabled publicly, creators are still able to view Like counts and other engagements through analytics, just as they did before.
The tests on Facebook, which has also been testing Like count removals for some time, have not yet begun. Facebook tells TechCrunch those will roll out in the weeks ahead.
Making Like counts an choice may initially seem like it could help to address everyone’s needs. But in reality, if the wider influencer community chooses to continue to use Likes as a currency that translates to popularity and job opportunities, then other users will continue to do the same.
Ultimately, communities themselves have to decide what sort of tone they want to set, preferably from the outset — before you’ve attracted millions of users who will be angry when you later try to change course.
There’s also a question as to whether social media users are really hungry for an “Like-free” safer space. For years we’ve seen startups focused on building an “anti-Instagram” of sorts, where they drop one or more Instagram features, like algorithmic feeds, Likes and other engagement mechanisms, such as Minutiae, Vero, Dayflash, Oggl, and now, newcomers like troubled Dispo, or under-the-radar Herd. But Instagram has yet to fail because of an anti-Instagram rival. If anything is a threat, it’s a new type of social network entirely, like TikTok –where it should be noted getting Likes and engagements is still very important for creator success.
Instagram didn’t say how long the new tests would last or if and when the features would roll out more broadly.
“We’re testing this on Instagram to start, but we’re also exploring a similar experience for Facebook. We will learn from this new small test and have more to share soon,” a Facebook company spokesperson said.
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