Despite what so many Mac addicts think, not every tablet that matters has an Apple logo on it. In fact, there are some amazing non-iPad options that offer the same—if not better—features, software and usability.
Microsoft Surface Pro
While the Microsoft Surface Pro technically falls into the tablet category, it’s really more like a tablet-notebook hybrid. Even though it’s just under 2 pounds and has a 10.6-inch screen, you’ll be more likely to leave the Surface Pro at the office and use it in lieu of a PC. It runs on Windows 8 pro and supports any application you’d use on your standard desktop. Plus, for an extra $120, you can purchase the tablet’s Touch Cover (here, in blue) — a protective piece that folds over the screen, but also acts as a tap-to-type keyboard. Or if you prefer taking notes by hand, the Surface Pro comes with a stylus that enables handwriting on the tablet.
Price: $899 for 64GB; $999 for 128GB
Available in the U.S. and Canada beginning February 9 on Microsoft.com.
Lenovo ThinkPad 2
For those who fear straying too far from the comfort of Apple products, the Lenovo ThinkPad 2 might be your best bet. For starters, it’s pretty similar in size: the ThinkPad 2 measures 10.1 inches; the screen size of an iPad is 9.7 inches; an iPad mini is 7.9 inches. It has a 2 megapixel front-facing camera and an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, both with an LED flash. Other noteable features: a USB port, HDMI capability and 10-hour battery life. And similar to the Surface Pro, the ThinkPad 2 comes with a stylus that enables handwriting. If you tend to misplace things like pens, fear not: you can store the stylus in a slot at the top of the tablet.
Price: $679 for 64GB
Available online at Lenovo.com
Sony Xperia Tablet S
If you ever worry about visitors or kids getting into your tablet, you’ll really appreciate Sony Xperia‘s built-in guest mode. Just set up a user-specific profile, and it works just like a parental control feature—you can grant children or guests access to a pre-selected range of apps. The Sony Xperia looks like your typical 9.4-inch black slate, although the back is an eye-catching slick aluminum. Another highlight: The downloadable app that turns the tablet into a universal remote control for your television.
Price: $399.99 for 16GB; $499.99 for 32GB
Available online at Sony.com
Vizio Tablet (name still TBA)
Vizio isn’t a brand you’ve probably associated with PCs before, but they’re out to change that with their recent tablet announcement. (They don’t have an official release date or price yet, but we think it’ll be worth the wait). For tablet newbies, this should be a great middle-of-the-road option. It has a substantial 11.6-inch screen size and a super sleek design, but it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles a pro might require. The tablet has a front-facing 2 megapixel camera, micro-HDMI and micro-USB ports (smaller versions of standard HDMI and USB plugs, these can be used to connect your cell phone to the tablet). Bonus for this entry-level choice: Vizio’s tablet offers full HD resolution, which means supersharp visuals.
Price and availability: TBA