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The best tablet of 2014: Apple vs Sony vs Samsung

Tony Ibrahim | May 26, 2014
Savage competition has seen the gap separating Apple's iPad from a slew of Android tablets close. Ambassadors of Android, particularly Samsung and Sony, have learnt how to couple the refined OS with capable hardware. The result: better products for less. This comparison takes the two most competitive tablets, Samsung's Galaxy NotePro 12.2 and Sony's Xperia Z2 Tablet, and measures how they stand next to Apple's iPad Air.

Savage competition has seen the gap separating Apple's iPad from a slew of Android tablets close. Ambassadors of Android, particularly Samsung and Sony, have learnt how to couple the refined OS with capable hardware. The result: better products for less.

This comparison takes the two most competitive tablets, Samsung's Galaxy NotePro 12.2 and Sony's Xperia Z2 Tablet, and measures how they stand next to Apple's iPad Air.

Where function meets form

Design is paramount in making complex technology available to people of all technical aptitudes. A poorly designed tablet can lead to great features going unappeciated.

There's no denying it weighs the hand down

Falling first in design is the Samsung NotePro. Undermining the charm of its brushed steel borders and faux leather back is a hearty weight of 753 grams. In fairness, the tablet does have the largest screen at 12.2 inches, but there's no denying it weighs the hand down.

Sony's tablet is the antithesis to the heavy Samsung. It's a featherweight at 439 grams and one of the thinnest tablets in any division at 6mm. Sony has realised ambitious design with the Xperia Z2 Tablet. The buttons are bespoke, the edging functional and the bordering bezel complements the screen like an artwork's frame. The Xperia Z2 Tablet by all accounts achieves great things in design, but the iPad Air achieves even more.

The 469 gram iPad air achieves a nice balance between height, width and weight. This keeps it competitive against rivals like the Xperia Z2 Tablet, but it edges ahead on sheer attention to detail.

The iPad Air is a combination of premium materials and skilled craftsmanship. The fine bezels are punctuated by diamond-polished chamfers, and the speaker grilles are precision drilled with lasers into an aluminium body. The extra attention invested in seemingly insignificant details produce a grand experience with the iPad Air.

Winner: Apple iPad Air -- just

Android skins v Apple iOS

There was a time when Google's Android felt malnourished compared to Apple's iOS, but that no longer is the case. Samsung and Sony's tablets run the latest version of Android 4.4 KitKat, each dressed with a custom manufacturer overlay.

Every single facet of Apple's iOS is a fine example of technological art

Samsung's TouchWiz overlay shines on this tablet. There is no end to its functionality and, unlike the shabby look of TouchWiz on the Galaxy S5, it dons consistent aesthetics throughout the 12.2-inch tablet. However, in spite of its many improvements, its software does not lead the industry.

Every single facet of Apple's iOS, from the homescreen to the bowls of its settings menu, is a fine example of technological art. Apple's credence that a company needs to make both the hardware and the software resonates as iOS takes full advantage of the screen's space. The established App Store sweetens the deal further by offering more tablet-oriented apps than that of Google's Play. The colour scheme, the gestures, the animations, the speed: all of it is to the highest standard.

 

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