The best tablet of 2014: Apple vs Sony vs Samsung

The competition is intense.

Megapixels and cameras

The cameras on these tablets linger behind those featured on smartphones as, after all, who wants to take a photo with a device 12.2-inches large?

It lacks a flash, and there are times a little light goes a long way

The Apple iPad has a proficient 5 megapixel rear camera and a low resolution 1.2 megapixel camera on the front. The rear camera admirably snaps photos in a range of lighting conditions. However, the iPad Air has the least number of megapixels. Furthermore it lacks a flash, and there are times a little light goes a long way.

Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet has a higher resolution 8 megapixel rear camera and a 2.2 megapixel front camera. Imaging is one of Sony’s core strengths, but the Z2 Tablet is let down by the omission of an HDR shooting mode. Also dampening the Z2 Tablet’s experience is the lack of a flash like that of the iPad Air.

Samsung’s tablet has a flash. And HDR shooting. The tablet’s 8 megapixel rear camera and 2 megapixel front-facing camera are well equipped and are versed in a range of lighting conditions. Although the NotePro’s camera isn’t better than most smartphone cameras, it’s certainly the best of the trio.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy NotePro 12.2

Features and extras

Apple’s iPad does the ordinary things extraordinarily well, but the Air’s innovation over its predecessor was its slender proportions and light weight. Sony since has one upped Apple by creating a tablet than is “thinner” and “lighter”, to quote Apple’s marketing campaign.

Samsung applications take advantage of the S-Pen’s uncanny receptiveness

Samsung tried to innovate the popular slate with the inclusion of its S-Pen stylus. Several Samsung applications take advantage of the S-Pen’s uncanny receptiveness as it captures the nuances of pens, pencils, textas and more. It’s easy to jot down legible notes with the S-Pen, as is doodling on impromptu screenshots. The S-Pen radically expands the functionality of the NotePro.

Another thing separates Samsung and Sony’s tablets from the masses. The top of each tablet is equipped with a flush IR blaster, while the Samsung features an electronic program guide. This means both tablets can be used as a remote control to operate the devices in your home entertainment setup.

Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet has it’s own party trick: it is waterproof. The tablet has ascertained certification against dust and can take on freshwater 1.5 metres deep for thirty minutes. During our testing of the Z2 Tablet, it replayed an episode of Game of thrones — audio and all — while completely submerged in a bucket of water. The ability to withstand water makes the Z2 the tablet of choice for people who demand more from a tablet.

An HDR photo captured with the NotePro 12.2
An HDR photo captured with the NotePro 12.2

Winner: Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

Verdict

The tally reads:

Samsung: 2
Sony: 2
Apple: 1

But these numbers don’t tell the full story.

Samsung’s Galaxy NotePro 12.2 is a fantastic tablet, but its 12.2-inch size and its exorbitant price tag precludes it from being the tablet of choice for the masses. This is a niche product that wouldn’t bode well with most people.

Sony and Apple’s slates will be the tablets most people gravitate towards. Just a year ago this would’ve been a no brainer; Apple’s iPad would’ve won hands down. The fact Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet can go punch-for-punch with the mighty Apple is a testament to Sony’s rapid rate of innovation. The Z2 Tablet is thinner, lighter and more durable, but picking between these two tablets isn’t a binary choice.

Each of these tablets are as good as each other: if you’re a fan of Apple’s ecosystem, buy the iPad Air — you’ll love it. If you’re a fan of open-source anything, buy the Xperia Z2 Tablet — you’ll love it just as much.

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

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Tags NoteProiosZ2 TabletAndroid12.2iPadgalaxyApplesamsungZ24.4XperiaAIRsonyKitKat

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