5 iPad alternatives for the enterprise

The iPad may be the king of tablets, but there’s a growing market for Android and Windows devices. Here are five iPad alternatives that can get you from the couch to the office, without missing a beat.

ipad alternatives

iPad alternatives for the enterprise

Apple's iPad -- no matter the generation -- is usually at the top of most "best tablets" lists. That remains true with the latest iPad Air 2 - and will probably be true when the just-announced iPad Pro becomes available. However, while the iPad offers a lot in the way of performance and design, when it comes to productivity, you might find it lacking in some areas. Without the option to use a mouse, split-screen apps and a lack of expandable storage, it may not measure up for your business needs. Or maybe you're just tired of the same old tablet and want to try something new. Whatever your reason, if you want to stray from Apple, here are five iPad alternatives that can easily move your office to your couch.

Microsoft Surface 3

Microsoft Surface 3

While plenty of people use Apple's device at work, most business users will usually find themselves on the Windows platform. While there are cross-platform compatibility options for iOS and Windows, you may be more comfortable sticking with what you know. That's especially true if you need a true desktop experience to get the job done, but still want the flexibility of a tablet.

The Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 are both designed for power users who can't get by without a dedicated trackpad and keyboard, but want the mobility of a portable device. The real upside to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 lies in the fact that you not only have the keyboard and mouse, you also get a full version of Windows 10 on the device. That means you won't have to mess around with apps and home screens, and that you can have the full tiled start menu and desktop you know and love at work.

The Microsoft tablets can also be used with the Surface Pen, for taking notes and jotting down ideas in tablet mode. Unlike the iPad, the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 both come with a number of ports, including a full USB port. It's a great option if you need to multitask, with multiple windows open at one time. There are also more options to customize the device, which starts at $799 for the base Surface Pro 3 model and $499 for the base Surface 3 model.

Bottom line: The Microsoft Surface line is great if you can't get much done without a keyboard, mouse and full desktop experience; however, depending on how you customize it, it can come with the price tag more typically found on a notebook.

Related Story: Microsoft Surface 3, OneNote and Surface pen are killer combo

Samsung Galaxy S2

Samsung Galaxy S2

Android tablets have come a long way in the last couple years in terms of performance, build and available apps. Sure, there are still more Android apps designed for smartphones than tablets, but for the most part, you're going to be able to get most of your favorite apps on an Android tablet. As long as you can handle not getting every app first -- because apps typically release to iOS before Android -- you can get a lot done with the Samsung Galaxy S2 tablet.

Two major advantages of the Samsung Galaxy S2 include the capability to use a mouse -- as long as you get a miniUSB to full USB converter -- and the option to have expandable storage via the microSD card slot. Another useful feature for business users is that on the Android platform you can view apps in split screen, and you can even drag windows down so they remain open in small windows on the tablet's home screen. For power users that switch between multiple apps to get work done, it might be a more reasonable option than the iPad. The Galaxy S2 starts at $499.99 for the 9.7-inch model with 32GB of memory, and goes up from there. You can also opt for the smaller 8-inch model, which starts at $399.99 for the 32GB model, but 8-inches might not be enough real estate to get serious work done.

Also, you can even get the entire Microsoft Office App suite on Android, so you won't be missing out if you need Word, Excel or PowerPoint.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S2 tablet is great for anyone who wants the performance and quality of an iPad Air 2, but on the Android ecosystem.

Dell Inspiron 11

Dell Inspiron 11

Dell holds a special place in the hearts of IT departments across corporate America, and you can find these Dell's workhorse notebooks in plenty of office across the country. And for good reason: Dell is known for solid customer support, sturdy machines and affordable prices, which are all the things IT considers when dolling out laptops to every employee in the company. But if you equate Dell with boring, run-of-the-mill notebooks, you'd be sorely mistaken. Dell more than proved it knows how to design a gorgeous notebook with the XPS 13, and now, it's also entered the hybrid market with the Dell Inspiron 11 3000. If you've ever seen the Lenovo Yoga lineup, it's similar in function and size, with the screen rotating a full 360 degrees backwards, rather than detaching from the keyboard. You'll get everything you'd get with a typical notebook of this size, including full Windows 10 as well as a dedicated keyboard and trackpad, but the screen can bend all the way back to let you use it as a tablet.

The battery life will get you up to 11 hours of use, meaning it won't die on you during the day with average use. The price starts at $449, at the time of this writing, with more options to customize compared to your typical tablet, including the iPad. It has two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, a full HDMI port, a 500GB SATA hard drive, 4GB of memory and an 11.6 inch display, for the base model.

Bottom line: A great option for someone who wants a more traditional notebook experience, at an affordable price, with the option to use the device as a tablet now and then.

Dell Venue 8 Pro

Dell Venue 8 Pro

If you want a full tablet experience and you don't need a dedicated keyboard or mouse, but you still want full Windows in a compact device, look no further than the Dell Venue 8 Pro. The tablet features an 8-inch display, with a quad-core Intel Atom processor under the hood. You can pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard and the Dell Active Stylus to get as close to a desktop experience as you want on this tiny tablet. And with a MicroSD slot for expandable storage, you won't have to worry about running out of space either.

This is also a great device for anyone on a strict budget, because the entry-level Dell Venue 8 Pro starts at $99 for the base 8-inch model. They go up in price, and size, from there, with the option to choose from a number of screen sizes ranging from 8-inch to 10.1-inches.

Bottom Line: If you want a compact, inexpensive device that can still give you the full Windows experience, the Dell Venue 8 Pro is a great choice; that is, as long as you can manage to get work done on the tiny screen.

Asus Transformer Book T100

Asus Transformer Book T100

If you like the convenience of the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3, especially the keyboard and mouse, then you might want to check out the ASUS Transformer Book T100. It's a lower-end device in terms of hardware, but it has enough power to get you through the day with Microsoft Office, basic apps and even a little video streaming with apps like Netflix or Hulu. It comes with Windows 8.1, but you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

For the road warrior, it's a great option because it also offers a full day of battery, around 10 to 11 hours with average use, eight hours if you watch a movie. That means you can get by on one charge from your morning to evening commute most days, without hunting for a plug mid-day.

In addition to its already low price of $260 on Amazon for the 64GB version, it comes with Microsoft Office for free, so you won't have to shell out extra money for the full office suite. It's expandable too, with a microHDMI, microSD and microUSB ports located directly on the tablet, both of which can be easily converted to full HDMI and USB with a simple converter. The keyboard has only one port, but it's a useful USB 3.0 port. This tablet's ports are mostly located on the 10.1-inch display because it undocks from the keyboard, giving you a full tablet experience.

Bottom line: If you don't need high performance and tend to stick to the Microsoft Office Suite, basic apps and some casual streaming, the Asus Transformer Book T100 is an affordable option for business users who don't want to pay for the Surface lineup.

Related Story: Tablet Review: ASUS Transformer T100

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

Related Slideshows