Best Windows tablet 2021: Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ vs. tablets from Dell, HP, and Lenovo

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The best Windows tablets squeeze as much performance, battery life, and features as they can inside their ultraportable form factors. Also sometimes referred to as 2-in-1s, thanks to their ability to function as a laptop with the aid of rotating or removable keyboards, these compact PCs can replace a traditional laptop or an iPad for on-the-go work and play. Of the four major tablets of the 2021 generation, two are particularly notable and stand out above the others.

The four contenders are the Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable, the HP Elite Folio, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1, and the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+. Historically, we’ve seen Microsoft push hard with generation after generation of new Windows tablets. Third-party manufacturers haven’t been as consistent, but they’ve offered their own improvements, including webcam covers, superior keyboards, and powerful, sophisticated support utilities.

Our individual reviews delve deeply into each tablet’s strengths and weaknesses. In this article, however, we’ll provide a top-down comparison of all four, focusing on the areas that should be of particular interest to a Windows tablet buyer. We’ve also compared all four tablets using our standard benchmark suite, and look at those results alongside some traditional laptops.

Affordability

The tablets we were sent for review by the four manufacturers varied by price and configuration, but the lowest-priced base option is the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+—though adding a pen and keyboard elevates the price above the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1.

Once kitted out with a keyboard and optional pen, each tablet is quite similar in price. Only the Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable and the HP Elite Folio actually include both accessories as part of the purchase price, however. Lenovo charges extra for a pen ($51.98 on Amazon) with 4,096 levels of pressure, and Microsoft suggests you buy its Surface Pro Signature Type Cover ($139 on Amazon) and Surface Pen ($89 on Amazon) for optimum functionality.

Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable primary 2 Mark Hachman / IDG

Dell’s Latitude 7320 Detachable is one of two Windows tablets PCWorld recommends.

We’ve included the base pricing of our review units below as of press time, excluding the cost of any peripherals, with the price of our review unit in parentheses. Note that Lenovo offers substantial “discounts” for buying direct on its site.

  • Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable: $1,559 on up ($2,189 as tested)
  • HP Elite Folio: $1,895 on up ($1,889 as tested)
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1: $1,819 on up; $1,091.40 after discounts ($2,219.00 as tested; $1,331.40 after discount)
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 7+: $900 on up; ($1,650 as tested)

We consider the lowest-priced model of the Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable, with 4GB of memory, too skimpy for everyday use. But if you don’t mind a Core i3, the minimum $899.99 configuration of the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ is certainly feasible.

Microsoft surface pro 7+ primary Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7+ offers a variety of prices and configurations to serve most budgets. It’s one of the best Windows tablets too.

Weight, portability, and overall design

We prefer the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ and Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable here, as they offer the best combination of features. Technically, only three are “traditional” tablets:  We’d categorize the HP Elite Folio as a 2-in-1, but the separate tablet and keyboard are wrapped together inside of a faux-leather sheath that connects both the tablet and keyboard as a single unit. Instead of physically separating, the Folio’s tablet can “pull forward” or swivel back like a traditional tablet. The others use integrated kickstands that allow the tablets to recline.



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