Find the Best Tablets for Your Business Type

Updated February 2016

Don’t let the diminutive form factor fool you, a tablet can be a business owner’s best friend. The device provides the functionality of a phone with a bigger form factor that makes certain tasks simpler. From the start-up founder to the small enterprise owner, business people are using tablets for everything from cash registers to customer service. Here’s a look at some recommended tablets for different industries:

Construction/Engineering/Architecture

  • Tasks: Accessing files and data in the field, note taking on-site, reviewing plans with clients and colleagues
  • Key Factors: Rugged build, shock protection, dust/direct resistance, good battery life, Wi-Fi and cellular capability for accessing files in the cloud; high-resolution display; top-notch processing power, especially for graphics-intensive work
  • Possible Option: iPad Pro™ with rugged case (powerful A9X processor, supports Apple® Pencil)
  • Tip: Research the Mil-Spec or Mil-Std ratings, which indicate how the device performs against U.S. Military standards for interoperability, durability and total cost of ownership

Learn about keeping devices and data safe in the field.

Creative

  • Tasks: Demoing graphic, video or musical work to clients; taking notes at client meetings
  • Key Factors: Bright, high-resolution display; high-quality built-in sound; ports for external sound sources
  •  Possible Options: Microsoft® Surface Pro 4 (supports Surface Pen, PixelSense™ display for high contrast visuals), iPad Pro (sharp images, loads of apps)

Read about fostering creativity and innovation.

Education

  • Tasks: Running educational videos and apps, modeling skills and procedures, taking notes at students’ desks, providing mini lessons to small groups, recording and photographing student work
  • Key Factors: Clear display, low weight, stylus enabled, login security, fast processing speed to handle videos, good audio and video recording, stylus compatible
  • Possible Options: Apple iPad Air™ with Retina display (weighs 1 pound, good camera), Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (supports Surface Pen, dual microphones)

Check out these tips for using technology in the classroom.

Healthcare & Medical

  • Tasks: Taking notes during office visits and care team meetings, capturing and sharing images, using EMR software and apps, completing online forms, handling payments
  • Key Factors: Durable and water-resistant housing, card reader capable, enhanced login and data security, clinical grade rated, EMR compatibility
  • Possible Options: Apple iPad Air 2 (light, familiar interface); Microsoft Surface Pro 4(Windows 10, kickstand)
    • Tip: Inquire about special features and clinical-grade machines for use in healthcare settings.

Learn more about small medical practice management.

Restaurant 

  • Tasks: Checking in deliveries, researching recipes and ingredients, interacting with business management and POS/mPOS software, teaching techniques via videos
  • Key Factors: Compatibility with inventory, marketing and POS/mPOS software platforms; fast processing speed to complete transactions and update stock; long battery life; good camera; water resistance; shock protection; durable housing
  • Possible Options: iPad Air 2 (great camera, good battery life), Microsoft Surface 4 Pro (solid-state drive, Windows 10)

Get tips for running your restaurant.

Retail 

  • Tasks: Handling point-of-sale transactions at the register and on the floor, checking inventory or order status on-demand, gathering customer data and research, showing product options
  • Key Factors: Login and data security; multiple user profiles; compatibility with inventory, marketing and POS/mPOS software platforms; fast processing speed to complete transactions and update stock; long battery life; good camera for photographing merchandise; reasonable replacement cost
  • Possible Options: Microsoft Surface 3 or Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (Windows 10, good battery life)

Read more advice for retail store owners.

Additional Considerations

Beyond these factors, it’s also important to consider connectivity with the computers and phones you already use for your business. While many business software programs and apps are available on all mobile platforms, it’s often more efficient to keep devices “in the family.” 

Tablets carry smaller price tags, giving you the budgetary flexibility to set up kiosks or to deploy multiple devices to your employees. Replacement costs are lower, too. But pay attention to expenses related to wireless connectivity or increasing memory, which can make the total cost of ownership higher than the list price.

These recommendations are a starting point for your tablet research. Consult with colleagues in your industry about how they use tablets and which models they prefer. Then evaluate the options against your specific needs and budget.

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