The 4 Best Tablets for Architects in 2018

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Tablets have become an indispensable part of the modern architect’s arsenal.

When you’re out in the field, the convenience that a tablet gives you cannot be beaten. A smartphone doesn’t have the same screen size, and a laptop doesn’t have the same comfort.

It’s for these reasons that architects need to choose carefully when they’re buying a tablet for their work.

What works for someone else might not work for you. What you’ll want to keep in mind are the following things.

Your screen size requirement, battery life, use case, and what operating system you prefer for use.

best tablet for architects

Image via Suganth@suganth

Here are some of the best tablets for architects that should suit your purpose just fine.

Best Tablets for Architects

1. Apple iPad Pro, Wi-Fi, 12.9”

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The Apple iPad Pro has become a mainstay when choosing a tablet for almost any usage. Apple’s excellent build quality and incredible work ability with iOS make this one of the most desirable tablets on the market.

The 12.9” iPad Pro is the largest iPad that Apple has to offer. With a screen that rivals the size of most small laptops, it’s meant purely for the professional. That’s obvious, with the “Pro” tag in the name. The screen is the biggest improvement in this tablet, being a complete joy whenever you turn it on.

But that’s not the only improvement in the iPad Pro. The new A9X chip is faster than the predecessors that powered its younger siblings, the iPhones. It can easily run intensive tasks without breaking a sweat or heating up the chassis.

In fact, the iPad Pro beats out a lot of budget laptops in this segment. For an ARM chip, that’s quite the achievement.

The one thing that might be somewhat of a turn-off is the actual size of the iPad. Compared to some of the smaller variants, this can be somewhat cumbersome. But if you need the larger display for your presentations and videos on the field, then this does make sense.

One thing to note that the base model is Wi-Fi only. If you’re planning on using this in the field a lot, then it makes sense to go for the cellular option, so you don’t have to constantly turn on a hotspot and drain your phone. 

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S-Pen

Samsung is one of the last manufacturers when it comes to Android tablets, and for a good reason. Their tablets have consistently been above other Android manufacturers, making it very easy to choose an Android tablet.

The Galaxy Tab A is no different, providing a quality tablet experience, and definitely, one to consider if you are an architect that needs a dependable device in the field.

Samsung chose to go with high-quality plastic for this tablet, in stark contrast to the all-metal construction that Apple usually prefers for their iPads. Although this doesn’t have the same premium feel, that doesn’t mean that this is of bad quality. It can take a few nicks and bumps without denting like metal.

This also makes it very light and easy to carry and doesn’t cause any fatigue even if you’re holding it up for a long time.

The Galaxy Tab A also comes with the standard selection of ports that you’d come to expect, like the headphone jack and a micro USB port for charging. Also, there is also a micro SD card if you feel like you need more memory than what Samsung provides, which is 16GB. You can expand the storage using an SD card with a maximum storage of 128GB.

As an 8-inch tablet, this is still relatively easy to hold with one hand, making it useful if you prefer smaller sizes in tablets.

Overall, if Android is your mobile OS of choice, then this is for you. 

3. Microsoft Surface Book

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Microsoft’s answer to the iPad is one of the unique devices on the market. Although you can technically classify it as a 2-in-1, it does so much more than just small gimmicks.

The Surface Book is both a tablet and a laptop in one. This device is the start of Microsoft’s ambitious plans to lead the way forward with Windows 10, both for consumers and as a template for OEMs to follow.

The device by itself is gorgeous. The whole body is machined out of magnesium, giving it a very premium and luxurious feel. There is a dedicated keyboard that can be detached and attached using a unique docking mechanism.

When it comes to internals, the Surface Book comes prepared. It has a Core i5 processor that is capable of running most tasks without breaking a sweat. For rendering, there is a Nvidia GeForce GTX940M GPU.

The display rests with the keyboard on a unique fulcrum hinge, and the build quality is one of the best in the market. It’s a large 13.5” display, cramming in a resolution of 3000×2000.

This unique aspect ratio is perfect for productivity.

If you prefer running Windows and need a tablet for all your needs, the Surface Book is one of the best options to look at. With this, you can double your laptop as a tablet whenever you need it. 

4. Microsoft Surface Pro

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If you aren’t a fan of the Surface Book and want something that is more of a dedicated tablet, Microsoft has got you covered with the Surface Pro.

The fifth generation of the Surface Pro has made astounding leaps forward regarding design and quality for the Surface Pro line.

The design is familiar with the older Surface Pros, with a few tweaks to keep it fresh.

The screen retains the same 3:2 aspect ratio, in a 12.3-inch PixelSense touchscreen. It has a resolution of 2736×1824, making it one of the sharpest displays you’ll find on a tablet.

There is also the familiar rear hinge to keep the tablet upright. But the fifth generation update has given the hinge a little more usability, a studio mode, where the hinge can drop down to 165 degrees, mimicking the Surface Studio.

The internals remains updated to the latest specs, and there is quite a variety if you’re looking for something in your budget. It starts with a Core m3, but you can choose up to a Core i7.

RAM starts at 4 GB, paired with the Core m3 version, and goes all the way up to 16 GB with the Core i7 version. There’s also the storage to customize, starting out at 128 GB and maxing out at 1 TB.

Taking this into the field is a total pleasure. It’s easy to use, the touchscreen is intuitive, and you can do pretty much everything you do with a regular desktop on the Surface since this isn’t a mobile operating system like Android or iOS.

Overall, the Surface Pro is an excellent tablet to go for if you prefer Windows and need something lightweight. 

Image via Dose Media@dose

How to Choose the Best Tablet for Architects

When you’re trying to choose a tablet to take with you to the field, there are a few key things that you want to keep in mind before going ahead with the purchase. Here is what you’ll want to look out for.

1. Operating System

iOS, Android, and Windows are the top three platforms that you’ll be choosing from. Each of them has their strengths and weaknesses, but a lot of it comes down to personal preference as well.

If you have and like an iPhone, then it makes sense to go with iOS. Apple devices work very well together, and you won’t have a problem getting used to the interface.

2. Hardware

Hardware is arguably one of the most important things to look for in a tablet since that is what will be powering your device.

Depending on your budget, you’ll either be tempted to get the cheapest or most expensive variant you can. There is a better way to do it.

Figure out how intensive your workload is going to be, and buy something that is suited to that. It makes little sense to buy a tablet with a high-end processor if you’re never going to use the full power of the device.

Moreover, it’ll also consume more battery. So, find out how much of a power user you are, and get something according to your needs.

3. Battery Life

Battery life is extremely important when you’re in the field. You don’t want to be in the middle of a presentation and see your tablet shut down because you don’t have enough juice in the tablet.

The best way to check for battery life is to read through as many reviews as you can and find which device has a battery life that you can live with.

Some people are okay with lesser battery life, and some people need a lot more.

4. Storage

Although we are living in the age where we throw everything into the cloud, it does make sense to have some ample storage on the device.

Most tablets will offer a variety of storage options. Make a rough calculation of the size of the apps that you’ll be using, and add in a bit more for photos and videos that you might take on site, and buy storage that’s a little bit more than your actual necessity.

This way, you’re never in want for storage should you find yourself installing more apps and taking more photos than you usually do.

5. Display Size

Bigger displays are incredible to look at, but they’re also a hassle to carry around everywhere. Smaller displays are convenient to carry, but they aren’t the most pleasing to show to a crowd of people looking at a presentation.

Also take into factor the quality of the display, with regards to color reproduction, display brightness, and the type of panel the display is. A good panel might be more expensive, but it’s worth the quality that you’re getting.

6. Connectivity

It might make sense initially to buy a tablet that only has Wi-Fi, but there is an argument to be made about cellular tablets as well. There are some places where you won’t have Wi-Fi, and in the age of expensive data plans for your phone, it does make sense to invest in a cellular tablet, so that you’re not constantly putting pressure on your data plan.

But if you store a lot of your documents on local storage, it makes sense to buy a Wi-Fi only tablet, since you won’t be using data that much.

7. Accessories

Although they can seem superfluous, small things like a stylus, keyboard cover, etc, can make a big difference in how you use your device. A stylus can help you make on-the-fly changes to your renders, and a keyboard cover is way better to type on than the touchscreen keyboard.

Take all of this into account when you are choosing your tablet. You will find a huge difference in the end usage experience. This is a good deal of money that you’re shelling out for a tablet, and you don’t want to end up with something that doesn’t suit your preferences.

Conclusion

For architects, the requirements in a tablet are slightly different from that of a regular user. You’ll need graphical power to do renderings, long battery life to last the whole day without being near a charger, and good display clarity to show your clients and customers your project work.

Whether you’re an architecture student or someone doing this as a profession, the difference is the same, and that is why you should take care when choosing a tablet for yourself. Don’t rush out and buy the cheapest or most expensive device you can, since that’s a surefire way for bad user experience.

Featured image via Rober González@robergd

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