Updated July 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best Windows tablets

After the release of Apple’s iconic tablet, the iPad, the world knew it wouldn’t be long before rival Microsoft came to the table with its own portable touchscreen. But rather than imitate the iPad and it’s unique iOS operating system, Microsoft chose a far more interesting path: it put the entire Windows operating system – along with the built-in “tablet mode” – on its tablets.

While Apple and Samsung have primarily focused on making tablets that are basically really big smartphones, Microsoft makes tablets that bring all of the features of a desktop OS to users. Practically anything that can be done on a Windows desktop machine can be done on a Windows tablet, which is a huge boon for business users with Windows-friendly corporate networks.

As a result, Microsoft has carved out its own niche: building and powering tablets for people who need devices that can work as hard as they play.

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Most Windows tablets come with Windows 10 Home Edition pre-installed. If you need the advanced features of Windows 10 Professional Edition (like Remote Desktop), you can pay to upgrade the operating system after purchase.

Work or play?

The most important decision you’ll make when buying a Windows tablet is whether you’ll mostly use it for work or for leisure. The choice is especially important considering that there are two main types of Windows tablets.

Smaller windows tablets

These typically have smaller, lower-resolution screens, slower processors and are generally intended for casual use. While you can certainly browse the internet, watch movies, or play mobile games on a smaller tablet, they’re definitely not great for getting work done or using any heavy-duty applications.

These Windows tablets are the most affordable and often compared to Apple’s iPad and iPad Mini.

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Did you know?
Most Windows tablets can be connected to a monitor so you can easily create a dual-screen setup.

Larger windows tablets

Often referred to as “two-in-ones,” like those in Microsoft’s Surface family of tablets, these are really fully powered, very thin laptops.

These Windows tablets are perfect for road warriors or anyone who needs a capable laptop in an impossibly thin shell.

While they’re often pretty pricey – they are laptops, after all – larger Windows tablets still represent an incredible bang for your buck when compared with similarly powered machines.

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Expert Tip
Many Windows tablets have built-in kickstands so they can be propped up for watching movies. If your tablet doesn’t have a kickstand, you can buy a case with one built in.

Off brands that aren’t so off

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if that’s the case, Microsoft should be incredibly flattered by the many clones of its popular Surface line of Windows tablets. Most successful electronics from American manufacturers get copied sooner or later, but when it comes to mimicking Microsoft’s tablets, something amazing is happening: many of today’s “knock-off” Windows tablets are on par with – and in some cases, even better than – the original Surface products they shamelessly copy.
However, not all off-brand Microsoft tablets are little miracles. Some of them are underpowered hunks of junk designed to fool the unsuspecting. How do you know which is which?

Brand reputation

Some newer companies are building names for themselves, even if you haven’t heard of them yet. If you’re unsure about a particular brand, check user forums and Twitter threads for feedback.

"Windows’ digital assistant, Cortana, is built into many Windows tablets, so you can use voice commands to play music, get real-time traffic and weather updates, or set alarms."

Additional features

The Windows Surface brand feels impossibly thin – and it got that way by leaving out key features like additional USB-C ports or an ethernet port. Off-brand Windows tablets leverage the shortcomings of mainstream competition by including key features.

If you’re looking at off-brand Windows tablets, keep your eyes peeled for models with small, extra touches that enhance functionality.


A good off-brand Windows tablet will save you some money, but not that much. If you see an off-brand Windows tablet at a price that looks too good to be true, it probably is. In general, the highest-quality off brands cost 30% less than the equivalent competition.

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Expert Tip
Many schools purchase off-brand Windows tablets for students due to their durability and affordability. Find out what they are – any tablet that does well in a school setting is worth looking into.

Best accessories for windows tablets

Get the most out of your Windows tablet with these essential accessories:


Whether you plan on using your Windows tablet to take handwritten notes or create your own art, a stylus is an essential tool. Like a “virtual pencil,” a stylus translates your handwriting into pixels or functions as a precise paintbrush.


Even the most durable tablets are susceptible to the occasional ding. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Grab a case for your Windows tablet before that first scratch!

Mouse and keyboard

If you’re planning on doing any serious work on your tablet, a mouse and keyboard are essential. Windows tablets have on-screen touch keyboards, but they’re slow to use and don’t get every tap right. They can also cramp your fingers after even moderate use.

Any Bluetooth keyboard or mouse will work, so there are plenty of viable options. Just make sure to get one that you find comfortable.

Webcam cover

Video calls are great, but when your tablet’s camera isn’t in use, you’ll want to keep it from prying eyes. A webcam cover prevents the tablet’s camera from capturing anything you don’t want it to.

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Did you know?
Most common video-calling solutions like Skype or Google Hangouts support multiple platforms, so you can see and talk to anyone from your Windows tablet, even if they’re on a Mac.


Before buying a Window tablet, consider these tips.

  • Buy a screen protector for your Windows tablet. Accidents happen, and screen protectors are cheap. Keep a screen protector on your Windows tablet to help save it from suffering any lasting damage. A screen protector will also help the tablet’s resaleability.

  • Download security and operating system updates before doing anything else. When you first power on your Windows tablet, it will ask you to establish an account and set a few preferences. Once you’re through that process, go to the Windows Settings app and make sure both your operating system and your security definitions are up to date. By prioritizing security and the most recent OS innovations, you’re safeguarding the long-term health of your Windows tablet.

  • Test all third-party peripherals before installing any additional drivers or software. If you’re a long-time Windows user, you probably remember the days when every new accessory you bought – a new mouse, printer, or scanner – required the installation of a new driver. That’s still occasionally the case, but now Windows usually comes with all of the necessary drivers and software to use most consumer peripherals. Before you waste any time hassling with drivers, try out each accessory to determine which ones already work.

  • Evaluate ow much storage space you need and how much the tablet is coming with. If you’re concerned about having enough storage space, buy a Windows tablet with an SD card reader.

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Most newer Windows tablets feature at least one USB-C port. USB-C is a new version of the standard that can transfer data and power at rates much higher than older USB generations.


Q. What does it mean if a Windows tablet says it also supports Android?

A. Some Windows tablets are able to run more than one operating system (but not at the same time). In these cases, they often run both Windows 10 and Android mobile operating systems. Having both Android and Windows on a tablet means you can use either OS, depending on your needs and preferences.

Q. Can I play video games on a Windows tablet?

A. Yes, with some limitations. Some Windows tablets are built with hardware that’s similar to what you would find in a smartphone – meaning, some tablets are suited to run mobile games, while Windows tablets that are designed to deliver a more laptop-like experience will be able to play more processor-intensive games.

Q. How much RAM should my Windows tablet have?

A. Random Access Memory (RAM) controls how many different tasks your tablet can run simultaneously, so adding more RAM will make a tablet faster and more responsive. In general, we recommend 8GB of RAM as a bare minimum.

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