Tablets have gotten more powerful over the years, but even top-tier 2-in-1s like Microsoft’s Surface Pro and Apple’s iPad Pro are still a step away from replacing laptops for many business users. They do provide a very attractive alternative to lugging around a notebook on business trips, but these flagship tablets start at anywhere from $650 to $900 and can easily climb to $1,500 or more after you configure them and add in the cost of a keyboard case and stylus. That kind of expense is hard to justify for a device that’s secondary to the laptop a business worker needs for everyday use.
That’s where smaller second-tier tablets can come in. Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad and Microsoft’s new Surface Go for Business carry significantly lower price tags than the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro, yet they’re still powerful, well-built and ready for business. Can they replace a laptop entirely? Not for most people, but neither can their more expensive siblings. And for short trips, they do provide a lighter alternative that lets workers get the job done without overly burdening them with gear.