Things suddenly got a lot more interesting for lawyers shopping for a tablet device for productivity use. We are not talking about content consumption devices like the new Kindle Fire HDX or even the Google Nexus 7, currently the top-rated Android tablet. Instead, we are talking about tablets that can actually be used to make money in a law practice.
For the last three years, Apple's iPad has been the consensus productivity choice for lawyers. The iPad may still hold that title, particularly with the new iPad Air and Mini Retina models coming out this week. But new tablets running Windows 8.1 now present viable alternatives. This is due to the happy convergence of the Windows 8.1 update and new microprocessor technology (Haswell) that increases battery life in Windows 8.1 tablets or, at the lower end (Bay Trail), provides a substantial performance boost while maintaining energy efficiency.
The iPad Air, with its lighter weight, thinner profile, and faster processor, is still the best litigation tool for things like courtroom presentations and reviewing and annotating documents. But if you don't try a lot of cases, and document creation is your central focus, a Windows 8.1 tablet that can run the full version of MS Office, Adobe Acrobat, and other mainstream and legal-specific software, may be the best choice.
The new Microsoft Surface Pro 2, is a very well made (but expensive) tablet with excellent performance as a result of its Intel Haswell Core Series processor. At the lower end, Intel Atom Bay Trail-based tablets such as the Asus Transformer Book T100 or Dell Venue 8 Pro substantially undercut the iPad Air in price, yet run the same software you use on your desktop computer while doing so in a lightweight tablet form factor.
This is an excellent time to be a lawyer looking for a first tablet or upgrading from an older tablet.