The 10 Coolest Tablets Of 2015

Keeping Tabs On Tablets

In 2015, the tablet market faced what could be called an identity crisis as vendors began to experiment with new form factors and accessories to address slowing customer demand.

The global tablet market is expected to slow down, declining 8 percent in 2015, according to market research firm IDC.

However, there are also a slew of new opportunities in the tablet space, as detachable devices, or 2-in-1s, have a significant opportunity for growth in the commercial segment in 2015, according to IDC. At the same time, Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system and Intel's new Skylake microarchitecture created new performance and device-streamlining opportunities.

Following are the 10 coolest tablets that vendors such as Apple, Samsung, Lenovo and others released in 2015.

If you missed it, be sure to take a look back at the rest of the best of 2015 with CRN.

Apple iPad Pro

Apple's iPad Pro had critics split after its Nov. 11 release, with some calling Apple's newest tablet a big and powerful tool, and others criticizing the device for its failure to replace a PC and a costly price.

The iPad Pro stands out in its massive, 12.9-inch screen, works with new accessories, such as a keyboard and the company's Apple Pencil stylus, and sports an improved A9X processor. The device also contains up to 10 hours of battery life and a secure Touch ID feature.

The iPad Pro is a pricier tablet, starting at $799 for the 32-GB version and running up to $1,079 for the 128-GB version. The tablet comes in three metallic finishes -- silver, gold and space gray -- and is available through Apple Authorized Resellers in addition to the company's retail stores.

Nvidia Shield Tablet K1

Nvidia's Shield Tablet K1 specializes in its $199 price tag and features targeted at gamers.

The 8-inch 16-GB tablet comes equipped with motion sensors and 4K ultra-HD-ready video features, as well as front-facing stereo speakers and front- and back-facing cameras. Nvidia packs its Tegra K1 processor, featuring a 192-core Nvidia Kepler GPU and 2.2GHz quad-core CPU, into its tablet for enhanced gaming performance and graphics. Nvidia's new tablet also has 2 GB of RAM and a 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display.

Nvidia lowered the price of its Shield Tablet from $299 to $199 for the 16-GB current Shield Tablet K1 version, which is a Wi-Fi model.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung in July announced the Galaxy Tab S2, departing from its other tablets with a lighter, boxier 4:3 aspect ratio design and improved, faster Exynos 5433 SoC.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 comes either in an 8-inch or 9.7-inch versions, and contains a 2,048 x 1,536 Super AMOLED display. The device comes with 3 GB of RAM and either 16 GB or 32 GB of storage, as well as a microSD card with up to 128 GB of storage.

Samsung's new tablet runs on the Android 5.0 OS and comes preloaded with Microsoft Office Solutions. The 8-inch version costs $299.99, while the 9.7-inch model costs $399.99.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft in the fall unveiled the newest device in its popular Surface Pro lineup: the Surface Pro 4.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company touts the device, which starts at $899, as "the tablet that can replace your laptop." The Windows 10 powered Surface Pro 4 has a 12.3-inch PixelSense display, weighs 1.69 pounds and packs Intel's new sixth-generation Skylake processor. The Surface Pro 4's battery life allows it to work for up to nine hours, and it contains a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and 8-megapixel autofocus rear-facing camera.

The tablet's most notable feature is its kickstand, allowing for the device to be re-positioned, and a separately sold Type Cover allowing it to transform into a fully functional laptop.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3

Lenovo's Yoga Tab 3 is a consumer tablet intended for around-the-clock entertainment. The tablet, which comes with either an 8-inch or 10-inch screen, has features for optimal music and video experiences, including HD display, a rotating 8-megapixel camera and up to 20 hours of battery life.

The tablet runs on an Android operating system and is powered by a quad-core 1.3GHz Qualcomm SoC, as well as a convertible frame for flexible positioning.

The 8-inch Yoga Tab 3 is available for $169, while the 10-inch version will be released in November for $199.

iPad Mini 4

In addition to its iPad Pro, Apple quietly took the wraps off its iPad mini 4, an upgraded version to its iPad mini lineup.

With a 7.9-inch display and a weight of only 0.65 of a pound, this tablet truly is miniature. In terms of thickness, the iPad mini 4 is 18 percent thinner than its predecessor at 6.1mm.

The iPad mini 4 is available for $399, and contains Touch ID security, as well as a second-generation 64-bit A8 chip that Apple says is 30 percent faster than previous generations and has 60 percent faster graphics. The iPad mini 4 also contains an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with 3,264 X 2,448 native resolution.

HP Elite x2

HP Inc.'s Elite x2 2-in-1 tablet is "truly built for business," packing Intel's sixth-generation Intel Core M processor with vPro and Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system. This tablet, which has strong battery life of up to 14 hours and 15 minutes, has an 11.6-inch diagonal display and weighs 1.71 pounds.

The Elite x2, released in January, also has a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. It contains a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. The Elite x2 is compatible with a separately sold optional keyboard to transform into a laptop device.

In terms of price, the Elite x2 costs $1,219 with the power keyboard, and $829 without the keyboard.

Samsung Galaxy View

The iPad Pro had a giant surface of 12.9 inches, but that doesn't compare to Samsung's massive 18.4-inch Galaxy View.

The large tablet's 1,080p full HD display screen is built for home entertainment, and contains up to eight hours of battery life for users to play games, surf the Internet, and stream videos. The Galaxy View contains a Samsung Exynos 7580 Octa-core 1.6GHz processor and runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop operating system.

The tablet is available in black or white for $499.99.

Lenovo Ideapad Miix 300

Lenovo's Ideapad Miix 300, an 8-inch entry-level Windows tablet, is built for productivity, according to the Chinese company. The Ideapad Miix 300 runs on Intel's Atom Bay Trail processor and contains a WXGA IPS display.

This 9.3mm-thick tablet runs on Windows 8.1 with Bing. Lenovo has also offered a free one-year subscription to Office 365 with the purchase of the Ideapad Miix 300. The Ideapad Miix 300 tablet starts at $149, according to Lenovo.

Microsoft Surface 3

Months before announcing its Surface Pro 4 tablet, Microsoft also took the wraps off the Surface 3, a thinner, lighter tablet.

The 10.9-inch tablet contains 10 hours of battery life, as well as Microsoft's signature integrated kickstand to reposition the device into a laptop when necessary, and a Surface Pen stylus. Surface 3 contains a quad-core Intel Atom processor and allows for easy connection with peripherals with a full-size USB 3.0, microSD card reader and Mini DisplayPort.

The Surface 3 device runs on Windows 8.1 and is priced starting at $499.