3 Best Tablets with USB Ports

Every single tablet on the market right now has at least one USB port, but there are a couple key differences among them that you should take into consideration.

The reason why tablets inherently have a USB port is because, like every other electronic device, they need to be charged.

Since companies are always trying to optimize their devices, it wouldn’t make sense to have a USB port solely for charging reasons, therefore these USB ports can also be used as a means of data transfer, exactly like it is on cellphones.

What are USB ports used for in tablets?

Most tablets are standalone devices, meaning they are supposed to perform every task without the need for any external devices, but people are always looking for different ways to connect their different devices and there are many reasons for that:

Storage

Although tablets usually have more storage space than cellphones, they’re still far behind regular desktop computers.

How many times have your cellphone ran out of space and you had to transfer your pictures and videos to a computer? (I do that all the time).

While you could, theoretically, transfer these files wirelessly, it would take forever. Therefore, people usually prefer to connect their cellphones to a computer via USB port. The same goes for tablets.

Data Transfer

In most cases, users connect their tablets to a computer for storage purposes, however, sometimes it’s also useful to transfer information form a computer directly to the tablet.

Again, of course this can be done wirelessly, but whenever time is a constraint, transferring through a USB cable is substantially faster.

To give you a personal example, a few of years ago I was about to travel to France with my father and he asked me to load his tablet with a whole bunch of files, such as songs and videos (we’re old school and avoid storing files in the cloud as much as possible).

As always, I procrastinated until the very last day and when he asked me: “Is the tablet ready? We’re leaving in an hour”, I had to rush and use the USB port to transfer all the files in time. It would have been impossible to do this through a wireless connection.

Physical Keyboard

Some people, especially the not-so-young-anymore, like me, prefer to type on a real keyboard instead of a virtual one.

Don’t get me wrong, virtual keyboards are great. All it takes is turning on the tablet and there is the keyboard, weightless and perfectly silent, however I don’t enjoy the feeling of typing on a perfectly flat glass-like surface. It feels unnatural and it has been proven to decrease productivity in more than 23%.

In order to mitigate this problem, companies have created alternatives, such as keyboards made specifically for tablets.

These are great, they can be connected to the tablet in three different ways:

  1. Wireless connection
  2. Bluetooth
  3. USB port

Printer Connectivity

Once again, the right way to connect to a printer is wirelessly, but how many times have your printer simply decided that it would not follow instructions?

Sometimes connecting the tablet directly to the printer through a USB cord can save you precious time. As we all know, printers always stop working when we need them the most.

System Recovery

On rare occasions, tablets’ operating systems crash to the point of no recovery. If this happens right after you bought the device, no problem, simply talk to the support guys and you’re good to go.

But what happens when your tablet’s operating system crashes years after you’ve been using the device?

You may need to use an external computer to recover the tablet, and the only way to do that is through a USB cord.

To be honest, recovering a tablet this way is a lot technical work and most people wouldn’t be able to do it by themselves, but at least it’s good to know that it’s possible.

How can tablets with USB ports be different from one another?

Most tablets, particularly the ones sold by Apple and Samsung, have a single USB port. To be more precise, it’s a USB-C port that acts as a charging and data transfer port.

The problem with this is that since there’s only one port, the tablet cannot be connected to anything else while being charged.

For example, let’s suppose you need to charge your tablet, but at the same time would like to use a USB keyboard (since the virtual one doesn’t work well while the device is being charged). You wouldn’t be able to do that because there’s only one port available. You would have to pick between charging the tablet or using the keyboard.

Now, some other companies such as Microsoft sell computer/tablets that use a completely different system. These Microsoft tablets are full-fledged computers and, for this reason, can be charged through a specific port, while leaving the USB port completely free.

Microsoft tablets have a plethora of advantages in relation to other brands and this is precisely why their tablets are at the top of this list.


Microsoft Surface Pro 7

This is a high-end device that is more than a simple tablet. It’s actually a regular computer that also works as a tablet.

It has the best of both worlds:

Tablet characteristics:

  1. Supports digital pens
  2. Touch screen
  3. Easy to carry

Computer characteristics:

  1. Supports full software instead of only apps
  2. Superior processing power
  3. 2 USB 3.0 Ports
  4. Large storage

Although this computer/tablet is not cheap, it’s still considerably more affordable than an iPad Pro.

The only reason for choosing an iPad over this Microsoft tablet is the possibility of using very specific apps that can only be used within the Apple operating system. A good example would the internationally popular drawing app Procreate.

Apple has state-of-the-art products, but I would rather have a Microsoft Surface Pro 7 than an iPad.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Technical Specifications

Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Screen Size12.3 inches
Processor8th Gen Intel Core i7 or i5
Internal Memory1TB SSD, 512GB SSD, 256GB SSD
Digital Pen (Stylus)Surface Pen
KeyboardDetachable
Battery Life 10.5 hours
USB PortsTwo USB 3.0 ports
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home

Positive Features

Customization

Devices from the Microsoft Surface Pro series are the most customizable in the market.

Other companies like Apple and Samsung allow users to choose certain characteristics such as color and internal storage space, but Microsoft went further and allows users to change features such as:

  1. Processor (which significantly increases speed)
  2. RAM (also affects performance)
  3. Internal storage
  4. Color.

Microsoft’s approach is better because it allows buyers to invest in features they value more. Some people prefer tablets with a large storage capacity, some others prefer fast devices and there’s also those of us who like to own super fast devices that are great at everything.


Software

Tablets use apps and computers use software. The difference between them is that apps are usually simpler versions of software. Since tablet devices tend to be less powerful than computers, in order to work smoothly they need to use lighter applications.

Android and Apple tablets have fantastic apps, which are getting better year by year. That said, they’re still not as complete as full-blown software used in regular computers.

Since the Surface Pro 7 is a computer and tablet at the same time, it uses regular software without any problems.

Operating System

This device runs on Windows 10 Home.

I love Android and I’m sure Apple’s operating system is the most user-friendly interface ever created, but nothing beats the good old Windows.

There’s not a single person on the planet who knows how to use a computer but isn’t comfortable with Windows. This operating system is popular, easy to use and if for some reason you come across any problems, there are thousands of pages online teaching you how to fix them.

Price

Although not necessarily cheap, if all its advantages are taken into consideration, it still is an affordable device.

It costs about the same as an iPad Pro, but it can do a lot more.

When developing this product, Microsoft has found a great balance between entertainment and work, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is good enough for both of them.


Microsoft Surface Book 2

One of Microsoft’s most powerful tablet-like computers, the Surface Book 2 has 4 USB ports. Yes, you read that right, four.

This device is in a completely different category from the tablets sold by Samsung and Apple and it’s even substantially better than the devices from Microsoft’s popular Surface Pro series.

Let me try to explain this as simply as possible, there are different kinds of tablets:

  1. Regular: like those sold by Apple and Samsung
  2. Tablet-Computer: like Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Microsoft Surface Pro 6
  3. Super Tablet-Computer: Microsoft Surface Book series.

Check the video bello to see how amazing this device is.


The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is not a tablet for everyone, it is at the very top of every league and it comes with a price tag that matches its quality.

For those who want a tablet mostly for entertainment and for occasional work, it would be wise to look elsewhere. This tablet was made for people who need to get things done. This is one of the most powerful work tools someone who works on creative industries could ask for.

Due to its incredibly high processing power and absolutely huge screen for a tablet, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is ideal for video editing, animation, design, drawing and digital art.

This is one of the few devices on this website that I don’t own. I could only play with it for a couple of hours, but I wish I could have brought it home.

Microsoft Surface Book 2
Microsoft Surface Book 2

Technical Specifications

Microsoft Surface Book 2
Screen Size15 inches
ProcessorIntel 7th Gen Core i5 or Intel 8th Gen Core i7 (quad-core)
Internal Memory512GB, or 1TB SSD 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe SSD
Digital Pen (Stylus)Surface Pen
KeyboardDetachable
Battery Life 17 hours
USB PortsThree USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro

Positive Features

Screen Size

At 15-inches, this is the largest tablet I’ve ever used.

If you look at the numbers, the difference doesn’t seem so significant, the iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch screen. But let me tell you something, once the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is in front of you, it becomes clear that the device is much larger than an iPad Pro.

There are two down sides to such a large screen:

  1. If you don’t take care during transportation, it will break
  2. All your other tablets will feel miniscule after you get used to this one

Battery Life

The device can stay on for incredible 17 hours on a single charge.

This is significantly more than other tablets and laptops. Most tablets last for about 10 hours, regardless of screen size.

Speed

This is also the fastest tablet I have used. It doesn’t get any faster than this. Any software loads almost instantaneously and running multiple resource-intensive applications at the same time is not a problem.

Of course, this is still a machine, it’s possible to overload it if you act recklessly and try to run Photoshop, 3D Studio, Maya, Illustrator and Adobe After Effects at the same time.

But if you’re a normal human being, there’s nothing to worry about, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is supposed to work smoothly under normal conditions.

Digital Pen (Stylus)

Microsoft’s digital pens are still not as good as Apple’s, but they’re steadily getting there.

I would say that the one that comes with this tablet is good enough even for artists and all of us involved in creative industries.

Negative Features

Price

It’s an expensive equipment.

When I say expensive, I mean it. As in multiple times more expensive than an iPad Pro (which is already far from being affordable).

I dare to say that only professionals would have a good enough reason to get such a powerful device. Unless you have work-related reasons to buy one of these, I would say it’s overkill.

Shape

The Microsoft Surface Book two is divided in two parts:

  1. Tablet
  2. Keyboard

However, unlike other keyboards for tablets, this one is not only an input device, it has USB ports, the charging area and a whole bunch of other important components.

Using this device solely as a tablet is possible, but not attaching it to the keyboard means losing a lot of the features that makes this computer a great thing in the first place.

Another very important observation: the tablet part is completely flat, like any other tablet in the world, but the keyboard has a very distinctive shape because of the hinge it uses to connect to the tablet.

Check out the picture below to see it for yourself:   

Microsoft Surface Book 2 Hinge
Microsoft Surface Book 2 Hinge

Weight

The reason most people want a tablet is because it’s easy to carry them around. They’re light and flat, which is a great combination that makes it easy to fit them in any regular backpack.

When talking about portability, the most appropriate words would be heavy and clumsy.

Tablet and keyboard together weigh 4.2 pounds.  This is simply too much.


CHUWI UBook Pro Tablet

Do you know CHUWI?

Neither do I!

All kidding aside, whenever we buy products from companies we don’t know, it’s always a bit of a gamble.

I’m not saying that all products from unknown companies are bad and I’m definitely not saying all products from famous companies are good, as a matter of fact, the worst purchase of my life was a Dell laptop.

However, larger companies have a few advantages over those who are just getting started.

For instance, getting to the top in such a ruthless industry as electronics manufacturing demands companies to be good at what they do.

I can guarantee you that Samsung, Apple and Microsoft did not rise to the top by being sloppy or by mistreating their customers. We all know that these companies have reliable support teams and the resources to deal with malfunctioning devices that may eventually get sold by mistake.

That said, new companies have a few advantages as well, they are nimble, and they must offer better deals than their well-established counterparts if they want a slice of the market.

This is where the CHUWI UBook Pro Tablet comes into play.

The tablet is reasonably fast, sturdy and has been getting numerous positive reviews. It may not have stellar ratings such as the other devices from this list, but it definitely has its place in the market.

Would I buy a CHUWI UBook Pro Tablet ?

Yes. While it may not be my first choice, it has pretty good specifications for its price range and, on top of that, it runs on Windows 10.

CHUWI Ubook Pro Tablet
CHUWI Ubook Pro Tablet

Technical Specifications

CHUWI Ubook Pro
Screen Size12.3 inches
Graphics ProcessorIntel® UHD Graphics 600
Internal Memory256 GB
Digital Pen (Stylus)4096 Pressure Levels
KeyboardDetachable
USB Ports2 USB ports
Operating SystemWindows 10

Positive Features

Price

I always feel inclined to buy tablet-computers instead of regular tablets (like the iPad), but there are not too many of them out there and the ones that do expensive can be outrageously expensive, like the Microsoft Surface Book 2.

While I must warn you that the CHUWI UBook Pro Tablet is not super cheap, its price is aligned with its specifications.

In this case, you get exactly what you pay for.

Operating System

Since this tablet is also a computer, it doesn’t run on Android or any other funky operating system. It uses plain Windows 10, which, in my opinion, is the best operating system today.

If you were worried that getting a device from a not-so-famous company would mean using some weird operating system, relax.

USB Ports

This tablet has two USB ports, which is one of the features that I wish more tablets had.

Negative features

Customer Service

I have heard two horror stories about their customer service, but you should keep in mind that these companies sell thousands upon thousands of devices every year and complaints like these are bound to eventually happen.

Design

Yes, this is a tablet, but it’s a bit clunkier (is this even a word?) than I expected. While I don’t consider this characteristic to be a dealbreaker, once you look at the CHUWI Ubook Pro Tablet, you can immediately tell that their design team did not have a Steve Jobs breathing down their necks.


Which Tablet with a USB Port is the Best?

If we put price aside, there is absolutely no competition, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is a superior device in every single class. But since we live in the real world and price does matter, if I had to buy a tablet right now, I would go for something more reasonable.

The most balanced tablet-computer with multiple USB ports is the Microsoft Surface Pro 7. It’s affordable to most people and it still has all the characteristics it needs to be considered an outstanding device for entertainment and work.

Do you have any questions or observations? Leave a message, I would love to know what you think!

Keep on creating,

Bruno

Bruno Santos

Hi! My name is Bruno. I'm a web developer/designer based in Toronto, Canada. I've been working with drawing tablets for over 20 years and I'm among the Top 10 Most Viewed Writers on Quora in the Graphics Tablets category. Do you have any questions? Just leave a comment =)

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