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I am looking for a cheap tablet that I can use with a stylus for primarily marking up pdfs. I spend a lot of my time doing architectural redlines and having to use a mouse to draw boxes and arrows and annotations is a waste of time, but so is printing out documents, marking them up and then scanning them back in to send to somebody.

  1. Ideally, it would have a decent amount of RAM so it would not have to reload sections of the PDF on larger documents.

  2. I would require a fine point stylus rather than the ones like the older iPad styluses that were like trying to draw with a sausage.

  3. A camera would be nice for going to site visits but is, by no means, a necessity.

  4. I'm not married to any operating system, the functionality is the larger concern. Windows would be nice because that is what my company uses so I could use their software license pool for the PDF software but every OS has something similar.

  5. Size is not a major concern. Probably at least a 4x6 screen so I am not constantly trying to zoom in and out of the document but beyond that, I can manage.

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It's quite hard to find inexpensive tablets that also come with good touchscreen accuracy and most tablets will try and make you pay the price for nice components. That being said I've tried to keep these options under a 700$ cap and focused on fulfilling your request of decent memory where 8gb should be more than enough for pdf editing.


The cheap option: Dell Latitude ($390)

Dell Latitude

This option comes with a Intel Core M5 6Y57 which is relatively weak as a processor but should be more than enough for word processing. The tablet also comes with a 256 GB SSD which should allow you to load documents extremely quickly and should also help with boot times. As requested this tablet comes with 8 GB Memory which should be more than enough for PDF processing. I don't have much experience with these types of tablets so the touchscreen may have something left to desire although the $800 MSRP seems to suggest that you should have a decent touchscreen.

This option sells for $390 (MSRP $800) at Newegg with free shipping.


The premium option: Microsoft Surface Pro ($538)

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

The Microsoft Surface line is one of Microsoft's flagship products purposely designed to combat the style and premium feel of apple laptops and as such usually comes with a higher price tag. I've personally experienced these devices as one of my close friend speaks highly of the device and uses it for notes in his University lectures. One of my professors also used this device to draw out diagrams during his lectures on the screen and did so extremely well, I might add.

While it does have a i5-4300U processor (the U tag denotes that it is a power saving processor and as such has slower performance than it's HQ, K, X, etc. counterparts) it is still has more than enough speed for lightweight pdf editing. It also comes with a 256 GB SSD and 8GB memory. The added plus is that the stylus is integrated into the pad for easy storage and the pen itself has a very fine, premium feel to it. I should also mention that the screen has 2k resolution (twice that of 1080p) which will make editing pdfs much more enjoyable to your eyes.

At a price tag of $538 (MSRP $800) at newegg with free shipping this is a solid choice if you can afford it.

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  • I think you both answered my question very well and confirmed what I had run into which was that what I was specifically looking for doesn't really exist. – Secundus Jun 7 '17 at 18:53
  • I suppose if you were doing this for a job, you could try and convince the R&D team at your workplace to buy one of these, but they start at $3k. – Bennett Yeo Jun 7 '17 at 19:57
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I found this when researching an answer to my question: Sony Digital Paper Sony DPT-RP1/B Digital Paper https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072DXXXN1/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_RXeozb5XNDYTN

It has most everything I envisioned except the camera. The price is ludicrous to me though.

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