While many of these tablets are comparable, here are a few things to look for:
- Memory – generally between 16GB and 64GB; remember that movies and video chew up a lot of memory, so you may want more if you like to watch on the go.
- Data – they all have Wi-Fi, but if you want 3G or 4G, you could pay up to $75 a month for the service. Chances are that if you already have a smartphone, this is superfluous.
- Screen Sharpness and Screen Size – not one size fits all; watch movie clips before you buy.
- Flash Memory Capable – you'll want Flash to see much of the video content on the Internet.
- Operating System – make sure all the apps you want run on your operating system. Not all Android apps run equally well on all versions of the program.
- Keyboard and Other Accessories – adding a keyboard can make a tablet a more fully functioning computer, but will add weight.
- Cameras – many, but not all have both front- and rear-facing cameras so you can take pictures and also do video calling.
iPad Competitors at a Glance
|Make||Model||Operating System||Price||Key Feature||Data||Battery|
|Acer||Iconia Tab A500||Android 3.0||$300-675||wide viewing angle||Wi-Fi||7hrs|
|Archos||10.1 Internet Tablet||Android 2.2||$230-277||built-in stand||Wi-Fi||10hrs|
|Asus||Eee Pad Transformer||Android 3.2||$355-657||physical keyboard||Wi-Fi||9-16hrs|
|Lenovo||IdeaPad tablet K-1||Android 3.1||$480-538||40 pre-loaded apps||Wi-Fi||7 hrs|
|Lenovo||IdeaPad tablet P-1||Windows 7||N/A||Windows programs||3G Wi-Fi||6hrs|
|Lenovo||ThinkPad Tablet||Android 3.1||$479-588||business oriented||3G Wi-Fi||8hrs|
|LG||G-Slate V909||Android 3.0||$579-840||3D video capture||4G, Wi-Fi||8+hrs|
|Motorola||Xoom||Android 3.1||$440-670||fast Web surfing||4G soon||10hrs|
|RIM||Blackberry Playbook||QNX OS||$400-750||Blackberry email||4G soon||7hrs|
Requiem for a Middleweight
Finally, if you've been watching television this summer, you almost certainly saw the lavish advertising campaign that Hewlett Packard used to launch its first consumer tablet, the HP TouchPad. The machine has some interesting features, including a software program called "Just Type" that is a cross between search and word completion on steroids. But instead of using Android, or even Windows, HP decided to go with the operating system called Web OS that it bought as part of Palm Computing a year earlier. And while it won some technical acclaim, it never picked up the community of developers needed to build a successful base of applications. Despite the ads, consumers quickly figured this one out and turned away in droves. After less than two months on the market, HP pulled the plug on the TouchPad, and on all the Palm devices running Web OS.