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So Many Tablets, Which One Is Right For You?

A host of new devices chase the Apple iPad

A Checklist

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.

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