Top 5 Tablet PCs: Compare and Contrast

Top 5 Tablets to consider

It was only last April that Apple's iPad exploded onto the scene, igniting the market for tablet devices almost instantly as iPads sold in their millions upon millions. Since then other manufacturers have been scrambling to bring out credible products to compete in the tablet space, and 2011 promises to be a bumper year for new devices.

Which begs the question: which ones should you consider? If you are thinking of buying a tablet this year, here, in no particular order, are the top 5 devices to check out:

1 Samsung Galaxy Tab

Front and rear cameras, Adobe Flash for online videos, $250 with a 3G contract, and available now: Samsung's Galaxy Tab Android tablet has a lot going for it, and has been well received as a credible alternative to the iPad.

But Samsung doesn't hold all the cards: the mobile device's screen resolution is lower than the iPad's, the screen is dimmer, and let's not forget that with a 7" display the Galaxy Tab's screen real estate is considerably smaller. It's also worth mentioning that - for the moment, at least - the Galaxy Tab runs Android 2.2 Froyo, rather than the more tablet-oriented and recently released Android 3.0 Honeycomb that many of the latest tablets are expected to run.

2 Motorola Xoom

It's not available yet, but the Xoom tablet has already caused quite a stir, winning Best In Show at this year's CES in Las Vegas. It sports a bigger, higher resolution screen than the iPad, a grunty Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core processor, and the 3G version will be upgradeable to 4G in the near future. It's also got two well specced cameras - front and rear - and 32Gb storage capacity which should be expandable via inexpensive flash memory cards. The Xoom is also the first tablet to run Google's tablet-oriented Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system.

Among its arsenal of sensors the Xoom sports a barometer, unique among all the tablets announced so far. But beyond weather apps it's not quite clear yet what a barometer will be useful for.

3. Research In Motion Blackberry Playbook

RIM looks to have covered everything with its Blackberry Playbook tablet which is due any day now. The device will be fully multitasking thanks to its powerful TI dual core chip and its brand new Blackberry Tablet OS which is based on the QNX kernel. The mobile device may have a relatively small (7") display, but it does have the capability to run Flash 10.1 videos, and as a bonus it will also work as a large screen viewer when connected to one of RIM's Blackberry smartphones.

On the downside it's not clear how many mobile apps will be available to run on the Playbook, although recent reports http://www.bgr.com/2011/01/26/exclusive-blackberry-playbook-and-smartphones-to-run-android-apps/ suggest that it may be able to run most Android mobile apps. Whether this is technically possible though remains to be seen.

4. iPad

The device which got the tablet revolution rolling, the iPad sis till the one to beat thanks to a vibrant developer community, the hugely successful App Store, and the general air of Apple magic that accompanies it. And that's not even mentioning the high resolution 9.7" screen, beautiful user interface and multi-tasking (sort of, anyway) iOS 4

Of course choosing an iPad means saying goodbye to Adobe Flash (unless you want to use a workaround provided by the Skyfire browser, which transcodes Flash video remotely and streams it as HTML5 to the device) and agreeing to whatever restriction Apple decides to place on the tablet and the apps it can run. Unless you are prepared to jailbreak it, of course.

5. iPad 2

Apple will raise the bar to new entrants into the tablet market some time in 2011 - probably Q2 - with the introduction of a successor to the iPad.

Not much is known about the highly anticipated iPad 2, but it is expected to be powered by a beefed-up dual core A9 processor, offer an even higher screen resolution, and include front and rear cameras - similar to the iPod Touch and iPhone and most other tablets - for applications like video-conferencing and FaceTime or Skype video calling. CDMA compatibility is also expected, with a possible capacity increase to 128Gb also on the cards.

 

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Motorola Xoom

Blackberry Playbook

Apple iPad

Apple iPad 2

OS

Android 2.2 Froyo

Android 3.0 Honeycomb

Blackberry Tablet OS, based on QNX

iOS

iOS

Processor

Hummingbird 1GHz or 1.2GHz

Nvidia Tegra 2 1GHz dual core

TI OMAP 4430 1GHz dual core

Apple A4 1GHz

Arm Cortex 1.2GHz A9 dual core

Screen size

7" 1024x600 resolution

10.1" 1280x800 resolution

7" 1024x600 resolution

9.7" 1024x768 resolution

9.7" 2048 x 1536

Display type

Capacitive multitouch

Capacitive multitouch

Capacitive multitouch

Capacitive multitouch

Capacitive multitouch

Connectivity

Wi-Fi (a/b/g/n), 3G HSPA, Bluetooth 3.0

 

 

WiFi only version will also be available

Wi-Fi b/g/n

Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR +HID

3G, 4G upgradeable

 

WiFi only version expected

4G( 3G expected)

WiFi a/b/g/n

Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR

 

WiFi only version will also be available

Wi-Fi a/b/g/n

Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR

3G UMTS/HSDPA

GSM/EDGE

 

WiFi only version also available

Wi-Fi a/b/g/n

Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR

 

GSM and CDMA chipset

Sensors

Geo-magnetic sensor

Ambient light sensor

Accelerometer

Gyroscope

 

Gyroscope, Barometer, Accelerometer Ambient light sensor

3-axis accelerometer

Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor

?

Storage

16GB or 32GB, with expansion via microSD

32Gb, SD card support after software update

8GB, 16GB, and 32GB

16Gb, 32GB or 64Gb flash drive

16Gb, 32GB 64Gb or 128Mb flash drive

Camera

3MP or 5MP rear facing with auto-focus, LED flash

1.3MP front facing

5MP rear facing with dual LED flash and 720P video capture

2MP front facing

5MP rear facing

3MP front facing

 

None

1Mp rear and 0.3Mp front facing cameras

Carriers

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular

Verizon

Sprint (4G version)

AT&T (3G, expected)

AT&T (3G version)

?

Price

$500 or $600 (no contract)

$250 (with contract)

 

WiFi only $450 (expected)

 

$700 (expected)

8GB $399
6GB $499
32GB $599
(expected)

 

WiFi only

16GB $499

32GB $599

64GB $699

 

WiFi+3G

16GB $629

32Gb $729

64Gb $829

plus data plan

?

Availability

3G: available now

WiFi only: Q1 2011

3G: Feb 17th 2011 (rumor)

WiFi only: April 2011

4G version: Q1 2011

WiFi only version: Q1 2011

3G version: Q1 or Q2 2011

All versions available now

Q2 2011

 

TAGS:

mobile, Apple, hardware, RIM, tablets

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