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Top 10: iPad (2) Alternatives

By Harry Marks on April 28, 2011

They’ve been a long time coming, but we finally have some true iPad competitors out there. Not everyone wants an Apple device, so we’ve put together a list of the top 10 options available from various manufacturers, all at different sizes and price points. There has to be at least one tablet to suit your needs out of the bunch.

Motorola Xoom

Motorola Xoom

  • $799.99 w/out contract
  • $599.99 w/2-year contract on Verizon

Arguably the first true competitor to the iPad, the Motorla Xoom features a 10.1-inch HD widescreen display, perfect for watching movies and playing games. Running the latest tablet-specific version of Google’s Android operating system, Honeycomb, the Xoom boasts a variety of specs sure to make the geekiest of geeks giggle with glee, including:

  • 2MP front-facing camera for video chat
  • 5MP rear-facing camera with flash
  • 1GHz Dual-Core processor
  • 32GB of storage
  • Full Google suite of applications, including native GMail and Google Maps
  • Flash 10.1
  • 720p HD video capture and playback
  • Free 4G LTE upgrade coming soon

Buy Now

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9

Samsung Galaxy

10.1 Wi-Fi Only Pricing:

  • 16GB – $499
  • 32GB – $599

8.9 Wi-Fi Only Pricing:

  • 16GB – $469
  • 32GB – $569

Samsung’s first Galaxy Tab was a 7-inch “mini-tablet” (or “uber-phone” depending on how you looked at it). The new models coming out are a bit bigger at 10.1-inches and 8.9-inches. Both will run Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” when they come out, offering Android fans a slew of features and specs to make anyone lacking a tablet seriously jealous.

In each Tab, you’ll find:

  • 3MP rear-facing camera
  • 2MP front-facing camera
  • 1GHz Dual-Core processor
  • HSPA+ network access
  • 16GB/32GB of storage
  • Full Google suite of applications, including native GMail and Google Maps
  • 720p HD video capture
  • 1080p HD video playback
  • Music Hub and Readers Hub give access to 1.3 million songs and 22,000 books
  • Gyroscope, accelerometer, digital compass, ambient light sensor

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

  • 16GB – $499.99
  • 32GB – $599.99
  • 64GB – $699.99

RIM developed the PlayBook to compete with the iPad in the enterprise. Chances are, if you work in a normal corporate environment, your office probably issued you a company BlackBerry. Well, get ready for some solid device interoperability (as long as you’re not on AT&T), as the PlayBook was designed to integrate with your existing BlackBerry for real-time access to your calendar, email, contact list and BBM.

If you throw in BlackBerry App World, a BlackBerry music store, the ability to run Android apps, a Kobo eBook reader/store and a full office application suite, the PlayBook has the potential to kick some serious arse in the workplace, as long as RIM works out the kinks first.

  • 1GHz Dual-Core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • Tethering to your existing BlackBerry for access to email, contacts, calendar, BBM and tasks
  • Music store and BlackBerry App World
  • Ability to run Android Apps
  • Flash 10.1 enabled
  • HTML 5 support
  • 3MP HD front-facing camera
  • 5MP HD front-facing camera
  • 1080p HD video playback
  • Micro USB and micro HDMI port
  • Pairs with BlackBerry Enterprise Server out of the box

Buy Now

HP TouchPad

HP TouchPad

Available this summer – price TBA

Remember when HP acquired Palm? Yeah, well they took Palm’s slick webOS from the Pre and blew it up. Now it sits on the TouchPad tablet coming this summer.

The TouchPad features a stunning 9.7-inch XGA display at 1024×768 resolution. Powering the device is a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor (dual-core CPUs seem to be pretty standard fare, don’t you think?) and video calls will be made using the 1.3MP front-facing camera.

However, where the TouchPad truly excels is in its accessories and interaction with the Pre. If you do buy a TouchPad, make sure to pick up the Touchstone charging dock with it. You just place the tablet into the stand (no “docking” required) and the interface changes from a standard lock screen to a dashboard displaying your upcoming appointments, recent texts, emails and tasks. Do you plan on buying a Pre3 when it comes out? Good, because if you tap the two devices together, you can swap open Web pages, texts, emails, etc. For example, if you start browsing a site on your phone and you want to see it bigger, tap your TouchPad and the page will open on the tablet automatically. Man, it feels good to live in the future.

  • 1GHz Dual-Core processor
  • 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • 9.7-inch XGA display, 1024×768 resolution
  • HP Synergy for accomplishing certain tasks more quickly
  • Wireless printing to certain HP Wi-Fi-enabled printers
  • Beats audio speakers built-in
  • Touchstone wireless charging cradle
  • Tap-to-share functionality
  • Microsoft Exchange email support with push

T-Mobile G-Slate

T-Mobile G-Slate

$529 w/2-year contract from T-Mobile

Yet another Honeycomb tablet for the masses, but this one comes with 4G already built in. The G-Slate comes with all thes standard trimmings: 1GHz dual-core processor, 8.9-inch HD display, 32GB of memory, Adobe Flash player support and a front-facing camera for video chatting.

What sets the G-Slate apart from the other dozens of Android tablets coming out are two 5MP cameras on the back of the device. “Why two cameras?” you ask? Why, for 3D photos and videos, of course.

  • NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor
  • 32GB of storage
  • Front-facing video camera for video chat/checking your hair throughout the day
  • 8.9-inch HD display
  • Dual 5MP cameras on the back for 3D HD video and pictures
  • Android 3.0 “Honeycomb”
  • Adobe Flash player support

Buy Now

Asus Eee Slate EP121

Asus Eee Slate EP121

$1,099

Weighing in at a hefty 2.5 pounds and towering over the crowd at 12.1-inches, the Asus Eee Slate EP121 is really just a touchscreen laptop without the keyboard half.

The device runs Windows 7 Home Premium on a Dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM. You have your choice of SSDs in 32GB or 64GB capacities, but you don’t have a choice of batteries. The one downside to the EP121 gets (on a good day) about 4.5 hours of battery life, even shorter if all you do is watch HD movies.

However, you do get a stylus, 2 USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port and Bluetooth 3.0 support. All in all, if you’re looking for a PC-style experience in a tablet form factor, you could do a lot worse than this.

  • 12.1-inch screen
  • Dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
  • 2GB/4GB of RAM
  • 32GB/64GB SSD
  • 2MP camera
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Stylus digitizer pen
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • Mini HDMI port
  • SD card reader
  • Bluetooth 3.0

Buy Now

Acer Iconia

Acer Iconia

$1,199

I’ll keep things simple: Why do you want this tablet? Two screens. Use it as a laptop, use it as a slate, use it as a book, hell – use it to crack walnuts (though I’m not sure how healthy that is for the screen).

The Acer Iconia rocks two 14.4-inch multitouch Gorilla Glass LCD displays, as well as a full Windows 7 experience. Powering this beast is an Intel Core i5 processor – like the ones found in the new MacBook Pros, 4GB of RAM and 640 GB hard drive. The Iconia also features custom UI elements overlayed the standard Windows interface, bringing the user a new multitouch experience that truly utilizes the dual-screen form factor. Surf the Web on one screen while you tweet and update Facebook on the other. Place all five fingers on the one screen to access the “Acer Ring”, which gives you full access to favorite applications and specific features. This is the tablet for people who want to do more than just fling birds at pigs.

  • Two 14.4-inch Gorilla Glass LED-backlit LCD displays
  • Intel 2.66 GHz Core i5 processor
  • 4GB of RAM and 640 GB hard drive
  • Windows 7
  • “Acer Ring” to provide quick access to favorite apps and features
  • Customizable gestures
  • Gigabit Ethernet LAN
  • Wi-Fi
  • HDMI output
  • Two USB ports
  • 1.3MP webcam
  • Unique, custom-built touch interface with virtual keyboard

Buy Now

Sony S1

Sony S1

Due Fall 2011

While other tablet makers are trying to mimic Apple’s hardware and software designs, Sony has taken a drastically different approach with two new tablets due this fall.

The S1 is a 9.4-inch “magazine-style” slate PC running Android 3.0. By “magazine-style”, I mean the back of the device curves into the front and is reminiscent of a magazine folded over at the spine. The UI has been heavily modified and relies on a series of tiles to navigate (a la Windows Phone 7), but the insides of the S1 are pretty familiar: Tegra 2 processor, WiFi, 3G/4G connectivity, etc.

However, Sony understands people want an “ecosystem” with their tablets – not just a sandboxed experienced, so the S1 (and S2) will incorporate the Sony Reader book store, PlayStation Suite for mobile gaming, Qriocity music and video services, as well as home entertainment support. Users will be able to utilize their tablets as universal remotes for Bravia televisions and with the built-in DLNA functionality, they can throw their music and movies right to the television from the tablets in their laps.

  • NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-Core processor
  • “Magazine-style” design allows for comfortable holding for long periods of time
  • Android 3.0 “Honeycomb”
  • 3G/4G connectivity
  • Wifi
  • Custom UI
  • DLNA support
  • Sony Reader eBook store, Qriocity music and video service
  • PlayStation Suite
  • Universal remote capabilities for Sony home entertainment hardware

Sony S2

Sony S2

Due Fall 2011

The S2 takes a much more Kyocera Echo approach to tablet computing with its two 5.5-inch screens that fold into a compact and portable pod.

Like its sibling, the S2 runs a custom-skinned version of Honeycomb, but the dual-screens mean you can watch a movie on one screen and have the video controls on another – no more tapping the middle of your movie to bring up play/pause. While specific apps haven’t been announced, expect to see some programs make great use of the two screens for increased productivity or more involved gaming experiences.

The S2 is almost exactly like the S1, with the same processor and connectivity options and software capabilities. It looks like Sony is covering its bases with two very distinct tablets this fall.

  • NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-Core processor
  • Dual-screens, 1024×480 resolution
  • Android 3.0 “Honeycomb”
  • 3G/4G connectivity
  • Wifi
  • Custom UI
  • DLNA support
  • Sony Reader eBook store, Qriocity music and video service
  • PlayStation Suite
  • Universal remote capabilities for Sony home entertainment hardware

You don’t need an iPad to get a solid tablet experience – you just need to do your research. Some run Windows, most run Android, but all of them have their ups and downs.

Even though tablets have been around since 2002, the devices we have now are part of an ever-expanding market. No one is quite sure yet what the tablet is supposed to offer users – Is it a laptop replacement? Is it an accessory? Is it a toy for playing with on trains and airplanes? The only thing we do know about them is that they’re hot and we all want them.

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