Best Tablet Computers in 2011
Bigger than a smartphone but smaller than a laptop, tablets are touchscreen devices that give you a personal computer experience in a device reminiscent of a framed piece of paper, typically being half an inch thick or less and weighing less than two pounds.
John Feland, head of Argus Insights, a market intelligence firm in Los Gatos, Calif., shared with TechNewsDaily information his firm has collected on which tablet computers are rated highest by the users, and why.
The results of these tablet comparisons may surprise a lot of people saturated by iPad hype the past year.
No. 1: The top-rated tablet is the ASUS Eee Slate. With a 12.1-inch screen, pricing starts a little above $1,000. "We are finding it widely used in professional settings," Feland said. "It's a well-performing Windows device but in tablet form, and gives the users a portable Windows experience in a form factor that makes sense." (He offered no theory on how to pronounce the name.)
No. 2: The 10.1-inch Motorola Xoom , typically priced starting at $600. "Its form factor is making people stand up and say 'Ahhh!'" Feland said. "They find the screen graphics and resolution (with 1280 x 800 pixels) to be incredible—it pops compared to other Android tablets. They like the overall speed and performance, and it is the first Android tablet to use a version (3.0 'Honeycomb') of the Android operating system designed for tablets—the other Android tablets are really big phones."
No. 3: The 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab , with pricing starting a little under $400. "It was an early high-flying Android tablet that offered an alternative to the iPad," Feland said. "The users like the seven-inch format since it's more like a paperback book than a sheet of paper (as with the iPad) and fits in a purse easier."
No. 4: The 10-inch, $500 gTablet from ViewSonic, a firm previously known mostly for its display monitors. "The move into the tablet market was a big shift for them, but users are finding the gTablet to be a competitive Android alternative," Feland said. (It uses the smartphone version of Android, however.).
"The ($700, 9.7-inch) iPad 2 has been a delight for consumers but a nightmare for corporate computer managers, and people are having trouble integrating it into their office work," Feland explained. Basically, security features they can configure with Windows are not available with the iPad. "So we mostly find it used for individual Web surfing, games, and e-book reading, but people keep finding new and different ways to use it, and the dual camera on this new version is very popular."
As for the RIM PlayBook with its 7-inch screen, it has to be tethered to a RIM BlackBerry for full functionality, Feland said. "If you already have a BlackBerry, it's wonderful. Otherwise…" he said, leaving the obvious unstated. The idea is not as crazy as it sounds, he indicated, as the other tablets require separate accounts with wireless carriers to go online (with cheaper models relying on Wi-Fi) but the PlayBook piggybacks off an existing BlackBerry account. (It, too, can also use Wi-Fi.) The PlayBook is intended for business users, who can get RIM support in a tablet form factor, he noted. Prices start at $500.
Of course, if you're mobile and crave 17-inch screens you'll still have to lug around a laptop. Hopefully, you also crave the exercise.
For another viewpoint and more in-depth specs, see TopTenREVIEWS Tablet Reviews.