Below are the What Tablet PC Best Buys as of February 2011. These will update through the year as new devices come up. We’ve also briefly previewed a few of the key tablets due soon that we think will challenge for these awards.
Tablet best buys relate solely to the tablet PCs already on the market and overviews of each device are available via the links.
Best All-Round Tablet PC
Apple iPad – It’s still number one and so far there has been very little competition to knock it off the top spot. We’re due an update to Apple’s iPad imminently which should make it even better – rumours suggest we’ll be seeing front and rear facing cameras with a lighter design. Whilst it may lack some of the bells & whistles of other tablet PC’s, Its current dominance in the tablet market is due to Apple’s stylish design, a highly usable operating system, responsive touch screen with vivid colours and great viewing angles, 10 hour battery life and the fact that it works like a dream with rarely a hiccup. The thing that takes it in to the stratosphere is the eco-system of apps that gives huge choice and versatility.
Best Cheap Tablet PC
Archos 101 Internet Tablet – a bargain priced tablet with some great specs and running Android 2.2 (via an upgrade). It’s lightweight and thin with a responsive bright and crisp touchscreen. It does the usual tablet stuff well so movies, music, games and web browsing are well supported. It has a host of ports so you can add memory, a keyboard or mouse and even link out to you HD TV. It’s no iPad as the software isn’t perfect and the build quality is low but at £250 (the Archos 101 US price is $350-$400) it’s considerably cheaper.
Best Windows Tablet PC
HP Slate 500 – we still lack a great Windows tablet but the HP Slate 500 ticks most of the boxes, the only issue is that it’s been hard to get hold of up to this point and it’s pricey. It’s aimed at enterprise users and is highly spec’d with components that mirror a notebook. It get’s around Windows limitations on a tablet using a digitiser pen but you’re still faced with the issues that Windows is an operating system designed around desktops and laptops – not tablets. That said, the HP Slate 500 does a great job with it.
Best Android Tablet PC
Samsung Galaxy Tab – the first real consumer tablet that’s challenged the iPad. It’s done this running Android 2.2 and sporting a much smaller format with a 7-inch screen. It’s less screen real estate but does mean it’s more portable and fits into a jacket pocket. It’s got a bright and responsive touchscreen, nippy processor, front and rear facing cameras and happily deals with apps, games, video and music – the lot really. The only things that hold it back from having a decent duel with the iPad are that Android 2.2 isn’t expressly built for tablets so look a bit basic, the build is fairly plasticy and the battery life is pretty poor.
Tablet PCs Coming Soon
The big name challengers coming soon are…
Motorola Xoom Tablet
The first real Google tablet PC runs Android 3 Honeycomb, this is an operating system designed to support tablets so expect a much superior experience against the rest of the Android tablets so far. The specs of the Xoom tablet are extremely impressive and it sports far superior hardware than any other Android tablets on the market – on paper it looks better than the iPad. It’s due out imminently so we’ll soon know if we have a tablet to knock the iPad of it’s perch.
A long awaited tablet expected soon from the manufacturer famous for Blackberry phones. This isn’t a device just for business people though and reviews from those who have had their hands on it are pretty impressive. It’s runs its own customer operating system and again the hardware specs look impressive. It may be hampered by a lack of apps designed specifically for it but rumours are that it will also be able to run Android apps.
Another much talked about device that is coming very soon. Whilst the HP Slate 500 is a tablet aimed at business users, this one is aimed at consumers. It will running the WebOS operating system which has won many plaudits as the Palm operating system. Specs look good but again it remains to be seen how it will develop an app ecosystem that can challenge the Apple or Android ones.
Image source: Apple, Archos, HP, Samsung, Motorola, RIM