Last year, the Apple iPad kicked off a revolution in tablet computers. Apple took the ideas it’d already developed for the hugely successful iPhone and iPod Touch, scaled them up to work on a ten inch screen, and the effect was massive.
Suddenly, you could own a device that feels as powerful as a computer, but is light enough to hold in one hand and can go ten hours between charges.
Designed from the ground up to be controlled by touch, the iPad stripped away the complexity of using a computer, leaving just the important bits. Their App Store lets you
easily download software to get the most from your tablet.
The Revolutionary iPad 2
Fast-forward a year, and you’ve got the iPad 2 – thinner, lighter and more powerful than the original. I can browse the web, send emails, watch video, jump on Facebook. I can even video chat. Whatever you want to do, chances are there’s an app that can help.
But the competition hasn’t just rolled over. A flood of potential iPad rivals have hit the market in the last year – some good, some really bad. Let’s forget about the lousy one and look at some potential heroes.
Introducing Android Honeycomb Tablets
Most of the tablets available today run an operating system called “Android”. Like the “iOS” software running iPads, Android started life on mobile phones, but with it’s latest version “Honeycomb”, it’s grown in to a serious tablet operating system. You’ll see Android tablets from manufacturers like ACER, Samsung, Packard Bell and Motorola.
As they all run basically the same software, these tablets have to work to stand out in other areas. For example, the Acer Iconia Tab A500 is a really capable, good looking tablet, all for about fifty quid less than the cheapest iPad 2.
The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is another decent tablet, with the added bonus of converting into a proper laptop for those times when you need to have a keyboard. There’s even an extra battery in here so you double the battery life just by plugging in the keyboard.
The Amazing HP TouchPad
If you want another alternative, a few companies have developed their own tablet software. RIM, who make the famous Blackberry phones, has designed their own software for the seven inch PlayBook, while HP have used their own webOS software for the new TouchPad, focussing on a great web browser easy access to all your online data.
So, with all that choice, what should you buy? Apple has done an amazing job of streamlining the whole computing experience. You never feel like you need to be an IT expert to work an iPad, and their music, video and apps stores make it easy to fill your tablet with cool stuff. Plus, their hardware design is just amazing!
HP’s got you covered if you’re looking for a great social media and web experience. If you find the Apple ecosystem a bit too controlling there’s probably an Android tablet for you.
Basically, tablets are such personal devices. You’re going to spend a lot of time on the sofa cradling your shiny gadget in your arms, so you want something that’s going to disappear and just let you get on with what you’re doing.
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