The Ultimate Tablet Guide – Spring 2011

“Which tablet should I buy?” That seems to be the question a lot of people are asking.  The one tablet that fits all my needs continues to elude me. This article is to help guide those of you who are in this same situation and are still waiting for the right tablet to come along. In the meantime, here’s a list of the best tablets out now or coming in the very near future to help you in your search.

Motorola Xoom

Price: $600 with Wifi, $800 with 3G/4G
Android Version: 3.0 Honeycomb
Processor: 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” WXGA 1280×800
Front-Facing Camera: 2MP
Rear Camera: 5MP 720p HD video support
Storage: 32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: GPS, Bluetooth 2.1, accelerometer, magnetometer, light sensor, gyroscope, barometer
Ports: HDMI out, Micro USB 2.0, 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: Verizon (GSM version coming soon)
Release Date: Available now!

The Motorola Xoom is Google’s flagship tablet to usher in the new version of Android, Honeycomb 3.0. The Xoom is a great piece of hardware.

BUY IT? If you don’t mind dropping $600 to $800, you won’t be disappointed.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Price: Unknown
Android Version: 3.0 Honeycomb
Processor: 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” WXGA 1280×800
Front-Facing Camera: 2MP
Rear Camera: 8MP 1080p HD video support
Storage: 16/32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: Accelerometer, light sensor, gyroscope, digital compass
Ports: 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: Unknown
Release Date: March 2011

There is not a lot of solid info out about the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but we do know that it is very similar to the Xoom. The back of the tablet is the only real difference as it has a molded shape to it.

BUY IT? If it costs less than the Xoom, it is the tablet to buy.

LG G-Slate

Price: Unknown/Competitively
Android Version: 3.0 Honeycomb
Processor: 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 8.9” WXGA 1280×720 3D Capable
Front-Facing Camera: None
Rear Camera: Two 5MP cameras, 3D/1080p HD picture/video recording
Storage: 32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, Micro USB
Ports: 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: T-Mobile
Release Date: March 2011

Price is key here as well. If you don’t mind a slightly smaller screen and the price is right, this tablet will do well for you. If LG decides that their fancy 3D cameras are worth jacking up the price for, I would stay clear of this tablet. Unless you buy into the 3D craze, of course…

BUY IT? This tablet will most likely be over-priced because of the dual-cameras and 3D display. Probably not the best buy unless you dig the 3D.

Notion Ink Adam

Price: $350 w/WiFi + LCD, $425 w/WiFi  + LCD + 3G, $500 w/WiFi + Pixel Qi, $550 w/WiFi + Pixel Qi + 3G
Android Version: 2.2 Froyo + Eden Custom UI
Processor: 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” WXGA 1024×600
Camera: 3.2 MP rotating camera, capable of front and rear viewing
Storage: 8 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: HDMI-out, two USB 2.0 Hub(for peripherals/drives), Accelerometer, gyroscope, Micro USB, Mini SD, SIM
Ports: 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: N/A
Release Date: Available now!

The Notion Ink team has been one of the few companies to really shake up the industry. With a large and dedicated following,  cheap price, solid hardware,  and a slightly different form factor, the Adam is a tablet that is definitely worth considering. The Pixel-Qi model allows for E-ink style viewing, as well as the usual full color display. With two USB hubs and HDMI-out, you can dock this tablet to any screen in your house, hook up the mouse and keyboard, and have a full workstation in minutes. The software is a little rough, but much can be done to counter-act this. Currently running Froyo 2.2, Notion Ink has promised the release of Honeycomb 3.0 as soon as possible.

BUY IT? If you are a nerd, this is a great choice. The hardware is solid, the possibilities are unlimited, and Honeycomb is on it’s way. If you love tinkering, this tablet is for you. Just look at the price!

HP TouchPad

Price: Unknown/Competitively
Android Version: HP WebOS 3.0
Processor: 1.2GHz Snapdragon Dual Core
Screen: 9.7” WXGA 1024×768
Front-Facing Camera: 1.3MP support for video calling
Rear Camera: None
Storage: 16/32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope,
Ports: 3.5mm Audio Jack, Micro USB
Carrier: Unknown
Release Date: March 2011

HP is making their first big jump into the tablet market with the HP TouchPad. The TouchPad has some incredibly smooth software and beautiful hardware. It seems that the TouchPad may be one of the best alternatives to the iPad’s ease of use.

BUY IT? Want something simple? Sleek? Easy to use? Want something like an iPad without the crazy control of Apple? Buy this tablet.

HTC Flyer

Price: Unknown
Android Version: 2.2 Froyo with HTC Sense
Processor: 1.5GHz Snapdragon Dual Core
Screen: 7” 1024 X 600
Front-Facing Camera: 1.3MP
Rear Camera: 5MP
Storage: 32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: G-sensor, ambient light sensor, digital compass, gyroscope, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS
Ports: Micro SD, Micro USB, 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: Multiple
Release Date: March 2011

Looking for something different? The HTC Flyer is just that. The Flyer includes a “magic pen” that allows for very accurate gestures and control of the tablet. Touch up photos, write hand-written letters, and paint a masterpiece with this device. It may seem gimmicky, but this all depends on how HTC implements the pen.

One issue is that on it’s release, the HTC Flyer will not have Honeycomb 3.0. This will be a disadvantage in the short-term, one that HTC hopefully remedies with a future release of Honeycomb.

BUY IT? I am on the fence for this one, but if you are looking for a smaller form factor, HTC almost always has great products. If it gets Honeycomb and the price is right, go for it.

Asus Transformer and Slider

Price: $399 – $699
Android Version: 3.0 Honeycomb with MyWave UI
Processor: 1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” 1280 X 800
Front-Facing Camera: 1.2MP
Rear Camera: 5MP
Storage: 32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: Bluetooth
Ports: HDMI-out, USB hub, Micro SD, 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: Multiple
Release Date: March 2011

The Asus Transformer and Slider could be winners. With a docking station utilizing the Transformer as a 10 inch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard, and a mouse pad, the Transformer could be a very powerful workstation. When it is time to play, just ditch the docking station and have fun with the power of the Tegra 2 in your hands!

The Asus Slider has identical internal specs. The key difference is that the Slider always gives you access to a keyboard by allowing the screen to slide up, revealing the slim QWERTY underneath. The Slider is still a slim tablet, even with the keyboard. Perfect note-taker, anyone?

BUY IT? Definitely, as long as the price stays below $700. The ability to dock the Transformer into a full workstation with a keyboard and mouse pad is awesome. For the Slider, the concept of a slide out keyboard on a tablet is great. You’ll have to wait till April for these guys, but it might be worth it.

Viewsonic G-Tablet

Price: $350-$400
Android Version: 2.2 Froyo with Tap N’ Tap UI
Processor: 1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” 1024 X 600
Front-Facing Camera: 1.3MP
Rear Camera: None
Storage: 16 GB Internal
Memory: 512 MB
Sensors: Bluetooth
Ports: HDMI out, USB hub, Micro SD, 3.5mm Audio Jack, Mini USB 2.0
Carrier: N/A
Release Date: Available now!

The Viewsonic G-Tablet is one of the first tablets to arrive with the Tegra 2 platform, along with the Notion Ink Adam. After reading review after review, I am almost convinced I should buy this tablet. The initial software was very poor, but Viewsonic has updated the software and the functionality has greatly improved. On top of that, XDA-Developers have many ROMs available that you can load yourself and complete refresh and enhance the experience.

If you are looking for something easily accessible (the G-Tablet is sold at many chain stores), cheap, and pretty darn powerful, this is the tablet to buy. One problem is that many have complained about the very poor viewing angles and quality of the screen.

BUY IT? If you can get over the screen, love to tinker, and can load ROMs, this tablet has a lot of potential! NERDS: BUY!

What Not to Buy

Let’s start off with some basics. No one wants a resistive touchscreen. For those who don’t know what this means, I am talking about the ridiculously horrible touchscreens of years ago that had you practically hyper extending your pointer finger just to push a simple on-screen button. Sadly, this type of screen is still being used today and is the culprit behind almost every tablet under $200.

Tablets that are sub-$200 are most likely not worth buying. They usually originate from China and are knockoffs of true tablets. Slow and buggy software usually comes with the package.

DO NOT BUY:

  1. iPed, iRobot, APad or EPad tablets – COMPLETE JUNK
  2. Anything that does not specify “CAPACITIVE” screen
  3. Tablets bought at Toys R’ Us or Walgreen’s

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