This time last year, large touchscreen tablets were the stuff dreams were made of. Now, we have a lot of major players in the market ready to battle it out and get as much market share as possible. The question is, which is the best, and how do you choose between them?!
Don’t worry, I’ll do my best to answer both of those questions by the end of this post for you as we rundown through the 4 big names currently floating around the tablet space.
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? The Apple iPad has been out long before any of the competition hit the market, so it’s already had a head start. This also poses a problem, though, as the hardware may seem a little limited compared to some of the other models which have been announced. Despite the 1GHz A4 processor in the device, it only packs 256MB RAM, half of what is currently in the iPhone 4.
If you’re looking at the possibility of buying yourself an Apple iPad, you may want to hold of until the second generation is released if you aren’t desperate for it straight away. The new model will undoubtedly see a front facing camera for FaceTime calling, and possibly a higher pixel density – retina display anyone?
Samsung Galaxy Tab
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is the only major Android tablet even close to hitting the market at the moment. Sure we’ve seen plenty of Chinese attempts, but none of them possess anything remotely interesting apart from the tablet form factor itself.
The Galaxy Tab on the other hand runs Android 2.2, and has a 1024 x 600 7″ display too, resulting in a nicer pixel density level than the iPad. The only problem with the Galaxy Tab is the software – Android isn’t tailored for tablets, it’s tailored for phones. If Google make sure that Gingerbread (Android 3.0) is more suited for the big screen, then I’ll listen, but until then the software just doesn’t do it for me. Also, with a base price significantly higher than the iPad, it has a lot to prove!
RIM’s Playbook is the most recently announced tablet on this list, and it certainly has the specs to match. Dual core 1GHz processor? Check. 1GB RAM? Check. Dual cameras with video conferencing capability? Yep, that’s there too. Hardware wise, this beast is the one to beat, but will BlackBerry’s tablet operating system perform under pressure? We’ll have to wait until the 2011 release to find that out!
If you’re a BlackBerry mobile phone owner, then you should be really interested in this one. If you’re not up to speed on RIM’s latest and greatest then check out our “all you need to know” guide on the device.
The HP Slate is different to everything else on this list in one very important way: it doesn’t run a mobile operating system. HP’s operating system of choice is actually Windows 7, which will certainly cater to those lovers of Microsoft’s desktop operating system out there (last time I checked, there were quite a few).
There’s no learning curve to be had, but whether Windows can be optimised for the world of touch is yet to be seen, and that’s if the Slate ever hits the market; it was half announced in January and then disappeared in to the wild. I’m still hoping that HP has a WebOS idea up its sleeve for CES in January, so let’s all keep our fingers crossed!
Which one to go for
So you have the list in front of you, but what do you go for? If you’ve ever used an iPhone or iPod Touch, then you’ll feel at home with iOS running on the iPad. App support is great, and with iOS 4.2 on your iPad, you’ll also have multitasking capability.
If you prefer the open source side of things, then you may want to go for an Android alternative, but I’d wait until Android 3.0 before diving head first in to the Android tablet world. Also, the Galaxy Tab is looking very pricey at the moment, so you may need deep pockets to cater for your choice!
We don’t have a price for the Playbook yet, but I’m just going to come out and say that it looks insanely awesome at the moment, and blows competition out of the water. I may regret saying that if the software sucks, but somehow I think RIM have done a good job there too.
So there you have it! Let’s have a few thoughts in the comments about this one – Windows vs Mac OS X vs Linux was nothing compared to this war of operating systems!