You’d be forgiven for thinking the new iPad was the only tablet around, given the furore – and the sales success – of the third-gen model, but what if, for one reason or another, you’re left unswayed by Apple’s shiny slate? There’s a world of tablets outside of the iPad, and for the moment Android is the main competition. Read on for our top three picks for the iPad-avoider.
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime
One of Apple’s big boasts with the new iPad is the battery life: 9hrs with LTE active. However, how does over 17 hours sound to you? ASUS’ Eee Pad Transformer Prime keeps the innovative battery-equipped keyboard dock of its predecessor but steps up the style with more expensive materials and a slimmer chassis. It’s still thicker than the new iPad, but the upshot is far easier content creation than using an on-screen keyboard.
We fell for the Prime in our original review and the subsequent Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade did nothing to dissuade us, the combination of Tegra 3 and the docking flexibility ensuring it a place in our bag. The only blip on the horizon is the upcoming 700 Series with its 1920 x 1200 display, a step up in resolution from the 1280 x 800 panel on the current Prime, though still short of Apple’s Retina Display. Still, if you’re serious about runtimes and text entry, the Transformer Prime has plenty of appeal.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
One size fits all has been Apple’s strategy with the iPad so far, but Android tablet manufacturers have no such qualms about offering differently scaled slates. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 aims for your jacket pocket, a 7.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus display front and center with a sturdy casing that still manages to be just 7.89mm thick. Pixel density of the 1280 x 800 display may be down on what the new iPad offers – 196 ppi versus 264 ppi – but it’s a bright, colorful, rich panel with fantastic viewing angles.
Samsung is arguably Apple’s strongest rival in tablets, and the Galaxy Tab 7.7 shows the degree of polish the company can achieve. It’s not cheap – $499.99 with a new Verizon LTE agreement – but it’s beautifully made and very portable; more details in our full review.
Apple’s iPad 2 has been kept on as the entry-level model in the company’s tablet range, now $399, but Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Tablet undercuts it considerably: $249 for the original version, or $199 if you can cope with less storage and memory. It’s a 7-incher like the Samsung, but with a budget focus; however, Android enthusiasts with a mind for tinkering have discovered it’s also a fantastic starting point for hacks and tweaks.
B&N would rather you stuck with its ebook store and app download store, and usability from the reskinned interface is straightforward if unsurprisingly lacking the speed and gloss of the new iPad. Still, at half the price, for web surfing, messaging, ebook reading and multimedia the NOOK Tablet is a solid and affordable choice.
More choice is in the pipeline, and not just running Android. Windows 8 marks Microsoft’s push back into the tablet segment, with the first models expected in late 2012. Microsoft has done plenty of work bringing its Metro UI up to speed with finger use, and the new support for ARM processors should mean the traditional Windows tablet bugbears of short battery life, heavy build, mediocre performance and loud fans are all addressed.
More details on all the latest tablets in the SlashGear Review Hub, including our full new iPad review. Any of these tablets catch your eye, or are you still convinced a new iPad is the machine for you? Let us know in the poll below!