With more tablet PCs hitting the shops every month, here’s a quick round up of some of the best that’s on offer right now.
Price: £399 (9.7in, 16GB, Wi-Fi)
Spec: The eagerly awaited successor to Apple’s original iPad, the iPad 2 is thinner than its predecessor and weighs just 601g. The 4:3 aspect screen has a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution. The 16 GB tablet runs off a dual-core 1GHz A5 processor and 512MB of RAM.
Pros: The iPad’s battery life is phenomenal, meaning you’re unlikely to be caught short on a day out. Forward and rear-facing cameras make video conferencing using Apple’s Facetime remarkably simple, and we like the remote lock and wipe function. With an RRP lower than the original iPad launch price, the iPad 2 is too tempting to resist.
Cons: It’s hard to pinpoint the negatives without feeling rather picky. File transfer is tricky but that’s easily avoided by using cloud-based systems, and the slick OS more than makes up for any small niggles.
Price: £399 (9.7in, 16GB Wi-Fi)
Spec: The TouchPad’s 4:3 ratio screen has a resolution of 1024 x 768. The tablet packs quite a punch with a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, and weighs in at 740g. No 3G option is available on either model.
Pros: The front facing camera means video conferencing is possible, although it’s worth noting there’s no second camera to the rear. The tablet is well built and has a nifty wireless charger system which cuts down on the maze of leads required. Good cloud connectivity makes collaboration nice and easy. The battery lasts around half the time of an iPad’s, but you’ll still get a good eight hour day out of it.
Cons: Like the iPad, the 4:3 aspect screen means the Touch Pad isn’t great for watching films in widescreen, unless you don’t mind the letterbox style. The biggest limitation though is the apps available – HP’s store cupboards are pretty bare.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Price: £400 (10.1, 16GB, WiFi)
Spec: 16:9 widescreen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, the Galaxy Tab weighs in at 565g.
Pros: The screen ratio and sharp resolution makes the Galaxy Tab great for playing widescreen movies. The tablet has a long battery life and two cameras, which is handy for video conferencing. Lightweight and sleek, it’s a strong contender to the iPad.
Cons: More expensive than other tablets, the Galaxy Tab also has a messy file transfer system which requires a proprietary desktop app. Also customised is the Galaxy USB connector, meaning you can’t just grab a standard cable to charge the tablet. Also, Apple is currently fighting to keep it out of shops in a spat between the companies.
Asus EePad Transformer
Price: £380 (10.1, 16GB, WiFi)
Spec: Working off an Android Honeycomb OS, the Asus EePad Transformer is heavier than the iPad, at 680g. The tablet has a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 746MB of RAM and a 1280 x 800 resolution screen.
Pros: The real selling point of the Asus EePad Transformer is its optional docking station, which effectively turns the tablet into an Android netbook. With separate batteries, docking the tablet adds several hours to its life as well as giving you a proper keyboard to work off.
Cons: There’s a tiny time lag on the cursor which is likely to bug you, and if you’re not using the docking station the tablet keypad is tricky to use. The Android Honeycomb OS simply isn’t as slick as the iPad, and the Transformer has a way to go before it can compete with Apple.
Price: £400 (10.1, 16GB, WiFi)
Spec: Sticking with Android, the Motorola Xoom’s 16:9 ratio screen has a resolution of 1290 x 800 and weighs around 708g. The tablet has 1GB of RAM and a 1GHz dual-core processor.
Pros: A browser which supports Flash is a massive advantage over the iPad, which continually frustrates in this respect. The camera also performs well, although like all tablets the size makes it practically difficult to take good pictures.
Cons: The Xoom’s speakers are at the back of the device, so the tablet isn’t great for sound, which is a shame as the screen works well for widescreen movies. A proprietary lead makes charging a pain, especially as it needs to be plugged into the wall.