Move aside iPad, this is definitely the year for touchscreen tablets powered by Android and WebOS. Although they’ve been around for a while, these user-friendly minicomputers have only recently been perfected and are now gaining mainstream market share.
These are top five tablets we covet, and no, the iPad is not included.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
At 25.7 centimeters, 8.6 millimetres and 565 grams, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is both lighter and thinner than the iPad 2.
Running on Android Honeycomb version 3.1, you can now resize widgets and scroll through opened apps in the "recent apps" pop-up list. Although easy to use, the main downside to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is its lack of a USB port – with a gadget this light, something had to give.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a 3-megapixel rear camera, which is three times higher than the Apple iPad 2′s camera, in addition to its front-facing 2-megapixel camera. With a 7000mAh battery, the Tab can last approximately nine hours (for everyday tasks).
The basics of an Android tablet include: built-in GPS, Adobe Flash in the browser (upon download), 1290 x 800 screen resolution, bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Price: US$629.99 (32GB)
Lenovo IdeaPad K1
With a matte, chrome-colored side and back trim and red colour back panel, the Lenovo IdeaPad K1 might be one of the most attractive tablets in the market now, even if the 25.4-centimetre, 730-gram tablet is a bit bulkier than its competitors.
The IdeaPad does, however, offer more than weight, including an extensive range of ports and buttons that would make skinnier models jealous. Expect to find everything there from a volume button and screen rotation lock switch, to a microSD card reader, headset jack and a docking port which can also be used as a data sync (with a USB cable) to your PC.
Just like all other Android Honeycomb tablets, tapping on the Recent Apps button would reveal a list of scrollable apps you used, but the IdeaPad has innovated with the addition of "close" buttons to the corner of each thumbnail.
Price: US$499 (32GB)
The 24.6-centimetre HP TouchPad runs on WebOS 3.0, which is all about multi-tasking. It provides built-in support for Adobe Flash, a USB connector for charging and connecting to your PC, Beats Audio-powered stereo speakers and wireless charging using HP’s Touchstone technology.
With all this, what’s the only thing that’s missing? There’s no rear camera, only a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. It is also heavier than the iPad 2, at 740 grams.
The HP TouchPad makes a efficient work companion; read and write email, view work and personal inboxes together, and toggle between them all at the same time at ease.
Price: US$659 (32GB)
Dell Streak 7
Although offering the usual extras including GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, what makes the 17.8-centimetre Dell Streak 7 stand out is the dual-core Nvidia Tegra and 3G mobile broadband. Along with a choice of 16 gigabyte or 32 gigabyte of internal storage, the Streak 7 has support for SD, MMC and SDHC cards.
The Streak 7 also has a 1.3-megapixel front camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera with auto-focus and flash.
Although solid on hardware, the main drawback to this model is the software, only running Android 2.2 (other similar models come with 3.0 installed). This isn’t the end of the world though as an upgrade can be easily done.
At 17.8 centimetres and a minimal 425 grams, the Blackberry Playbook is smaller than the 23.4-centimetre iPad, and it offers stronger optics with a 3-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera.
The Blackberry Playbook is also a powerful multi-tasker, able to run a video in one window while playing games in another. The dual-core 1 gigahertz processor and 1 gigabyte of RAM makes running multiple apps at one time a smooth process.
The Playbook doesn’t support external storage, but it does have a micro-USB port to connect to your PC. You can also configure the PlayBook so that it shares files over Wi-Fi.
Price: US$599 (32GB)