Tablet Buying Guide: How to Pick the Perfect Slate

2010 was the year of the iPad. And this is the year the competition starts to get serious. Nearly every company that makes a PC or phone is releasing a tablet to take a bite out of Apple’s dominant market share. Their mission: to give consumers an alternative device for surfing the web, playing games and videos, reading eBooks, enjoying apps, and—yes—getting real work done.

How big is this market? IDC forecasts nearly 45 million shipments of media tablets (as opposed to old-school tablet PCs) in 2011. That’s a pretty big jump from 17 million units shipped last year. Now you see why everyone wants a piece of the action.

The question facing tablet shoppers is whether to get Apple’s sleeker and faster iPad 2 or something else. After months of Apple having the tablet world all to itself, there are finally viable alternatives either hitting shelves now or on the way soon. We expect dozens of Android devices alone, which run a new version of Google’s software designed for tablets. Other high-profile competitors include the BlackBerry PlayBook and HP’s TouchPad.

As they say, choice is good, but picking an OS is only one part of the equation. Here are the factors you need to consider before you buy a tablet.

Tablet Buying Guide

AUTHOR BIO
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. Craig Says:

    Why don’t you ever comment on the limitations of the ipad? I have the apple IPAD and no one ever comments on the fact that one cannot open any websites that have incorporated Adobe flashplayer. (There are more websites that utilize this than one would think). Apple’s continued reluctance to allow total access to its products (citing, adobe flash is not a good program and causes crashes) is unacceptable. I already have a father. If I want to use add-ons to the electronic devices I purchased, then why not allow it, understanding that the machine could crash?
    I do not know much about the competitive devices, but I am assuming that there are no restrictions.

    My 2 cents

  2. charles Says:

    Since when did apps come to mean something different from program? “Microsoft doesn’t have it’s own app store” Last time I checked, it had literally thousands of programs able to run on Windows. Even if Windows isn’t the best software (right now at least) for tablets to run, please don’t sound ignorant in saying that Windows based tablets have no apps available.

  3. mirekk Says:

    There’s no such thing as perfect tablet, or perfect anything for that matter. It’s simply a matter of individual preference. Anyhoo the tablets of today are still relatively simple (media consumption) and require some more work (more interfaces, more storage space, etc.).

  4. Mark Says:

    Tabs are fun if you get the right one. Number one priority inputs. If so it doesn’t matter how much onboard storage is if you can pop in a flash drive or sdcard. Two GUI must be 3D capable. Three not locked in, to a carrier, or proprietary anything especially inputs and app store. Android tabs meet all those criterions. Ipad is more of a 20th century 1D device. Great for kids and the elderly. No frills, no thrills. Also, there selling points buying apps and garage band, be serious. I’m not buying a tab to continuously line apple’s pockets with my money, plus, the connectivity issues they hope no one notices.

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