The beauty of tablets versus notebooks is that the software doesn’t need the most powerful hardware to run smoothly. That’s why most of these slates are powered by ARM-based processors typically found in phones. However, you’ll see a lot of emphasis this year on dual-core mobile processors, because they promise smoother multitasking performance.
Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chip, for example, has dual-core power, plus the ability to stream full HD (1080p) video. Meanwhile, an integrated GeForce graphics chip provides console-quality gameplay. You’ll also find a dual-core chip from Texas Instruments, the 1-GHz OMAP 4430, in the BlackBerry PlayBook. We’ve seen this tablet play a 3D game while playing back high-def video clips. Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung are also rolling out dual-core processors.
The dual-core A5 chip inside the iPad 2 does provide a noticeable performance boost, whether you’re opening apps, or editing video using iMovie. The graphics performance of the iPad 2 is also up to nine times greater than the original iPad, but developers are still in the process of tapping into this new chip’s power.
Some cheaper slates have slower single-core CPUs under the hood, running anywhere from 600 to 800 MHz. We’re not saying you shouldn’t buy these tablets, but you shouldn’t have high expectations, either.
When it comes to storage, it seems that tablet makers are following Apple’s lead by using 16GB of storage as a baseline. Those who want to store more photos, videos, and other content locally will want to opt for 32GB or 64GB. An SD card slot can be especially useful for not only expanding storage but for quickly transferring content from your camera, but many slates lack this feature.