A tablet isn’t just for viewing media. It can also be used to create and share content. Although it will never replace a dedicated point-and-shoot, many tablets now feature cameras on the front (for video chats) and back (for capturing photos and videos). The Motorola Xoom, for example, features a 2-megapixel webcam and a 5-MP camera on the back for snapping pictures and recording 720p video. The BlackBerry PlayBook sports a 3-MP front-facing HD camera and a 5-MP rear shooter.
The iPad 2 has cameras on the front (VGA) and back (3-MP) as well, but the quality for still photos isn’t nearly as high when capturing video. You also don’t get a flash, which the Xoom and other slates have.
When it comes to sharing content, an HDMI port makes it easy to output photos, videos, and even games (depending on the underlying software) to the nearest HDTV. But this port isn’t the only way to share media. Apple’s AirPlay makes it a cinch to stream what you’re watching on the iPad to the nearest Apple TV, and other tablets use DLNA technology to wirelessly share content over Wi-Fi to TVs, Blu-ray players, and other home entertainment gear that supports this standard. However, DNLA isn’t as easy to use.
If you’re not getting the iPad, which uses a proprietary dock connector for charging, syncing, and accessories, look for a tablet that uses a microUSB port. This feature will enable you to sync your tablet with a PC.
Lastly, you’ll want to think about accessories. No on one can touch Apple in terms of add-ons, but you should be able to find cases and docks for the highest profile iPad competitors. Just be prepared for slim pickings.
Apple iPad 2
With its ultra-slim design, faster dual-core performance, FaceTime camera, and gobs of compelling apps, the iPad 2 is the tablet to beat.
The first Android 3.0 tablet features innovative software and 4G capability, but buggy performance and a limited number of compelling apps at launch hold this slate back.
Samsung Galaxy Tab
The first bona fide iPad alternative features a compact design, dual cameras, snappy performance, and a small but growing number of tablet-friendly apps.
A low price and sleek design make this Android tablet a tempting iPad alternative for those on a budget.