It’s funny to think that the iPad has been around for less than two years. The original “Jesus Slate” was unveiled by Steve Jobs in January 2010, and went on sale three months later.
Back then, tablet PCs were very much a niche product, but now they’re a dime a dozen; every manufacturer and his dog is in on the act. With Christmas just around the corner, I decided to see what you can get for your hard-earned.
Note: all prices are correct at the time of publication, but inevitably they’ll change (for better or worse) rather quickly. Don’t come looking for me with a big stick when they do; it weren’t my fault.
The iPad is still far and away the best-selling tablet. Interestingly, Apple hasn’t changed the price structure in the 18-or-so months since the original iPad went on sale.
In terms of specs, there are “better” tablets out there, but the iPad has the advantage of the ridiculously intuitive iOS and a growing army of iPad-specific apps.
- Apple iPad 2 - 16GB - £399 Wi-Fi only, £499 with 3G @ Apple store
- Apple iPad 2 - 32GB - £479 Wi-Fi only, £579 with 3G @ Apple store
- Apple iPad 2 - 64GB - £559 Wi-Fi only, £659 with 3G @ Apple store
With the first generation of iPad rivals, there was an odd tendency for manufacturers to price their efforts identically to Apple’s. HP, BlackBerry and Motorola, for example, are all guilty. The good news is that those tablet prices have all fallen quite significantly.
The HTC Flyer is the Taiwanese manufacturer's 7in, stylus-rockin' chap, first unveiled at Mobile World Congress.
No iOS or Android? What is this foul madness? Why it's RIM's QNX-based BlackBerry PlayBook.
- BlackBerry PlayBook – 16GB Wi-Fi only - £219.95 @ Amazon
- BlackBerry PlayBook – 32GB Wi-Fi only - £279.99 @ Amazon
At 730g, the Motorola Xoom is one of the heaviest tablet options, but let's face it - you'll probably have it resting in your lap.
- Motorola Xoom – 32GB Wi-Fi only - £315 @ Amazon
It’s been quite a year for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. It was temporarily banned in Europe (and only recently reappeared in Germany as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N), and chances are Australians will never see Sammie’s answer to the iPad 2.
Legal wrangles aside, the super-slim Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a great option if you’re not a big fan of Apple. And hey, it has a higher resolution display.
There are far too many variants to mention, as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB flavours, with or without 3G, and in black or white. Phew. But generally it’ll cost the same as the iPad 2, give or take a few quid.
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 - from £392.17 @ Amazon
It’s probably fair to say most tablets look pretty much the same from a distance. Not so with Sony’s Tablet S and Tablet P.
The Tablet S adopts a magazine-style form, with additional weight at the top. Sony tells us this makes it more comfortable to hold for long periods.
The Tablet P, meanwhile, has two 5.5in displays, and is similar in design to Nintendo’s dual-screen DS.
I’ve just had a quick gander at the PC World site and it appears to have knocked £50 off the price of the Sony Tablet S. Bonus! The Tablet P, however, has only just touched down, so don’t expect to see many bargains for the dual-screen chap just yet.
- Sony Tablet S – 16GB Wi-Fi only - £349 @ PC World
- Sony Tablet S – 16GB Wi-Fi and 3G - £449.99 @ PC World
- Sony Tablet S – 32GB Wi-Fi only - £429 @ PC World
- Sony Tablet P – 4GB Wi-Fi and 3G - £499.99 @ PC World
Rounding off our guide, the AndyPad is your best bet if you’re looking for a sub-£200 tablet. Check out these guys:
For £129, the AndyPad delivers 8GB internal storage (expandable via micro SD), a 7in resistive display, Wi-Fi, and a front-facing camera.
The AndyPad Pro expands the storage to 16GB, and has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, front and rear cameras, and a capacitive touchscreen.