1. Apple iPad2
The iPad remains the king of the category and, even with the invasion of an army of challengers, it’s difficult to see a scenario in which the iPad won’t retain a commanding market share lead when we get to the end of 2011. It still has too many factors in its favor: usability, battery life, a massive catalog of apps, and price. The last factor might be the most important. In 2010, price was the iPad’s greatest marketing weapon as rivals had a very hard time meeting the iPad’s price tag while offering a comparable experience. The iPad 2 doesn’t offer any revolutionary new changes. It’s thinner and lighter, has an upgraded processor and display, and adds front and rear cameras. It’s a nice refinement, and with its big advantages in app and content libraries, it easily has enough value to keep it at the top of the list.
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
The next generation of portable entertainment with the thin, light, and powerful Samsung WiFi Galaxy Tab 10.1-Inch. Showcasing a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display and a dual-core processor for stunning detail and speed, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 delivers sharper movies, better game graphics, and crystal-clear video chats. Surf the web in its full glory with Adobe Flash compatibility and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Android 3.1 Honeycomb OS provides open access to over 200,000 Android Market apps, giving you the freedom to customize your Tab however you please. At 1.25 pounds, this sleek, 0.34-inch-thick tablet is designed for premium mobile computing around the house and on the go.
3. The Amazon Tablet-Kindle Fire
Amazon appears to be putting all the pieces in place to build its own Android tablet. In fact, it may be better positioned to compete with Apple than any of the other tablet makers because of its strengths in content and cloud computing. Amazon already had the Kindle e-book library and Web-based music and video stores, but in 2011 it has added the Amazon Appstore for Android and Amazon Cloud Drive. Plus, the word out of Asia is that Amazon is prepping a low-cost tablet using an E-ink display. Amazon hasn’t made any announcements yet, so this tablet benefits from lots of positive speculation, but the stars appear to be aligning for a formidable tablet product from the world’s e-commerce king, which will likely price it low and make money off the content sales.
4. BlackBerry PlayBook
I was at the event last fall where RIM announced the BlackBerry PlayBook and my first impressions were not very good — mostly because RIM kept it behind glass. However, after getting my hands on the final product, I was a lot more impressed. The PlayBook looks like it could become a factor in the tablet market, especially for businesses that are already invested and committed to the BES backend infrastructure. This is a 7-inch tablet, so that limits its appeal a bit — except for the vocal minority who like the smaller form factor. Still, the hardware feels great, the tablet OS is easy to figure out, and the performance is staggeringly good. BlackBerry die-hards alone could turn this one into a winner. It’s also the best tablet for Web browsing because of its excellent implementation of Flash.
ASUS believes that the iPad has two weaknesses — lack of choice and limited productivity (content creation) — so that’s where the company is focusing its energy in tablets. At CES, ASUS unveiled its line of four tablets, and three of them were aimed at content creators. The most interesting was the Eee Pad Transformer, a 10-inch tablet with a dual core NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU that runs Android 3.0. The most innovative thing about this one is that it has an optional keyboard dock that also functions as an extended battery, giving the device up to 16 hours of life. ASUS has pulled off an Android tablet that also doubles as a laptop when the Transformer is in dock mode. Plus, the price is right. At $399, this tablet is one of the best values on the market, so it’s no surprise that it it sold out in the US on its first day of online sales.