Until recently, the iPad was the only serious tablet in town. Now, hardware makers are rolling out tablets that are more likely to appeal to PC users. The devices, powered by Google's Android operating system, offer access to thousands of apps. Unlike the iPad, models with the new Android OS also support Flash video. We tested four tablets, rating them according to features and ease of use.
|Samsung Galaxy Tab
The Galaxy's 7-inch touchscreen is 2.7 inches smaller than the iPad's. Our top pick, the Galaxy responded quickly to taps and swipes. The keyboard was responsive as well. The 13-ounce tablet runs on the latest version of Android, which supports Flash movies. It has a rear camera for taking pictures and one on the front for making video calls. The tablet has a 1GHz processor and 2GB of internal memory, with the ability to add up to 32GB. You can choose among service plans from Sprint, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
COST: Unavailable at presstime
A close runner-up, the Streak has a 5-inch touchscreen that quickly registered our swipes, gestures, and taps. As was the case with all the tablets we tested, the small keyboard felt cramped. The 7.7-ounce tablet was a bit sluggish during video games, despite a powerful 1GHz processor. The Streak runs on an older version of Android that does not support Flash, though Dell plans to update to Android 2.2 over the air this year. The tablet has 2GB of memory, with the ability to add up to 32GB. Its battery lasts about nine hours.
COST: $550 or $300 with an AT&T contract
Unlike the Streak and Galaxy, which run on both 3G and Wi-Fi, this tablet connects to the Web only via Wi-Fi. The tablet has a forward-facing camera and a bright 7-inch touchscreen. The prototype we tested did not always respond to swipes, but the keyboard registered every tap. The 1.02-pound tablet runs on a powerful 1GHz NVIDIA processor, making it ideal for gamers, and is set to ship with the latest version of Android. It has 4GB of internal memory, with the ability to add up to 32GB, and its battery lasts five to eight hours depending on usage.
This 1.5-pound tablet, which does not have a camera, is better suited for browsing the Web than typing e-mails or making phone calls. Its 7-inch screen often failed to respond to swipes and taps, and we even experienced some crashes. Powered by an 800MHz processor, the tablet was sluggish; it took a long time to play certain games or make a phone call using the Fring app. The tablet runs on the older version of Android and connects to the Web only via Wi-Fi. It has 2GB of memory, with the ability to add up to 16GB, and the battery lasts six hours.