Tablets have liberated many of us gizmo lovers. Mobility has been there but lugging around a laptop, charging it, and then making sure we were connected were hassles that we did not really want, but had in our lives. Though primitive tablets were around, iPad changed the game. Wannabes and look-alikes have now flooded the market.
About two years after the iPad, there are now rumours of an iPad3 in the making. While rumours on the machine based on Apple's iOS platform are yet to sizzle, Google's Android platform is being courted by many while the RIM's PlayBook is also matching cool tablet features.
Let's take a look at where they stand.
The Apple iPad(s)The camp is split in two. Those who love the iPad and those who don't. The haters just don't like the absence of a USB port in it. I'll take that later. From the OS point of view, iOS is the most stable. It is secure, and allows you only to install applications from the Apple Store. There are both paid and free applications available, and you can also download and watch movies or listen to music.
The tablet comes in two variants - the WiFi Only and the WiFi + 3G. If you are going to be using roaming outside home, the second option is obviously your thing, but you can get value for money with the former if you are a homebird.
The original iPad is off the market now but you may be able to get one cheaper from sellers with old stocks. And some retailers also offer the machine on EMIs
(equated monthly installments) in case you have a budget issue. You don't have to spend the money you had saved up for a laptop at one go. Of course, the price varies with features such as storage and connectivity.
Positioned for business use and available only in a WiFi model, the PlayBook, however, offers a feature that allows you to bridge it with your BlackBerry handset. The PlayBook runs Flash websites seamlessly - and this is where both the iPad and the Galaxy Tab fail. The iPad just does not run Flash. The Galaxy Tab crawls. The PlayBook features a 7'' screen, and works wonderfully well with gestures. The limitation is the number of applications available. Also, there is no email or calendar client, unless you couple it with a BlackBerry. PlayBook also excels with a front-facing 3 megapixel camera, but you can't do much with it other than take pictures. The rear 5 MP camera works fine. At the current price, the PlayBook looks like a steal but only if you own a BlackBerry device.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7"
The guys at Samsung wanted to pitch the Galaxy Tab against the iPad. What has worked for the Koreans is the open OS, Android, which has a huge library of free apps. The plus points include a memory card, a USB slot a smaller screen size (7").
But the Galaxy Tab runs an older Android version (2.2) and is available only in a WiFi variant. But the tablet is a workable choice.
The 9.7" screen looks like a great option, but browsing the Internet on the 7" Galaxy tab is not so much of a challenge.
The tablet works fine, though compared to the iPad it does not have the fluidity and the experience to match. If you are looking at buying a tablet that is affordable and does most of your work, the Galaxy Tab works.
iPad3 - to wait or not to wait
The iPad3, or the next iPad, may still be a rumour, and only a very, very limited number of people inside Apple really know what it is and when it will hit the markets.
However, the world of technology changes fast, that if you are keen on buying the iPad, go ahead grab the iPad2. If you are looking for a budget-friendly deal, get one of the tablets in the affordable segment.
If an iPad3 does come eventually, who knows, there might even be an iPad4 lurking somewhere.