Tablet Smackdown

Note: Though Victor is the author, Jeff and Sam also contributed to this article.

Now that the HP Touchpad is officially dead, there is one less option in the ever expanding sea of tablets. We had two humble AppRecap reporters go to a Best Buy and check out some of the tablets that have been creating the most buzz, check it out:

Samsung Galaxy Tab

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is just plain amazing. Its form factor is the best, it is three hundredths of a millimeter slimmer than the iPad 2, even while having a bigger screen. Aside from simple specs, the product fit perfectly in our hand when testing. It also beats the iPad 2 in weight (565 vs. 607/613 g). The screen is an amazing quality (as promised), but we thought that the camera is somewhat sub-par.

Asus Eeepad Transformer:

Super robust and has a nice maroon color and the design fits in the palm of your hand. Also features an HDMI port, which is much wanted feature today. It also has a 10.1 inch screen similar to the Galaxy Tab and a similar interface. The front camera has a amazing quality and the back has so-so quality. Though we didn’t get to try the laptop dock, the concept itself is extremely intuitive in our opinion, it’s like buying two products for the price of one (even though the laptop dock is extra). ASUS also claims the EeePad Transformer has sixteen hours of battery life, which we think is a stretch.

Acer Iconia A500:

The Acer Iconia A500 is a great tablet, it just has a couple of kinks to it. First off, it’s got an HDMI port, which is pretty standard, but it also fits a USB port, which is way out there. The charging port sticks out, which makes the design look a little wonky. The back camera is good, better than its ASUS counterpart, but the front camera is a little grainy.

Motorola Xoom:

The XOOM is the first Android Honeycomb tablet to hit the market, so we’ll cut it some slack. It’s been on the market for a while already, and we can’t honestly say that it’s been flying off of the shelves. It has an HDMI port, which is nice, but it overheated during our tests, and the unlock button is on the back, which makes it awkward to hold. The back camera is okay, nothing special, but the front camera is pixellated.

BlackBerry Playbook:

The Playbook is the only tablet running BlackBerry OS7. It boasts a modern, cube-like design which we adored. It had media controls on the top, which was an interesting addition. The screen resolution and audio quality were also good. The device’s rubber contour provides a nice feel, which contributes to the innovative and interesting overall design. As for weight, the Playbook weighs in at nine tenths of a pound, which is little even considering the 7 inch screen. The front camera was good, and the back camera blew us away! We fired up Need For Speed when testing out the Playbook, and stood puzzled as to how to go back to the home screen. Turns out that the bottom part of the device is touch sensitive, so all you do is swipe from bottom to top of the tablet. The problem with OS7 compared to, say HTC Sense, is that there is no widget screen, where you can add a clock or music widget, for example. This was a real downer for the average consumer.

HTC Flyer:

Putting the HTC Flyer on this comparison article is like comparing the first Galaxy Tablet, it just doesn’t seem too fair. HTC just announced their new tablet, the Jetstream, so we’ve got that one below. Anyway, the HTC Flyer has a smaller 7 inch screen, which makes it easier to carry but sacrifices screen real estate. It runs Android 2.3, the phone edition of Android, instead of 3.0, like most other tablets on the list. The Sense user interface was super cool, and it included some new tricks I haven’t seen on their phones (long swiping in the home screen swipes through all of the pages in a 360 way), and it also comes with a pen that lets you can scribble on the tablet. The problem is that there is nowhere to store the pen inside the tablet, as we would have liked. The camera quality differs.

HTC Jetstream:

Like we said, it wasn’t fair to compare the older HTC flyer, which only has a single core processor, with the dual-core processor Tab 10.1. The Jetstream is coming soon AT&T, and it’s not cheap: they’re running at 700 bucks a pop with a 2-year contract. The Jetstream is supposed to have a great quality screen, but is over half a pound heavier than the iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab. Of course, this is HTC’s first Honeycomb tablet, and Sense will undoubtedly “make” the whole product. We recommend keeping your eyes out for this bad boy, which is out on September 4th.

VERDICT

It’s been a good race, ladies and gentlemen. Here are the results based on three criteria (design, brawn, and OS):

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Blackberry Playbook were rated as our favorite tablets, with the ASUS EeePad Tranformer not far behind. We liked Acer’s USB port, but that small design flaw threw it off in that category. TheMotorola XOOM is an older tablet, and the HTC Flyer didn’t have an HDMI, so they were also at a disadvantage. Of course, we couldn’t include the HTC Jetstream in our scores, as it isn’t released yet, and the info we included is just specs. We also included our score of the iPad 2 as a reference.

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