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Toiling Over Tablets

With so many new tablet options, it makes me wonder if the iPad will flounder in the wake of its rivals or if it will reign supreme.

By Lauren Kiesow, Associate Editor,


As a potential buyer, navigating the tablet market has now become daunting. At the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, reportedly no fewer than twenty tablets were displayed as possible competitors to Apple’s famed iPad. With all of these new options, it makes me wonder if the iPad will flounder in the wake of its rivals or if it will reign supreme.

Admittedly, I’m not one of those eat, sleep, and breath Apple fans, so I’m willing to check out all of the options. I have an iPod Touch, which I really love, but I haven’t transitioned from a PC to a Mac or from a “regular” cell phone to an iPhone, or any smart phone for that matter. I see those catchy iPad commercials and think, “Man, that is one cool device. I kind of want one.” But, is the tablet I want solely from Apple, or will I find something better in a newbie’s?

The New York Times recently posted an interactive article which compares some of the more promising rivals to the blockbuster iPad. Looking at the report, I saw that there are myriad of features to consider, including but not limited to: apps, multitasking, screen size, screen resolution, camera, storage, battery life, and weight. This venture into tablets is proving nothing short of overwhelming.

Looking closely at some of the specs, there are some clear winners where the iPad fails. The ability to have a device with not only one but two cameras seems equal parts brilliant and excessive, which can be found on the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the BlackBerry PlayBook, among others. Another notable feature is having Flash support, courtesy of every tablet except Apple’s.

For anyone considering a tablet, I feel it ultimately comes down to what you have to have versus what you can do without, how long you’re willing to wait for the product’s release (as most competitors are not yet on sale), and the projected longevity of the device in the marketplace.

In the midst of all of this fact gathering and decision making, I happened upon an article by Tim Gideon of He analogizes the tablet boom to the MP3 player hype a few years back, saying:

Remember MP3 players -- specifically, remember how many there used to be? Within the past two years, every company not named Apple has basically stopped MP3 player production. Sure, Sony and Samsung still make gym-friendly budget options. But no one is wasting time trying to manufacture iPod touch killers anymore -- that category has been conceded, and now the former Apple competitors are making iPod accessories to get a piece of  the pie. They're also making tablets.

Brutal, but decidedly true -- at least on the music front. I can’t help but think that my attempt to stray from Apple is futile. With Apple constantly updating its products to be bigger, better, and ahead of the game, will it take into consideration adding Flash support and front and rear cameras? Probably. Will the rumored iPad 2 be sleeker, lighter, and increasingly more efficient? Most definitely. For one must keep up with the Jonses -- and then steamroll right over them.