While the Apple iPad 2 still dominates the tablet market competitors are not standing still. 10″ tablets from a number of manufacturers are available to compete with the 9.7″ iPad 2. And unlike the iPad 2 the Android-based tablets offer a choice in screen sizes.
The newest tablets are from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, offering the new 7″ Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, respectively. These two new tables are designed to appeal to the eReader crowd that want to do more than just read books. Both tablets are based on the companies’ custom version of Android. The Kindle Fire will access Kindle’s app store and the Nook Tablet will access the Barnes and Noble app store.
The advantage that the new Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet have is that they are being offered at $200 and $250 respectively, half the price of an iPad 2 tablet. Although the new 7″ offerings from Amazon and Barnes and Noble do not offer 3G access like the iPad 2. They are wi-fi only devices, which means they are designed to consume content at home or at wi-fi hot spots. Limiting their usefulness as a fully portable computing device, but still great for reading books, listening to music, or watching a downloaded video. You just will not be able to surf the web while you are at the beach.
The Nook Tablet has a slight advantage over the iPad 2 or Kindle Fire in that it includes an external SD card slot, allowing you to add storage for downloads or documents where the iPad2 and Kindle Fire do not. The Kindle Fire has 8GB storage and the Nook Color has 16GB, plus the ability to add up to 32GB more with the card slot, hence it’s $50 higher price tag.
If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber the Kindle makes a great tablet because it allows you to easily access all of your content from the custom User Interface (UI) that Amazon has placed on to of the base Android operating system. Although you should be able to add the Kindle Android Reader app onto your Nook tablet to read books from Amazon. The Nook Tablet also claims 9.5 hours of video watching compared to 7.5 hours for the Kindle.
If you are not a big eReader or are looking for a tablet with more complete capabilities with access to a full range of third-party apps, then you should look at devices like the new Transformer Prime, the iPad 2, or the BlackBerry PlayBook.
If you go with the iPad 2, you get Apple’s App Store built into iTunes while the new Transformer Prime from ASUS takes advantage of into the Android Market. The ASUS device also offers something none of the current tablets do at this time and that is a quad-core processor. The iPad 2 sports a dual-core processor. While there is not much content at this time that would require the use of four cores the ability to play higher performance games or to do faster video editing on the ASUS Prime might appeal to many people.
The ASUS Prime is expected in stores this December at $500-$600 which allows it to compete on features alone, head-to-head with the iPad 2 and in the case of raw processing power even surpass it.
So whatever your tablets needs may be, it looks like this year you will have a number of useful options to choose from. My suggestion is to go and try out each one to see of you prefer the larger 10″ screen size or the more portable 7″ size and be sure to go online and check out the app stores for each to see if the applications and content you are looking for are available.