7 Tablets that Aren’t the Apple ® iPad

It may seem that Apple® has a stranglehold on the computer tablet genre – but there are actually many to choose from, each with unique and attractive features. Let’s see what 2012 has offered by way of non-iPad tablets.

Asus® Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Price starts at $499.99

Probably the closest to the competition, as its design was inspired by the iPad 2; the Asus® offers a thinner body at .32 inches. As one of the Android™ offerings, it sports the latest of the candy-shop named operating systems, Ice Cream Sandwich (as of January 2012).

Critics are impressed with the 8-megapixel camera (on the back), which can record 1080p video. It has a 1.2-megapixel camera on the front. Though it sports phenomenal cameras for a tablet, it lacks GPS.

The Transformer comes in amethyst gray (which is sort of a purplish color) or champagne (a silvery-gold). For a little more (about $150), you can attach a keyboard/dock, including a touchpad and a full-sized SD slot, making this tablet almost as functional as a laptop.

Other specs:

  • 10.3 inches wide
  • 1.3 lbs
  • MicroSD slot
  • Micro-HDMI port
  • Quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Choice of 32 GB or 64 GB
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
  • Gyroscope
  • GPS

BlackBerry® PlayBook

Price starts at $499.00

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One of the little guys, the PlayBook is a 7.5-inch wide tablet that employs RIM’s newest operating system. The goal, says RIM, was to create a more professional alternative to the Android™ OS. Critics say it is powerful, it just isn’t intuitive. There is a pretty steep learning curve.

For about $69 more, you may add the optional charging doc, which allows Micro-USB for both charging and sync. It is also Micro-HDMI capable, though the cable must be bought separately.

Other specs:

  • 7-inch screen
  • 15 oz
  • .4 inches thick
  • 3-megapixel camera (front)
  • 5-megapixel camera (back) – 1080p video capture
  • Ambient light sensor
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Dual-core processor
  • Choice of 16/32/64 GB

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Price starts at $399.00

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Another Android™ offering, the Galaxy is the same depth (at .34 inches) yet lighter (at 1.24 lbs) than the iPad 2. This one is a Google Experience tablet, relying on the Honeycomb 3.1 OS.

Unfortunately, there are no USB or HDMI ports on the Galaxy, nor can you use SD or SIM cards. Oops.

Other specs:

  • 10.1 inch screen
  • 2-megapixel camera (front)
  • 3-megapixel camera (back)
  • 16 or 32 GB system
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
  • GPS receiver w/Google Maps

Sony® Tablet S

Price starts at $498.00

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Sony’s tablet also uses the Honeycomb OS, as well as several exclusive apps and even has PlayStation® certification for mobile gaming (but what other tablet would?). It’s the hardware that seems to get the most attention, in that it has more of a wedge shape, rather than being flat like its competition.

Something really cool: the universal IR remote that may control your home electronics. The software turns your tablet’s screen into a very familiar remote control interface that mimics Sony’s HomeShare premium universal remote.

Complaints seem to revolve around the proprietary charging adapter and low screen light. Still, the tablet in general gets pretty good ratings in reviews.

Other specs:

  • 9.4 inch display
  • 32 or 64 GB
  • 1 GB RAM
  • NVidia Tegra 2  processor

Amazon Kindle Fire

Starting price: $189.99

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Another 7-incher, but coming in at about $300 less than the bigger boys, the Kindle Fire truly wasn’t meant to compete with the other tablets. It is in a class of its own. The main functionality of this tablet is entertainment, and that entertainment is to be done Amazon-style. The Kindle Fire does come preloaded with Amazon-friendly Android™ apps such as Pandora®, Netflix, Hulu, and – of course – Amazon’s Kindle and MP3 stores.

Why does it cost so much less than all the others? Simple – you get no 3G, no cameras or microphones, no GPS, no Bluetooth. You only get 8 GB of storage, and no expansion slot. You must have a subscription to Amazon Prime. That’s a lot of concessions, but it’s still selling pretty well.

Other specs:

  • 4.7 inches wide
  • .45 inches deep
  • 14.6 oz
  • Dual-core
  • 802.11b/g/n

Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet

Starting price: $246.09

Another 7-inch tablet with no GPS, camera, or Bluetooth, the Nook Tablet™ has a little bit more to offer than its cousin, above, and thus costs a little bit more. It, too, runs on Android™ software, The Nook™ gives you a bit more memory at 16 GB. Its distinguishable loop in the bottom corner covers a memory card slot, another offering unavailable in the Fire.

Other specs:

  • 5 inches wide
  • .5 inches deep
  • 14.1 oz
  • 1 GB RAM
  • MiniSD
  • MiniSDHC
  • Can support 32 GB
  • Dual-core

Toshiba Thrive

Starting price: $479.95

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Another tablet running on Honeycomb, the Thrive offers a lot of the same software features as other tablets. It does offer two very different hardware features, however: textured back panel that makes it easier to grip, and LED lights on the bezel.

While the Thrive is bulkier than other tablets at .63 inches thick and weighing in at 1.66 pounds, you might say that it makes up for it by offering a full-sized USB port, SD card slot, HDMI support, and – something we haven’t seen yet – a replaceable battery.

Other specs:

  • 10.1 in TFT active matrix – LED backlight
  • 32 GB
  • 1 GB RAM
  • NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor
  • Dual-core
  • 5-megapixel camera (back)
  • 2–megapixel camera (front)
  • Bluetooth 3.0 HS
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • GPS receiver

Between size, shape, color, software, memory, ports and other features, you should be able to find the right tablet for your needs. While 80% of the 7.5 million tablets shipped in the first half of 2011 were, in fact, iPads  – the market is shifting.  You now have a vaster array of applications and functionality to choose from, so don’t settle. Have fun shopping!

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