Which Tablet Is Best for You?
Galaxy Tab: Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android 3.0 slate is 0.2mm thinner than the iPad 2. This 10.1-inch model, due in June, costs $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi unit (an 8.9-inch one is coming too). I like its thinness--and many of Samsung's interface tweaks.
PlayBook: RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook gets a lot right, but it also feels like a work in progress. For now it's constrained by a limited app selection, software glitches, and choices in functionality or design that might reduce the tablet's popularity among consumers.
TouchPad: HP is betting its tablet future on WebOS, which it acquired from Palm last year. The TouchPad has a 9.7-inch display and supports HP Touchstone technology for wireless transfers between WebOS handsets and the tablet.
G-Slate: Also called the LG Optimus Pad, the 8.9-inch, Android 3.0-based G-Slate tablet for T-Mobile stands out thanks to its two rear cameras. The cameras enable 3D video capture; you can view the videos through the included anaglyph video glasses.
Flyer: HTC's upcoming tablets--the Flyer for Best Buy and the EVO View 4G for Sprint--were unveiled with Android 2.3, but Sprint has hinted that its slate will carry Android 3.0. Support for HTC's Scribe pen lets you capture notations digitally.
Iconia Tab: In early demos, Acer's Iconia Tab A500 Android 3.0 tablet seemed promising. The Wi-Fi-only tablet has an aluminum build and carries familiar-sounding specs, including Adobe Flash 10.2 support and a 1280-by-800-pixel display with a 16:10 aspect ratio.
What About Windows?
We've seen little movement when it comes to putting Windows on a tablet--and it may not happen in earnest until we get Windows 8. For now, Dell, Fujitsu, and MSI have said that they would aim Windows 7 tablets at vertical markets such as the education, finance, manufacturing, and medical fields. So far only Asus, Azpen, and ViewSonic have suggested that their Windows tablets are for a wider audience.
Neither the default Windows interface nor the applications are finger friendly, and battery life is an issue. But the appeal of Windows on a tablet remains, as much for its novelty as for its interoperability with the software on a laptop or desktop.
The longer Microsoft waits on providing tablet optimization, the more ground it will cede as tablets steal the thunder from traditional PCs and consumers come to rely on mobile OSs instead of on Windows.