Question from yesterday's Hardware 2.0 mailbox is one that I've been receiving in a variety of forms for months:
"I want to buy a tablet, but I do not want to get an iPad. I've got nothing against the iPad itself, it's just that I have an Android smartphone and juggling two platforms is going to get both complicated and expensive.
What do you suggest I look at?"
Your reason for not wanting to buy an iPad makes sense. As someone who has standardized on iOS hardware, I have to agree with you that one mobile platform is much easier to handle than two. If nothing else, it reduces your costs by allowing you to buy an app once, and then go on to install it on multiple devices. Juggling between two different mobile platforms would mean having to buy all those must-have apps twice.
While I firmly believe that the iPad is the best tablet out there, there are some fantastic Android tablets on offer. You've not offered a budget so I'll suggest a range of tablets starting at $199, and going all the way up to $599.
Best tablet for those who don't want an iPad
ASUS Transformer TF300
If you want a tablet that transforms into a notebook, then this is the tablet for you. Through the use of the optional keyboard dock ($149), not only can you add a keyboard and touchpad, but you also get 5 hours of extra battery life.
For $100 more than Amazon's Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble's Nook, this tablet it worth taking a look at.
Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon's Kindle Fire has come from nowhere to become the number one Android tablet in the United States. It runs a heavily customized version of Android that doesn't look or feel like any other version out there.
The ease of use of the device, combined with the Amazon brand and the low price, has made the Kindle Fire a very popular choice among those looking for an Android tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
The Galaxy Tab 2 is a revamp of the original tablet. It's not as much of a reworking as some were expecting, and more of an evolutionary step than a revolutionary one, but it's still a good upgrade to what was already an excellent tablet. A premium tablet with a premium price tag.
Lenovo IdeaPad A1
Lenovo's 7-inch IdeaPad A1 is a compact yet rugged multimedia tablet that runs the Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system. The A1 is also durable, and features a magnesium alloy roll-cage internal frame that protects the critical system components in case of accidents or jolts.
Barnes & Noble Nook
The Nook is Barnes & Noble's answer to Amazon's Kindle Fire. Like the Kindle Fire, the Nook is essentially a conduit into the digital content that Barnes & Noble has to offer.
This is the tablet for those who like to take their electronic devices into the outdoors. The Pantech Element is waterproof against incidental exposure to water when all ports -- including USB and earphone ports -- are tightly closed, and is submersible up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.
Compared to the ASUS Transformer TF300 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, this tablet is overpriced from a hardware specification standpoint, but if you want a rugged, waterproof tablet, this is worth a look.
Price: $500 (contract-free).
Image sources: Amazon, Barnes & Noble.