iPad or iPad 2 ... or something else?

So, you've got a few hundred buck burning a hole in your pocket and you fancy buying a tablet, what should you do? Do you cave in and buy an iPad now? Do you wait for the iPad 2? Or do you spend your money on a non-Apple product?

The Osborne Effect refers to the unintended dampening influence that pre-announcements and speculation over product updates can have on sales of the current product. With rampant speculation and rumor over Apple's iPad update next year, I'm already getting numerous enquiries from people wondering whether they should buy the current iPad, wait for the iPad 2 to come out, or buy something else.

So, you've got a few hundred buck burning a hole in your pocket and you fancy buying a tablet, what should you do? Do you cave in and buy an iPad now? Do you wait for the iPad 2? Or do you spend your money on a non-Apple product?

Decisions, decisions ...

The first thing to bear in mind is that we know nothing about the iPad 2. Sure, we can assume it's in the pipeline given that Apple operates a yearly update cycle for many of its products (the iPad was launched in April, which means that Apple should be getting the first batch in from the manufacturers February next year). But beyond this, we know nothing.

But we can assume some stuff. Smaller, thinner, better battery life, slightly faster, and greater storage capacity. These are the sorts of improvements that we can take for granted. It's also likely that the next iPad will have a forward-facing camera so people can take advantage of the FaceTime video calling feature. I'm also hearing rumors that the screen will improve too, but I'm not so convinced as that might be too much of a reach, especially if Apple want to keep the price at the current levels.

So the choice is pretty simple. If you're happy with what the current iPad has to offer, then spend your money now. If you're an early adopter then chances are you're already got an iPad and will buy the new one when it's out. If you're not an early adopter and still don't have an iPad, then think about why. If you're been holding out until the holidays to get one, then will you buy the iPad 2 come April or wait until the next holiday season comes around, when the iPad 3 will be on the horizon?

But what about non-Apple tablets? Sure, there are a lot of abysmal Android tablets out there, but there are also some good ones. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is, for example, an example of a good, solid Android-based tablet. You can even find a pretty decent tablet on the $150 price bracket as long as you're willing to do some research and shop around on the internet.

Not sure if you want a fully-fledged tablet? Then what about an ebook reader like Amazon's Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook? Certainly not tablets for the power user, but for people who want to focus on consuming the printed word, these are certainly worth looking at.

Or you can play the wait and see game. Next year is likely to be the "Year of the Tablet" (certainly in terms of the number of products you're likely to see released to market), so if you're not in any real rush to grab a tablet, you might feel compelled to wait and see what the new year brings ...

At the end of the day, it's your money, and I don't really have an answer. I already own an iPad, but if I didn't, right now I'd probably wait and see what 2011 brings.

Thoughts?