Want a tablet? Don't want Apple's slate? We round up the best of the rest...
The Apple iPad lorded it over the tablet market last year, gaining more than 90 per cent of the market according to analysts. Its second-generation slate - the iPad 2, pictured above - arrives on UK shelves on Friday but whether 2011 will be the year of the iPad 2, as Apple hopes, remains to be seen. There is no shortage of rival slates crowding in to try to grab a slice of tablet pie.
Many of these would-be iPad killers are set to hit the shops this year and run Google's Android mobile OS - recently tweaked to have a distinctly tablet flavour, via the Honeycomb iteration of the platform. But Android is not the only tablet OS game in town. From old faithfuls such as Microsoft's Windows OS to shiny newcomers such as RIM's BlackBerry Tablet OS, tablet operating-system options are lining up.
Still, the iPad 2 sets the bar high - the iOS slate has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 9.7-inch widescreen touchscreen display with a screen resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels, front- and rear-facing cameras for video-calling and HD video-recording, up to 10 hours of battery life, a gyro, accelerometer, GPS, compass, plus wi-fi and 3G connectivity options.
Dimensions are 241.2mm x 185.7mm x 8.8mm, weight is 601g. The price of a 16GB wi-fi-only iPad 2 is £399 - rising to more than £600 for the top-of-the-line model. Of course if you want Flash support, an iPad is not for you.
Click through the following pages to see our round-up of the best iPad alternatives for tablet buyers. Willing to wait for the right slice of hardware to come along? Then read on.
Samsung is a relative tablet veteran, launching its first iPad challenger - the Galaxy Tab - last year. Since then it's been polishing its follow-up: the Galaxy Tab 10.1, pictured above. The latest 10.1 is a slightly slimmer version than the 10.1 Samsung unveiled in February at the Mobile World Congress trade show. The electronics giant has also unwrapped a smaller slate: the Galaxy Tab 8.9.
The newest, sveltest Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs the Honeycomb iteration of Android, skinned with Samsung's TouchWiz UX. As the name suggests, it has a 10.1-inch screen, with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. The Tab also has a dual-core 1GHz processor, two cameras for video-calling and HD video-recording: a three-megapixel camera on the back and a two-megapixel front-facing camera. There's a gyroscope, accelerometer, digital compass, plus wi-fi and 3G. Memory options are 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, plus microSD. There's also a proprietary USB port. Dimensions are 256.6mm x 172.9mm x 8.6mm, and it weighs about 595g. Oh and it supports Flash.
There's no firm word on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1's UK launch date yet, nor its price.
Another 10.1-inch display, 1GHz dual-core tablet is Motorola's Xoom, pictured above, which like Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 also runs Google's Honeycomb OS - albeit in vanilla Android form.
The Xoom has the same 1,280 x 800-pixel screen resolution as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and also has dual cameras - a five-megapixel rear camera and a two-megapixel front camera - which support HD video-recording. There's GPS, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a barometer. Memory is up to 32GB onboard. It also supports Flash.
The Xoom's dimensions are 249.1mm x 167.8mm x 12.9 mm, and it's a fairly hefty 730g in weight. It has a micro USB port and HDMI out.
Motorola's Xoom is slated for UK release next month - prices are about £500.
HTC took the wraps off its first tablet at Mobile World Congress last month - a smaller-than-iPad seven-inch touchscreen tablet with a screen resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels called the HTC Flyer, pictured above.
Yet another Android-based tablet, the Flyer has been skinned with a version of HTC's Sense UI designed for larger screens. It has a 1.5GHz processor, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video-calling and a five-megapixel camera on the back. There's GPS, an accelerometer, compass, wi-fi and 3G, and up to 32GB of onboard memory.
Dimensions are 195.4mm x 122mm x 13.2mm and the Flyer is a featherweight 420g. There's a microSD slot for additional storage and a micro USB port. The tablet also supports Flash.
HTC has added a retro twist to its tablet in the form of a dedicated stylus for taking notes and annotating documents.
The Flyer is expected to launch in the UK next month – priced about the £600 mark.
Another small slate heading for the shelves is RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook. The PlayBook has a seven-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels and packs a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of memory. RIM's slate runs a new operating system known as the BlackBerry Tablet OS - developed by QNX, a company the BlackBerry maker acquired in 2010.
There are dual cameras – five-megapixel on the back, three-megapixel on the front, supporting video-calling and HD video-recording. PlayBook dimensions are 193mm x 130mm x 10mm, and it weighs around 400g. There's Flash support, an accelerometer and wi-fi and 3G options. It also has a micro HDMI and a micro USB port.
The PlayBook is designed to be used in conjunction with a BlackBerry smartphone via a feature called BlackBerry Bridge which sets up a secure Bluetooth link between a BlackBerry smartphone and the slate, giving PlayBook users access to BlackBerry email, calendar and BBM on the tablet. None of the data is cached or stored on the tablet and is only accessible while the Bluetooth link is active.
The PlayBook launches in the US on 19 April and is due in the UK in Q2 this year. The US launch price is $499 for the 16GB model, rising to $699 for a 64GB version.
When HP bought mobile maker Palm last year for $1.2bn it did so to get its hands on the Linux-based webOS mobile operating system, an OS that had garnered Palm a lot of plaudits, if not a lot of smartphone market share.
The first fruits of HP's acquisition were revealed last month - the HP TouchPad tablet, pictured above, and two new webOS smartphones. The slate has embedded NFC technology which can be used to share content wirelessly between the TouchPad and the HP Pre3 smartphone.
The non-Apple, non-Android TouchPad matches the iPad on screen size, with a 9.7-inch touchscreen display and a screen resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels. There's a 1.2GHz dual-core processor - and just the one, front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video-calling.
The TouchPad has GPS, an accelerometer, a compass and gyroscope. There is 16GB or 32GB of onboard memory. Flash-lovers rejoice because there is Flash support. Dimensions are 240mm x 190mm x 13.7mm, and it weighs in at a hefty 740g. There's also a micro USB port.
The tablet is slated for a UK launch around June. There's no official word on UK pricing.
Windows-lovers don't despair: there's a tablet for you, too. The Asus Eee Slate EP121, pictured above, is a worthy option if you can't bear to leave Microsoft behind. It runs Windows 7 Premium edition.
The Eee Slate packs a whopping 12.1-inch touchscreen display, with a 1,280 x 800-pixel resolution, and can be hooked up to a Bluetooth keyboard to transform it into a desktop PC in all but name.
There's a dual-core processor, two-megapixel front-facing camera and a five-megapixel camera on the rear, up to 64GB of storage and up to 4GB of memory. Dimensions are 312mm x 207mm x 16.9mm, and weight is a substantial 1.16kg. Battery life is a rather pitiful "up to 4.5 hours".
There are two USB ports and a mini HDMI port for connecting to external displays. There's also a stylus option in the form of a Wacom Digitizer Pen.
There's no firm UK launch date for the Eee Slate - but there are reports that it may arrive next month. Pricing is about £1,000.