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The 10 biggest tablets of Spring 2012

With 2012's Consumer Electronics Show and Mobile Word Congress in the rear view mirror, this year's tablet race is already in full force. Here's what the first half of the year has to offer.
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By Ricardo Bilton, Contributor on
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1 of 11 Ricardo Bilton/ZDNET

The tablet has come a long way since this time last year: HP's TouchPad came and went in a blaze of price cut-induced glory. Amazon, in the most direct and compelling challenge to Apple, put its weight behind the Kindle Fire. RIM, struggling, finally updated its PlayBook OS, adding native email support and Android app emulation.

But some things haven't changed. Apple's iPad is still the clear frontrunner, offering features that no other tablet has come close to replicating. But in spite of this, rival tablet makers persist, often to extreme extents. Here are the ten biggest tablets set for release in the first half of 2012. Some are better than others, but all are vying to capture a chunk of the rapidly-changing tablet market. 

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2 of 11 Ricardo Bilton/ZDNET

Appropriately named, the biggest pull with the Transformer Pad Infinity is its ability to transform from a tablet to a notebook. Equipped with a metallic spun finish, the 8.5mm thick tablet runs Android 4.0 and carries an LTE radio and a ten hour battery life. 

 
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Announced in February, the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is a seven-inch tablet running on a dual-core 1 GHz processor and Android 4.0. Meant more as an iterative upgrade rather than anything particularly new, the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is a solid choice for a tablet of its size. 

 
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Similar to the Transformer Pad Infinity, Asus's Padfone is built on modularity. Asus wanted to create seamless experience between tablet and smartphone, which is why the phone will be sold alongside an 10-inch dockable tablet. We've seen a similar attempt with Motorola's Lapdock phones, and they didn't do so well. Perhaps the Padfone will fare a bit better.

 

Read: Pros and cons of the Asus Padfone modular approach

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One of the most frequently heard criticisms of Samsung's well-intentioned Galaxy Note is that the device wasn't quite the (write) right size for its stylus functionality. Samsung seems to have responded to that criticism with the Galaxy Note 10.1, a larger device that may be able to better take advantage of stylus input. 

 

Read: Samsung Galaxy Notes: The rebirth of the stylus

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Channeling Nintendo's DS, Sony's Tablet P applies the dual screen concept to a pair of larger screens. Part novelty, part useful feature, the device's dual screen functionality allows it to close on itself and fit in places other tablets can't. It's an interesting idea, but it remains to be seen if Sony will take advantage of it. 

 

= 10="" and="" blogs.zdnet.com="" excite="" gadgetreviews="" http:="" lands="" le="" light="" march="" p="28949"" s="" tablet="" thin="">Read: Toshiba's thin and light Excite 10 LE tablet lands March 6th

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7 of 11 Ricardo Bilton/ZDNET

Shortly after announcing the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2, Samsung announced a follow-up to the 10-inch version as well. At 1280 x 800, the Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) offers a higher resolution than that of its predecessor. Equipped with 1GB of RAM, Bluetooth 3.0, and running Android 4.0, the device comes in both 32 GB and 16GB variations. 

 

Read: Samsung announces the Galaxy Tab 2, its first Android 4.0 tablet

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8 of 11 Ricardo Bilton/ZDNET

Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga is yet another device that experiments with the tablet form factor. Running Windows 8, the Yoga Pad's dual-hinge design allows it to bend 360 degrees. Spanning two device categories, the IdeaPad Yoga is meant to be a tablet with notebook features rather than the reverse. That, along with its inclusion of Windows 8, is sure to set the device apart when it launches later this year. 

Read: Lenovo Yoga: Tablet and Ultrabook in one with Windows 8

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Announced in January as the Excite x10, Toshiba's Excite LE is an extremely thin and light tablet that somehow manages to pack both Micro-USB, HDMI, Micro SD port in its slight frame. The device goes on sale this Spring, starting at $529 for the 16GB model. 

 

Read: Toshiba's thin and light Excite 10 LE tablet lands March 6th

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Apple may have played some naming games with its latest iPad, but the device is just as impressive as ever. The iPad's biggest and most noticeable feature is its 1048-by-1536 resolution display, which is four times the resolution of the display in the iPad 2. The device is also equipped with 4G LTE radio, allowing for faster browsing speeds. 

Those two features may not sound like much alone, but together they make an iPad that is a vast improvement over its predecessors, and light years ahead of nearly every other tablet. 

 

Read: Meet Apple's new iPad, now with a Retina Display

 

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Google's Nexus phones are some of the most popular and well-designed Android devices around, and if recent rumors are to be beleived, Google may intend to bring the Nexus brand to tablets as well. It's reported partner is Asus, which is pretty good at selling quality devices at compartively low price points. That's likely music to Google's ears, which is why the deal seems so possible. So if an Asus Nexus device does emerge, expect it to be cheap. 

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