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The one to beat: Apple's iPad 2
Screen: 9.7-inch (1024 x 768 pixels); Dimensions: 1.33 lbs., .34 inch thick
The Good The iPad's makeover dropped weight and girth while adding a gyroscope, cameras, and more power. Specs aside, the simple, smart, and polished user experience remains unmatched; so does the all-important iTunes store for apps, music, and video.
The Bad Unlike the competition, there's no built-in HDMI port or memory-card slot to add storage — and still no Flash!
The Verdict Who has two thumbs and wants a fun, foolproof tablet? Almost anyone would be pleased, though die-hard techies may prefer the open-source Android options. (Out now; $629?829 for 3G or $499?699 for Wi-Fi only)
Try this app Make your iPad a recording studio with GarageBand. ($4.99 on iTunes)
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T-Mobile G-Slate with Google by LG
Screen: 8.9-inch (1280 x 768 pixels); Dimensions: 1.3 lbs., .49 inch thick
The Good Bright, sharp screen, 4G data, Android 3.0, and powerful internals that are equal to or better than the competition. The G-Slate hits the sweet spot of size and weight, offering a 16:9 wide-screen for HD video playback, or e-reader-like ebook reading when held vertically. Two-handed typing was best in class. And it shoots 3-D video!
The Bad Interface font size is microscopic and so far not changeable. No memory-card slot, and it's slightly thick compared with the iPad 2 and other upcoming tablets. 3-D video requires old-fashioned red/blue glasses — it's likely most people won't use it much.
The Verdict If you're on the fence about Android, this is the one you've been waiting for. Android aficionados will adore it. (Out now; $529.99?749.99)*
Try this app Take advantage of the graphics with the massively multiplayer space-combat game Vendetta Online. (Free, $10/month on Android Market)
Note: For some of the tablets, the low-end price is contingent on a two-year contract with a wireless provider.
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Screen: 10.1-inch (1280 x 800 pixels); Dimensions: 1.61 lbs., .50 inch thick
The Good The first tablet to hit stores with Android 3.0, the Xoom has hypercharged internals that handle multitasking, games, video, and anything else with ease, and the high-res screen is the best in its category. A built-in mini-HDMI port and/or optional dock allow for easy HDTV hookup.
The Bad The Wi-Fi-only model is still pricey, and the tablet verges on husky, with a too-thin bezel that makes one-handed reading ungainly. Despite a 5-megapixel camera, photos are hazy.
The Verdict A definite for power users and those unconcerned with weight and portability. (Out now; $599?799)
Try this app Videoconference with multiple friends with Fuze Meeting. (Free on Android Market)
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ViewSonic ViewPad 10
<p>Screen: 10.1-inch (1024 x 600 pixels); Dimensions: 1.93 lbs., .57 inch thick
The Good The ViewPad boots to either Android or Windows 7 and has ports aplenty —? two USB, mini-VGA, and micro-SD.
The Bad Everything else. It runs old Android 1.6, and a custom store has a tiny selection of dated apps. The control buttons function bizarrely, and the wide-screen is too cumbersome to be held vertically.
The Verdict Unless you need Windows 7, given the price tag we'd avoid it until ViewSonic at least updates to Android 2.2 (due this month), or just wait for the heartier ViewPad 10Pro this summer. (Out now; $599?679)
Try this app Post?Android update, get the game Fruit Ninja. ($1.23 on Android Market)
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Dell Streak 7
Screen: 7-inch (800 x 480 pixels); Dimensions: 1 lb., .49 inch thick
The Good The Streak has a nice weight and feel, with lots of processing ? power and 4G data, including mobile hot-spot abilities. Easily accessible SD and SIM card slots.
The Bad Battery life is noticeably less than other tablets'; even in standby mode it drains juice quickly. It has the lowest-resolution, lowest-quality tablet screen we've seen, and the cameras leave us wanting.
The Verdict Perhaps as a lower-cost Internet tool for your business needs, but only if price is the main factor. (Out now; $200?450)
Try this app Turn it into an on-the-go work space with Quickoffice. ($7.99 on Android Market)
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Samsung Galaxy Tab
Screen: 7-inch (1024 x 600 pixels) Dimensions: .83 lbs., .47 inch thick
The Good It's zippy and (mostly) intuitive to use, and it has an excellent screen, long 13-hour battery life, and 3G wireless data. Coat-pocket size is ideal, and ? holding one-handed for ebooks is comfy. Web pages look terrific in vertical mode.
The Bad Not yet upgradable from Android 2.2. The price is a little steep for a smaller device.
The Verdict It's great, but stay tuned for Samsung's newer 8.9 — and 10.1-inch Android 3.0 models coming in the summer. (Out now; $250?550)
Try this app Seamlessly sync to your iTunes library with doubleTwist Player. (Free on Android Market)
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Keep an eye out for: ACER Iconia Tab
Acer's Android 3.0 tablets — the 7-inch A100 and 10.1-inch A500 — are musclebound marvels built for HD video and game consumption. (A500: Out now; $499.99; A100: late May; price TBA)
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Keep an eye out for: Asus Eee Pad Transformer
This Android 3.0 entry will have an optional keyboard dock, and the 10.1-inch high-resolution IPS screen may be one of the best available. (Out now; $399?699)
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Keep an eye out for: HP TouchPad ?
The first tablet to run HP WebOS software is full of clever touches: It can be charged wirelessly and receive phone calls and texts. (Summer; price TBA)
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Keep an eye out for: HTC Flyer
A 7-inch powerhouse featuring HTC's heralded Sense software overlay to Android, the Flyer also supports a stylus for notes and drawing. (Spring; price TBA)
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Keep an eye out for: RIM BlackBerry PlayBook
Though they'll run RIM's new QNX tablet-specific software, the four versions of the 7-inch PlayBook will also handle Android apps. (Wi-Fi only: Out now; $499?699)
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Keep an eye out for: Panasonic Viera tablet
While all tablet's can handle video and audio, Panasonic's angle is a series of Android tablets (4-, 7- and 10-inchers) that will primarily integrate with your home theater as a super-smart remote control and viewing screen. (2011; price TBA)
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Keep an eye out for: VIZIO tablet
Details are still murky, but a prototype 8-inch Android unit revealed in January from the popular HDTV-maker was well received. Like Panasonic's model, it will likely be home entertainment?centered and integrated into VIZIO Internet Apps Plus ecosystem. (Summer; price TBA)
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Keep an eye out for: Toshiba tablet
The so-far unnamed 10.1-inch model is replete with internals that rival any of the top-shelf offerings of other Android 3.0 tablets. It adds a mini and regular USB port, HDMI and, a first for the category, a removable battery. (Spring; price TBA)
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Keep an eye out for: Sony S1 and S2
Sony?s recently announced Android 3.0 tablets comes PlayStation ready, and with a twist. The S1 has a regular 9.4 inch screen, but the S2 has two 5.5 inch displays that can fold closed. (Fall; price TBA)