The tablet wave is about to hit the market in its full force very soon and with all the upcoming slates you might have gotten dizzy just trying to compare the specs. It seems that in this ocean of tablets it is hard to tell the difference between many – they all have dual-core CPUs and most have the fancy new Honeycomb OS, but what about the real look and feel? After all, it is your hand that will hold that weight for hours and whatever hardware there is inside, it won't matter much if you get a jumbo slate that feels too heavy and bulky for your taste. So just like clothes, tablets nowadays come in different sizes starting with the small 7-inch ones like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, then the medium 8.9-inch ones like the T-Mobile G-Slate and finally the large size for folks with big multimedia needs represented by the ubiquitous 9.7-inch iPad and most recently the 10.1-inch Motorola XOOM. Which is the right size for you? Read on to find out.
- Size L: The jumbo slates
Our first comparison puts the biggest slates side to side so you can see just how they compare to each other and to the currently dominant iPad. The Motorola XOOM, the first true rival to iPad's reign on the tablet market, is finally here and in the flesh! It offers a noticeably thinner bezel and long narrow screen, with aspect ratio of 16:10, ideal for watching movies. It is also one of the narrowest out there at 6.61 inches.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is similar to the XOOM when it comes to the screen, with almost identical narrow widescreen look, but the build on the Tab 10.1 feels a tiny bit plasticky and overall cheaper. If you've seen the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab and its plastic body, then the Tab 10.1 will remind you of an oversized Galaxy Tab. This however comes with the benefit of light weight as Sammy's 10.1-inch tablet weighs a mere 21.13 oz (599 g) and is one of the thinnest tablets out there at only .43 inches (10.9 mm). Excited? The Tab 10.1 is coming this March, so hang tight and wait up a few more weeks.
Finally, the HP TouchPad. If there is one tablet that stands truly unique – that is the HP TouchPad. The whole webOS experience looks gorgeous on the 9.7 inch screen, sized exactly like the iPad. HP's tablet was initially rumored for a Summer release, but some sources hint that it might hit shelves even earlier, in April. All in all, the big tablets have the screen estate to offer indisputably the best media experience. Actually, many people would pick a tablet instead of a notebook since most of the basic functionality is covered. The only downers for jumbo slates are their weight and the fact they may not turn out as portable as you'd want. So if pocketability is what you value most, read on!
- Size M: The truth lies somewhere in the middle
The T-Mobile G-Slate, aka the LG Optimus Pad, falls right in the middle between the jumbo tablets and smaller, more pocketable ones. It reaches middle ground with its 8.9-inch screen, which LG claims is perfect for typing and holding. Dimension-wise the slate is the perfect companion for those long reading/browsing/movie sessions you might have planned. Its advertised weight of just 22 oz (630 grams) might also be an advantage when compared to the bigger 25.75-ounce (730-gram) slates like the iPad or the XOOM. If you're not screen-greedy, this will be the perfect balance point, expect to see it available in late March/early April.
- Size S: Almost pocketable
Back at CES, Samsung's own JK Shin took out a Galaxy Tab from the pocket of his coat and just this simple action was welcomed with a round of applause. That's right, folks, pocketability matters and that's what you get with the 7 inch tablet variety. That is if you have large pockets, of course. The big name here is the Galaxy Tab – it might run Froyo, but it has nearly four-month head.
The BlackBerry PlayBook is a bit larger than the Tab, but it compensates with a thinner body. The business-oriented tablet is expected in late March/early April when the tablet wars will be raging at full power.
Finally, we have the HTC Flyer. Our third choice is the bulkiest of them all weighing 14.8 ounces. The Flyer also stands out with its design and stylus support. The tablet is already up for pre-order on some sites, so we expect to see it as early as March.
- Size XS: Tabletphones?
Bridging the gap between tablets and phones, 5-inch slates like the Dell Streak are neither small enough for your pockets, nor big enough for a full-fledged tablet experience. But nevertheless, they fit an important niche – that of extra small tabletphones, if you will. While the Streak feels more like a tablet (and has the looks of it), the recently announced Acer ICONIA Smart is much more of a phone with its sleek narrow body. So much variety seems almost excessive, but when it comes to choosing – you have plenty of options. It is the year of the tablet after all.
And it seems that next month will heat up things even more for tablets. With so many offerings out on the market, it is just about every major consumer electronics producer with an argument why you should choose their tablet. But truth is born of arguments, right?