Big tablets, small tablets. Short tablets, tall tablets. Wi-Fi tablets. Cellular tablets.

Gift-givers will find no shortage of tablet PCs to choose from this holiday season. And the following guide can help determine which tablet is best suited for you or a loved one.

By Al Sacco




Apple iPad 2

Apple’s iPad 2 is the single most popular tablet on the market today. And that’s for good reason: The iPad’s combination of beautiful, lightweight hardware and slick, powerful iOS software offer a truly unique tablet experience.

Tech Specs: Dual-core, Apple “A5″ processor; 9.7” LED-backlit display; front- and rear-facing cameras for video-conferencing and HD video capture; roughly 10 hours of battery life; gyroscope, accelerometer and compass; and access to 140,000 iPad-compatible mobile applications via Apple’s App Store.




Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is sure to grab lots of attention this holiday season. First and foremost, the Kindle Fire is an e-reader, but it’s also a full- fledged tablet computer powered by a customized version of Google’s Android mobile OS. Its direct link into Amazon’s media library, with tons of music, movies, TV shows, books and more, makes it an entertainment powerhouse. And it’s reasonably priced. (Unfortunately, you don’t get access to Google’s Android Market app store.)

Tech Specs: Dual-core processor; unique, Amazon version of Android 2.3 OS with Amazon “Silk” Web browser; 7″, 1024×600 display; 7.5 to 8 hours of battery life, depending on usage; and free online “cloud” storage for all Amazon content.




Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

Samsung newest tablet, the Galaxy Tab 8.9, is a medium-sized slate powered by Google’s latest Android tablet OS. It packs a high-resolution display and powerful processor. And it’s most notable because its unusual size falls in between the more common 10″ and 7″ form tablet form factors.

Tech Specs: Dual-core 1GHz processor; Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” tablet OS; 8.9″ WXGA (1280×800) display; 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera and 3.0 megapixel rear camera, with flash; and Samsung “TouchWiz” UI.




Lenovo IdeaPad K1 Tablet

Lenovo is typically known for its business-oriented products, but the IdeaPad K1 tablet is all about entertainment. The 10.1″ slate is powered by Google’s latest Android tablet OS. And its trim form factor and 16:10 widescreen display make it ideal for surfing the Web and watching movies or TV shows while on the go.

Tech Specs: Dual-core, 1GHz processor; glare resistant, 10.1″ (1280×800) display; Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” tablet OS; Full Flash support; 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera and 5.0 megapixel rear camera; and access to Lenovo’s own “App Shop” in addition to the Android Market.




HTC Flyer

HTC’s 7″ Flyer tablet is built for work and play, and its unique digital pen (sold separately) and “Scribe” technology enable a new breed of electronic note taking and drawing. The Android-powered Flyer is available in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi and cellular versions.

Tech Specs: Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” OS; 1024×600 display; 1.5GHz processor; microSD card slot for expandable memory with support for 32GB cards; 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera and 5.0 megapixel rear camera; HTC “Watch” service for access to a variety of movies and video content; SRS WOW surround sound speakers; and HTC “Sense” UI.




Toshiba Thrive Tablet

Toshiba’s widescreen (16:10) Thrive 10.1″ inch slate is a stylish and sleek entertainment tablet. You can choose cover color and finish (non-slip, spill resistant, easy grip, etc.). The latest Android tablet OS gives you access to a variety of apps and multimedia thanks to the Android Market. And it’s one of the few tablets that lets you swap your battery when one is drained.

Tech Specs: Dual-core, 1GHz processor; Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” tablet OS; 10.1″ (1280×800) LED-backlit display; 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera and 5.0 megapixel rear camera; HDMI port; gyroscope and accelerometer; up to 11 hours of battery, depending on usage; removable/replaceable battery; and stereo speakers.




Acer Iconia Tab A500

Acer’s Iconia Tab A500 is a 10.1″, Android-powered tablet that packs a punch. Its 16:10 widescreen, HD display makes it great for watching movies, TV shows or other video while on the go. A unique silver-metallic casing makes the Iconia Tab A500 stylish and durable. And you get access to a variety of apps and multimedia thanks to the Android Market.

Tech Specs: Dual-core, 1GHz processor; Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” tablet OS; WXGA (1280×800) display; 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera and 5.0 megapixel rear camera; expandable memory via microSD card slot; gyroscope; and Acer’s unique “SocialJogger” social network aggregator.




RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook

The PlayBook is designed for both work and play. Its portable, and its unique BlackBerry smartphone integration lets you securely access your smartphone’s corporate e-mail and more via a “BlackBerry Bridge” application. RIM’s BlackBerry App World store offers up thousands of PlayBook apps. And the PlayBook’s browser support Flash for optimized surfing.

Tech Specs: Dual-core, 1GHz processor; 7″ inch (1024×600) display; BlackBerry Tablet OS from RIM; 3 megapixel front-facing camera and 5.0 megapixel rear camera; 10 hours of battery; mini HDMI port; free Internet tethering via BlackBerry Bridge app (wireless carrier dependent); and stereo speakers and microphones.




Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet

Lenovo’s enterprise-oriented ThinkPad tablet is built for business, but can be fun too. With the latest version of Google’s Android tablet OS, a digital pen and related software, a variety of business apps, including the Documents to Go mobile office suite, Printer Share wireless printing software and more, the ThinkPad tablet is sure to make even the most demanding road warrior smile.

Tech Specs: Dual-core, 1GHz processor; 10.1″ WXGA (1280×800) Corning Gorilla Glass display; Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” tablet OS; HDMI port; expandable memory via microSD card slot; and full device and media card encryption.




Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is Samsung’s largest tablet PC. And its large size, high-resolution display and powerful processor make it a great entertainment slate. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet is also available in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi and cellular versions, so you can have wireless connectivity wherever you need it.

Tech Specs: Dual-core 1GHz processor; Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” tablet OS; 10.1″ widescreen WXGA (1280×800) display; 2.0 megapixel front- facing camera and 3.0 megapixel rear camera, with LED flash; and Samsung “TouchWiz” UI.




Motorola Xoom

The Xoom is a powerful multimedia tablet. Its large, widescreen display is great for watching movies, TV shows and other video. The Xoom runs the latest version of Google’s Android tablet OS, allowing access to thousands of compatible apps in the Android Market. And it’s available in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi and cellular versions.

Tech Specs: Dual-core, 1GHz processor; 10.1″ WXGA (1280x 800) display; Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” tablet OS; 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera and 5.0 megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash; 10 hours of battery life; and expandable memory via microSD card slot.




HP TouchPad

HP recently discontinued its TouchPad tablet and abandoned the associated webOS mobile software;for the time being, at least. But that’s good news for gadget junkies looking to score a cheap tablet, assuming you can find one of the deeply discounted slates floating around. (The tablet is currently out of stock on HP.com.) TouchPad hardware is high-end, and the software is slick and functional.

Tech Specs: Dual-core, 1.2GHz processor; LED-backlit, 9.7″ XGA (1024×768) display; webOS software; 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera; and stereo speakers with Beats audio.




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