If you’d said tablet five years ago, most people would have just assumed you were talking about some kind of medication, however since the launch of the Apple iPad, the tablet category has boomed, and now it’s 2012, the tablet has well and truly carved itself a space along-side mobile in the tech-savvy consumer’s heart and household.
With dozens to choose from, with different operating systems and screen sizes, It can however be confusing to find the perfect tablet, so we’re going to run through our top 5 tablets of 2012 to help you decide which one’s right for you.
The New iPad
Apple’s latest iPad is, naturally, its best. With a staggeringly high resolution 2048x1536 screen that’s better than HD, a new A5X processor and Apple’s trademark premium build and design, there are plenty of reasons to want the new iPad.
It’s the most user-friendly, intuitive tablet in our selection with the latest version of iOS. With its 9.7 inch and slightly squarer shape than the other tabs, it’s best suited to reading newspapers, magazines and books and provides a very comfortable experience in both portrait and landscape.
We touched on the screen earlier, but we can’t stress enough how sharp this is. You can’t see a single pixel unless you bring it right to your face and this makes text and games look fantastic.
Pictures also look incredible on the screen, which, when coupled with the new and improved 5-megapixel iSight camera round the back turn the tablet into a great capturing and sharing device.
Available from £399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version and £499 for the 16GB 3G version, which you can use with a giffgaff data only goodybag, already selling 3 million units in 3 days, you’ll be seeing a lot of this tablet in 2012 and for good reason.
When it was first released, the BlackBerry Playbook was a long-awaited product that didn’t quite hit the mark. Despite a snappy dual-core processor, with no native email support, the user experience paled in comparison to other tablets. Fast forward to 2012, the PlayBook has just gotten its PlayBook 2.0 software update and boy have things changed.
Not only has the PlayBook fast become a better tablet, it’s now one of our favourites. Costing as little as £169, this 7-inch slate runs the same operating system expected to land on BlackBerry handsets later this year.
The organiser tools in the new version of PlayBook OS are second to none. With rich text email editing, a dynamic calendar that resizes dates based on how busy your day is and the most integrated inbox we’ve seen.
3G isn’t on-board, so to use on-the-go you’ll need to tether with a BlackBerry via the BlackBerry Bridge app, which is very simple, making it a must have for any BlackBerry user, and a very attractive, affordable purchase for everyone else.
Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
It seems Asus, not content with a new tablet category carved out by Apple, has decided to make a category of its own - tablet-tops. These are high end tablets that dock into a keyboard and fold up just like a laptop or netbook.
The hottest Android tablet out now, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is one of these folding tablets and arguably the best Android tablet at the moment - selling out in the UK.
In addition to the inclusion of a keyboard dock, the Asus Transformer Prime is a quad-core powerhouse, clocked at 1.4GHz and sporting an Nvidia Tegra 3 Processor. It also packs a super IPS+ 1024x600 10.1-inch display which is bright, responsive and perfect for outdoor viewing.
With the standalone tablet having 10 hours of battery life, the keyboard dock also ramps it up by another 8 taking the total to 18 hours - easily the best in our roundup. Couple that with a full sized USB port, an SD card slot and a keyboard and trackpad and the dock fast becomes a priceless accessory.
All combined in a thin, metal chassis, if you want your tablet to be as productive as it is playful, the Asus Transformer Prime can be yours for £499 with 32GB of memory on-board.
Motorola XOOM 2 Media Edition
While the Motorola XOOM 2 was somewhat underwhelming, the Motorola XOOM 2 Media edition is a charming 8.2-inch addition to the tablet space. Skinny, weather-proofed and powerful, it not only offers robust tableting but is great for games and movies with maximum portability.
The XOOM 2 Media Edition has a quirky octagonal design and really comfortably soft touch accents on the back. It’s without a doubt the most comfortable tablet in our mix to use as an e-reader for long durations thanks to its weight and size.
It also sports Android 3.2 Honeycomb, so opens you up to thousands of applications from the get go. With an infrared port at the top, one of these applications, Dijit even lets you turn your tab into a TV remote control which we tried and found to work great.
Throw in a solid 5-megapixel camera, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and a sub £330 price tag and the Motorola XOOM 2 Media addition is the charming dark horse that we find very easy to recommend.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
The last tablet in our mix is also the newest. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a blown up version of the hugely popular stylus-centric Galaxy Note released in 2011. Like its 5.3-inch counterpart, this 10.1-inch tablet has a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, 1280 x 800 resolution and S-Pen input support.
One thing the Galaxy Note 10.1 does have however which the original Note doesn’t is pressure sensitivity up to 255 levels - so the harder you press the screen, the thicker your drawing or note will be. This, coupled with the accuracy delivered by the Note’s fine tipped pen makes it perfect for any designer, illustrator or recreational doodler in need of a tablet.
Aside from an under-whelming 3-megapixel camera, solid specs across the board and an attractive design make that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer an innovative Android tablet with a difference.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is due to land later this year, running Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwichbut there’s no news on pricing yet.