|21 Nov 2011||#1|
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Tackling the Tablet Conundrum: Which One is Right For You?
When a consumer electronics category confuses the masses, it’s usually because the technology is hard to understand on a fundamental level. Have you ever tried to explain texture fill rates to your GPU-ignorant brother-in-law? Or RAID levels to your mom—who shouldn’t even be asking about RAID in the first place?
Videocards and storage devices can confuse the lay consumer, but at least the prospective hardware buyer usually knows he or she needs a videocard or storage device in the first place. Your game won’t play at a high resolution? A new videocard is probably the answer. Your hard drive is full? It’s time for more storage.
But tablets are different. From a raw technology standpoint, they’re not particularly hard to understand. They’re closed-box systems, and the specs of competing devices generally fall within a narrow range.
The bigger question concerns whether anyone even needs a tablet. TV commercials, tech pundits, and even the struggling magazine and book industries would have you believe that tablets are essential 21st‑century gear. But note-book replacements they are not, and this has to be reconciled before any tablet purchase.
Some Maximum PC staffers couldn’t live without their tablets, but others show no interest in them whatsoever. It all comes down to individual use cases. No one really “needs” a tablet, but many people are discovering that a tablet is a wonderful supplement to their core hardware arsenals. In fact, Maximum‑caliber tech enthusiasts are often the folks best served by tablets. But you need to know what they do well, what they do poorly, and which hardware and software features really matter at the end of the day.
In the following pages, we’ll explain all of that, plus review the eight most-talked-about models currently available. Six of the contenders run Google’s tablet OS, Android 3.0 (aka Honeycomb). Another, the iPad 2, runs the latest version of Apple’s iOS. The final entrant is RIM’s oddball PlayBook, which is tied to a software ecosystem so funky, the PlayBook can’t really be included in any serious tablet conversation. The most oddball tablet of all—HP’s WebOS-based TouchPad—was left out entirely because it was discontinued a few weeks before we started working on this article.
Excited? Anxious? Maybe a little scared? Simmer down, amigo. Tablets are a confusing proposition, but they need not be feared.
Maximum PC | Tackling the Tablet Conundrum: Which One is Right For You?
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