We've finally seen what Apple's latest tablet-shaped miracle has in store. The iPad 2 marries the same screen as the original iPad to a slimmer body, and has had a faster processor, a couple of cameras, and more squished into it. With a whole host of Android-powered tablets recently launched, we thought it was about time to summarise the state of play, and give you more of an idea of what device you might want to furnish yourself, or your home, with in the near future.
The following are the tablets we feel will represent strong competition in the premium tablet sector, in brief. While a host of cheaper tablets are available now and many more will be arriving soon, it's the top dogs that we're sure you're most interested in.
- HTC FlyerBlackBerry PlayBookHP TouchPadLG Optimus PadMotorola XoomSamsung Galaxy Tab 10.1Toshiba Android 3.0 Tablet
Right, let's get comparing!
One of the key features people were hoping for with the iPad 2 was an improved screen - something akin to the improvements the iPhone 4's Retina Display made over the iPhone 3GS. However, this unsurprisingly wasn't forthcoming and the screen remains seemingly identical. As such the device maintains the same basic form factor, placing it in direct competition with the HP TouchPad, LG Optimus Pad, Motorola Xoom, Galaxy Tab 10.1, and Toshiba Tablet for the larger 'lounging' tablet market, leaving the HTC Flyer and PlayBook as smaller, more portable alternatives.
Resolution is one area where the iPad range falls behind the competition. While the devices have similar resolutions (1,024 x 768) to the PlayBook, Flyer and TouchPad, the former two both have smaller screens, so will look sharper. Meanwhile, the four tablets running Android 3.0 - Optimus Pad, Xoom, Tab 10.1, and Toshiba Tablet - all have a higher HD Ready resolution of 1,280 x 800. The scenarios in which this will really make a difference are few but having 237,568 extra pixels to play with should never be sniffed at.
A more predictable feature of the iPad 2 is its 1GHz dual-core processor. This should make it twice as fast as the original iPad and puts it on par with most of the upcoming competition. The HP TouchPad stands alone at the top of the pile with its 1.2GHz dual-core chip. Only the HTC Flyer retains a single-core chip, but it's running at a faster 1.5GHz speed so it will be interesting to see which feels faster in real-world use.
The Apple A5, TI OMAP4, Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060, Samsung Hummingbird, and Nvidia Tegra 2 chips that power the above tablets all have graphics chips derived from the same core technology but there are some differences in performance. Sadly the numbers that will tell us which will be faster aren't yet available, but what we do know is that Apple claims the iPad 2 will have 9x the graphics performance of the iPad and we expect the competitors to offer similar performance (again, except the HTC Flyer, which might be a tad slower). The result will be faster, better looking games and smoother animations and motion as you navigate the system.