Tablets: What’s Hot, What’s Not

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Tablets are the new black. If you don’t have one, you should. With a host of new and improved tablets coming out this year, it will be very difficult to resist this tech trend. The question on everyone’s mind is, Which tablet gives you the most bang for your buck? Hewlett-Packard’s (NYSE:HPQ) $99 Touchpad was good in theory but not in practice. As more bargain tablets hit the shelves, the Touchpad’s flop and the failure of Research in Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry Playbook have left consumers to think long and hard about the mobile operating systems of tablet devices before making purchases that seem too good to be true.

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For those who don’t want to shell out the big bucks for the Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire is an attractive alternative at only $199. Though the Kindle Fire is missing the iPad’s camera and many applications, it is ideal for reading and streaming movies. Lower-priced tablets, like the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s (NYSE:BKS) Nook, were tremendously successful in 2011, hurting sales of Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android tablets.

But the iPad was unfazed by bargain tablets, and has, once again, proved to be “king of the tablet jungle.” The iPad 2 is selling well, and should stay around at a discounted price for a while after the iPad 3, the holiest tablet of them all, is released next month. The iPad 3 is expected to boast a higher-resolution screen, faster processor, and be able to connect to 4G networks.

Android is lagging behind, but with the release of Asus Transformer Prime, a lighter, thinner version of other Android tablets that will be the first to run on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, there might be hope for Android to catch up in the tablet race. The Asus tablet is said to be faster than the iPad 2.

If one is to believe the rumors, Samsung may soon be coming out with a new tablet with a higher-resolution screen for its Galaxy series. However, at a price that is similar to the iPad 2, and with the expected drop of iPad 2 prices this year, it is highly doubtful that this tablet will outsell the iPad.

The availability of so many Android tablets in stores is confusing for customers, giving Apple’s iPad an added advantage. The debate between the iPad and Android tablet is best settled by looking at the sales figures rather than shipments. Apple clearly has the most bankable tablet.

But what should we expect in the coming months? Consumers should look forward to the release of many new tablets in 2012, with improved designs and lower price tags. Here are the bullet points:

  • Windows (NASDAQ:MSFT) is expected to join in on the tablet war between Google and Apple this year. Manufacturers have plans for Windows 8 tablets that are very different from Android tablets and the iPad in terms of layout.
  • With the release of the iPad 3, the iPad 2 will be sold at a cheaper price.
  • Toshiba, Acer, Samsung, and Asus have or are rumored to have new tablet models in the works.
  • Expect to see phone/tablet hybrids, mutant devices that function as both phones and tablets.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Diallah Haidar at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com

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