3 tablet computers for iPad skeptics

Got a thing against Apple? Or just leery of the hype? You have options.

By TheStreet Staff Jan 27, 2010 2:46PM

TheStreetBy Elizabeth Blackwell, TheStreet


Amid the frenzy over Apple's (AAPL) iPad, it's easy to forget that tablet computers are not a Steve Jobs innovation.


During the past year, computer makers such as Dell (DELL), Asus and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) have debuted new tablet computers, which combine the functions of a laptop with the convenience of a touch screen. At about an inch thick and 3 to 5 pounds, they're lighter than traditional laptops and easier to slip into a briefcase or backpack.


Will tablets become the next must-have gadget? It's too soon to tell. But if all the iPad hype has you intrigued by a tablet's possibilities, here are other models to consider:


1. Dell Latitude XT2

Size: 11.7 inches by 8.7 inches

Price: $2,423


Pros: It's like two devices in one. When Dell's Latitude is in laptop mode, you can type documents and e-mails on its full-size keyboard. If you swivel the 12.1-inch screen, you can fold it flat and scribble notes on the surface. "Multitouch" technology makes it easy to scroll through text or rotate pictures by tapping or pinching the screen. High-tech bonus: There's a fingerprint reader for added security.


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Cons: With all these bells and whistles, heavy users will need to upgrade the battery and probably the memory. It's also more expensive than other tablets.


2. Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet

Size: 11.6 inches by 10.1 inches

Price: $1,879


Pros: Although it offers many of the same features as the Dell Latitude XT2, it's significantly cheaper. Like the Latitude, it has a swiveling 12.1-inch screen that allows it to convert from a laptop to a tablet. Lenovo's "palm-rejection technology" makes sure the weight of your hand doesn't register when you're writing on the screen. While the standard model has some touch-screen capabilities, you can upgrade to a multitouch panel, which registers two-fingered gestures to pan, zoom, rotate and right click.

The "elite" model of the ThinkPad X200, which costs $300 more, features a special screen that can be used in direct sunlight. Like the Dell Latitude, you can boost its security with a fingerprint reader.


Cons: Controlling the curser may take some adjustment for users who are new to Lenovo, whose computers use a "TrackPoint" stick rather than the popular touchpad. As with other tablets, heavy users will probably want to upgrade the battery and system memory, making the Lenovo less of a bargain.


3. HP TouchSmart tm2

Size: 11.9 inches by 8.7 inches

Price: $949.99


Pros: Hewlett-Packard's TouchSmart has the same flip-down display and writable 12.1-inch screen as other tablet computers, but it shines when it comes to entertainment. A custom touch interface allows quick access to content through Hulu and Netflix (NFLX). With a few taps of your fingers, you can watch a movie or create your own slide show. HP's "BumpTop" interface scatters extra-large icons on the screen to create a 3-D desktop, so you can move photos from folders to Facebook. You can even write virtual "sticky notes" and post them on the screen.


Cons: Built more for pleasure than business, the TouchSmart makes it easy to spend the day on Twitter rather than working. An engraved illustration on the aluminum chassis also gives it a less professional look than other models.


See two more tablet computers at TheStreet


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Apple unveils iPad tablet computer


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