3 top tablets to tempt iPad buyers

Apple's iPad won't be the only tablet under the tree this year. HP's Slate, Amazon's Kindle and Samsung's Galaxy Tab are poised to pose a challenge.

By TheStreet Staff Nov 2, 2010 9:47AM

By Scott Moritz, TheStreet


Tablets are going to be on a few gift lists this season, and it's Apple's (AAPL) iPad that will be getting most of the ribbon-and-bow treatment.


There are, however a few challengers that may also end up under the tree, helping to keep Apple from collecting all the proceeds from the tablet giving season.


One would think that the market was teeming with tablets, given all the hype lately. But so far, the list of available tablets is short, though not unimpressive: Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) Slate, Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle, Samsung's Galaxy Tab and the Apple iPad.


But it's the iPad, with 7.5 million sold so far, that's shaping up to be this year's netbook -- selling at more than twice the price. Let's face it, the iPad was not a flop. Not even close. About 80% of people planning to buy tablets intend to buy iPads, according to a ChangeWave survey of 3,108 people last month.

The WiFi-only version of the iPad starts at $500. The 3G version sells for $630 and can go as high as $830; that price does not include the additional data service plan.


AT&T (T) offers a $15-a-month limited plan and larger $25-a-month offer. Verizon (VZ) started selling the iPad last week as a bundle with a MiFi wireless hotspot device for $630 plus a data service that starts at $20 a month.


Here's how the other tablets stack up.


Hewlett-Packard Slate 500


Named for the price it should have carried, the Hewlett-Packard's $800 Slate 500 was introduced last month and is expected to be available in two weeks. The 8.9-inch touchscreen is aimed at business users.


Since this is the first of the touchscreen tablets to use Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 7, there are some questions about how well the new format will work. As for the hardware, the Slate is essentially a touchscreen netbook without the keyboard. According to the specs, it runs on Intel's (INTC) 1.86-gigahertz Atom processor with 2 gigs of memory and a 64-gig flash-based solid state drive.


Other features include a 3-megapixel camera on the back and a forward-facing VGA camera for video calls. And in an odd nod to the PDA past, the Slate comes with a stylus and handwriting recognition software for note-taking.


Don't think of it as that sleek little media tablet your kids had in mind when they were putting together their lists for Santa. Instead, think of it as an electronic clipboard suited for field inventory managers, presentation screens for sales reps or an electronic chart folder for nurses and doctors.


Amazon Kindle 3G


The reigning king in the broadly-defined tablet market, and for good reason: people love it.


The positives:

  • The Kindle does one thing really well: read e-books
  • You can read the screen in daylight
  • You can surf the Net and Web-based e-mail at no additional cost
  • Price tag: $189

The negatives:

  • You can't watch videos
  • The basic browser is text only, no pictures
  • The screen is black and white

The big selling point of the Kindle, beyond the e-reader function, is that built into the price is a mobile Internet device that's always connected.


Sure, it's a poor person's iPad. So if you need to flaunt your wealth, buy three of them -- that equals the price of the iPad.


Samsung Galaxy Tab


Ladies and gentleman, behold the iPad's top challenger.


The Samsung Galaxy tablet is the beginning of an "avalanche" of cheaper, smaller tablets that sent Steve Jobs into an earnings call tirade last month.


Jobs might have something to worry about, but probably not this year.


Samsung's Galaxy Tab is a 7-inch Google (GOOG) Android-powered touch-screen tablet first introduced to the media in September and scheduled to arrive at carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile next week.


The telco route proved tricky for netbooks; the combination of cheap devices and expensive data service plans pretty much chilled the enthusiasm. But by going with T-Mobile, the Galaxy Tab's price is cut to $400 after subsidies, $100 below the iPad's starting price.


It is an Android machine, and people have embraced the Google software in phones. The same kind of wait-and-see performance anxiety with Android may not be as high as it is say for Windows 7. And it does have front and rear-facing cameras, unlike the camera-less iPad.


At $600, the Samsung tablet doesn't stand a chance against the iPad, but at $400, at least you've got some Christmas options.


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Nov 2, 2010 1:57PM
I bought iPad recently and honestly I hate it. At the time I bought it, it was the only one of that kind on the market. Apple is just a freaking monopolist. And half of the web sites do not work since flash is missing. How about trying to download another browser? Ooops... No way. Firefox web site says that Apple licensing prevents them from creating a browser for iPad. Anyone still remembers Netscape story? Or how Microsoft was sued for just bundling their media player with the OS? How about some free games, those that you play on the web for free? Ah no JVM for iPad... Well, you can still get them from iStore but they cost 99 cents or more for iPad. WiFi sucks too. It is much slower than on my laptop. And try transferring your songs you bought for your iPod... not a simple click and go thing. In conclusion, it is a cute little gadget way overrated and overpriced.
Nov 2, 2010 1:05PM
Yeah, bad article, comparing a Kindle to an iPad. Hey they're both kinda flat and rectangular.
Nov 2, 2010 12:52PM

Idiots - Kindle is absolutely NOT in any way, shape, or form, a tablet. The Kindle is an e-reader, pure and simple. Love my Kindle, but call it what it is.


First tablet? Hrm. I had a Toshiba tablet about 8 years ago - ran windows NT - loved it. To say that the tablet is "NEW" is also from idiots. The tablet is nothing new. Apple simplified (GUI) and crippled (no flash) the tablet in the iPad. I like my iPad, don't love it, but it is an evolution, not a revolution.

Nov 2, 2010 11:55AM
Who writes this garbage?  The HP slate is the first Windows tablet?  Gee there have only been windows tablets for what ten years now?  I'm on my third and I haven't even been using them that long.

The pen is a nod to a pda past?  No, it's to make the tablet actually usable and adds a lot of functionality that the other tablets will never have such as actually being slightly user friendly to any artists who want to do anything other than fingerpaint.

I wish these tech write would actually get a clue about the tech they are writing about before putting together these crap articles.  No matter how much you want to spend every waking moment wanking to Apple, they did not event the tablet, not even close.  They just half assed one out with their usual lie filled marketing campaign designed to brainwash the stupid.

Nov 2, 2010 1:17PM
going to buy HP slate this Xmas. Finally my laptop is going to retire.
Nov 2, 2010 12:59PM
The Kindle is not a tablet.  Anyone who purchases it for ANYTHING besides reading is going to be severely disappointed.  "The poor person's iPad"?  Really?  The Kindle has been out years longer than the iPad and is leagues better for reading ebooks than anything backlit could ever be.

Nov 2, 2010 12:18PM
But it's not the first to run Windows 7 either.  I've had a tablet running Windows 7 since the beginning of the year.
Nov 2, 2010 12:08PM
@n25philly- They said it was the first tablet to use Windows 7, not that it was the first tablet to use Windows in general. However, Windows 7 has been running on smart phones long enough and tablets are similar enough to smart phones that the "concern" is just negative hype. 
Nov 2, 2010 11:47AM
ok so instead of having the next iPhone killer, all of these articles will be touting the next iPad killer? Next!!!!
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