Apple unveiled its third iteration of the iPad on March 7, sporting, among other new features, a more detailed screen and 4G LTE support.
But what if you’re not an Apple fan, or would like to be able to plug in a USB flash drive to your tablet? Here are 5 iPad alternatives for your tablet needs:
1. Asus Transformer Prime
Probably the best of the bunch, this Android-based tablet from Asus runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), sports a 10.1-inch 1280-by-800 LED display, has 1 GB of RAM along with your choice of 32 or 64 GB of storage (plus an additional 8 GB storage on the Asus cloud should you sign up for it).
The Transformer Prime supports Wi-Fi, 3G, and BlueTooth 2.1 connectivity, has both front and rear facing cameras (1.2 and 8MP, respectively), and for your external connections, the Prime has a micro HDMI port, a micro SD card reader and a 2.0 USB port.
Perhaps the real selling point of the Transformer Prime is its keyboard dock, a real boon for those who don’t particularly care for typing on a touchscreen. The Transformer Prime is $500 without the keyboard dock and $650 with it.
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
Samsung is most likely releasing a Galaxy Tab 2 at some point this year, but the product specifications have already been released, so you may want to add a few more pennies to your tablet fund and wait for its release.
The Galaxy Tab 2 will have Ice Cream Sandwich, a 10.1-inch LCD screen with 1280-by-800 screen resolution, 1 GB of RAM and buyer’s choice of 16 or 32 GB of storage. It will have a rear-facing 3MP camera and a front-facing basic VGA camera.
For the external hook-ups, you’re limited to a SD card slot, up to 32 GB (no USB ports). It will be Wi-Fi and 3G capable, along with BlueTooth 3.0 support. Pricing hasn’t been released, but expect tiered pricing for the Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi/3G models.
3. Motorola Xyboard
Motorola’s successor to the Xoom, the Xyboard ships with Android Honeycomb (Android 3.2) but is upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich. It has two models, a 10.1-inch screen and an 8.2-inch screen. Both screens are 1280-by-800 LCD displays with Gorilla Glass.
Each model has the choice between 16 and 32 GB of storage, with 1 GB of RAM. Both sport a rear-facing 5MP camera with a 1.3MP front facing camera. External connections include a micro USB port, a micro HDMI port and SIM card slot. Both are 3G and 4G capable, with Wi-Fi as well.
The 10.1-inch models are $499 (16GB) and $599 (32GB) while the 8.2-inch models are $399 (16GB) and $499 (32GB) when purchased directly from Motorola.
4. Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon’s first entry into the tablet market is the Kindle Fire, an Android-based tablet, running a modified version of Gingerbread (Android 2.3). The device has a 7-inch screen with 1024-by-600 screen resolution. The device has 8GB of memory, with 6 of it devoted to user content and also has Amazon Cloud support for additional Amazon media storage.
The device is Wi-Fi only, but it also utilizes Amazon’s WhisperSync technology to keep your books and videos synchronized between devices. There’s also a micro-USB 2.0 port. There are no cameras, no GPS and no 3G support available for the device.
Some features, such as accessing the lending library and streaming video from Amazon’s video service, require an Amazon Prime subscription which is currently priced at $79 a year. But, the Prime subscription gets you free two-day shipping on your physical orders from Amazon. The Kindle Fire sells for $199.
5. Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet
Barnes & Noble’s tablet version of its Nook ereader is a full-color 7-inch screen device with a 1024-by-600 screen resolution. It has two models, an 8 GB and a 16 GB, with the former putting aside 5 GB for user content while the latter makes room for 13 GB of content. Both have a micro-SD card slot that supports up to 32 GB of additional storage.
The Nook Tablet is only Wi-Fi capable with no 3G support (you do get free Wi-Fi whenever you visit a Barnes & Noble with your Nook Tablet). The Nook Tablet does have the benefit of free in-store support, so if the device isn’t working, simply take it to the closest Barnes & Noble location.
Like the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet does not have a camera or a GPS. While it runs a version of Android Gingerbread, its access to Android apps is rather limited.
The 8 GB model is $199 and the 16GB model is $249.
Have any experience with these iPad alternatives? Leave us a note in the comments below.