Jason Hiner's 10 best tablets of 2011
New tablets have hit the market week after week throughout 2011, but here are the 10 best that are worth your attention, and your money.
If you'd prefer to view this list in text format, see the companion blog post.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.
Can't believe you've ignored the best tablet of all, at least for those of us who want to do serious work.
I can't understand why the Acer is not even in the top 10. I have had several tablets and Acer has it all. Ports, Sd card slot. Cameras (1 with flash). Takes great pics and video. Music plays great. Connect to TV (hdmi) watch Netflix. It's fast, beautiful. Good sound. Apps work great. Accessories priced reasonable. No it's not as skinny as the others but that minor feature is not much of a sacrafice for the added ports and SD card slot. Come on guys, check this tablet out.
I had the Milestone which brought both together but I soon realised that I never needed the real keyboard & I feel that using Swype I'd never go back to a hard-board. Although Swype isn't perfect it is a lot better than the real thing...
I have the Inspiron Dell DUO, you get the best of both worlds, dual processor, 2gb ram and a 320 hard disk. Great graphics, the only thing I can complain about is the battery life, only 2 1/2 hours under a load. But the thing I do like is the conversion, it can be used as a netbook or a tablet, you just fold the screen down. It also runs Win7 Home Premium.
I think Jason's right: the iPad 2 is still the best, and for the reasons he outlined. If you can't stand Apple, get some other tablet! I'm sure not having an Apple product will more than make up for the inferior design and functionality and the relative lack of useful apps you've just bought into.
The HP Touchpad is on the 9th place but reading the text we find that Jason put it on sixth. This was in the previous review, of course and, a simple copy and paste doesn't work without a thorough review of the text. Than, since the Kindle Fire is on the second before hitting the market, one would expect to see the new NOOK Tablet somewhere in the top. Or, maybe Jason didn't consider it as valuable as the Fire even though the specifications are superior.
I have used the Thrive and really enjoyed the tablet. It is a little heavier and thicker but I like the rugged feel. The Thrive also has a number of different ports (USB, HDMI, SD slot) which was the selling point to me. One tablet I am using for work is the Asus Eee Slate. It is a tablet running Windows 7. It has plenty of power using a 1.33GHz i5 CPU with 4GB RAM unlike most Windows tablets using the ATOM processor and only 2GB RAM. It has it's own Bluetooth keyboard so you aren't dependent on using the onscreen keyboard. I've been using this tablet for wireless LAN surveys and really enjoy it. The cost is the real down side at $1200.
The statement (regarding the TouchPad) that "...the hardware feels cheap and clunky" is at odds with my experience. Although it is heavy, my TouchPad feels as solid as a bank. Okay, a bank before 2008. My problem with the TouchPad is that there's not going to be a Version 2.0 to take care of the instabilities that always show up in brand new tech ... it's hard to believe just how badly HP handled the release of this device. The interface is first-rate, in my opinion, and 'feels' almost like a desktop's multitasking; its handling of updates is seamless; and the ability to wirelessly recharge on the Touchstone stand is awesome, especially in 'exhibition mode' in which certain programs can run continuously -- I have a Star Trek LCARS clock that, while not strictly business-related, sure looks neat. I'm tempted to buy a backup TouchPad while I can still get one. It's that good.
I'm glad that no Acer products are included! My personal experience with Acer products has never been a pleasant one. This includes PC's from the days of the DOS era, to recent laptops, to LCD monitors. I can never forget the expression on my son's face when he was trying to do some homework, his laptop in front of him on the kitchen table, and it suddenly started to smoke. That was just a couple of months old laptop. My Christmas gift to myself, just a few years ago, was a 24" LCD monitor (Acer of course) that was on sale. It was a great monitor for only one month, and it died after the first month. That was the day I promised myself that I will never again buy an Acer product. Reliability is crucial when it comes to such products, as we know, and I am least impressed with the reliability of Acer products. Other family members have also experienced negative results. Just my 2-cents.
I understand the iPad, I understand the Samsung, even the Asus... but why is Acer always left out of these top 10 lists? The Acer is a clear top performer and has attributes that rival the top best on this list. This is clear hate when a list for top tablets is compiled and one of them is a hacked e-reader masquerading as a tablet.
I've got two buddies who rave about it. How come it's not here? Certainly it is better than the HP . . .
I just got a refurbished NOOK Color for $139. Easy hack turns it into a full fledged Andriod tablet which dual boots into the original B&N system. Love it, and can't beat the price!
RIGHT NOW.... Asus Transformer (I love mine, especially if it's rooted) In a few weeks... Asus Prime (I will love mine, like my wise friend Jeffery has said) iPads are overhyped and overpriced
while I have not experienced the tablets that have made the list, I own a Viewpad7 that offers considerable functionality including connection to the internet via wireless and modem[cell phone]. The price was very competitive and to even the above average user of tablet this is a very viable option. The access to the android apps, which is standard in tablets, keeps it almost on par with the more expensive tablets
After lots and lots of testing and many many many hours of reviews I think that the Viewsonic Gtab is the BEST tablet priced under $300. What we have found that it is really good straight out of the box but Twice as good when rooted with Honeycomb 3.0. This tablet rocks in this price range.
There's been lots posted about the Kobo Vox vs. the Kindle Fire. I have used the Kobo but not the Kindle, and I found the Kobo to be a useful tablet beyond its e-reader origins. And the $200 price point is also a selling point.
I can't believe that this list doesn't include real business tablets that can run a real business OS (WINDOWS 7!). The Fujitsu G550 is the best since it has a built in USB, HDMI, SANDISK, and CAC readers for GOV IT applications. With the cradle full of USB ports you can drop this tablet into a desktop wired network setting with ease. Nothing can compete with that for Business!
Like reimar, I cant stand apple's bubble life. So I stay away from them when possible. (have a work issued MB pro) Not the best device for IT work... but to the story, I have the Dell Streak 5 (1Ghz, 2GB flash, front 1.3 and rear 5mp camera w/flash, 32gb micro sd, 5in gorilla glass touch and 3g) on 2.3 and its a tab first then mobile cell 2nd. I've read a lot of bad things about it which prob is why it didn't make the cut. Most were related to it having ATT's load on it but if its Dells load, your solid. Lets hope it stays that way. I'd have it on this list at 9 and the ipad on my list as 10 only due to its popularity. The Thrive is yes a lil tank like but the key point for me in buying it over the Asus Eee was the connection options. Add the BT keyboard and it runs with the Asus minus the extra battery from the Asus keyboard.
I own a Galaxy Tab 7" for a year now and have found one disadvantage only: the missing display of the full content of any Website! Using some Chinese NoName Tablets as well I refuse to pay more than USD 200.00 for an Tablet at this time. There to many disadvantages in Android for the time being. I do believe that will change in the next time to better. Regardless the iPad's, android Tablet's, special the Chinese NoName's, are quite easy to "hack". Custom Firmwares and other customization of Android Tablets are quite easy to be done. Apple's iPad's are to much limited in view about customization and the user's are strictly bound to what Apple gives them or even allow them to do with their product. That last point is exactly why I didn't buy any Apple product. If I buy something, it's mine after I paid the fee! And I didn't let dictate me what I'm allowed to do with my own property!
I think the Samsung Series 7 Slate should probably be on the list, for all of those people who want a full-featured tablet (with both capacitive screen and Wacam digitizer with stylus, including handwriting recognition) that can run full-blown Windows 7 - thus giving it the best Flash implementation and choice of browsers of any tablet on this list. It's just under 2 pounds, 0.5" thick, and has battery-life similar to some of the tablets here. The base model, with 64GB of storage, can be found for $995 or so, which is only $150 more than the 64GB iPad 2, but the Series 7 Slate runs on a 2nd-gen Core i5 (64 bit) CPU, has 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a full sized USB port, HDMI out, and supports optional bluetooth keyboards. Plus, it can run Windows 8, so it's nicely future proofed. There are plenty of us who want our cake and to eat it too, and the Samsung Series 7 Slate fills that bill much better than any Android, WebOS, or iOS tablet can (in that we can do the same work on the tablet that we do on our laptops).
Tablets are overpriced and under-powered. Touch screens are horrible; REAL keyboards are much better.
I'm reading this blog on an Acer monitor. It's 23 inch, 1920x1080. I've had it for at least a year (not sure exactly how long), and it still works great. I'm actually impressed by the default color calibration of this model. It hardly changes when you run calibration software. We have several of this particular model, and I don't think any of them have quit yet. (On the other hand, some of the older 17 inch Acer monitors we've had weren't particularly impressive.) The other monitor I have on my desk is an Asus. It doesn't work right. A lot of what should be black on the monitor shows up as a sort of mix of fluorescent green and purple. I've seen this problem before with other LCDs. It's actually newer than the Acer. Does this mean that Acer monitors are good and Asus monitors are junk? No, not at all. One or two incidents do not define a brand. Even one or two unreliable models do not define a whole brand. I hope you got your equipment fixed, since it must have been under warranty.
Anyone working and immersed in the tech community can tell you stories like yours about every manufacturer out there... I know I can. I'm wondering about the 2 stories that you told... your son's laptop and your 24" monitor. Both were under warranty, and I assume you replaced them both and didn't just throw them out. How did you find the replacements... good, bad, indifferent? Most Acer monitors have a 3 year warranty... one of the best in the industry. I recommend Acer laptops to most of my clients because they generally give you more for your money. I have 2 Acer laptops myself... 1 for about 4 years, another for about 2.5 years... both going strong... and I beat them to death all the time. I also have 3 Acer monitors, all over 3 years old and all going strong. Does this mean that Acer is better than any other manufacturer... no. I can tell you horror stories about HP, Gateway (pre and post Acer) Lenovo, Toshiba, Samsung, Apple and yes... Acer. Would I leave any of them out of an assessment of laptops, monitors or tablets... no. Unjustified bias has no place on tech sites or in tech reviews. I want the facts, not just anecdotal stories.
i have the thrive 32gb.....love it. i dont like apple either. i think music information and internet should be free.
Ya I know you've heard it before. Blow off Windows and give it Ubuntu. Sounds like a nice tablet though. I also agree with your comments that they are way over priced and underpowered. I have a Motorola atrix, I hope to get a lapdock for it someday, that way I've got a phone that can double as a low powered laptop. It's a slightly different take on Having your cake. I'll find one from Ebay one of these days.
Im using Android touch phones and tablets since 2 years. 1. Touch screen - Choose a good Capacitive Screen. Normally the cheaper
I would not agree that touch screens are horrible, but YES to the Overpriced/Under-Powered comments! Still prefer keyboards here also! Once the price point gets down to $200 or less, might consider one?