Not being a member of the Apple cult, I don’t run out and buy every product that Mr. Jobs claims to be the next great wonder-gadget. However, I did take a look at the iPad when it was released. I was not interested in buying it due to its lack of USB ports, inability to run flash websites, inability to have multiple tabs open, etc. After toying around with the iPad for a while at my local electronics store, I had to scratch my head. With an ungainly typing setup (either the numbers or the letters can be typed on the onscreen touch “keyboard”, but not both at the same time), an annoying and counter intuitive menu setup, and a size that does not lend itself to true portability, I have marveled at the popularity of the device.
In the interest of public service, let me offer some suggestions as to five products that I believe will prove far more useful for the average computer/gadget aficionado.
Revo-Sys XRS 100: This 10.1 inch tablet is rectangular in shape and wide-screened like an HDTV. It is fast, with a 1.66 Ghz processor, and has three USB 2.0 ports. It connects to WiFi and 3G, has a 160 GB hard drive, and comes with Windows XP, Windows 7, and Linux(1).
This model has an onscreen keyboard that is somewhat small, but actually lets you type the numbers and letters at the same time. You will definitely not type fast on this, but it is fine for surfing the web. It plays video files quickly and with excellent resolution. The screen has a special coating that lets you read in the sunlight, and also has a 1.3 megapixel webcam. This thing is a great buy at $725, which is the price I found for it on eBay.
Fujitsu Lifebook TH700 Tablet PC: 4 GB of memory, a 320 GB hard drive, Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium, and a powerful Intel Core i3 2.26 Ghz processor are some of the features of this 12.1 inch tablet PC(2).
Fujitsu has a long history of building super dependable, premium quality laptops and tablets, and the TH700 is no exception. Unlike the iPad, this tablet contains an actual keyboard. This makes life much easier, as does the fingerprint sensor and DVD writer. It is a few inches larger than an iPad, so perhaps a bit less portable, but it is unbelievably more functional. You can get it at shopfujitsu.com for $1,049.
Samsung Galaxy Tab: Electronics giant Samsung releases this iPad competitor on September 16, 2010 for a price of between $200 to $400. Measuring 7 inches, the Tab is seriously portable, and with a 1 Ghz processor, it is also pretty fast for a device of this size(3).
Despite running Android 2.2, which is basically a phone operating system, the Tab manages to pull off computer-like functionality due to the included apps. It has 3G and WiFi, allowing for online connectivity in an ever-increasing number of areas. Also, and perhaps most important of all, the Tab will work with Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T, allowing owners to choose the service they like most(4).
Battalion Touch CZ-10: A fair amount larger than an iPad at 15 inches, the CZ-10 is a true laptop and thus is not as portable. However, if you think an iPad is cool because of its touch screen, this computer gives a full PC experience coupled with a touch screen and a reasonable amount of portability.
The CZ-10 possesses a fast, 2.2 Ghz core 2 duo mobile processor, full keyboard, 4 GB of memory, 512 MB graphics card, 500 GB hard drive, and DVD writer(5). This is the perfect system for the user that wants some gaming performance in a small device with touch screen capabilities. The iPad is not a serious gaming machine, so this would be an excellent alternative.
Toshiba Libretto W100: This unbelievable little device features dual 7 inch screens that fold, somewhat like a Nintendo DS. It has an impressive 2 GB of memory, a 62 GB solid state drive, a 1.2 Ghz processor, a webcam, and two USB ports(6).
This thing is amazing due to its super mobile size and ability to run Windows 7. While not being touted by Toshiba as an iPad killer, that is exactly what this device is. I found it for as low as $1,037.86 at sharksystems.com.
Do yourself a favor and look at everything the iPad can’t do and then ask yourself if, for all the money you will pay for it, you can accept its deficiencies. If you believe it is not worth the price, consider one of the alternatives I have discussed.