The 10 Coolest Tablets Of 20124:00 PM EST Wed. Dec. 12, 2012
It was another big year for the tablet market as we saw both bigger and smaller form factors, more iPad and Galaxy Tabs, and the much-anticipated arrival of Microsoft Surface. Here's a look at 10 of the top tablets from 2012.
Dell got back in the tablet game this year with a new device for its XPS product family. After the Dell Streak family of small Android tablets failed to catch on, the company this year introduced the Dell XPS 10 tablet for Windows RT. This business-class device packs the high-powered Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.5 GHz-processor and a 10.1-inch HD display, not to mention of host of ports like Micro-USB, microSD, micro-SIM and support for an HDMI adapter. Like other Windows RT tablets, the XPS 10 also comes with a detachable keyboard dock for users who prefer to type instead of tap.
Acer spared no expense giving its newest Iconia Tab an impressive makeover. The Android-based Acer Iconia A700 gets a big boost in the display department with a 1,920-x-1,200 resolution for its 10.1-inch screen. The new tablet also benefits from Nvidia's high-powered Tegra 3 quad-core platform with a 1.4 GHz-processor. And let's not forget the A700's Dolby Mobile 3 surround sound, micro-HDMI port, microSD slot and 32 GB of storage -- all for a traditionally lower price point of $449.99.
Amazon stepped up its tablet game this year with the second generation of the Kindle Fire, which contains a key feature. The Kindle Fire HD now has an 8.9-inch high-definition display with a 1,920-x-1,200 resolution. The device also comes with dual stereo speakers instead of just one, as well as two Wi-Fi antennas for improved wireless performance. And last but not least, the Kindle Fire HD also adds Bluetooth connectivity. Like the original Kindle Fire, the HD version runs a heavily modified version of Android -- but while the first model ran Android 2.3, the second generation gets a big boost with Android 4.0.
Lenovo's newest Android tablet, the IdeaTab S2110, builds off of the foundation of the IdeaTab S2109 that was released earlier in the year. The new S2110 is a 10.1-inch "entertainment tablet" with an HD ISP display, 1 GB of RAM and Android 4.0 operating system. The latest IdeaTab also gets a beefed up CPU thanks to Qualcomm's 1.5GHz dual-core system-on-a-chip. Along with a 5-MP rear camera and a 1.3-MP front-facing camera, the IdeaTab S2110 also comes with a built-in FM radio and an optional keyboard docking station.
Asus' follow-up to its Transformer Prime family of tablets, first announced at CES earlier this year, has a major boost in the video department. The Infinity comes with an upgraded 1,920-x-1,200 display resolution plus a 12-core GPU for better graphics. The Android 4.0-tablet also comes with an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor running at 1.6GHz and faster DDR3 RAM, as well as a sleek, metallic spun finish on the case. And owners of Transformer Prime models looking to upgrade need not worry -- you can use your keyboard dock on the Infinity.
Microsoft finally got into the tablet game this year with Surface, which comes in two versions -- a Windows RT tablet with an ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and a Windows 8 Professional tablet with an Intel Core i5 processor. Both models boast 10.6-inch HD displays and docking keyboard covers. While the Windows 8 Surface model has a high price tag (starting at $899 with no keyboard cover), the device comes with some impressive specs like 4 GB of RAM, USB 3.0 and Intel's HD Graphics 4000 technology. The big question for Microsoft is when will Surface make its way into the channel?
Apple joined the mini tablet market this year to do battle with the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7, among others. The 7.9-inch iPad mini is thinner and lighter than the competition, weighing in at 0.68 pounds and measuring just 0.28 inches. And while the iPad mini doesn't offer the Retina display (the resolution maxes out at 1,024 x 768), the device does come with the Lightning connector, a 5-MP rear-facing camera and 1.2-MP front-facing camera (unlike the iPad 2), and it supports the new iOS 6 platform (unlike the original iPad).
Building off its successful launch of the Nexus 7 tablet, Google recently launched a larger 10.1-inch tablet, the Google Nexus 10. Developed by Google and Samsung, the new tablet comes with Android 4.2 ("Jelly Bean"), a 1.7GHz ARM processor and 2 GB of memory. The Nexus 10 is also lighter and thinner than the latest iPad and boasts a higher display resolution than the Apple tablet. Google's new tablet also comes with an attractive price tag -- $399 for the 16-GB model.
Samsung has established itself as the top Android tablet maker in the market, and it's easy to see why. The second generation of Samsung's Galaxy Tab offers some key improvements to the original Galaxy Tab. The biggest change is the addition of a microSD card slot for up to 32 GB of extra storage. Another new feature is the device's infrared emitter, which can turn the Galaxy Tab 2 (both the 10.1-inch and the 7-inch models) into a touchscreen remote control for a variety of home electronics. While the second generation tablet is slightly thicker and heavier than the original Galaxy Tab, this Android 4.0-powered tablet is still a formidable competitor in the tablet PC market. (For more, check out the CRN Test Center video review of the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0-inch model.)
Seems like it was just yesterday that Apple first introduced the iPad, yet we're already on the fourth edition of the mega-popular tablet. The fourth-generation iPad, which replaces the "new iPad" that Apple introduced earlier in the year, packs the new iOS 6 operating system as well as the A6 ARM-based system-on-a-chip platform and a 1.4GHz dual-core processor. And like its predecessor, the latest version comes with increased memory and the high-definition Retina display, as well as 1,080p/5-MP camera on the back and a 720P/1.2-MP camera on the front. And like all previous versions of the iPad, the latest model has seen monster launch sales.