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How Apple's iPad 2 Compares to Other Tablets on the Market

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Jason R. Rich offers some practical advice for choosing which tablet is right for you, based on what’s currently available, your unique needs and budget, and how you ultimately plan to use the device. As you’ll discover, some tablets are much better than others at handling certain popular tasks and applications.
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The Tablet Market Was Insignificant Before iPad

Before Apple released the original iPad in April 2010, the tablet market existed, but it was extremely small. After Apple sold more than 15 million original iPad units, however, the computer and consumer electronics industries began to take notice. Today, many of Apple's biggest competitors are releasing their own tablet devices. However, none are coming close to being as popular or in-demand as Apple's options.

On March 11, 2011, Apple raised the bar once again with the launch of iPad 2. This move left most of Apple's competition in the dust. All other tablet devices released since then have earned lackluster sales at best; in fact, the April 2011 release of the BlackBerry PlayBook from Research In Motion (RIM) went virtually unnoticed.

Motorola, Samsung, Dell, HP, and RIM (BlackBerry) have recently released tablet devices, in hopes of capturing some of the market share that Apple seemingly usurped. But all of these competing devices use operating systems other than Apple's iOS, and each has its own design and hardware configuration that differs from Apple's . For example, while the iPad and iPad 2 offer a 9.7-inch (diagonal) high-definition touchscreen display, Apple's competitors have created tablet devices with smaller (7-inch) or slightly larger (10.1-inch) displays.

Each tablet device also offers its own collection of downloadable apps, and all make downloadable content (such as music, eBooks, and movies) available through various online-based venues. Many of these devices and their apps can synchronize with popular Windows or Mac software applications, and they exchange data in a variety of ways.

Most of today's tablets are priced between $249 and $900, and each offers a unique selection of peripherals and accessories. Most are also supported by at least one major wireless Internet service provider, such as AT&T Wireless, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile; unlike the iPad, however, many of these services require users to sign a two-year wireless data service contract. At least initially, the BlackBerry PlayBook also supports only a Wi-Fi Internet connection.

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