iPad competition hots up as more tablet PCs are launched

If you want an iPad, hold onto your dollars for a little while: a slew of other pads are about the reach the market and your choices are getting richer.

The first iPads bought on a whim last year may be starting to gather dust on coffee tables around the country, but this hasn’t stopped a flurry of me-too tablet PCs coming on to the market. Acer is the latest to join the ranks launching the Iconia range at the end of March. The Taiwanese company now has three new tablets, with two sporting a 10.1-inch screen and a small 7-inch variant sitting uncomfortably between a large mobile phone and a tablet. The larger devices come in two further options to attempt to cater for everyone.

The Iconia W500 runs on Windows 7 for those wanting easier integration in a business running on a Microsoft environment, while the A500 runs on Google’s latest Android operating system Honeycomb. The Windows device has an optional full-size keyboard built into a docking station that attaches to the screen and turns the tablet into a small laptop or netbook. We think Acer couldn’t decide which gadget to make, so it tried to pack all of them into this one. All variants have a 3G and a wi-fi-only option.

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Samsung also launched a tablet last month, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 running on Honeycomb. It compares favourably with the iPad, but then again now the iPad2 is out those after the ultimate prize may not settle for less. The speed and charm of the iPad is hard to beat, even if other manufacturers are working hard to build into their devices features Apple has left out, such as USB ports and superior cameras.

There are more tablets from other vendors, including Viewsonic, Tegatech, Motorola (whose Xoom is pictured above), Dell and Sony either here or on the way. So we suggest you don’t rush until you have compared them. And before you do, make sure your business objectives for introducing tablets to your work environment are well defined. This way you’ll avoid falling prey to a must-have that may not provide return on investment.

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