Some say they’re trendy and worth every penny. Others say they are nothing but scaled down, gimmicky laptops not worth the price and hassle. The battle lines have been drawn, but no one can deny that the tablet is one of the hottest items available today. These devices truly emerged in 2010, but 2011 was undoubtedly their biggest year yet. We saw the unveiling of several new tablets last year. Where did they succeed? Where did they fail? Let’s have a closer look at some of 2011's most popular tablets.
In March of 2011, Apple debuted its iPad 2, the followup to the original iPad launched the previous year. While the price remained the same (around the $500 mark), the second edition of the iPad improved on various aspects that held the first generation back. At a glance, the most obvious upgrade was a device that felt a bit lighter and looked thinner than its predecessor. Perhaps the most significant improvement was speed. Thanks to the inclusion of its system-on-a-chip processor, Apple was able to bolster the iPad 2's performance by nearly double. Another huge plus was the ability to flawlessly run hundreds of thousands of apps.
Although the iPad 2 is easily the most beloved tablet of the bunch, it has had its fair share of critics. One of its biggest flaws harped on was the lack of support for Adobe Flash. For this reason, the device is unable to play videos in flash and poorly displays any website elements designed with it. And while it is equipped with two cameras, the iPad was heavily criticized for its mediocre image quality. The device also disappointed by not having slots for a USB port and SD card.
Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon established itself as a worthy contender in the tablet game with the introduction of the Kindle in 2007. Last September, the e-commerce giant rolled out its much anticipated Kindle Fire
. Right off the bat, it was clear to see that the Kindle Fire had appeal the iPad 2 just couldn’t match; mostly notably, the irresistibly low price of $199. Amazon’s new tablet is much more than economical, as it also packed with plenty of new features that make the device a significant improvement over previous generations. Unfortunately, they do not make up for its shortcomings.
As far as the criticism goes, the overall consensus is that the Kindle Fire is just too slow and short on functionality. While the device does exceptionally well at reading books and watching movies, it scored poorly in the gaming and browsing departments. One of the biggest disappointments was the much hyped Silk web browser, which failed to live up to expectations even after updates.
Sony Tablet S
The Sony Tablet S was one of many Android tablets to hit the market in 2011. Sony’s device stood out immediately with a distinctive design that put it in a league of its own. While a little bulkier than the competition, this tablet is still light enough to be comfortable to hold and easy to port around. One of the Sony Tablet's greatest attributes is its exclusive lineup of apps. Despite running on the same platform, it delivered apps users could not find on any other Android-powered tablet.
By far, the biggest knock on the Sony Tablet S is performance. Web browsing speed is lacking in comparison to other tablets, and some reviews show that its default apps have a bad habit of crashing at inopportune moments. The lack of 3G connectivity is another con that has been cited. Shortcomings aside, the Sony Tablet S received a good enough reception to be considered one of the better Android-based tablets on the market.
All eyes will surely be on the tablet in 2012. Will the iPad continue to dominate, or will a new champion emerge?