The tale of the tablets

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You had to know this was coming. When Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPad, it may have launched a new era in popular tech devices: the tablet computer. Of course any techie will tell you tablets have been around forever. However, they have never reached any semblance of commercial success. With several high profile tech giants coming out with their versions of the tablet, it seems like that's destined to change. We took a look at the best and worst features of a few of the most notable tablets.

Apple iPad

With the Apple name alone, it's safe to say the iPad will be the unquestioned leader of the tablet pack by the end of the year. That's not an opinion, that's a fact. In the pre-ordering stage during its first weekend, the iPad sold a remarkable 152,000 units in the US. It'll move millions upon millions when it hits stores nationally and globally.

With its crystal clear, 9.7-inch screen at 1024-by-768 resolution, the iPad works much like an iPhone in terms of operating system and apps. Most of the apps available on the iPhone will be on the iPad. According to Mobile Analytics company Flurry, development of iPad apps have rocketed up 105 percent since the device's unveiling in late January.

The visual impact of the iPad will make a significant mark on the publishing industry. For years, publishers have looked to transfer and integrate magazines and newspapers successfully onto the web. The results have been mixed. This looks to change with the iPad, whose interactive multimedia capabilities could help magazines shift into digital bliss.

The biggest flaw with the iPad is its inability to multitask. Meaning if you're reading a document and want to listen to music, it's impossible. That's a major inconvenience for business leaders who are used to doing multiple things at once. Also, its lack of USB slots makes transferring files difficult. Still, despite these flaws, the Apple iPad is going to be an industry leader.

HP Slate

While it's likely the Apple iPad will emerge as the leader, there are already others lining up to get a piece of the pie. One such competitor is the HP Slate. Debuting at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, the Slate may not have the sizzle of the iPad, but it has its own strengths.

One advantage it has over the iPad is it features Adobe Flash capabilities. For the simple fact approximately 85 percent of the top 100 websites require Flash, (according to having it is definitely huge for the Slate.

Now HP's Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Phil McKinney made a point to say that the HP Slate wasn't competing against the iPad. But we know better. HP has been making the press rounds promoting Slate's ability to use Flash for one reason and one reason only: it's something the iPad doesn't have. It is expected to hit the markets in either May or June with several disputed price points.

In addition, the Slate has the multitasking and picture capabilities that the iPad lacks. It also has the Windows platform. And let's be honest, most business leaders are a lot more comfortable using Windows over Mac OS, that's just how it is. The Slate does not have the apps that the iPad will feature. This is one of its biggest disadvantages.

Dell Streak

The Streak is a bit smaller than the iPad (9.7 inches) and the Slate (8 inches) with a 5 inch screen. If any were to be deserving of the title "Oversized Smartphone," it'd probably be the Streak. This is probably not a device that you'll be able to do a lot of word processing or creating presentations. Still, it has several advantages. The touch screen device uses the Google Android OS and it's immensely more mobile than either the Slate or iPad.

One of the biggest potential benefits for the Dell Streak is an association with Amazon. Industry insiders are reporting the Streak might have an Amazon Kindle app, the most popular E-Book device out there. If this is the case, unlike the iPad, the Streak can attract to an audience that already knows the capabilities of its E-Book application. It'll also use Amazon's mp3 store.

There are plenty other alternatives (tablet processor manufacturer ARM expects approximately 50 iPad competitors this year alone), but these are going to be the big players in the US tablet market.

Gabe Perna is an editor at Business Review USA, a pioneering digital media site for professionals and executives that have an interest in high grossing businesses and corporations within the USA. Through its Business Review USA Digital Magazine, online website, daily news and weekly e-newsletter, Business Review USA helps executives stay up-to-date by focusing on leadership, finance, technologies, and operations within the manufacturing, supply chain, construction, and energy industries.

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