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Apple Vs. Everyone Else: The Top 4 iPad Alternatives

BlackBerry PlayBook (Research In Motion)

Announced just a few days ago, the BlackBerry PlayBook is RIM’s answer to the iPad. From its dual-core CPU and dual HD cameras to its new-look OS and ability to pump out video, the PlayBook has a lot to offer in the hardware department while offering a fresh new operating system (it does not run BlackBerry OS 6).

RIM BlackBerry Playbook
Operating System
BlackBerry Tablet OS
Display Size, Reolution
7", 1024x600
1 GHz Cortex A9 dual-core
1 GB
Onboard Storage
16 GB or 32 GB
3 MP front, 5 MP back
USB, HDMI, microSD
WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, 4G (some models)
2011, Multiple US Carriers

The OS on the PlayBook is a new frontier for BlackBerry devices. The QNX-built (a company recently acquired by RIM) webOS-looking BlackBerry Tablet OS promises to be multitask-friendly. Furthermore, RIM already has an App World for its BlackBerry smartphones, so the company has experience when it comes to delivering applications to consumers. Sure, the RIM App World has its pros and cons when compared to Apple’s App Store, but it’s certainly a good start. Other pros for the new OS? Support for Abobe Flash 10.1 and AIR-based applications, and HTML5 support.

As for the hardware - the PlayBook looks very impressive. The PlayBook comes equipped with a 1 GHz dual-core CPU (Cortex A9) and 1 GB of RAM, and while the graphics hardware hasn’t been confirmed yet (neither has storage, but we’re pegging it at 16 or 32 GB), RIM says the PlayBook can handle 1080p video without a problem. Plus, with the included HDMI ports, pumping that HD goodness to a nearby HDTV is quick and painless. While the iPad has no camera to speak of, The PlayBook has two – a 3 megapixel video camera in the front for videoconferencing, and a 5 megapixel sensor on the back for photos and video. The iPad doesn’t have a USB port either, while the PlayBook comes with MicroUSB onboard. Other connectivity includes WiFi and Bluetooth.

BlackBerry devices have come in CDMA and GSM flavors for years now, so it’s only natural that the PlayBook be the same way. Nothing is confirmed, but seeing the PlayBook on Verizon and AT&T would not be surprising in the least. RIM has confirmed that 4G-friendly models would be available farther down the road.

From what we’ve seen so far, the PlayBook wins out on hardware versus the iPad. We can’t speak to display quality at all, but that might be the only area in which the iPad can beat the PlayBook. As for CPU, graphics, RAM and cameras, the PlayBook wins in this theoretical matchup. As for software, the PlayBook makes a strong argument with its Flash support and multitasking, but the iPad has an edge in application selection. The PlayBook isn’t due until 2011, but we think this device has the best position against Apple when it comes to hardware and software.

  • sliem
    What about the (estimated) prices?
    How about Archos tablets?
  • dconnors
    sliemWhat about the (estimated) prices?How about Archos tablets?
    Pricing for a few of these tablets is still not available...but honestly, the price range is going to be the same range as the iPad.

    ARCHOS is making some great tablets, but the company and their products lack the clout that Microsoft, HP, and Samsung bring to the table.

  • Luscious
    HP will have a hard time marketing an already-obsolete Atom platform to the educated consumer and enthusiast. I'm hoping they actually go with an N550 or better, but that Broadcom solution has already been proven to be too driver dependent for reliable playback across multiple HD codecs. AMD's Nile platform is much more elegant and works far better, but it would be a tough job squeezing Nile into a sub-10" form-factor. I like Windows 7, especially when it comes to media streaming and remote connect, but not on a puny Z530.
  • Archos has been around doing these types of devices for a while now. And though i've never owned one, their current lineup looks pretty decent. Maybe it's time you guys started giving them a little respect and included them in these types of lineups.
  • I own an iPad and the one thing that makes the device much more useful than 99% of the devices I have ever owned is its battery life. All the bells and whistles are worthless on a mobile device if you lose power. None of these reviews mention anything about battery life.
  • What about the Blackberry PlayBook's battery life? Huh?
    It uses a faster CPU with more RAM and a faster GPU. It is sure to eat up battery life.

    If it doesn't last 12 hours a charge like the iPad does, then it is going to fail.
  • cknobman
    I hate apple and will never own one of their products.

    That being said I think its stupid to have an "iPad alternatives" article covering a bunch of products that technically don't exist (at least to the consumer). All that is covered here is a bunch of pre release and prototypes which means little to nothing for someone actually looking for an iPad alternative today.
  • back_by_demand
    How about just bringing them to the market, letting us buy them, use them and then write our own reviews on them.
  • These four can not be seen as alternatives, since not a single one of them is for sale. The title is misleading at best. Should have been "Future iPad Alternatives". It is not even guaranteed that any of these devices will survive long enough to hit the market at all.

    So what are the "The Top iPad Alternatives AVAILABLE TODAY"?
  • farrow099
    I waited months hoping SOMEONE would actually bring a legit android tablet to market. They have all been vaporware.

    The only android tablet expected to actually hit the market this year is the samsung galaxy tab. And I don't think that is an accident as samsung seems to produce most of the ipad components as well.

    If anyone is wondering; I own an EVO 4G phone, an iPad, and a win7 x64 desktop.