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New Breed Android Tablets may be competition for iPad

I have been looking for a tablet type device for meetings and casual entertainment. Up until recently I have found that the competition for iPad was very disappointing. Most competitors offer cheap hardware (mainly the chinese knock-offs), or outdated hardware and software (older versions of Android, or resistive touchscreen technology).Maybe things are changing. Updated versions of Android that support Hi Definition video and even support Flash Player for apps and video are here. We have a few new things on the nearby horizon: The Samsung Galaxy Tab, Archos 70 and 101, Viewsonic ViewPad 7, Hannspree tablet, Toshiba Folio 100, Dell Looking Glass, and the unique HP Photosmart eStation C510 Printer with Android Tablet.

Lots of interesting choices. They all seem to have embraced aggressive pricing, as most of them are under $400. Archos even has a small version (pocket sized) that is going for the under $100 market. The Samsung Galaxy tab is still in the "mobile phone" mindset, as they are trying to sell the tablet through telecom providers with a 3G mobile account. I'm not sure thats going to fly, but time will tell. The rest are sticking to wifi for connectivity which is still reasonable from my perspective. If users really need mobile broadband, then mobile providers will give people a usb option that is compatible with android, or users can use tethering with their mobile phones.

So how does the hardware and software stack up to Apple's iPad ? Hardware specs are getting there. Screen resolution is nearly the same. The new tablets have multi-touch screens which look nice compared to the last gen tablets on the market. Those who are annoyed by iPad's lack of expansion ability will appreciate these new tablets, most of which come with micro SD card slots, usb and HDMI ports.

Two things that Apple still has a commanding lead on is: quality of the hardware build, and the slick UI. Those come at a cost, but Android just still isn't there. Considering how far Android has come in the last two years however, Android is on the right track.

So where am I placing my bet? Well, I ordered an Archos 101 the other day (pre-order, actually). Its got a 10" lcd that from all reviews so far, looks fantastic. It appears to have a very responsive touchscreen, has Flash player 10 out-of-the-box, and takes micro SD cards for expanding memory/installing apps/playing audio or video media. It has all the things I think are missing from iPad, and costs about 1/2 as much. I'm also rather intrigued by the HP printer/tablet combination. At $400 for a printer WITH a tablet, thats noteworthy value.

I'll plan on doing a more in-depth review of the Archos 101 when I get it sometime early November.

P.S. Did I forget to mention any newcomers to the tablet market? Let me know. Also, if you have any feedback on any of these or other devices, let me know and I'll add your notes to the discussion.

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