Welcome to the SAI: Tools 10 x 10 Holiday Gift Guide! We’re picking the 10 best products from 10 different categories to round out your shopping list this year.
For this week and next we’re bringing you the best gifts in smartphones, computers, accessories, you name it.
Today we’re talking tablets and e-readers.
If you think back to a year ago, there was only one serious tablet: the iPad. Today, the iPad still reigns supreme, but dozens of others have entered the market with the hopes of eating into Apple’s marketshare.
And some of them are actually worth buying.
Keep reading for our top Holiday picks for tablets and e-readers.
Motorola's first Xoom was a major flop when it launched in February this year.
But the Xoom 2 has arrived, at least in the U.K., and it looks to improve where the original failed. It comes in two sizes, 10.1 and 8.2 inches. Both are super-thin, on par with Samsung's Galaxy Tabs, and run Honeycomb.
As of this writing, there's still no word on a release date or price for the U.S. However, if you really want to snag one, you can try ordering one from Amazon's U.K. site.
HTC's first 10-inch tablet, the Jetstream, is one of the best implementations of Honeycomb customisation we've seen. The manufacturer developed a brand new Sense skin for tablets that truly improve on Honeycomb's failings.
The Jetstream is also the first tablet to run on AT&T's LTE and HSPA+ networks. It's a solid tablet, but unfortunately the massive price tag will scare most buyers away.
Price: $599.99 with a two-year contract from AT&T. $749.99 without contract.
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is one of the most versatile and budget-friendly 10-inch Honeycomb tablets out there.
The Transformer comes with an optional keyboard dock, making the tablet a good alternative to carrying around a netbook. While it runs Honeycomb now, Asus promises to provide an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich in the near future.
Price: Varies by retailer, but you can find it as cheap as $300 on Amazon
Along with the release of the Kindle Fire, Amazon refreshed the rest of its Kindle reader line. The biggest makeover goes to the Kindle Touch, the first Kindle with touchscreen controls.
The Kindle's keyboard is now gone in favour of a single home button at the bottom. Everything else can be controlled with taps and swipes. It's not as responsive as an iPad or other touchscreen tablet, but it'll do the job.
Barnes & Noble pulled off quite a feat by releasing one of the first high-quality touch-based e-Ink readers this year.
The Nook Simple touch is a squarish e-reader that gives you access to Barnes & Noble's massive e-book collection. You can use touch gestures for page turns or the handy raised buttons on either side if you prefer a more traditional experience.
Barnes & Noble just dropped the price of the Nook Simple Touch to $99, competing directly with Amazon's $99 Kindle Touch. But Amazon's reader subsidizes the price with ads. With the Simple Touch you get an ad-free experience at the same price.
While the Kindle Touch is nice, we think the base model is the best value. For just $79, the Kindle gives you the same reading experience as the Touch. You still have to deal with buttons, but it's a far better experience than the touch-based e-readers.
Prefer the old-fashioned keyboard on the Kindle? It's still available while supplies last.
The Nook Tablet is Barnes & Noble's souped up successor to last year's Nook colour. This time around, the Nook Tablet has a faster dual-core processor, improved display, and 16 GB of internal storage. (You can add another 16 GB with a Micro SD card.)
Barnes & Noble also partnered with Netflix and Hulu so that those apps come pre-loaded. While the Nook Tablet looks better on paper, it still doesn't have the kind of access to content that the Kindle Fire does. If you want music or movies, you have to download them elsewhere and load them on the Nook from your computer.
If any tablet has a chance at dethroning the iPad, it's the Kindle Fire. Even before launch, Amazon boasted that it had sold millions in pre-orders.
Now the Fire is out, and the reviews are in. While the Fire is so-so when it comes to hardware performance, the tablet really shines when it comes to content. You get access to Amazon's stores for books, magazines, newspaper, movies, music, and TV shows. Plus every Kindle Fire comes with a free two-month trial of Amazon Prime. Not bad.
Samsung provides the best alternative in a full-featured tablet to the iPad. Right now, the Galaxy Tab comes in three sizes: 10.1, 8.9, and 7 inches.
Each model performs about the same, however the 7-inch ships with an IR blaster so you can control your TV with Peel's phenomenal remote app.
Other than, it's typical Android Honeycomb, skinned with Samsung's TouchWiz.
You also get a ton of options when it comes to selecting a Galaxy Tab. Samsung partnered with carriers Verizon and T-Mobile for 4G models, and it also offers Wi-Fi models of each with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage.
Pricing: There are over a dozen variations of Samsung's Galaxy Tab. They retail starting at $349.99 and up. Visit Samsung's Galaxy Tab page to pick the right one for you >
There's no denying it. The iPad 2 is still the king of the tablets.
With the iPad you get access to the largest library of apps, blazing fast hardware, and optional 3G, all tucked into a slim and stylish design.
Quite simply, it's the best tablet you can buy.
Price: $499, $599, and $699 for the 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB Wi-Fi models, respectively. $629, $729, and $829 for the 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB 3G models, respectively. 3G models available on AT&T and Verizon.
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