You may not realise it by looking at market share data in the tablet category, but there are numerous alternatives to Apple's iPad available, most of which run on Google's Android platform.
Unlike the iPad, Android tablets come in a range of sizes, with variations in connectivity options and features. Sizes range between 7 and 10.1 inches (or even as small as 5 inches if you count Samsung's "phablet", the Galaxy Note), and while some Android tablets match Apple's single proprietary port approach for charging and data transfers, others include full-size USB Host ports, SD cards slots and HDMI.
We've now reviewed well over a dozen Android tablets here at CNET Australia, and while we have a few favourites, overall we've been disappointed with the range so far. The hardware design of these machines has been pretty uninspired to date, with a few notable exceptions, and the performance of Google's Honeycomb version of the Android OS leaves a lot of room for improvement.
We're anticipating a big leap forward in performance for the next generation of Android tablets, with the introduction of the Ice Cream Sandwich software update and new quad-core processors. So if you're in the market for an Android tablet, but not in any great hurry, we think it's worth waiting for the next batch of tablets before committing to buying one.
<i>Credit: CNET Australia</i>
Asus Transformer Prime (TF201)
Asus' Transformer Prime combined with Ice Cream Sandwich is an excellent tablet. For now, this is the one to get — at least until the TF700T comes down the line.
The Good: Super IPS+ screen is gorgeous • Lovely design • Tegra 3 performs very well • Decent battery life.
The Bad: No SIM slot • Panoramic photography isn't what it's cracked up to be • Android still has a lot of work to do to become a good desktop experience • Not everything is optimised for quad core • The TF700T is coming ...
Click here for our full review of the Asus Transformer Prime (TF201).
Lenovo ThinkPad 3G tablet (32GB)
If you have to buy a tablet this year, the ThinkPad should be on your list. It includes features other tablets forgo or charge extra for, without sacrifices in price or performance.
The Good: Stylus is a stroke of genius • Solid, durable design • Great tools for business users • Decent battery life.
The Bad: Quite heavy • Some minor lag.
Click here for our full review of the Lenovo ThinkPad 3G tablet (32GB).
Samsung Galaxy Note
With its huge screen and throwback stylus, the Samsung Galaxy Note is a polarising smartphone that winks at tablet territory. The S Pen adds some artistic potential, but, for some, the phone will just simply be too big.
The Good: 5.3-inch HD screen is ideal for showcasing multimedia • Great 8-megapixel camera • Souped-up S Pen stylus brings new ways to interact with your phone.
The Bad: S Pen is small, has a delayed response and requires a little training to use • The phone will be awkwardly large for some, and it doesn't fit easily into pockets.
Click here for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note.
With Telstra's price drop and Android 3.1, the Xoom becomes a little more competitive. We take another look at the first Honeycomb tablet.
The Good: Wonderful fit and finish • 802.11n 5GHz support • Speakers are better than expected • Performance is reasonably nippy • Android Honeycomb is a pleasure to use.
The Bad: Screen doesn't have the vibrancy of some of its competitors • Volume buttons are difficult to press • Will not charge over USB • May be heavier than some are willing to accept.
Click here for our full review of the Motorola Xoom.
Sony Tablet S (32GB)
Sony took its time with Tablet S, and it shows. The industrial design is smart, and the software refinements are both practical and restrained.
The Good: Exclusive apps • Ergonomic design • PlayStation certification • DLNA video and music streaming • Integrated IR universal remote control.
The Bad: Charging adapter is proprietary • Screen brightness isn't what it could be.
Click here for our full review of the Sony Tablet S (32GB).
Motorola Xoom 2
The Xoom 2 improves on the original in design and features, but with sluggish performance, it still feels like last year's tablet rather than part of the next wave.
The Good: Lighter, slimmer than original Xoom • Great IPS display • Great Motocast software • Doubles as universal remote for A/V equipment.
The Bad: Often sluggish performance • Not 4G.
Click here for our full review of the Motorola Xoom 2.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 (Wi-Fi, 16GB)
Don't write off the Galaxy Tab 7.7 because of its smaller screen size. With an AMOLED display and a zippy 1.4GHz processor, the Tab 7.7 is among the best Android tablets around.
The Good: Outstanding AMOLED display • Good performance • Solid battery life.
The Bad: Many connectivity options are absent.
Click here for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 (Wi-Fi, 16GB).
Acer Iconia A500
Though it is packed to the rafters with features and options that are unavailable on the competition, the Acer A500 is too heavy to be used as intended.
The Good: Solid performance • Loads of connectivity options including USB and HDMI.
The Bad: Too heavy to hold for long periods • Glossy screen is hard to read outdoors • Average battery life.
Click here for our full review of the Acer Iconia A500.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (3G, 16GB)
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a great-looking tablet computer, but Samsung makes little attempt to differentiate its Android tablet from the rest of the pack.
The Good: Slim, sleek design • Great LCD screen.
The Bad: No HDMI out • No expandable memory • No standard USB connection • Adapters are expensive.
Click here for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (3G, 16GB).
Acer Iconia A100
A shoddy LCD and a hefty size and weight pull down an otherwise zippy Android Honeycomb tablet. Wait for the price to come down.
The Good: Solid performance • HDMI-out • Excellent web browsing.
The Bad: Poor screen with awful off-axis viewing • Thicker and heavier than we'd like it to be.
Click here for our full review of the Acer Iconia A100.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 (4G, 32GB)
Despite a more portable size and weight, and 4G network radios, the Tab 8.9 does little that surpasses previous Galaxy Tabs or other products in this category as a whole.
The Good: Great lightweight design • 4G network ready • Good LCD display • OGG, DivX and Xvid playback.
The Bad: No TV-out • No expandable memory • 4G hampered by slow browser • Slow battery charging.
Click here for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 (4G, 32GB).
Toshiba Tablet AT100 (Thrive)
The Toshiba Tablet AT100 "Thrive" is, well, not very vibrant. It does offer options that no other Android tablet does, but the base unit has a poor display and can't store large files.
The Good: Full-sized USB port • HDMI port and SD card reader • User replaceable battery.
The Bad: Poor display quality • Can't store large files on the internal memory • Annoying plastic covers on ports.
Click here for our full review of the Toshiba Tablet AT100 (Thrive).
Kogan Agora 7-inch tablet
Kogan's tablet is cheap, but its lousy screen and woeful battery life proves that it's not good value for money.
The Good: Android Gingerbread • HDMI out • 4GB internal storage.
The Bad: Terrible looking display • Woeful battery life • No 3G or Wireless N • Some slow load times for certain tasks.
Click here for our full review of the Kogan Agora 7-inch tablet.