Four iPad Alternatives

By Mike on 9:32 pm

Filed Under: , ,

Like it or not, the iPad is the next big thing. Steve Jobs is calling it a revolutionary device. Portable computing is certainly changing. The netbook trend is giving way to sleek, all-in-one tablets. So if you're thinking of small system, you should definitely consider one. But what if you don't like the iPad? Here's four alternatives worth taking a look at.


Designed by Fusion Garage, the Joo Joo is billed as "the ultimate internet experience". It's a tablet specifically designed for web surfing. It allows users to browse the web and use a variety of web based apps. It can also play back full HD video and has a 720p screen resolution on a 12.1'' display. Perhaps the biggest one up on the iPad is support for Adobe's popular Flash media, which sites like YouTube use for video playback.

Unfortunately, the Joo Joo has a long list of problems, even before it launched. It was faced with numerous delays, and fewer than 80 pre-orders. That's compared to the 300,000 sales the iPad made on its first day. The device is also extremely limited in functionality. All it can do is surf the web. It has a 5 hour battery life to boot, which is half the iPad's. That's pathetic for what it does. The final nail is the price. At $499, it's the same price as the iPad with only a fraction of the functionality.

Engadget says the device was released with "terrible timing", saying it's unintuitive and delivers half baked software. This is one tablet you should probably skip.

HP Slate

It's not even out yet but this device is already causing quite a stir. HP has taken the netbook and compressed it down into a thin tablet roughly the same size as Apple's. Under the hood, it packs an Intel Atom processor, 1gb of RAM, 32gb of storage, a memory card slot, webcam, and a fully functional version of Windows 7 with HP's own touch support. A special graphics chip has also been added to enable full 1080p video through it's built in HDMI port.

This is probably one of the more powerful and flexible tablets out there. It can run any program that a typical netbook can run. This includes Adobe Flash. The downside is lack of platform specific apps that the iPad is known for. This includes games. On the plus side, it should be able to run many indie and older PC games. So it's not as if there's a shortage of software. The Slate will have a 5 hour battery life, which isn't great but isn't bad all things considered.

The Slate will retail for $549 for the 32gb model and $599 for the 64gb model. A 3G model is also planned. There's no word on a release date. Sometime in 2010 is all we've been told. This is definitely something to keep your eyes on.

Microsoft Courier
It may not even exist but it's still generating a lot of buzz. Microsoft calls the Courier a "digital journal." Mockups have shown a tablet with two screens that looks like a big Nintendo DS. Concept videos show it being used to take notes, plan schedules, edit photos, and create presentations.

The Courier could be the creative professional's dream. A practical device for content creation; instead of just watching what other people have done. Not much is known about the device at this time. It will input with a touch screen and stylus pen. It also runs a version of Windows Phone 7 on an nVidia Tegra 2 CPU. The same combo that run the Zune HD.

Some say the Courier will arrive in mid-2010. No word on price.

Archos 9

Archos jumped on the netbook bandwagon fairly quickly. The high end MP3 player manufacturer now makes a wide variety of portable computers. The Archos 9 is one of them. It's similar to the Slate, except it's bulkier and has a slower processor. It has a 1.1ghz Atom processor and runs Windows 7 Starter Edition. The Register ran several benchmarks on the Archos 9 and found it to be less than half the speed of comparable 1.6ghz Atom systems. A slow enough processor as is. Multi-tasking is almost impossible on a system this slow.

On the plus side, the Archos 9 is a fully functional Windows tablet, like the Slate. It also features a beefy 60gb hard drive and a HD webcam. It also has a user replaceable battery, extending the 5 hour run time. User input is by a touch screen. The 9 also comes with a stylus.

As it's name implies, it has a 9'' 1024x600 screen. While it can handle 1080p video, it doesn't have any video outputs. Archos requires you to buy a $75 "port replicator", which only gives you VGA connectivity. Sorry, no digital video.

The Archos 9 retails for the same price as the Slate; $549. Between this and the Slate, my money is on the Slate.

0 comments for this post