Gadget Spot: iPad alternatives
When Apple gave us the iPhone, it began a revolution that redefined the smartphone. On Saturday, when Apple releases the iPad, it will likely redefine portable computing.
Mice and keyboards will be out. Screens with blazing multi-touch response will be in. Waiting for a computer to boot up will be out. Continuous mobile connections will be in.
The iPad excels at accessing the web, gaming and personal media, but when Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the new gadget he demonstrated iWork apps designed for work, not play.
The Gadget Guy's iPad (pre-ordered with 3G connectivity) will arrive later this month. For now, if you want to join the mobile computing revolution but don't want to get caught up in the iPad hype, there may be another gadget for you.
Here are a half-dozen alternatives to the iPad likely to impress with their tablet appeal and distinctive features.
enTourage eDGe ($500, available next week)
A cross between a tablet and an e-reader, this three-pound gadget has two 10-inch screens that fold onto each another - a black-and-white e-reader on one side and an LCD touchscreen with Android operating system on the other. Users can make notes on the e-reader side using a stylus; the LCD screen can be navigated with the stylus, on-screen keyboard or your finger. Connectivity is Wi-Fi only.
Enso zenPad ($155; $180 for a GPS model)
The cheapest of the group, this 6.4-ounce Android tablet has a five-inch touchscreen and 8 GB of storage. The built-in connectivity is Wi-Fi, though a 3G adapter is available for $35. This gadget is a pocket-size personal media device capable of browsing the web and connecting to e-mail, while the GPS makes it useful for driving directions and playing Foursquare.
Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid ($999, available in June)
Technically a 3.8-pound notebook, this gadget's detachable screen makes it the sexiest iPad alternative. The notebook and the screen each have their own processor and operating system. The 11-inch screen is a fully functioning multi-touch tablet with 3G connectivity; when you re-attach it to the notebook, they synch up and act as one.
Asus Eee PC T91 ($440)
One of the first netbook tablets on the market, this gadget sports Wi-Fi connectivity and an 8.9-inch touchscreen that rotates 180 degrees. At one inch thick and 2.1 pounds, Asus proclaims it the world's smallest and slimmest touch PC.
Axiotron Modbook ($1,850)
Axiotron actually beat the iPad to market with the first Apple-based tablet: The company converts MacBook computers into Modbook tablets. (If you supply your own MacBook, Axiotron only charges $900.)
OpenPeak OpenTablet 7 (price TBA, available later this year)
This 1.15-pound tablet features a seven-inch touchscreen and combines telephony and multimedia in a single device. AT&T will sell it, and supply 3G cellular service to go along with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
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