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Is the iPad 2 the best tablet on the market?

March 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Apple iPad 2 clearly dominates the tablet computer market but should it be getting the most attention? Some of the iPad competitors claim they offer more for less.

Consumer Reports compared the iPad 2 with two of its competitors to see if they can take a bite out of Apple's market share.

Peter Scherer has the original iPad, and says it's changed his life.

"After I looked at it a little bit, I realized it filled that perfect niche between the laptop that's sometimes too heavy and too awkward, and the iPhone," he said.

Now there's the iPad 2. Consumer Reports' first look at the iPad 2 found it's an improvement. It has two cameras - one on the front and another in the back, so you can video chat and take photos. It also has a sleeker profile and weighs less, making it more portable. The iPad 2 also processes graphics more quickly, which will be most evident if you play serious video games. With everyday tasks, you might not notice a big difference.

As for competition, there are two tablets giving Apple a run for its money. The newest is the Motorola Xoom, which is about the same size as the iPad and has a built-in USB port, which the iPad 2 doesn't. But it's a little thicker and heavier. The Galaxy Tab from Samsung is smaller than the iPad, making it easier to carry around. And both include a memory card slot, something else the iPad 2 lacks.

"Both of these tablets run on the Android platform, and, unlike the iPad, they support the Flash videos used by many websites. But there are fewer apps in the Android market than there are in Apple's iTunes store," said Consumer Reports' Paul Reynolds.

Of course, price factors in, and at most configurations, the iPad still costs less than these competitors. Bottom line? Apple improved the iPad and kept the price relatively low, starting at $500 - making the iPad 2 the tablet to beat.

Another thing consumers will like about the iPad 2 is its battery life. In Consumer Reports' tests they found the battery lasts about 12 hours. That's hours longer than the original iPad, the Motorola Xoom and the Galaxy Tab.