Yes, there are iPad alternatives

Laugh if you must at the suggestion that one should consider an iPad alternative, but there are real people who will choose a different option. And that's just fine.

There are other options. Josh Miller/CNET

A week ago, just after Donald Bell posted his positive review of the iPad 2, I posted a list of tablet alternatives to Apple's device. My intention was to show CNET readers the broad availability of tablets on the market, and to demonstrate what promising products are still to come . At the time I considered it a pretty innocuous post, but I should have known better when an Apple product is involved.

Over the weekend I began to receive reader e-mails asking me what the point of such a list was. The iPad was the best, of course, so suggesting that there could be alternatives was unhelpful and irresponsible. More readers commented on the post itself. As commenter "Segal2011" put it, "Only a sucker would buy one of those tablets. I'd hate to be Kent German when someone follows his advice and buys one of these devices only to find out they are not an alternative to the iPad."

As your mother might have said, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But I don't hate being me and I don't feel any shame about offering CNET readers a range of tablet options. It's very true that the Motorola Xoom, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Dell Streak 7 aren't quite like the iPad. But that's the whole point. Like Apple's tablet, each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and each will appeal to a particular user's needs and budget. If those aren't alternatives, I don't know what are.

Sure, some products are better than others, but I wouldn't want to live in a world where we all use the same gadget. Not only would I be out of a job, but it would be a pretty boring marketplace if every tablet was exactly the same. And to use dime-store philosophy, if everything was the same then how would we really know what was good?

So go easy on the people that just don't want to buy an iPad. Even if the iPad really is the best tablet ever, people have a right not to buy it. And if they buy something else, they're not losers or ignorant. They are just choosing a product that appeals to them. And there's nothing wrong with that.

 

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