CNET Top 5
TabletsThere's more to tablets than just the iPad. Here's proof.
Last time we did a Top 5 tablets, it was a lot of speculation: Many of the hottest contenders for the iPadÃ¯Â¿Â½s crown were still yet to hit market and undergo our tests and yours. Well, thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s changed now, the henchmen are here. IÃ¯Â¿Â½m B.C. with the Top 5 tablets, iPad and the rest. #5 is the T-Mobile G Slate. We like its 4G support + Android Honeycom OS and pre-installed streaminbg TV apps. But then thereÃ¯Â¿Â½s the built in 3D camcorder ability, which uses those cheapy red and blue glasses. Really? Have you guys met the Nintendo 3DS or HTC Evo 3D phone? The 3D on this thing is just a gimmick. Beyond that its a pricey $800 unless you do a 2-year hitch with a carrier who is likely going to be gobbled up by another carrier. #4 is the BlackBerry Playbook. A lot of folks are playing the funeral dirge when Blackberry walks by these days, but the Playbook is a fast, powerful, Flash- enabled, HDMI-equipped multitasking sombitch. But the 7Ã¯Â¿Â½ size cramps all that power on too small a stage and itÃ¯Â¿Â½s too tied to the Blackberry platform at a time when many people are moving off of it. #3 is the improbably named Asus Eee Pad Transformer and transform it does: Is it a Honeycomb Tablet or a Netbook? Yes. You can dock it into a keyboard docking station that answers one of the big frustrations with tablets; No way to type beyond hunt & peck. On the other hand, its pretty hefty: wide and thick and heavy, and thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s without the dock. But the price is right: $400 list for 16GB and the keydock is another $150. #2 is one of the very first serious iPad 2 challengers: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the big boy in that line. Super thin, running the hot Honeycomb OS, with front and rear cams and alarmingly powerful speakers. While we love meth- addict thin case, we didnÃ¯Â¿Â½t like how Samsung got there: the back feels cheap, plasticky and likely to break if you drop it even once. Not exactly Apple build quality, but if youÃ¯Â¿Â½re looking for something that isnÃ¯Â¿Â½t Apple, this is out go to tablet right now. Ok, before we get to our #1 tablet, let me remind you of what may be the best value in a tablet: The Barnes & Noble Nook Color. HereÃ¯Â¿Â½s why: Its ostensibly an e-Reader but with a little bit of technical acumen you can root this guy and fully expose the Android OS that lies beneath. ThatÃ¯Â¿Â½s not a lot of sweat to break to get yourself a solid Android tablet for $250 or less. We have a link to step by step directions to root your Nook Color in the show notes at Top5.cnet. OK, if you havenÃ¯Â¿Â½t done a little process of elimination by now, I should tell you the #1 tablet is the Apple Pad 2. Its thin, has dual cameras, dual core processor, FaceTime video chat and two carriers for 3G. That slick cover still looks like a damned magic trick. And it has a huge and well vetted store full of apps. That said, the screen res & ratio is still stuck in iPad 1 territory, the photo ??quality is inexplicably lousy, and thereÃ¯Â¿Â½s no Flash. But youÃ¯Â¿Â½ll have DAYS of battery life to ponder those few shortcomings and be part of the vast majority who think a tablet is an iPad. Check all out tablet reviews at CNET because theyÃ¯Â¿Â½re coming out fast and furious right now. And more Top 5Ã¯Â¿Â½s like this go to at top5.cnet.com, IÃ¯Â¿Â½m Brian Cooley, thanks for watching.