Seven alternatives to the Apple iPad

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Confession: I pre-ordered my iPad and Breguet made me do it

Wait! Stop. Before you hand over Apple your credit card and pre-order the iPad, you may want to check out the other touchscreen options available now and in the near future. The iPad isn’t the only game in town. Sure, it might have a fancy-pants interface, but each of the follow seven tablets win the hardware fight, which is just as important to a lot of consumers.

Of course the hardware only tells part of the story. The iPad has a leg up on all of these options because of the user-friendly iPhone interface, but it’s not like you’re dropping $600+ on a tablet for your parents, right?

Currently available

ModBook

The ModBook is the original Apple Tablet — besides the Newton of course. Except it’s not made by Apple proper, but rather Axiotron who has been making them since 2007. Prices start out at $899, but customers have to provide a pre-polycarbonate unibody Macbook making the total price closer to $2,000.

Advantages over the iPad

  • Full OS X
  • Multitasking
  • Flash support
  • Built-in camera
  • Built-in optical drive
  • 13.3-inch screen
  • 120GB hard drive
  • Windows compatibility

Disadvantages

  • No 3G modem
  • No multitouch
  • No access to the App Store

Viliv X70

Viliv came out of nowhere last year — South Korea actually — and introduced a round of sleek portables with the X70 heading up the tablets. This widescreen 7-inch tablet has nearly every piece of hardware missing from the iPad. Prices start out at $597.

Advantages over the iPad

  • Windows
  • Flash support
  • Multitasking
  • Unlocked 3G GSM modem
  • GPS
  • SD card slot
  • Camera
  • USB slot
  • Haptic-feedback touchscreen
  • Video out
  • 128GB SSD

Disadvantages

  • No multitouch
  • No access to the App Store
  • Only a 7-inch screen

Archos 9 PC tablet

Archos has been a major player in the MID market since it started. The Archos 9 PC Tablet is the company’s largest slate device to date. It also proves that Apple isn’t the only one to out beautiful looking devices. Prices start out at $549.

Advantages over the iPad

  • Windows 7
  • Flash Support
  • Multitasking
  • Two USB slots
  • SD Card slot
  • Webcam
  • A kick stand
  • Optical trackpad nub

Disadvantages

  • No multitouch
  • No access to the App Store

Upcoming

Viliv S10 Blade

The S10 Blade is Viliv’s first product of 2010, and it’s a looker. It has a 10-inch multitouch touchscreen in a convertible notebook setup that’s not much thicker than the iPad. The Viliv S10 is shipping soon at a starting price of $699. (We just got our review sample yesterday so look out for a hands-on shortly)

Advantages over the iPad

  • Windows 7
  • Multitasking
  • Flash support
  • Unlocked 3G modem
  • Webcam
  • 2 USB ports
  • SD card slot
  • Video out

Disadvantages

  • No access to the App Store

Notion Ink Adam

News about the Notion Ink tablet broke late last year and many chalked it up to a fanboy dream. But it’s real and supposed to be coming this spring.

Advantages

  • Android
  • Multitasking
  • Nvidia Tegra 2 platform
  • 10-inch Dual-mode display (full color to ePaper)
  • Rear-facing trackpad
  • USB and HDMI ports
  • Unlocked 3G modem

Tie

  • Android Market to Apple’s App Store
  • Multitouch

HP Slate

We joked that CES 2010 would be full of tablet computers. It wasn’t and only a few major players like HP and Dell showed off prototypes. Both take a totally different approach too as the HP Slate (the unofficial name, btw) opts for a Windows with full flash support. It should hit the market this year at a rumored price of between $500-$600.

Advantages

  • Windows 7
  • Multitasking
  • Flash support
  • Camera
  • USB ports

Disadvantages

  • No access to the App Store
  • No 3G modem (at least not yet)

Dell Streak

While HP decided to go with Windows, the 5-inch Dell Streak uses Android. The 5-inch Streak is clearly meant for a different market than the 9.7-inch iPad, but it’s also possible that we’ll see a larger version sometime soon, too. At least we hope we do.

Advantages

  • Android
  • Multitasking
  • Front and rear facing cameras
  • USB ports
  • Dual microSD slots
  • Rumored unlocked 3G modem

Tie

  • Android Market for the App Store
  • Neither support Flash

Disadvantages

  • Smaller screen
  • No 3G modem
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