Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Consumer Reports Ranks iPad 2 Tops Among Tablets
Apple's iPad 2 is the best among the tablet computers on the market so far, Consumer Reports says. Second place went to Motorola's Xoom, which Consumer Reports said tied with Apple's original iPad. Tablets from ARCHOS, Dell, Samsung and ViewSonic were also rated. An analyst also pointed to Hewlett-Packard's upcoming TouchPad, which runs on webOS.
Now that the tablet Relevant Products/Services category has more than one entry, Consumer Reports has started rating them. While several possible competitors have been released, CR said Tuesday that the best one is ... Apple's category-creating iPad Relevant Products/Services, in its version 2 incarnation.
CR ranked the iPad 2 with Wi-Fi and 3G as the best of the top 10. But the more important ranking could be the second position, since a clear competitor to the reigning iPad has yet to emerge. CR places Motorola's 10-inch Xoom tablet in the number-two spot, citing a built-in memory card reader as well as support Relevant Products/Services for Flash video Relevant Products/Services and animation.
'Both Quality and Price'
Paul Reynolds, electronics editor at CR, said that, so far, "Apple is leading the tablet market in both quality and price, which is unusual for a company whose products are usually premium-priced." He added that "more competitive pricing" is expected as more models come to market.
CR tested tablets from ARCHOS, Dell, Motorola, Samsung and ViewSonic, in addition to several Apple models. The nonprofit organization, which evaluates consumer products, said each of the tablets was measured against 17 criteria, including touchscreen responsiveness, versatility, portability, screen glare, and ease of use.
The iPad 2 scored Excellent in most of the categories. Its older sibling, the original iPad, also scored well, tying with the second-place Xoom.
A big differentiator in the tests was battery life, measured by playing the same video clip on each tablet until the battery wore down. The iPad 2 won that event, lasting for 12.2 hours, while the lowest-ranked of the 10 tablets, the ARCHOS 70 Internet Tablet, ran out of battery power at only 3.8 hours.
Many tablet features, CR noted, are now common, including capacitive touchscreens, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a front-facing webcam, and GPS.
Upcoming: TouchPad, PlayBook
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said he would also see the Xoom as the runner-up -- among tablets that are on the market. He pointed out that the Xoom is about the same size as the iPad, is very fast, and runs the Honeycomb version of Android, which is optimized for tablets. First the Xoom, and recently Samsung's 8.9-inch and redesigned 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab tablets, have featured Honeycomb, and other manufacturers are expected to soon follow.
Of the tablets that are expected to be on the market soon, Greengart pointed to Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad, which he said he is "most excited about" because of his enthusiasm for webOS running on a tablet. Greengart also noted that Research In Motion's PlayBook "stands out because of its features intended for the enterprise."
But, he noted, even if the physical devices are matched in features, the iPad will continue on top for at least some time because of iTunes and the large number of tablet-specific apps for that platform.