It’s not all about the iPad!

It has to be acknowledged that the iPad came, saw and totally conquered, but in the scramble by every technology company (and its cheaper Taiwanese uncle!) to jump on the tablet bandwagon and steal some of the iPad's hold on the market, some really good tablet computers have emerged, we have chosen three from the pack. So before you automatically reach for an iPad, have a look about, you might save a few pounds, but crucially also you might find a tablet that offers some functionality suited perfectly to your needs.

1. Sony Tablet S

First of all, we love the way this tablet looks, Sony have designed it to ergonomically fit to your hand and, it is very comfortable; according to Sony providing a more natural angle for typing and browsing whilst sitting down – basically its kinda wedge shaped.

The Sony Tablet S weighs in at 600g (incidentally the same as the iPad 2), its design makes it look different to other tablets out there, and it does havethat same design feel about it that for so long has allowed Sony to be considered a premium brand, it doesn’t feel cheap or, or like a iPad rip-off.

The nitty gritty:

  • dual-core Tegra 2 processor
  • processor speed – 1GHz
  • Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)
  • 1 GB of memory
  • Display – TFT Colour LCD 23.8 cm/9.4”
  • SD expansion slot
  • Either 16GB or 32GB
  • Front and rear cameras
  • 1080p video capture and playback; and
  • of course with it being Sony, they have taken the opportunity to integrate and the tablet has PlayStation Certification, which means access to exclusive titles and games, and Sony created apps, and includes a universal remote for controlling all of your Sony products.

In the very competitive tablet market even Sony have had to acknowledge the squeeze on prices and what consumers will pay, so the Sony Tablet S (16GB) is price set by Sony at £399.00 but we were able to find it at £298.98.

We like it – the lack of apps is not surprising and perhaps a drawback, but for those who like the premium edge of Sony designed products and like the idea of taking some of the PlayStation fun to a tablet, we think its worth a look.

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

We choose the Galaxy as our number two, because it really does offer something different to the IPad, in that its dinky and its very light – its 7 inch screen and 344 g weight, make it a good choice for those looking for more than a smart phone, but less than a full on 10 inch tablet experience. The lighter price will also suit those looking to dip into the tablet market without so much of a sting in the pocket! BUT – inevitably the smaller size and the smaller price (under £200.00) do mean that Samsung has cut a few corners, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is good looking (if a little bland in its design), but the screen resolution is one area where the Galaxy Tab 2.7.0 struggles to keep up with its rivals, at 1,024 x 600 the display can’t match pricier compact tablets, however a pixel density of 170ppi does ensure graphics still look crisp.

The nitty gritty:

  • 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4430
  • 1GB of memory
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Display – 7.0-inch TFT display, WSVGA (1024×600) resolution
  • 8GB – built-in microSD card slot
  • Camera – 3.2MP rear-facing (photographs) – VGA front-facing (video)

The biggest detractor from the Galaxy Tab 2.7.0 for us had to be the Samsung's TouchWiz interface, yes it does give the tablet a look all of its own (along with other Samsung's), we just don’t like it, it seems a little dated although as far as functionality and intuitiveness goes it works, we just didn’t feel it adds enough to the Galaxy Tab 2.7.0. But overall for a smaller more compact tablet that you wont feel too conspicuous whipping out on the train, this tablet is perfect, its great price and Samsung functionality cannot be understated. 

3. Amazon's Kindle Fire

The latest out of the Kindle stable is the Kindle Fire (not available in the UK until 25 October, its been around in the US for a while and we have smiled sweetly to get a go on a US version!) – billed as more than just a tablet, Amazon are now tapping on the door of the tablets, obviously bored with the crazy success of the Kindle, the Kindle Fire aims at an extremely cheap price (£125) to bring together the perfect reading functionality of the Kindle together with all you would expect from a tablet, and Amazon is bringing out all their big guns with the release of the Kindle Fire, offering a month's free subscription to LOVEFiLM Instant, Amazon's video streaming service offering unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV series, free unlimited cloud storage for your Amazon content and membership of Kindle Owners' Lending Library – allowing free access to more than 200,000 books to borrow for free with no due dates. But crucially for the low price, is it really any good?

The Kindle Fire is unashamedly aimed at those wishing to read Kindle books or watch TV and movies, its small and compact, but its 7 inch screen is well up to the job at hand but, if you are used to the feel of a standard Kindle in your paws, be prepared for a whole new beast, the Kindle Fire weighs in at twice that of the Kindle being a far more chunky 394g, the 7 inch screen is clear and don't be put off at the thought of reading books on the LCD screen, it seems lit in such a way to make it as comfortable as usual Kindles.

The nitty-gritty:

  • Display Resolution
 – 1024 x 600 ( 169 ppi )
  • Android Operating System

  • 8GB memory
  • Dual-Core processor
  • Preloaded E-mail Software
 and Amazon Silk browser
  • Battery recharges in four hours
  • Width
4.7 in
  • Depth
0.45 in
  • Height
7.5 in
  • Weight

Amazon have spent a lot of time making the Fire easy to get around and operate, don't expect a camera or many of the bells and whistles you find on more expensive tablets, the Fire is designed for media and with a battery life of up to nine hours, it really does deliver. For the money, we actually rather love the Kindle Fire, it feels a little like the tablet for those that wouldn’t normally use or buy a tablet.