questionswhich tablet is better?

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You left the Kindle Fire off your list.

I like my iPad2 and am pushing my elderly parents to ditch their old Dell laptop in favor of an iPad.

I'd avoid the HP Touchpad until the future of WebOS is certain.

I don't know anything about the Xoom or Tab, but I would definitely avoid the Blackberry Playbook unless you already have a Blackberry.

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I know a few people that have hacked the TouchPad to use Android and are very happy with it. For the price, it's a great deal, as long as you don't mind taking matters into your own hands.

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I have a Touchpad and do like it, but if I was picking a tablet to buy right now, it wouldn't be my first choice due to its uncertain fate.

The Ipad is probably too much money for what I'd use it for and I'm not a big Apple product person (I just have an old Nano).

I do like the Galaxy Tabs, but they are releasing so many different sizes, I'm starting to get overloaded.

One other tablet that I've personally played around with and really liked is the Asus Transformer. It's got a nice interface and feels nice in the hand. Also, don't forget the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.

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Why are people still considering touchpads as a real solution to their tablet needs? If you didn't get one for 100 or 150, you wont, and it's not worth paying anything else for it.

Xoom or Ipad2, depending on how much you like apple or saving money.

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I really like my Asus Transformer. Way better than the Touchpad that I also have but that is mostly due to Android.

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The new Asus Transformer Prime will be out in December (thus meeting your "this year" requirement), and I'd definitely hold out for that, if you're a fan of the Android ecosystem...
It will feature the new more efficient quad-core Tegra 3 processor, have better battery life, better compatibility with external devices, etc. And it will outdo both the Samsung Galaxy Tab and iPad2 in thinness/lightness.

At least give it a gander:
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/eee-pad-transformer-prime-tegra-3,13931.html

The new processor is specifically designed for enhancements to graphics, so it should be ideal for gaming/flash/video... and it can use PS3/XBox 360 controllers:
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/tegra-3-kal-el-soc-arm-cortex-a9,13930.html

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From someone with experience with all of the majors(except Xoom, cause they were WAAAY over priced), ipad wins this race. While they all have benefits and shortcomings, the ipad is by far the most complete package for the money.

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@woothulhu: "From someone with experience with all of the majors (except Xoom, cause they were WAAAY over priced), ipad wins this race. While they all have benefits and shortcomings, the ipad is by far the most complete package for the money."

Sorry, but I think I disagree with you on that (no, I didn't downvote you).

I've had an iPad (perq from my job) for well over a year and have always thought that it isn't worth what Apple charges for it (I'd say it should be about 20-30% lower).

There are just too many limitations on it that do not make technical sense (eg. lack of Flash). Don't get me wrong, if you limit your use of it to things that shine on an iPad it is great (Plants vs Zombies, Cut the Rope and iBooks are perfect examples), but it leaves much to be desired as a general purpose web browser and email client.

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As for the original question, I don't see the HP Touchpad as a serious answer, whether you're going to run WebOS or Android. (If HP turns it back into a mainstream product at a reasonable price, then maybe.)

I wouldn't go with the Blackberry Playbook either; its specs are mediocre plus it runs a proprietary OS that may sound cool but currently runs on ZERO other commonly available devices. And its app support is lacking, at least in numbers if not quality.

If there were nothing new on the horizon (and beyond) and I had to pick from your list (iPad2, Galaxy Tab, Xoom), I think I'd go with the Xoom.

But there IS stuff between these and the horizon (eg. Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, Asus Transformer) and beyond it (eg. Asus Transformer Prime, mentioned above, which sounds most excellent).

If you're buying by the end of this year, it is still too early to decide. And unless it is for tax purposes, why do you need to do it by the end of the year? Wait until mid-to-late January.

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iPad 2 - it's completely replaced my need for a traditional notebook computer

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the new 7.7 galaxy tab with gorilla glass (superAMOLED screen) running with dual core processors.

if you are giving it as a gift to someone who's not computer savvy, buy an iPad.

however, if for you, i'd say go hold a bunch at best buy, specifically with one hand for a good amount of time (like the amount of time you'd read a book or watch a movie with it). the smaller size will be appreciated.

as other's have stated, i'll echo the same - stay away from older and soon-to-be-unsupported hardware (looking at you HP Touchpad and bberry playbook). the best rated tablets are the moto xoom, sammy galaxy tab (10.1) and asus eepad. but, i'd hold out for the galaxy tab 7.7 coming out.