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Summary:

Consumer Reports has released its rundown of the top 10 tablets, and while it says there’s some competition brewing, Apple still wins in terms of both quality and price. Consumer Reports does a good job of pointing to little details that illustrate why that is.

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Consumer Reports has released its rundown of the top 10 tablets, and while it says there’s some competition brewing, Apple still wins in terms of both quality and price. The iPad also has a leg up on competitors that are yet to be released, and Consumer Reports does a good job of pointing to little details that illustrate why that is.

The iPad took four of the top five spots on Consumer Reports’ ratings chart. The 32 GB  iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G topped the list with an overall score of 84, and the 32 GB iPad 2 Wi-Fi took second. Original model 32 GB iPads with 3G and Wi-Fi-only took third and fifth, respectively. The Motorola Xoom was the only non-Apple tablet in the top five, with a fourth-place ranking.

The top five, plus the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which came in sixth, earned Consumer Reports‘ “Buy” recommendation. The remaining devices on the list, which included, in order of ranking, the ViewSonic ViewPad 7, the Archos 101 Internet Tablet, the Dell Streak and the Archos 70 Internet Tablet, all ranked quite a bit lower than the top six.

What makes Apple stand out? According to Consumer Reports, it comes from a number of small advantages all adding up to one big lead. The tablet report is right in pointing out most tablets nowadays are virtually identical these days. Most provide capacitive touchscreens, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, front-facing webcams and GPS. But Apple is still winning on price when you look at features and storage capacity, and it edges out the competition in terms of quality, too.

Consumer Reports found that even the original iPad had the best screen of all tablets tested, including a better viewing angle than its competitors and excellent color. The screen design also works to Apple’s advantage, as the more square screen ratio allows for either a taller on-screen keyboard, or more content visible above said keyboard, and a less cramped portrait viewing mode.

Finally, Consumer Reports warns against some of the disadvantages of other competitors not covered in the rankings. The HP Slate 500, loses points for using Windows 7, while the upcoming BlackBerry Playbook is knocked because it will ship without native email support, and will require a tethered BlackBerry smartphone for 3G connectivity. RIM has announced a WiMax version, but it won’t support 3G fallback when leaving 4G coverage areas.

The results aren’t surprising, but Consumer Reports does do a good job of unearthing some of the more subtle advantages the iPad has over its current competition, especially when it comes to average everyday use scenarios.

  1. What the review doesn’t cover is interaction. The iPad with iOS makes interaction with Mac’s and Apple products simple and consistently work the first time. The strength for me isn’t the iPad itself, but the fact that I don’t spend extra time with third party software trying to sync or set it up to play music.

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  2. pk de cville Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    “What the review doesn’t cover is interaction.”

    And it also doesn’t cover the smoothly slick ‘magic’ of the interaction.

    Everything works from the subtle visual animation effects to the feel in hand, to the touch experience, to the ease of device management (no terminal commands or process kills needed or allowed).

    Babies and grannies love this thing and so do the rest of us.

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  3. iPad has no contract on any of its models. That is a big selling point.

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  4. Honestly, does anyone really care how it’s rated by CR? CR may be competent when it comes to evaluating toasters, however, they’ve repeatedly proved themselves to be inept at evaluating consumer electronics.

    Further, is it really any surprise that the iPad 2 is the best? Compared to what? Galaxy Tab? Motorola Xoom? These products are a joke. I don’t expect much from RIM either. HP’s technology looks promising, but they’re unlikely to have an ecosystem that will be even remotely competitive.

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  5. Did you look at the CR ratings?

    The 3G iPad 2 scored 84. The Wifi iPad 2 scored 81. The Xoom ranked even with the 3G iPad 1 (both devices scored the same 78) and ahead of the Wifi iPad 1 (which scored 76). The Galaxy Tab scored 75. All the above devices were recommended but none were given a “best buy” rating.

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  6. Blackberry Playbook is way superior than any other Tablet now and years to come

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