Tablet Computers

November 21, 2011 by staff 

Tablet Computers, We’ve always had a category covering the world of computers in our Cool Yule Tools holiday gift guide. But then computers gave way to notebooks (so we combined the category), and then tablets have entered the scene. With the arrival and success of the iPad and other tablets, many have said that “the PC is dead”, and we’ll admit, our choices of cool computers are fewer than in years past. But there are still some nice systems out there, here are a bunch of desktops, notebooks, and yes, tablets, that we think would make for some good gifts:

Products reviewed in this categoryMacBook Air (Model MC965LL/A), by AppleSamsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, with Verizon Wireless 4G LTE data serviceLifeBook TH700 Tablet PC, by FujitsuAspire TimelineX AS3830T-6417 13.3-Inch Laptop, by AcerThinkPad X1 notebook, by LenovoViewPad 10pro Dual OS Tablet (32 GB), by ViewSonicIdeaCentre B520 all-in-one, by LenovoPavilion g6 notebook, by HPHP Pavilion dv4t series notebooks, by HPThinkPad Tablet, by LenovoPeeWee Pivot 2.0 Tablet Laptop, by PeeweePCKiller Wireless-N 1103 wireless network adapter, by Bigfoot NetworksSeeThru cover for MacBook Pro (15-inch version), by SpeckThe reviews

MacBook Air, of course. I switched to Macs about three years ago, but this is my first Mac notebook – and I couldn’t be happier. It’s light (less than three pounds – perfect for travel), fast (1.7 GHz. dual-core i5 with 4GB of memory and 128GB of very fast flash storage), and slick. The keyboard is backlit and the 300-Mbps Wi-Fi is dual-band. It has a Thunderbolt port and a multi-touch trackpad. Both battery life and audio quality are great. It boots up in seconds, and is, like all Macs, very easy to use. The 13-inch screen has a 1,440 by 900 native resolution, significantly better than most notebooks, and is bright and clear.

Cool Yule rating: 5 starsPrice: $1,299 as configuredReviewed by C.J. Mathias

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, with Verizon Wireless 4G LTE data serviceIf you’re looking for a tablet that’s not an iPad 2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 should definitely be on the list of other tablets to consider. From a technical standpoint, it’s got many of the same (if not better) features and specifications than the Apple competitor, and there should be enough apps within the Android Marketplace to satisfy your needs to customize the device to your particular needs.

Let’s review, quickly, on the specs: a 10.1-inch widescreen (1,280 by 800 LCD), 1GB of RAM (up to 32GB of storage capacity), Wi-Fi, 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, two cameras (2 megapixel front-facing, 3 megapixel rear camera for photos and video at 720p resolution), Android Honeycomb OS, and the ability to watch movies (built-in Flash lets you view videos on Web sites that may not play on the iPad), play music, and access Google’s services and other apps through the Android Market. It’s about the same size and weight of the iPad 2, as well.

Another thing that the Galaxy Tab has over the iPad 2, however, is 4G LTE data access from Verizon Wireless. While most people will likely be fine with Wi-Fi access only, connecting via 4G LTE offers faster data access and speeds for places beyond what Wi-Fi covers (most of the world beyond your office, home or coffee shop). This can be valuable for in-the-field workers, or for out-of-the way spots that you may find yourself in. Having 4G access compared to 3G access is a big difference, too: In our testing, we received more than 20Mbps of download speeds on a regular basis within the 4G coverage area.

Choosing between the Apple iOS vs. Google Android can come down to a personal preference, such as Pepsi vs. Coke. A lot depends on what you (or your gift recipient) is already used to. For example, if they own an Android phone and you want to get them a tablet, than sticking to Android makes sense.

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