20 iPad competitors

The Apple iPad has re-energized the market for tablet computers but it has gone nearly all of 2010 without a serious challenger. That will soon change. Here are 20 upstarts taking aim at the iPad.
The best way to view this list is the companion photo gallery so that you can get a look at each of the tablets. Otherwise, you can read about each of them all and get a quick summary in the list below. I’ve only featured tablets that have at least 7-inch screens and that have been officially announced (in most cases). The list also serves as a ranking. I’ve put the ones that are the most promising and the most likely to actually make it to market at the top of the list.

1. Samsung Galaxy Tab

Based on a similar design to the Samsung Galaxy S smartphones, this 7-inch Android 2.2 tablet is loaded with strong specs and will be available on multiple carriers. It will likely be the iPad’s most serious competitor to arrive before the end of 2010.

2. Cisco Cius

Primarily an enterprise communications and collaboration device, the Cisco Cius is an 7-inch Android tablet with a heavy layer of Cisco customization on top. Consumers won’t be interested, but existing Cisco customers who want a corporate-controlled tablet might be.

3. BlackBerry PlayBook

Aimed at stopping the iPad’s momentum with executives and business professionals, the 7-inch BlackBerry tablet will be built on its own QNX operating system and is flush with power with a 1 GHz dual core CPU and 1 GB of RAM. However, battery life may be an issue and it won’t arrive until 2011.

4. Toshiba Libretto

One of the more innovative tablet competitors is the Libretto with its dual 7-inch multi-touch screens. One screen can be used entirely as a virtual keyboard while you work on the other. It runs Windows 7 acts a little more like a netbook than a tablet but it’s an interesting concept.

5. ASUS Eee Pad

Now one of the world’s top five computer makers and one of the leaders in design, ASUS has talked throughout the year about launching various iPad competitors (branded “Eee Pad”) from 9-inch to 12-inch models, running Windows 7, Windows Embedded Compact, or Android. ASUS has promised a tablet will be coming in the first quarter of 2011.

6. Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid

One of the big hits of CES 2010, the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid is a convertible tablet with a multi-touch screen that detaches from a hardware keyboard. The main system runs Windows 7 but the detachable 11.6-inch screen turns into a standalone tablet running Linux. It has been delayed until 2011, but Lenovo says the standalone tablet will be released separately as the Lenovo LePad in December.

7. Archos 10.1

Archos is a PDA and tablet company that has been trying to break into this market for a couple years with several different form factors and operating systems. The company could have a moderate success with its 10-inch tablet running Android 2.2

8. ViewSonic ViewPad 100

This 10-inch tablet dual boots Windows 7 and Android 1.6. It has an LED display, 1 GB of RAM, a 1.66 GHz CPU, and a 16 GB onboard SSD drive.

9. Toshiba Folio 100

This 10-inch tablet runs on the Nvidia Tegra processor and Android 2.2. Unlike the Toshiba Libretto, this is a standard slate form factor. It’s a vanilla tablet that Toshiba will try to price as low as possible.

10. HP Slate 500

Announced by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES 2010 in January, this HP “Slate PC” was meant to preempt Apple’s iPad announcement later that month. It wasreportedly canceled when HP bought Palm and said it was going to create a webOS tablet instead. Then, it was revived this fall.

11. LG Android tablet

We don’t know much about this one other than it will run Android, have “high-end features,” focus on productivity, and LG executive Chang Ma said ”Our tablet will be better than the iPad.”

12. MSI WindPad 100

This one is expected to come in both Windows 7 and Android versions. The Windows version has heavy specs with an Intel Atom processor, 2 GB of RAM, 2 USB ports, an HDMI port, and a 32 GB SSD drive.

13. Notion Ink Adam

One of the more intriguing iPad alternatives is the Adam from Notion Ink. It features a very slim, attractive design in a 10-inch tablet with a unique Pixel Qi display, Nvidia Tegra2, and Android 2.2.

14. ExoPC Slate

This is a minimalistic tablet running Windows 7, an 11-inch display, and an Intel Atom processor. It has its own custom UI running on top of Windows and is focused primarily on multimedia.

15. Motion J3500

Motion has been on the most effective Tablet PC makers for niche industries, even as Microsoft let the Tablet PC platform languish in recent years. The J3500 is a ruggedized tablet that can run up to a Core i7 processor and Windows 7. It has both Microsoft’s traditional pen technology as well as capacitive touchscreen. It’s expensive but powerful.

16. Fusion Garage JooJoo

Originally known as the “CrunchPad” and intended to be an ultra low-cost tablet primarily aimed at web browsing, the JooJoo is now a 12-inch tablet divorced from TechCrunch (in pending legislation) with a custom OS made to boot into a web browser as soon as possible, but also able to do video calls and multi-tasking.

17. Viliv X70 EX

The X70 EX looks less like the iPad and more like the Windows Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs) of the past. It’s a 7-inch tablet made to operate with two hands. It’s a Windows + Intel device that is also made to easily mount in your car as a GPS.

18. EnTourage eDGe

Like the Toshiba Libretto, the enTourage eDGe features dual screens, but the eDGe has an e-ink e-reader on one side and an Android tablet OS on the other side.

19. Nefonie WeTab

This tablet (formerly called the “WePad”) runs the MeeGo OS in an 11-inch form factor and is powered by an Intel Atom processor.

20. Augen Gentouch78

Also known as the “K-Mart tablet,” the Gentouch78 is perhaps best known for its low price - $150. However, considering this Android tablet is barely functional, even 150 bucks might be too much to spend on this 7-incher.