Tablets giving the iPad a run for the money

Liz Fogarty Foote bought an iPad as soon as it came out.

"I have the iPhone, I have a Macbook Pro, I love it. So as soon as I heard they were making this, I wanted it," she said.

For a while, the iPad stood alone in the tablet-computer arena. But now, other companies are starting to offer tablets, too. Consumer Reports tested several, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and less-expensive tablets including one sold at Walgreens.

The iPad is the most expensive tablet computer, ranging in price from $500 to more than $800. But you get a lot of bang for your buck. On the iPad, you can create documents, browse the Web and play plenty of games.

The less-expensive tablets cost about $100, and Consumer Reports finds you get what you pay for.

"One of the drawbacks we've noticed with some of the less-expensive tablets is you don't get access to Android market, which is where you get your third-party apps from. That's a pretty big problem," Donna Tapellini from Consumer Reports said.

Another drawback is that the touch screens on some are less sensitive, so it's hard to get where you want to go. However, the Samsung Galaxy Tab has a lot to offer and it costs less than the iPad starting anywhere from $400 to $650.

It's smaller and lighter, too, so it's easier to hold while reading books and Consumer Reports' tests show that the Galaxy's screen quality is comparable to the iPad. While the Galaxy's small screen might make it less appealing than the iPad for watching movies and TV, it definitely gives the iPad some competition.

"If you're in the market for a tablet computer right now, your only choices really are the Galaxy Tab or the Apple iPad. And the one you choose really depends on what's most important to you," Tapellini said.

Consumer Reports' battery-life tests show the iPad has more staying power. Its battery charge lasts a full 10 hours, while the Galaxy Tab battery runs only for seven hours.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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