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The top 5 iPad alternatives for business professionals

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Although iPad is the tablet of choice for the majority of tablet owners, the market will always demand alternatives, and in that spirit, here are five iPad tablet alternatives for you to consider if you want to look past a brand name and compare tablets so you can find one that works for your professional and personal needs as well as your lifestyle.

Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire was just released in November of 2011 and is considered more minimal than the iPad. The Kindle Fire has a 7-inch LCD screen with a rubberized black casing. Features include a dual-core processor, color touchscreen, and an extra-wide viewing angle similar to the iPad. Amazon’s Kindle Fire runs for about $200 and has Wi-Fi capability.

Nook

The Nook Color by Barnes and Noble is a Wi-Fi capable tablet that costs $199. This tablet was created to show bright colors and reduce screen glare. Nook Color lets you customize your tablet to fit your lifestyle and your interests, including homepage customization with your photos and you can create a personal bookshelf of your favorite reads. One of the great things about choosing the Nook is that you get free support with no limits.

Asus Eee

While the Asus Eee is an easy-to-use touchscreen, it also has an attachable keyboard to turn it from a tablet to akin to a laptop. Asus Eee uses Google’s Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system and it is usually priced between $350 and $400. The Asus is a great crossover for people who want a tablet but are still stuck on the laptop concept – it’s a good bridge product.

HP Slate

Costing around $650 to $800 (depending on where you buy it), the HP Slate is geared toward the working professional who isn’t sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. It’s for the professional who regularly attends meetings or walks around the office, perhaps. The HP Slate allows you to check email, read and edit important professional or personal documents and spreadsheets, and you can even write emails or notes by hand with a digital pen.

Freedom 10

The lesser known Freedom 10 is a tablet with “the most advanced Android-based functions at a very affordable price.” With the Freedom 10, you can browse the internet, watch movies or TV shows, play games, and video chat with your loved ones. While many of Freedom 10’s features are close to those of the iPad, there are a few features, according to Freedom 10, that the iPad doesn’t have, including 32GB of storage, mini HDMI 1080p port, and Flash 10.1. And that’s not even including the affordable price of $249.99.

Finding the right tablet for your needs shouldn’t hinge on hype or by who made it, your decision should be based on how it fits into your life, the tablet’s features, and how you can effectively use those features to increase productivity or simplify your life. The iPad isn’t the only game in town, and the five alternatives above prove that.

Tablets

Apple announced the 128 GB iPad will launch next week

Apple’s product announcement today of a new 128 GB iPad has been met with mixed reactions as the company shifts its process in the post-Jobs era.

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128 GB iPad on the way

Apple today announced a new 128 GB version of the fourth generation iPad with retina display to be launched next Tuesday, February 5th in black or white. Pricing will be set at $799 for the iPad with Wi-Fi, and $949 for the iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

“With more than 120 million iPads sold, it’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and everyday they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs.”

Mixed reactions to the 128 GB iPad launch

“The features and capabilities of iPad give us the ability to set a new standard for multitrack recording and editing on a mobile device,” said Rim Buntinas, WaveMachine Labs’ CEO. “Users of the Auria app can play 48 mono or stereo 24bit/96 kHz tracks simultaneously, record up to 24 of those tracks simultaneously, and also edit and mix with familiar tools. With its portability and all-day battery life, iPad has revolutionized recording for audio professionals allowing artists to record anywhere.”

Fans have taken to Twitter to hail the announcement, particularly musicians and media creators, but a large number of Apple fans have commented on blogs that while excited, they had hoped for a different kind of innovation, or an announcement of a next generation device rather than a pricier version of what they are already carrying in hand.

With rumors continuing to echo that Apple will create lower-end devices (read: cheap) for developing nations, skeptics are quietly questioning the company’s plans, and with the product launch schedule becoming more erratic, the company is not necessarily losing its popularity by any means, but die hard fans are showing signs of fatigue at bi-annual (possibly soon to be tri-annual?) product rollouts that theoretically make their brand new expensive device old.

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Tablets

Next generation iPad, iPad mini may be released in March

Continuing with Apple’s accelerated launch schedule, rumors are flying of a spring iPad and iPad mini launch.

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iPad and iPad mini: spring launch?

A new report showcasing observations from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas includes hints at a spring release for the next generation iPad and iPad mini.

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White said, “Our checks at CES indicate Apple will release the iPad 5 and the second-generation iPad mini this March. The iPad 5 is expected to be lighter and thinner than the iPad 4 that was released in October, while the form factor of the iPad mini should be similar to the first generation iPad mini that debuted in October.”

These reports are similar to what various international bloggers have noted, with dozens of claims that Apple is now observing an accelerated product release schedule, particularly with the iOS family of devices, as the company aggressively seeks to keep their market share.

Big changes at Apple

In years past, the company typically observed annual update cycles, and tech analysts could react accordingly, as could consumers, but last fall’s fourth-generation iPad release only seven months after the third generation iPad shocked the world. Many assumed the move was a way to usher in the post-Jobs era after the passing of the company’s CEO, but with rumors swirling of a spring release and the possibility of more releases annually, it appears a change in the company rather than a one-time marketing ploy. It remains unclear.

Rumors of a less expensive iPhone for emerging global markets were subject to criticism as more than one executive said it would never happen, others say the company plans to offer lower priced smartphones without sacrificing quality, but other analysts note the opposite.

Coupling the two recent rumor reports, the most obvious conclusion one can come to is that Apple is coming up with a new formula in the face of tight competition.

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Tablets

20 million touchscreen Google Chromebooks to ship in 2012?

Reports out of China indicate that rumors of a touchscreen Google Chromebook are true as a Taiwanese component maker is gearing up to outfit 20 million units of Google’s own branded Chromebook.

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Google Chromebook going touchscreen?

As laptops and dekstops are increasingly becoming touchscreen to compete with the surging tablet market, reports out of China indicate that Google Chromebooks are going the way of touchscreen as well, which would bring the cloud-centric computing theory to a broader user base. Digitimes.com reports that Google will launch a 12.85-inch Chrome OS touch-controlled notebook for own-brand sale, with Taiwan-based Compal Electronics responsible for OEM production and Wintek supplying touch panels, citing the Chinese-language Commercial Times (CT) indicates, based on Taiwan-based supply chain makers.

The technology news outlet says that Taiwan-based makers have begun shipping components for the notebook and Compal will start shipments as soon as the end of 2012.

Making the Chromebook touchscreen could make it a viable competitor to various tablets already on the market as well as those set to hit for the holidays, with Chromebook fans lauding the light weight and innovative operating system, perfect for true mobile browsing, which functions far differently from the app-heavy tablets Google is clearly taking aim at with their next product.

A new strategy for Google?

Additionally, a touchscreen Chromebook would indicate the first new strategy coming out of the Chromebook department, as the current devices run between $200 and $450, a low barrier to entry which has aided adoption since its launch. Critics claim that because Chromebooks must be connected to the internet in order to function, they could limit use, but supporters claim that most offline use is now within range of wi-fi, making the cloud-based system ideal, freeing up hard drive space for actual use rather than heavy programs and operating systems.

Some believe that this new touchscreen could raise the cost of the device, which could make its competitive edge dull a bit, but it would also put it in the price range of many of the new touchscreen laptops hitting the market, which could help it to directly compete not only on features, but by being featured alongside bigger competitors like the new Microsoft Surface.

With 20 million units reportedly being outfitted by Taiwan’s Compal and shipping in 2012, technologist’s eyes and shoppers’ eyes will be squarely on the inexpensive Chromebook options, especially when it offers touchscreen options.

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