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Is there a viable alternative to the iPad?

By Stuart Miles, Special to CNN
March 16, 2012 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
  • Apple launches the new iPad: It's not the iPad 3, or the iPad HD, but the new iPad
  • Hundreds of Android tablets are already on the market: some are worth considering
  • Expect market to be flooded with new tablets that double as your desktop computer
  • And if you're only surfing web, you really don't need screen with HD resolution

Editor's note: Technology journalist Stuart Miles is CEO and founder of gadget review website Pocket-lint. He can be found tweeting at @stuartmiles

London (CNN) -- Apple's new iPad goes on sale on Friday. It's not the iPad 3, or the iPad HD, but the new iPad. That's great, but should you buy the new Apple tablet or opt for a different tablet? After all it's not the only tablet on the block.

Why doesn't the new iPad have a name?

You might not realize it, but there are hundreds of Android tablets already on the market. Most of them are rubbish, but there are a few exceptions worth considering if you don't want to "go Apple."

There are three main tablet challengers to consider as an alternative to the "iPad 3."

1. The Asus Tranformer Prime

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2. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

3. The iPad 2.

The Transformer Prime and Galaxy Tab 10.1 both run Google's Android operating system with the Samsung Galaxy even featuring in Apple's iPad presentation -- in a bad way of course.

The Transformer Prime is a very good tablet. It's slim, powerful, and one of the best tablets on the market. No it really is that good. As the name suggests it also comes with a secret. It can transform into a laptop with the help of a keyboard docking station. Typing on the train just became very easy.

As for the Galaxy Tab, the design is virtually identical -- so much so Apple is suing Samsung over it -- to the iPad and it too is nippy and fast with plenty of oomph.

The Android OS brings with it excitement and tribulations. On the excitement front, there are plenty of apps, lots of ways to customize the experience and, if you've got an Android phone, you'll feel right at home.

Android has its annoyances, but it is also enjoyed by many, and with the Prime sporting the latest version of Android (dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich) you'll be fixed for the latest and greatest apps.

As for the iPad 2, it is still a great tablet and the best-selling device out there. It has just had a price reduction, and while it doesn't sport the latest screen technology, nor the new fast processor of the new iPad, it will still do you very well, thank you nicely.

If you are only planning on using it for web surfing and checking email you really don't need a screen with a resolution bigger than your HD television.

If you are happy to wait a couple of months there are more options still. Asus has already announced an update to the Transformer Prime called the Padfone that is a phone that slots into a tablet that connects to a keyboard giving you three devices in one. Samsung too has an alternative to the Tab 10.1 -- the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 that comes with a stylus.

If you are happy to wait even further you can opt for a Windows 8 tablet expected to launch in October.

Coming from a range of manufacturers, expect the market to be flooded with new tablets that double as your desktop computer and latop.

The new OS, already available to try if you are feeling brave, is a cross between Windows Phone 7 and Windows 7 complete with icons that jump and jostle for your attention.

The benefit here of course is that you will be able to add a keyboard and mouse easily, turning it into a "proper" computer and in some instances, but not all, run the Windows desktop as if you were at your desk.

Of course Apple will say you want none of the above, but the latest and greatest from them. And in some way it would be right. While the others are all fantastic and highly recommended you have to ask what you want from it. If it is an easy life with great apps, at the moment the iPad still is the one to go for.

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