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Which tablet PC is best for you?

What do others have that Apple's iPad 2 lacks?

See what the BlackBerry PlayBook, HP TouchPad, Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab have that Apple's iPad doesn't.

Web

Advantage: Android 3.0

The clear advantage in Web browsing goes to Android 3.0 tablets. The native Android browser has a tabbed interface that makes navigating a multitude of web pages remarkably easy. And content on those tabs updates continuously as long as you're just shifting among tabs, not apps. The visual bookmark design - with thumbnails of your pages--helps you quickly access favourite items. I also appreciate the support for Adobe Flash Player 10.2 - it means that users don't miss out on the large portion of the web that relies on Flash. Another benefit of Android: You can download alternative web browsers, such as Mozilla's Firefox 4 for Mobile.

In comparison, iOS 4.3 and BlackBerry Tablet OS feel stuck in the dark ages of web browsing. Since their respective native browsers access only one Web page at a time, you must exit one page before you browse to another. Switching among pages is much faster and smoother in Android's tabbed design than it is on either iOS 4.3 or BlackBerry Tablet OS. And neither of those OSs updates a page dynamically.

In addition, iOS's mobile Safari browser limits the number of windows you can have open at a time, and displays bookmarks as only a text list. And as with email, iOS restricts how the web browser handles downloads. You don't download files, per se; instead, if a supported file (for example, a Word doc or a PDF) is on a page, that file will open in a separate browser window. From there, you'll have the option to open the file in apps that have been hooked into the web browser, such as Apple's iWork apps, Dropbox, iBooks, or Photo Roll. But you can't download .zip files, video files, or any file format that iOS does not support.

I like the fact that the BlackBerry Tablet OS browser supports Flash, but I'm disappointed with its uneven behaviour. It lets you save a JPEG to a Downloads folder that's accessible via the browser; in my hands-on tests, however, I couldn't open the JPEGs I downloaded on the device. I had similar problems with some Word docs and PDFs I downloaded, too, though other files saved and opened just fine in the PlayBook's preinstalled apps (Adobe Reader for PDFs, and the Microsoft Office-compatible Word To Go, Sheet To Go, and Slideshow To Go). Stranger still, tapping on a file didn't consistently bring up the action to save it--though when I did get the chance to save a file, the PlayBook also allowed me to rename it on the spot. Another frustration: The Download folder didn't consistently retain a history of the downloaded files; without that, or a general file browser that would let me rummage on the tablet myself, those files seemed lost to the ether.

The WebOS browser on the TouchPad works much as it does on WebOS mobile phones. Each browser window behaves as its own activity card, and you can stack those cards together or view them individually.

NEXT PAGE: Multimedia

  1. What do others have that Apple's iPad lacks
  2. The home screen
  3. Mail
  4. Web
  5. Multimedia
  6. More multimedia
  7. Apps
  8. Hardware options

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