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iPad rivals not up to snuff, says Consumer Reports

Any device manufacturer looking to "kill" the iPad has their work cut out for them, according to Consumer Reports.

The product-testing and consumer survey magazine this week released its rankings for tablet computers and found that the iPad 2 easily bested its competition, scoring high marks for its battery life, display screen and ease of use. Consumer Reports says it evaluated tablets using 17 different criteria, including "touch-screen responsiveness, versatility, portability, screen glare, and ease of use," and found that the iPad 2 scored a rating of "excellent" in nearly every category. The iPad 2 also had by far the best battery life of any of the tablets, notching an average of 12.2 hours in Consumer Reports tests. In terms of pricing, Consumer Reports electronics editor Paul Reynolds said that the iPad 2 was delivering the most bang for the buck compared to other tablets.

BACKGROUND: iPad dominates tablet purchasing plans

"So far, Apple is leading the tablet market in both quality and price, which is unusual for a company whose products are usually premium priced," he said. "However, it's likely we'll see more competitive pricing in tablets as other models begin to hit the market."

Motorola's Xoom was the only tablet in the same league as either the iPad or the iPad 2, according to Consumer Reports' rankings. The Xoom, which was released this year as the first tablet to feature Google's tablet-centric Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb") operating system, had an average battery life of 10.5 hours and got "excellent" ratings for its display, touch responsiveness and versatility. Samsung's Galaxy Tab, which ranked behind the iPad and Xoom, had an average battery life of seven hours and featured "very good" scores for all of its features except for its touch response, which scored an "excellent."

Although the iPad has gotten many new competitors in the tablet market in the last year, it has so far remained the dominant player. A survey of more than 3,000 consumers released by ChangeWave last month found that 27% of consumers have plans to buy a tablet, and that 82% of them plan to purchase an Apple iPad. The Motorola Xoom, Research in Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook (soon to be rolled out) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab each accounted for less than 5% of planned tablet purchases. In an analysis of its survey data, ChangeWave said iPad competitors face a steep uphill climb against Apple, especially since the vendor has already released the second generation of its popular device while rivals are just getting around to releasing their first-generation tablets.

ChangeWave's findings were largely in line with findings from other surveys and studies that have found the iPad in firm control of the tablet market. IDC last month released a report showing the iPad accounted for 83% of all tablets shipped in 2010. Research released by ChangeWave last year, meanwhile, found that the iPad dominated corporate purchasing plans, as more than three-quarters of the businesses that planned on buying tablets reported plans to buy the iPad.

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