Apple's iPad 2 has already been made available in the US and will hit UK shelves within the next two weeks. However, should you plump for Apple's latest tablet or opt for one of its competitiors that run Google Android?

The Motorola Xoom, the first device to run Honeycomb, the tablet-optimised version of Google Android, will be made available in the UK on April 9.

The W-Fi only version of the device will be available through Currys, PC World, Dixons and Pixmania, priced at £499. A Wi-Fi and 3G version will be made available through the Carphone Warehouse  and Best Buy later this year, but while the device is available to pre-order SIM-free for £599, availability dates have yet to be released.

Considering the wave of Android tablets expected to launch later this year - is it wise to opt for the Xoom as soon as it is released Or would you be better off taking a wait-and-see approach?

Here are some things to keep in mind if you're still on the fence.

Motorola Xoom: If you're champing at the bit for a Honeycomb tablet...

...get the Xoom. As Google's inaugural Honeycomb tablet - and the device that the Android team actually used to develop the Honeycomb software - the Xoom has a huge advantage in the timing department. Other Honeycomb tablets are still undergoing testing and development, with release dates limited to fairly vague terms; LG's T-Mobile G-Slate, for example, is "expected to be available this spring" (some rumours have pointed to late March, but that date has not been confirmed). The recently announced Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 also has no firm release date so far.

If you're excited about Honeycomb and want to get your hands on a high-quality Android tablet ASAP, the Xoom is the way to go.

Motorola Xoom: If a 10.1-inch tablet seems about right for you...

...get the Xoom. Other Honeycomb tablets, like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, will match the Xoom's size - but (1) they aren't here and (2) we have no indications that they'll offer any significant advantages other than subtle design differences. The Tab, for example, lacks a memory card slot and USB port, both of which are present in the Xoom. It does, however, have a slightly slimmer profile - by 0.07in -and weighs about 0.3 pounds less.

Let me put it this way: If you think one of the future tablets' designs might suit you better and you don't mind waiting, hang tight till you can properly compare.

NEXT PAGE: Even more reasons to buy the Xoom

  1. Should you buy the Xoom or wait for a competitior?
  2. Even more reasons to buy the Xoom

Should you shell out for Motorola's Xoom tablet now or wait till more competitors arrive? Here are some things to consider if you're still on the fence.

Motorola Xoom: If you're sold on the idea of a smaller tablet...

...wait. As more and more Android tablets arrive on the market, we'll see plenty of options in terms of sizes. The Xoom is likely to remain on the larger end of the spectrum; if you prefer something with a smaller screen that's easier to tote around, the Xoom might not be the right tablet for you.

Motorola Xoom: If you value a 'pure' and regularly updated Android experience...

...go with the Xoom. While some other manufacturers are promising to keep their clunky proprietary interfaces off of their Honeycomb tablets - thank goodness - the fact remains that the Xoom is the device that Google's Android team is using to test and develop the Honeycomb OS. If any tablet will have an advantage when it comes to timely Android upgrades, the Xoom will be it.

As for the heavily modified tablets, such as the HTC Flyer, forget about it. The Flyer is launching with a version of Android Gingerbread that has HTC's Sense interface baked into the OS. If you like what it has to offer, that's great - but if you want Honeycomb and you want Google's future updates to the platform, a "pure" Google device is the way to go.

Motorola Xoom: About that whole Flash thing

One final point is worth mentioning: Initially it was thought the Xoom would launch without Adobe Flash support - one of the tablet's key selling points, particularly compared with Apple's famously Flash-free approach. Adobe had said a software update would enable Flash for the Xoom "within a few weeks" of the tablet's launch.

However, Motorola has since announced on its Official Twitter account  it is rolling out a Motorola Xoom update in phases and it “includes required enhancements to support upcoming Adobe Flash Player 10.2".

It is currently unknown whether the update will be preloaded on the tablet PC when it hits the UK but at least Brits will be able to download the update once they’ve got their hands on the device.

See also: 5 reasons you need a tablet

  1. Should you buy the Xoom or wait for a competitior?
  2. Even more reasons to buy the Xoom