Armed with Flash support, these five tablets are all set to challenge the iPad.

Tablet product review ASUS EEE Slate B121ASUS EEE SLATE B121
$1,699 for 4GB, from Asus authorized retailers

DESIGN At 1.16kg, this 16.9mm-thick tablet was the heaviest and biggest of the lot.

SCREEN Images and icons on the home page were clear on the 12.1-inch screen, but web images and text were slightly grainy.

SOUND The speakers were located at the sides and the sound was excellent – crisp with a surround sound feel.

STARTING UP 30 seconds.

USING IT It was the only one with a stylus. I used it to write notes; the tablet recognised my handwriting fairly accurately. The touch screen and keyboard were less responsive than the other tablets tested. It was the only one with obvious ventilation slits at the back. It was also the only tablet that ran on Windows 7, with no application store, unlike those for Android or Blackberry tablets.

FEATURES 2-megapixel front camera (for video chats, not for taking photos), two USB ports and an SD card reader.

VERDICT: 7. Heavy and noisy. But the stylus, two USB ports and SD slot made it a great work machine.

Tablet product review Blacberry PlaybookEDITOR’S RAVE: BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK
$668 for 16GB, $798 for 32GB, $928 for 64GB, from major electrical stores

DESIGN At 425g, this 10mm-thick tablet was the second lightest of the tablets tested. Its smooth, matte backing was made with a scratch-resistant material.

SCREEN Images and icons on the 7-inch screen were vibrant and clear.

SOUND The speakers at the front and on sides of the tablet gave crisp and fullbodied audio – the best of the lot.

STARTING UP 80 seconds.

USING IT I could see medium-sized thumbnails of up to 12 webpages at once. Scrolling was smooth and browsing was a breeze. It was also responsive and the most comfortable to use.

FEATURES 5-megapixel front camera, 3-megapixel rear camera.

VERDICT: 8.5. Beyond the slow start-up and initial getting used to, I was impressed with the clear audio and images, and smooth browsing experience.

Tablet product review Motorola XOOM MZ601BEST VALUE: MOTOROLA XOOM MZ601
$888 for 32GB (Wi-Fi), $988 for 32GB (3G), from major electrical stores

DESIGN Although it was slim at 12.9mm, the top of the 708g tablet was heavier than the bottom, making it tiring to hold.

SCREEN Graphics and photos on the 10.1-inch screen were sharp.

SOUND The audio was three-dimensional when the tablet was propped up. But when laid flat, the sound was muffled as the speakers were located at the back.

STARTING UP 35 seconds.

USING IT I liked how the tablet responded to my touch quickly. Scrolling was smooth, and using it was a breeze. On the home screen, I could see my running apps at a glance, making it easy for me to switch between apps.

FEATURES 5-megapixel front camera, 2-megapixel rear camera.

VERDICT: 8. Easier to use when laid on the table than when held. Otherwise, it was quick and responsive.

Tablet product review Huawei Mediapad S7 30 LUHUAWEI MEDIAPAD S7-30 LU
$598 for 8GB, from Huawei authorized retailers

DESIGN This handy 390g tablet was only 10.5mm-thick and had a sleek aluminium back.

SCREEN The images and icons on the 7-inch screen were bright and clear. But when I was reading text against a black background, I could see my reflection on the screen.

SOUND At the maximum level, the volume was softer than the other tablets tested.

STARTING UP 47 seconds.

USING IT The on-screen keyboard in the portrait mode was sensitive, but cramped. I found it easier to type in the landscape mode. The small size was a boon for me – it fitted snugly in my hand, and slipped into my handbag easily. The smaller screen made it harder to read text when surfing, but I was able to use a zoom feature.

FEATURES 1.3-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera.

VERDICT: 6. Small and light – this was the most convenient to tote around.

Tablet product review Sony Tablet SSONY TABLET S
$668 for 16GB and $798 for 32GB, from Sony authorised retailers.

DESIGN Although large, the 600g tablet’s plastic exterior felt a little fragile. The unique wedge shape (20.6mm-thick on one side and 10mm-thick on the other) made it easy to hold on its side, and comfortable to view and type in the landscape mode. But when placed on the table, viewing in the portrait mode was awkward.

SCREEN The 9.4-inch screen was bright and images were crystal clear.

SOUND The sound came from the back of the tablet and was amplified when it was laid flat.

STARTING UP 46 seconds.

USING IT Apps and links took longer than the others to load. Scrolling down the page got choppy at times. App icons enlarged when I scrolled down the page, which was distracting. It was the only one with an inbuilt remote control feature – I could use the tablet as a remote for certain TVs.

FEATURES 0.3-megapixel front, 5-megapixel rear camera and SD card reader.

VERDICT: 6.5. The unique design was useful in landscape mode, but it could have been faster.

Apps To Prolong Your Tablet’s Battery Life

  • FOR ANDROID TABLETS: Juice Defender (free)
    It switches off unused apps and other functions like Wi-Fi, if there is no network connection after one minute.
  • FOR BLACKBERRY TABLETS: Battery Guru ($2.59/US$1.99)
    It gives you information about your device’s battery, such as voltage and power, when charging and discharging. It even plots a summary graph of how much battery power each application uses.

This article was originally published in Simply Her Feb 2012.

All product and pricing information was correct at the time of the magazine’s publication. We advise readers to check with the store for the latest availability and pricing information.