I recently was at a local electronic retailer who had several tablets out for display. I decided to check out how they stack up against each other, so following is my impressions.
The Toshiba Thrive, with HC 3.1, was first up. Right away, I was impressed by the screen. It seems very bright, with excellent colors. Viewing angles are also very good. It feels pretty sturdy when holding it, although all the devices in the store were tethered with some kind of security device attached to the rear. This made getting a good feel for how the tablet actually feels in your hands difficult. The screen is very touch responsive, and flicking across homescreens was smooth. The stock browser took a long time to load any pages, but I think that was due to there being around 10 tablets, and many more laptops all connected to the store’s wifi at the same time. I downloaded a video about electric cars, and then played in full screen. Sharp picture, no stuttering, and decent sound. I then went to the market and downloaded My Paper Plane 2. After installing, the game played flawless, the accelerometer being very accurate to my movements. All in all, I would say this was my favorite tablet of those I checked out.
Then I moved on to the Asus Transformer. Right away, I could see a difference in the screen. It just appeared darker than the Thrive, with the colors not so vivid. The construction seems to be on par with the Thrive, neither felt “cheap” while holding them. Also running HC 3.1, the performance of the transformer seems about equal to the Thrive, which is to be expected. The screen is also just as responsive. I played both the same video, and the same game as I did on the Thrive. They worked as well on the transformer, but I do think the screen on the transformer is a little bit less crispy than the Thrive’s. That is just my opinion, however. I would rank the Asus a close second, with the dock being a big plus. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any docks to test.
Last up was the HP Touchpad, with it’s 9.7″ screen. Ir really isn’t too noticeable that the screen is about 1/2″ smaller than the other two tablet’s 10.1″ screens. I would rank the screen closer to the Thrive’s than the Asus. Very nice colors, and it, like the others, has really good viewing angles. The in-store unit had some demo software installed, which made it more difficult to navigate the web os. I tried for around 5 minutes to find out where to connect to wifi(it wasn’t connected), and could never find any settings menu. The web os doesn’t seem very intuitive, but maybe that’s something you get used to if you actually buy the touchpad. It is pretty nice to swipe from one open app to another, and I think without the demo software it would have been more impressive. Performance of the touchpad was about equal to the other two tablets. While both the HC tablets had quite a few apps installed, it seems there are not so many available yet for the touchpad. This would make me hesitate to purchase one until the number of apps available for web os increase.
While the Touchpad and Thrive, with 16gb, are within $10 of each other, the Asus is $80-90 less than either one. Depending on what your priority is, the Asus is the better buy, with nearly identical hardware to the Thrive, but with the possibility of using the dock/keyboard. And personally I like the Thrive’s screen better. All three tablets will get the job done, it’s your choice which one is best suited for you, the user. My advice is to go yourself, play with the devices, and then decide what fits your needs the best.