Looking for a tablet computer? The iPad isn’t the only option.

With the release of the iPad 2 in March and many others reportedly on the way, it appears that tablets are gaining popularity. This is unfortunate news for PCs, which have been in decline: IDC reported in a press release on April 16 that PC shipment numbers are down overall 3.2 percent, with Acer seeing one of the biggest drops at 15.8 percent.

Tablet’s aren’t just popular because of the iPad 2 — helped along by Apple’s forever-trendy advertisements — or because users are feeling pressured to fit in at the local Starbucks. Media tablets are convenient and portable, especially for college students who can use them for note taking, reading, gaming or checking email.

Luckily, for those not on the Apple bandwagon, there are plenty of other tablet slated for a 2011 release — many boasting an Android operating system and a lower price tag (the iPad 2 starts at $499).

Here are a few you may want to research:

Archos 101

Archos-101

One of the cheaper tablet options, with an 8GB model going for $294 and 16GB model for $343, both on Amazon, the Archos 101 doesn’t have the sleek look and feel of the iPad. You get what you pay for.  Despite its reported slow performance and lack of support for Android 3.0, the tablet does include HDMI output, microSD memory slot and a 10-inch screen.

  • OS: Android 2.2
  • Screen: 10.1 inches
  • Camera?: yes, front-facing
  • Amazon price: $294 (8GB), $343 (16GB)
  • CNET review: 3 stars

 

Motorola Xoom

Motorola-XOOM

At $100 more the iPad 2, the Motorola Xoom tablet is a bit pricey. But, for $589 — or $800 bought off contract — you get Android 3.0, the most up-to-date of the Android operating systems, which has the potential to outperform the iPad — especially with the dual-core NVIDIA processor. Unfortunately, in their review, CNET says Google still has some work to do to make it worth the price and manual read. It also includes HDMI output and SD memory. If you’re looking for a tablet to challege the iPad, the Xoom is your best bet.

  • OS: Android 3.0
  • Screen: 10.1 inches
  • Camera?: yes, front-and-rear-facing
  • Amazon price: $589 (32GB)
  • CNET review: 3.5 stars

 

HP Touchpad

HP Touchpad

One of the few tablets to get four stars from CNET — the same as the iPad 2 — HP Touchpad works much like a computer and is one of the few tablets that will offer support for Flash. Its web operating system was originally designs by Palm and is reportedly simple, easy to use and easy to multitask. Currently, the HP Touchpad’s big downfall is its uncertain price range and release date. Currently, the tablet is rumored to hit the market in June.

  • OS: HP webOS
  • Screen: 9.7 inches
  • Camera?: yes, front-facing
  • Price: TBD
  • CNET review: 4 stars

 

BlackBerry Playbook


 

A small, compact and easy to use tablet, the BlackBerry Playbook comes in three different sizingoptions supports Flash and has advanced multitasking. Downsides range from its small, cramped screen to no 4G — though 4G models are planned — but this hasn’t prevented blogs from calling it the next iPad challenger, especially for those business men who have trouble letting go of their BlackBerrys already.

  • OS: BlackBerry Tablet OS
  • Screen: 7 inches
  • Camera?: yes, front-and-rear-facing
  • Retail price: $499 (16GB), $599 (32GB), $699 (64GB)
  • CNET review: 3.5 stars

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