So the iPad has arrived to what can only be described as excessive fanfare. But will tablets become the gadget of choice for consumers who want to kick back and browse the Web, check e-mail, read an e-book or magazine, play games, or watch a movie? It's debatable: Tablets have tanked in the past. And yet a number of industry analysts believe that the iPad will kick-start a new category of media tablets that could become huge by 2015.
iPad rivals will struggle to equal its slick user experience (familiar interface, iBooks, iTunes, and the App Store), but Apple alternatives do offer a broad range of choices related to shape, size, and screen--not to mention Webcams, USB slots, and HDMI ports. Many tablets pair Windows 7 with an Intel Atom processor, or combine nVidia's Tegra 2 chip with Android, Chrome OS, or Linux. Multitasking? Check. Accelerated high-def Flash video? You betcha.