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The Top 5 iPad Alternatives: Cheaper, and Several at Recent All-Time Lows

Updated
By Lindsay Sakraida, dealnews Features Director

There's no arguing that Apple's iPad is the most desirable Internet tablet on the market right now, but just because everyone wants one doesn't mean everyone is happy to shell out the cash. Enter the iPad alternatives, which up until this point haven't made much of a splash on the market.

But according to a recent article from Business Insider, there are some serious contenders lurking in Apple's massive shadow. And according to dealnews data, most of them have been listed within the past month at all-time low prices, suggesting that it's a very good time to consider the cheaper, largely Android-based tablet alternative.

Below, we've included product and deal data for Business Insider's top five tablets. And we've listed them in reverse numerical order to manufacture suspense!


    5. ASUS Eee Pad Transformer 10.1" 16GB Google Android Tablet

    Current Best Deal: $349 with 97 cents for shipping at Walmart
    The Best Price We've Seen?: We saw it at an all-time low for $349 about a month ago

    Business Insider particularly likes the docking keyboard on this Eee Pad, but readers should note that it's a somewhat pricey accessory that's sold separately ($123.78 with free shipping).

    It features a NVIDIA Tegra 2 250 1GHz dual-core processor, 10.1" 1280x800 IPS multi-touch LED-backlit LCD, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal flash storage, 5-megapixel back-facing camera, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 802.11n wireless, SD card slot, GPS, built-in gyroscope, Google Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), and more.


    4. HP TouchPad 9.7" 16GB WebOS Tablet

    Current Best Deal: Currently unavailable
    The Best Price We've Seen?: We saw it for an all-time low of $99.99 with free shipping a few days ago (since expired)

    While BI is gaga about the TouchPad's webOS, good luck getting your hands on one. HP announced on Thursday that it's discontinuing production, and as a result, we saw several highly discounted offers over the weekend and this morning. But they were so cheap that none are currently available now. While there's a good chance that the TouchPad ship has sailed for good, you can try to snag the hands-down cheapest tablet we've seen from a major brand by setting up an email alert to be notified as soon as we list it again.

    Features for the TouchPad include a Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 1GHz dual-core processor, 9.7" 1024x768 LED-backlit multi-touch display, HP WebOS 3.0, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, video capture, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 802.11n wireless, MP3 player, 16GB internal storage, and more.


    3. Acer Iconia A500-10S16u 10.1" Google Android Tablet

    Current Best Deal: Bundled with a $100 Gift Card for $398 with 97 cents for shipping at Walmart
    The Best Price We've Seen?: Assuming you use the credit, the current deal. However, we saw it for $300 in-store (with no gift card) at Staples about three weeks ago.

    Not only does BI declare that "you won't find a better Android tablet for under four hundred dollars," but we've actually seen it available for well below that mark. In fact, the current offer comes with a $100 gift card, which in theory brings it to $298 (assuming you use the credit).

    Features include an NVIDIA Tegra 2 250 1GHz dual-core processor, 10.1" 1280x800 widescreen touchscreen LCD, 1GB RAM, built-in 16GB flash storage, 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, microSD card slot, 5-megapixel rear facing camera, 2-megapixel front facing camera, miniHDMI output, 2-cell battery, and Google Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).


    2. LG G-Slate 8.9" 32GB Google Android Tablet

    Current Best Deal: Unlocked, $697.99 with free shipping at eXpansys (backordered, but still available to purchase at this price); with a 2-year contract for $399.99 with free shipping at T-Mobile (search for "G-Slate").
    The Best Price We've Seen?: Not listed before

    While expensive, BI believes this device is one of the few tablets that truly rivals the speed and ease of an iPad. It features a 1GHz dual-core processor, 8.9" 1280x768 LCD, 2-megapixel front camera, 5-megapixel dual rear camera with 3D recording, 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity, optional USB tethering, GPS, Bluetooth connectivity, and 9-hour battery life.


    1. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1" 16GB Google Android Tablet

    Current Best Deal: $479.99 with $9.50 for shipping at Sears
    The Best Price We've Seen?: $429 with free shipping a week ago

    BI deems this tablet "the best competitor to the iPad right now," with a weight and form factor comparable to the iPad 2. It features a 10.1" 1280x800 touchscreen LCD, NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor, 16GB memory, 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth, built-in GPS, 2-megapixel front camera, 3-megapixel rear camera, Android 3.1 OS (Honeycomb), and more.

[Top five via Business Insider]
Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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19 comments
JimTomPul
I looked it up and the touchpad had a manufacturing cost well over $300.  HP is taking a bath on this, I think the quality is in there.  On top of that, I hear there are those already working on an Android hack.  That would give the thing a good life span for the price.
JimTomPul
I kind of agree, especially in hardware.  Except when I started fooling around with Android, I found the OS "klunky" and confusing in comparison.  Apple definitely has the "ease of use" thing down.  It may be what I am accustomed to using, as I find find software features the iPad doesn't have.
JimTomPul
Then you are not using the tablet to it's full capabilities.  It won't replace a laptop or desktop, to be sure, but I was shocked to find how much I use mine for things I used my laptop for previously.  If you don't like your tablets, maybe you want to sell one to me so I can give one to my daughter for school work, educational videos and text books.
ypsrudy
You all have valid points. But as for me I will not put Quicktime on my computer for anything. And since apple use's quicktime I will opt for the Alternative.  The now generation honeycomb tablets are pretty good. Since I use my xoom for work and some play, and I have to say its the bomb. I do home inspections and use my tablet to write notes and have my current pictures of my project on the tablet to make reference notes. Works For Me!...  AND: I bought it with a $100 off coupon at staples for $399  Wooohooo...
ripshank
You forgot about the 1st generation iPad which you can buy starting at $299. You have access to the same exact iOS, ecosystem and all the apps as the iPad 2 -- these are the real draw of the iPad and not necessarily the hardware itself.

With these other tablets, you just don't have access to the same ecosystem. Android's simply not there yet on tablets. They may be in the future but then there will be better tablets in the future. If you can wait, wait. But if you're shopping for a tablet now, then go with the one that has it all together now.

You also don't factor in support costs. If you have problems with your device, just take it to the nearby Apple store to get it looked at or replaced. They're very liberal with their warranty. You simply don't have that with these other tablets as they're sold via 3rd parties.
vicvghn
Uh, i've owned 2 tablets thus the basis for my comments. Surfing the Internet and reading a book is about the only 2 reasons to own a tablet. You can do so much more "productively" on a laptop or pc. Who really wants to squint at a 7 or 10 inch screen to watch a movie? Given a choice, most people wld opt for their 36" or larger flatscreen tv. And as for games? Most people wld rather play their wii, nitendo or playstation Than the simple games like angry birds.
kinghiggs
I have a Xoom, recently purchased from Staples when they had a $100 coupon that stacked with a $5 coupon (thanks, Dealnews!).  I also had some Rewards to apply, which made it a really great deal, but the base price for the 32GB model was $394.98 even before I reached into my own pocket.

Connectivity: The reasons I bought the Xoom over the Samsung Galaxy: micro-USB and HDMI out, 32GB on board (for the price of most 16GB tablets), and I added another 32GB on a micro SD chip.  Most tablets don't have SD expandability.  A free app called WiFi File Explorer lets me sync to and from any computer connected to wifi, even networked computers in my office.  Another app called AndroidSync Manager wirelessly syncs with my contacts and calendar in Outlook.  My only gripe is that the micro-USB port is only a data port, not a charging port, and the charger connector is a proprietary size.

Entertainment: Flash compatible.  Enough said.  Doesn't support Skype, but it does support Google Talk, which has a video chat feature.  Significantly more screen acreage than the iPad, a 14:9 screen ratio with 1280x800 HD.

Business: Documents to Go.  Enough said, and well worth the $15.00.  With PrinterShare, $12.95 for the full version, you can print to "most" printers.  With Dropbox and Pocket Cloud, both free, my office is anywhere I have wi-fi access, or I can tether my phone with EasyTether, well worth the $9.99 (sometimes available for as little as $4.99 if you monitor Dealnews).  For meetings, I sync the file(s) I need, make any changes using Docs to Go, and either email them or sync them back at the office.  And for heavy-duty typing, the Bluetooth ThinkOutside flip-out keyboard that I used to use with my Palm has found new life with the Xoom--it was incompatible with my HTC Droid Incredible, but works great with the Xoom.

Battery life is DAYS on standby, it "boots" from standby in seconds, and it recharges in about 3 hours.  Battery life on heavy usage (internet, movie viewing or ) is longer t) is longer than a business day.

I'm a fan.  You can bicker about the features of the various tablets, but you can't argue that they are fast becoming laptop-killers.   I've parked my Lenovo 10" convertible tablet, which took too long to boot and had less than 4-hour battery life.  For a pound and a half, plus the Bluetooth keyboard, I've got an office in an 11" envelope, plus entertainment.
Gurtej
Hi Guys
After reading quite a few reviews on Android based tablets, I must say they are appealing but my concern is that they don't support Skype video chat. Of all things they can do, be faster than Ipad, better hardware interface, access to file system, thousands of free apps but how about skype. Skype is one of the most widely use application.
I was so impressed by Asus Transformer, with the nice keyboard attachment that boosts battery life and just then (gladly before I bought it) I discovered it does not support Skype video, upon further reading it turns out none of the android tablets do. Some say is it Tegra2 issue, some say Skype, I don't know but definitely a deal breaker for me.
Any suggestions, may be I am wrong somewhere.

Regards,
GS
4v3n1
The point is that all four of the tablets listed above that are still in production run on the same OS (Honeycomb). 

Netflix and other businesses will eventually release on the platform if they think that's where the eyeballs are.  There's Netflix on the Nintendo 3DS, for crying out loud.  It WILL come to Android, and it will come even faster if enough people use the Android OS on their phones and tablets.

I don't blame you for waiting, but the more people buy a Honeycomb tablet, the sooner companies like Netflix will jump in.

BTW, there IS a working Netflix Android apk out there, apparently (though it doesn't work on my particular tablet at the moment). Google for details.
4v3n1
These particular tablets are actually addressing your criticisms fairly well.  I have an A500, for which I paid $300 after a gift card, and I really like it. It works with USB keyboards and thumb drives, and it has an SD-card slot and HDMI out port.

Honeycomb is NOT a mash-up.  It is an evolving and fully-supported Google OS and it works well.  Within a few updates, it will be a perfect fit for its hardware, which is all one can ask. 

 "No apps" is inaccurate.  "Not as many as Apple's Store" is accurate, but ultimately meaningless if the device can do everything I need it to do. As of now, there are decent apps to do everything I need it for, and most of them are free or in the $1-$2 range.

Battery life IS worse than iPad, but I'm getting a manageable 8-ish hours with full use of wi-fi and bluetooth.  It reminds me of my android phone - I MUST charge it when I'm home or risk having the battery die.  I realize that adjusting my life around an object isn't optimal, but Apple requires more sacrifice of me than does my Acer A500, so I plug the thing in when I'm not using it or while I'm using it at my desk.
mtdoonmeister
I don't get these tablet computers. Mashed up versions of Android. No apps. Short battery life.

The HP TouchPad was the only one that had any hope of differentiating itself. All others are thrown together to try to get some of the money people are throwing at Apple. People will ALWAYS buy on price point. And those people will ALWAYS get what they pay for - Junk.

Someone at HP is going to pay for the $1.3 billion dollar mistake of buying Palm to get WebOS. Then abandoning it three or four months after they spent another couple million designing a hardware platform for it. Look for HP to get yet another CEO. The current CEO will, rightly, get canned for making such a huge bungle.

But, yah! I could get what might have been a great tablet for $99! And they will sell out, quickly, at that price.
Ross
I still don't understand why the iPad is the device by which all other tablets are measured by.  What is the iPad offering me that others are not?  I have an A500 and it's wicked fast, easy to use, tons of apps, superior resolution, and just about every I/O option available.  Seems to me the only reason iPads are "flying off the shelf" is because Apple has made people think it's acceptable to pay $500 for a tablet just because "it's cool", "it's a name everyone knows", "it's an Apple product, and that makes it better"
jamiefickes
I wanted to buy an android tablet, but with no guarantee that they can/will ever run netflix or other apps I run regularly, what's the point?
madpb
They do give a laptop a run for the money. I have a new laptop and a new Xoom and now a new HP Touchpad . I had a Ipad2 but returned it since I could Jailbreak it (yet). My Xoom and my 2 Ipod Touch's are  rooted and jail-broken.
 The laptop collects dust as it is no longer required and is not anywhere near as convenient . My Xoom does everything I need  and does it far far faster and easier than my new laptop.
Maybe you should get one before making comments that are not true.
 Ipads are definitely   'flying off the shelf' !   I do not play games on them either but tablets do play  games  well specially with the touchscreen.
mvanco
Me and my husband both scored the 32 Hp Touchpad. He on Sat, Me Sunday. I think for the price we will be happy!
cable305
I saw it yesterday at the $149 price and, and thought twice when I saw hp was going to no longer support the device, with so many bogus devices on the market I punked out and missed a great bargain.  This morning i regret that decision
vicvghn
wait til christmas, probably all the android tablets will be dropped to 100bucks like the HP touchpad. i mean, there is not a  whole lot people can do with a tablet than play games.  until these tablets can really give a laptop a run for its money, they are just not going to fly off the shelfs.
seashell
"Bundled with a $50 Gift Card for $349.99 with free shipping at newegg" is for 7" Galaxy Tab. Man!!!

lol
ryan2499
FYI - the deal for the Samsung tablet you reference is for the 7" version, not 10.1".
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