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Best Android Tablets vs New iPad

Let's see how they compare
March 9, 2012

Modern tablets offer genuine visual delight. The crisp images, vivid colors, and luscious contrasts make us forget that we are staring at a screen, opening up a universe of images and motion that we can control with a simple swipe. All this eye-candy is made possible by complex technologies that most of us barely understand. Luckily, we don’t need to understand them – we can just enjoy our high resolution tablets without worrying about OLEDs, sub-pixels, or in-plane switching.

High and ultra-high resolution tablets are all the rage this year. On March 7 Apple announced the next generation of the iPad. Apple’s new iDevice will boast a whopping 2048 x 1536 resolution, or as Apple marketing calls it, a “Retina display”. That’s double the resolution of the current iPad 2 (1024 x 768).

Like it or not, Android slates will always be compared to the iPad, which still holds almost 60% of the tablet market. So how is Android faring in the battle of high resolutions? Will Android tablets play catch-up once more?

We think so. Lenovo, ASUS, Acer, and Huawei have already announced devices that rock high-resolution displays, rising to the challenge of the iPad HD. So, without further ado, we give you The Gang of Four.

1. Lenovo IdeaTab K2

Lenovo’s IdeaTab K2 was one of the most impressive devices we saw at CES 2012 in January. Powered by a mighty Tegra 3 quad-core processor that runs at no less than 1.7GHz, the IdeaTab K2 will come later this year, first in its native China, under the LePad K2010 name, and then to the rest of the world. No word on the pricing yet, but with the high-end specs it touts, don’t expect it to be a bargain.

We certainly wait for the K2 to reach our shores, mostly for the crazy full HD display that this amazing tablet rocks. Yes, you will be able to delight your eyeballs with no less than 1920 x 1200 pixels, packed into an IPS LCD panel. In case you didn’t know, in-plane switching (IPS) is a technology that offers better viewing angles and more vivid colors than traditional LCDs. We gave the Lenovo K2 a run at CES, and even in the prototype stage it was in back then, the K2 was an absolute joy to use.

Yes, that is a keyboard dock that adds two full-sized USB ports, and 9+ hours of battery life

It’s good to see that manufacturers are finally putting those beefy 4-cores-plus-1 Tegra chips to good use. The Lenovo IdeaTab K2 (running Ice Cream Sandwich) is as smooth as they get. With a slower proc, the 1920 x 1200 touchscreen may have been less delightful to use.

Lenovo ThinkPad K2 Specs

  • 10.1-inch display, 1920 x 1200, IPS LCD, 224ppi, capacitive
  • SoC: Tegra 3 quad-core @ 1.7GHz
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB storage, expandable
  • 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera, LED Flash, Autofocus
  • Dual speakers with Lenovo’s Super Surround System (3S)
  • Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi, USB (full-size and mini), mini HDMI
  • Quad-band GSM, HSDPA, UMTS
  • aGPS, fingerprint reader
  • Android 4.

Lenovo ThinkPad K2 Price and Availability

  • China: Q2 2012
  • Worldwide (unspecified): second half of 2012
  • Price: TBA

2. ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity 700

As you can learn from our ASUS MWC 2012 roundup, ASUS was quite active at this edition of the Mobile World Congress, releasing no less than three Android 4.0 tablet devices (that all dock into keyboards to become netbooks). One member of ASUS’ trio was the Transformer Pad Infinity, with its amazing Super IPS+ 10.1-inch display.

Like the Lenovo K2, the Transformer Pad Infinity’s display is a source of rich, vibrant, full HD eye-candy. As their mainland rivals, the Taiwanese at ASUS created a stunning display, with a 1920 x 1200 resolution. For the OCD-inclined in the audience, that’s about 2.3 million pixels, neatly aligned on your tablet’s display.

But the Infinity bests the K2 when it comes to the LCD panel technology. The Transformer employs the latest generation of IPS technology, Super IPS+, which makes 178° viewing angles possible. How cool is that?

ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity Specs

  • 10.1-inch display, 1920 x 1200 Super IPS+
  • Two variants of processors
    • A dual-core Snapdragon S4 @ 1.5GHz for the 3G/LTE version
    • A quad-core Tegra 3 @ 1.6Ghz for the Wi-Fi version
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB storage, expandable
  • 8MP rear camera + 2MP webcam
  • Android 4.0

ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity Price and Availability

  • Worldwide: second quarter of 2012
  • Price: estimated between $600-$800

3. Acer Iconia Tab A700

The Acer Iconia Tab A700 is Acer’s latest effort in the high-end tablet area. So, what do you think Acer did to build their high-end slate? They stuffed the A700 with a Tegra 3 quad-core processor, of course, and thrown in, just for good measure, a full HD display.

The 1920 x 1200 display of the Iconia A700 is just as impressive as the Lenovo K2’s or the Infinity’s. Now, the LCD panel of the A700 does not come with in-plane switching like the other two, but nevertheless, Acer claims that they used a similar technology that yields just about the same results. Indeed, we looked at the tablet from all kinds of weird angles and didn’t notice any substantial color modifications.

The Tab A700 has all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a modern upmarket tablet, but we’ll let you see them in detail below.

Acer Iconia Tab A700 Specs

  • 10.1-inch LCD display, 1920 x 1200 pixels
  • Tegra 3 quad-core @ 1.3GHz
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16, 32, or 64 GB storage, expandable
  • 5MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera
  • Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi, USB (full-size and mini), mini HDMI
  • Android 4.0

Acer Iconia Tab A700 Price and Availability

  • Worldwide: from June 2012
  • Price (in Europe, not confirmed):
    • 16GB – $720
    • 32GB – $860
    • 64GB – $990

4. Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD

At MWC, Huawei seemed really set to make a name for itself, showing off the impressive Ascend D quad, which the Chinese claim to be the world’s fastest smartphone. But in the general excitement created by the Ascend D quad announcement, many seemed to have overlooked the fact that Huawei announced an equally impressive tablet. A caveat: the MediaPad 10 FHD may be just vaporware – the model we saw at MWC was a unique prototype handmade for the event, so we should take Huawei’s claims with a nice grain of salt. Nevertheless, the Ascend D quad has definitely shown us that Huawei can deliver top-notch devices, so there’s no reason to believe that the Chinese can’t repeat that performance with a tablet.

As you may suspect, the FHD suffix stands for full HD, and the MediaPad 10 FHD impresses through the same eye-popping resolution of 1920 x 1200, while the pixel-moving duties are covered by Huawei’s own quad-core processor (hence, the speed record claims). No word if the production model will come with IPS or IPS+, but the model shown at MWC used an IPS panel with 226ppi.

Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD Specs

  • 10-inch LCD display, 1920 x 1200 pixels
  • Huawei K3 quad-core @ 1.5 GHz
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB storage, expandable
  • 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera
  • Bluetooth 3, Wi-Fi, USB (full-size and mini), mini HDMI
  • HSPA+ 21/42/84Mbps and LTE support
  • Dolby Surround Sound
  • Android 4.

Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD Price and Availability

  • Worldwide: Q2 2012
  • Price: TBA

Place Your Bets

So, you’ve been officially introduced to the Gang of Four Android tablets that will stand up to the iPad HD (whatever it will be called) in the war of high-definition slates. All four tablets on our list boast amazing 10-inch displays with 1920 x 1200 resolution, are powered by quad-core processors, run Ice Cream Sandwich, and we cant wait to take them for a spin.

What do you think? Will the new wave of HD tablets turn the tide in favor of Android? Or will Apple’s new iPad claim victory yet again? How will this epic smackdown end?