Apple’s new iPad hits stores tomorrow. Of this, you may already be aware. The thing is, while the Apple-doting fanboys assume the usual position outside the world’s many Apple Stores, you could do a lot worse than check out its competitors. They allow you to do more, work more effectively, are more easily portable or are a lot cheaper. Read on for our top five.

If you don’t quite fancy the idea of queuing up or being whipped into a mad frenzy by Apple’s blue-shirted staff, there are several top tablet alternatives to the new iPad that are well worth a look in. Here’s our pick:

1. Asus Transformer Prime

Price: £550 (64GB)

Asus has got serious hardware skills these days. Not only do its Zenbook laptops bother the MacBook Air’s for skinniness, but the Transformer Prime is arguably a sexier tablet than the iPad.

It’s made even better by virtue of the fact that it’s got a proper keyboard attachment, which brings laptop functionality (including, impressively, keyboard shortcuts) to the world of tablets as and when you need it.

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7

Price: £449 (16GB)

Yes, we know the new iPad’s Retina Display is something a wee bit special. We won’t beat that point into the ground, and we needn’t, because similar screens do exist. The display on the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is a Super AMOLED number, with a resolution of 1280×800. Albeit for a bit more dollar.

That’s not quite as many pixels as the new iPad’s 2048×1536, but bear in mind that Sammie’s tab is smaller by a couple of inches. The result in person is very vivid and crisp, either way – is it as good as the iPad’s display? Honestly, the difference is very negligible.

3. Toshiba AT200

Price: £399 (32GB)

Toshiba’s tab is – at the time of writing – one of the only quad-core Android tablets going. The new iPad has a dual-core A5X chip that proffers quad-core graphics, but proper, no foolin’ quad-core it ain’t. Toshiba’s is.

That extra power allows you to whip around Android like it’s made of multitasking melty butter. Want to leave GTA 3 running while you stream a video, download a web page and write up an email at the same time? Fine.

4. Amazon Kindle Fire

Price: $199 (8GB)

Of course, if you want something to really rival the new iPad for price, it still has to be the Kindle Fire. We’re still waiting for a UK version, but US users can snap up Amazon’s incredibly well priced tab for just shy of $200, or about £128.

For that you get a properly portable ereader (that you can hold with one hand), access to Amazon’s version of the Android Market with a slew of games and apps, as well as a web browser with cloud-power for speedier surfing. Desperate for a comparatively cheap tablet in the UK? The 64GB BlackBerry Playbook is now only £170.

5. Apple iPad 2 

Price: £329 (16GB)

Hang on… What? Look; the iPad’s still good, despite what its Android opposers say to the contrary. If you’re swayed by the power of Apple’s App Store and can resist the urge to have the very newest, you’d do worse than the now far cheaper iPad 2. The base model is now a very impressive £329.

For that you get everything the new iPad has, save for a sharper screen and a processor that’s only going to be any better if you’re doing intense video editing. In short: well worth a squizz.

Still not convinced? Here’s everything you need to know about the new iPad.

  • Andrew Bowness

    I know it lacks the technical oomph of the tablets mentioned here, but I got a Hannspad last year for less than £150 and it does exactly what I need, web surfing, e-mail and watching videos of cats. I presume that this is what most people end up using their tablets for (though I can imagine most Electric Pig readers do require more powerful graphics more frequently than most tablet users).

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