Apple's iPad 2 has earned top marks in Consumer Reports' tablet ratings. The publication also issued some pointers for buying tablets.
Consumer Reports may have longstanding issues with the iPhone 4, but its editors
have decided to give a big thumbs-up to the new iPad 2.
The publication tested 10 tablets, including the Motorola Xoom and Samsung
Galaxy Tab, before deciding that the 32GB iPad 2 with WiFi and 3G ranked
highest across 17 criteria ranging from portability to touch-screen
responsiveness. The first-generation iPad apparently tied with the Motorola
Xoom, which runs the tablet-optimized Google Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb")
and is widely regarded as the iPad franchise's most robust competition.
"So far, Apple is leading the tablet market in both quality and price,
which is unusual for a company whose products are usually premium priced,"
Paul Reynolds, Consumer Reports' electronics editor, wrote in an April 5
statement. "However, it's likely we'll see more competitive pricing in
tablets as other models begin to hit the market."
Consumer Reports recommends that consumers in the market for a tablet
consider a higher-priced device. "With prices for the best tablets still
too high for many budgets, consumers may be tempted by lower-priced
competitors. Don't be," the publication wrote in an April 5 statement. "Tests
have found the performance of models costing $300 and under to be at best
Other details for consumers to consider: easy navigation, easy-to-use
virtual keyboard, automatic orientation from landscape to portrait mode (and
vice versa), a GPS receiver and other
components for "environmental awareness," access to a full apps
marketplace, high-quality display, and capacitive touch screen.
Should the consumer consider an Android tablet, Consumer Reports added, "the
Android tablet you buy should have at least Android 2.2 and access to the
Android Market, not a secondary app market."
Consumer Reports sparked a bit of controversy among Apple fans in 2010, when
it refused to recommend the iPhone 4 on AT&T's network. In their
accompanying report, the editors cited how the
device's signal would die when bare skin touched the lower-left portion of the
device's antenna rim. "The signal can degrade enough to cause you to lose
your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal," the
publication's Mike Gikas blogged
July 12. "Due to this problem, we can't recommend the iPhone 4."
Apple CEO Steve Jobs later announced that
customers who purchased an iPhone 4 through Sept. 30, 2010, would be eligible to receive a
free rubber bumper that covered the rim.
However, the controversy continued into 2011, when Consumer Reports declined
to recommend the iPhone 4 when it appeared on Verizon. "The problem is
similar to the one we confirmed in July with the AT&T version of Apple's
newest smartphone," the publication reported in a
Feb. 25 blog posting.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.