Hot holiday gift idea: Tablets/e-readers

There is no question that tablet usage is on the rise in the U.S. According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, 11% of Americans own a tablet and 77% of tablet owners use the device daily. And with the Kindle Fire lowering the price threshold ($199.00), it’s likely that tablets will be a hot item on wish lists this year. Here is a round-up of the top tablets available this holiday season, along with Amazon’s e-readers, some of which are morphing into tablet-like devices themselves.

iPad 2 – Apple’s tablet innovation remains the top choice for tablet buyers. The user-interface is completely intuitive and the iPad’s versatility is astounding. While it doesn’t replace the desktop computer (it wasn’t meant to), the iPad allows users to consume, share and experience media in an exciting and fun way. Prices start at $499 for the 16gb wi-fi model, which is plenty unless you’re a digital media junkie.

Kindle Fire – Amazon has recently introduced more economical lines of its e-reader, Kindle. And it’s also rolled out Kindle Fire, which is the first full-color Kindle and first with Amazon Silk, a cloud-accelerated browser which allows users to surf the Web. At $199, the Kindle Fire is a slam dunk and will appeal to those who already love the Kindle as well as tablet noobs.

Kindle and Kindle Touch – Amazon has dropped the price on its cheapest Kindle to just $79 and now allows users to borrow books from their local library. Incredible! And new for late 2011 is the Kindle Touch, which  has a multi-touch interface for those used to the iPad and/or iPhone tapping, dragging and gesturing to control the device.

Nook and Nook Color – Barnes and Noble is still fully behind its e-reader, The Nook, for now anyway. While the Nook is essentially a really good e-reader and nice alternative to the Kindle, the Nook Color has more tablet features and allows users to read content in full color as well as do apps, web, video and social media.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 – If for some reason you’re opposed to the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the next best thing for a full-on tablet experience. The price point is $499, the same as iPad 2, and the two tablets are comparable, although the Galaxy Tab uses the Android operation system. (iPad uses iOS.) Compare the Galaxy Tab and iPad 2.

Sony Tablet S – Loyalists to the Sony brand might be thrilled with this Android tablet. It doesn’t set out to be an iPad tablet alternative per se, but rather is a really souped-up version of previous Android tablet models that have hit the market previously. Again, there’s nothing wrong with the iPad and Apple’s iOS operating system. It’s just that some people have it in their head that they don’t like Apple products or they feel Android devices offer more flexibility such as the usage of Flash on a tablet.

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