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As we look back on this past year, and wonder why each year seems to have flown by so much quicker than the last, we also reflect on our many traditions here at HotHardware. One of our favorites is our annual Holiday Buyer’s Guide. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for that special geek in your life, or if you’re dreaming of putting together a new system for yourself, we hope this guide will help you make some informed buying decisions. We're kicking things off this year with tablets -- a product category that has taken off in a huge way. The iPad started the modern-day tablet surge in 2010, but 2011 has seen dozens of rivals pop up with Windows 7 and Android Honeycomb at the forefront.
Tablets with Keyboards -
Let's face it: some of those on your gift list aren't willing to sacrifice their keyboard just to get a tablet. Good news! 2011 has seen a great number of keyboard-included tablets launch, and we'll cover the best options for those you love below.
Asus Eee Pad Slider (HotHardware Review)
Touch performance is buttery smooth, and even with multiple tabs open, the browser never felt laggy. Playback of HD video was seamless, and battery life didn't seem to suffer at all. NVIDIA's Tegra 2 has proven to be a winner once more in the tablet space, even with a keyboard flanked on the bottom. The IPS display is one of the most beautiful ones we've seen in the mobile arena, and those who plan on enjoying multimedia will have plenty of gorgeous pixels to look at. Overall, the Eee Pad Slider is a strong tablet for a specific subset of the market. Those who won't routinely use the keyboard are certainly better off with a normal slate, or perhaps even the Transformer, which allows you to bring along the keyboard only when you're planning to take advantage of it.
Price: $479 (16GB) / $579 (32GB)
Asus Eee Pad Transformer (HotHardware's Review)
Price: 16GB WiFi, No Keyboard - $399 - Docking Station - $109.99
Acer Iconia Tab W500
tablet runs Microsoft Windows 7 and runs on an AMD C-50 processor. Other key hardware specs include 2GB of DDR3 memory, ATI Radeon HD 6250 graphics, and a 32GB SSD
For users who also want a notebook-like experience, the Iconia Tab W500 has a full-size chiclet docking keyboard. For transportation, the tablet connects to the keyboard with magnets, making the device an easy to carry clamshell notebook. You can also choose to leave the keyboard behind and carry just the tablet which weighs 2.14 pounds. The docking keyboard weighs 1.34 pounds. Acer claims you’ll get up to four hours of unplugged HD video playback and six hours of Internet browsing from the Acer PowerSmart long-life 3260 mAh Li-polymer battery pack. The Acer Iconia Tab W500 comes in two models: the W500-BZ467 with Windows 7 Home Premium and the W500P-BZ841 with Windows 7 Professional.
Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet (HotHardware Preview)
It's a ThinkPad, but it's not a notebook. Lenovo's heralded quality has bled over into the tablet realm with this guy, boasting Android onboard and having a beautiful "Folio" accessory that bundles in a tried-and-true ThinkPad-quality keyboard. If you have a ThinkPad lover in your life -- the kind that won't buy any other laptop due to the keyboard alone -- this is probably your best bet. The Tablet is a business-oriented slate with a 10.1" panel, a Tegra 2 (1GHz) chip, and most importantly, a full-size USB port. That's crucial because Lenovo's also introducing a $99 Keyboard Folio case, which will wrap around the device to keep it safe, but also provide a full QWERTY keyboard and an optical trackpad for moving around the OS. It features Android 3.1, access to Lenovo's App Store a 2MP front-facing camera, 1080p video output, Wi-Fi, 3G, 16/32/64GB of storage, a 5MP rear camera, Bluetooth 2.0 and a 2-cell battery that will get 8 or so hours in ideal conditions.
Price: $449 - $615 (+$99 for keyboard Folio)