Touchscreen-based Tablets -
The list of potential touchscreen tablets is enormous in comparison to the number of options for keyboard-equipped slates, but if that special someone figures that Swype or SwiftKey (or whatever virtual keyboard they choose) is good enough, here are our recommendations for oversized stocking-stuffers.
Apple iPad 2 (HotHardware Review)
Yes, it's cliche, but it's warranted. You can't think "tablet" without thinking "iPad," and the second iteration of Apple's hot-selling slate is better than the first in a number of important ways. There's a camera for FaceTime chats, and it's more powerful and compatible with that Smart Cover you've already wanted an excuse to buy for someone. ARMed with a custom dual-core 1GHz processor, PowerVR GPU, and 512MB of RAM, Apple's second generation tablet has the horsepower to outrun some would-be iPad killers. This is especially true for the tasks you'll end up doing most on the iPad 2, such as browsing the Web and firing up apps, both of which are noticeably faster than on the iPad 1.
The iPad 2 is slimmer than an iPhone 4 and up to 15 percent lighter than the iPad 1. Apple also managed to upgrade the iPad without upgrading the price as well, which means the cost of entry is still $499 (16GB Wi-Fi model). With over 100,000 iPad-tailored apps in the App Store, you can bet that gifting this to anyone will put a smile on their face.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (HotHardware Review)
Samsung's Galaxy line has been booming this year, from tablets to smartphones. None, bigger than the Galaxy Tab 10.1. It was the first major Android slate to ship and be thinner than the iPad 2, and it has largely set the pace for slate-style Android tablets in the months since. It's still one of the stronger, slimmer, sleeker options out there, making it a great option for sprucing up someone's holiday season. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is competitive with the best of the Android tablets -- both in terms of benchmark scores and real-world performance.
Some may scoff at the fact that dedicated HDMI or USB ports are missing, but the media connector at the bottom is a suitable alternative given that adapters can be made for just about any connection out there. For what it's worth, Samsung throws a USB adapter in with the slate. The 16GB Wi-Fi model is priced at $499 -- the iPad 2 is priced at the same starting point. The 32GB Wi-Fi model is $599. This makes the Tab 10.1 highly competitive on the Android landscape, considering what you get for the money.
Amazon Kindle Fire (review forthcoming!)
Here's an unexpected one: the $199 Kindle Fire. It's not your typical tablet. It's the first "tablet" from Amazon, and as you might expect, it's strongly centered around reading -- just like their Kindle e-reader line. The smaller 7" form factor makes it easier to slip into stockings, and if you have a bookworm that needs a tablet, look no further. The Kindle Fire is a 7” tablet with a screen resolution of 1024 x 600 that runs Android 2.3. The display uses IPS technology and features an anti-glare coating, which should help make it somewhat more readable outdoors than untreated screens.
There is also a dual-core CPU at the heart of the Kindle Fire, 8GB of storage on-board, 512MB of RAM, Wi-Fi, and Amazon claims up to 8 hours of battery life during continuous reading or 7.5 hours during video playback. In terms of its hardware features and specifications, it’s obvious the Kindle Fire isn’t targeting more powerful tablets like the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 10.1 and is more in-line with the B&N Nook. There’s no 3G/4G connectivity, no camera, the screen is only two-point multitouch, and the device is thicker than some other tablets at 11.4mm. Perhaps, most importantly, Amazon will also be leveraging its massive ecosystem of content that’s already available for current Kindle variants. Having the Amazon content and Android apps seamlessly integrated on a single device will give owners access to a myriad of content and apps. And all for under 200 bucks.