Is this the year another tablet gets a look in?
There's a new iPad on shelves around town and expectedly, it launched to varying cries of ‘it's amazing!' and ‘I can't believe it's not quad-core'.
It is, of course, both amazing and not in possession of a quad-core processor. Apple has never won its fans for having the heaviest hardware spec list - but in contrast, the Android-packing Asus Transformer Prime is amazing, and it's also the world's first quad-core tablet.
Is this the year that the iPad will finally have a real Android competitor? Tech hacks, as any reader or random passerby of this site will attest, love to construct all manner of head-to-heads and showdowns and generally stack one thing up another, one thing generally being an iPhone or iPad, if only because they're so infuriatingly popular.
So we've compared all three iPads to everything from the original Samsung Galaxy Tab (yes, that seven-incher running on the silver-generation version of Android) to latest not-yet-reviewed Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Not coincidentally, it's always been an Android vs Apple face-off, much like the smartphone race is boiling down to. And not surprisingly, Android doesn't really measure up when it comes to actual tablet sales.
Aside from the marketing megalith that is Apple branding and its projected lifestyle, Android tablets lack apps. Or at least they used to.
Last week Google scrapped its Android Market to sell everything - apps, music, books - under Google Play. Sounds like iTunes/App Store eh? Several weeks before, a major overhaul to the erstwhile Market saw a cleaner interface and special section for tablet apps. Magazines that launched on iPad are beginning to trickle out for Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich slates.
There's still a sizeable gap in offering of course, but it's shrinking, and it's likely to shrink as exponentially quickly as the lead Apple used to have in smartphone apps (both are now over half a million apps and counting).
Then there's the digital art appeal of the iPad - now matched by the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, borrowing the screen tech used in Wacom pro drawing tablets and aggressively marketed as your next high-tech sketchpad.
Adobe's suite of photo-editing apps for Android tabs also launched in December, around the same time it became available for iPad 2 (and now ‘new iPad').
The software bonuses of owning an iPad are increasingly showing up for Android too, and with the new iPad, its USPs are unusually in its hardware - the better-than-HDTV Retina display and an impressive new ‘iSight' camera.
The Retina display is likely to stay unique to Apple - though who knows what Samsung will pull out after holding back its Mobile World Congress press conference - but the bit that made it the obvious tablet of 2011 is no longer so unique. The iPad catalysed a whole new form of media, bringing magazines and newspapers to their digital next levels and, potentially, helping scrape back revenue in a shuddering industry. Now that media alongside more and better apps is hitting Android tablets, and by the end of 2012? Well, 99% of our surveyed readers think the new iPad is overhyped - though I'm looking forward to the poll results that'll tell me the proportion that actually bought the new iPad.
What do you think? Will you be buying the new iPad or an Android tablet this year?