iPad 2 vs. Xoom vs. PlayBook: How the Hottest Tablets Rate

It seems like forever that we’ve been talking about the Motorola Xoom and the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook. In fact, we have. For months, well before the iPad 2 made its debut, the press and analysts have asked: Which tablet will reign supreme on performance and speed? Which will have the best apps? How about the best user experience?

Until recently, all we had were hardware specs to compare the contenders, and we could only guess how well they might perform. But now that the two most notable non-Apple tablets have hit the market, we can answer these questions. We’ve tested the iPad 2, the Xoom, and the PlayBook, and have spent quality time comparing elements in Apple’s iOS with Google’s Honeycomb and RIM’s Tablet OS.

 

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The biggest question of all still remains: In the long run, does any tablet competitor have the chops to topple the market-dominating iPad?

If you can wait until later this year to get in the game, we’ll likely have a clearer answer, as other promising tablets like the second-gen Samsung Galaxy Tab, HP TouchPad, LG G-Slate, and HTC Flyer are on the horizon. But if you want to pick up a tablet today and you’re not settled on an iPad, the the Xoom and the PlayBook—though neither is perfect out of the gate—are your best bets. Check out full reviews for the iPad 2, Xoom, and PlayBook, and compare key specs in the table below.

Still not sure? Read our buying guide for more tablet tips and shopping advice.

Apple iPad 2 Apple iPad 2
$499-$829

The clear standout in the ever-widening sea of tablets, the Apple iPad 2 brings a slimmer design, faster processing, dual cameras, and FaceTime video chat to a tablet that already had a leg up on the competition.

Motorola Xoom : Vertical Motorola Xoom
$599.99-$799.99

The Motorola Xoom for Verizon Wireless is the best Android tablet yet, but with a lack of key features (like full Flash video and SD card slot support) and mediocre apps at launch, it doesn’t measure up to the Apple iPad.

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook: Vertical RIM BlackBerry PlayBook
$499-$699

When RIM pushes out the updates to make the BlackBerry PlayBook a better tablet for e-mail, video chat, and productivity, we’ll revisit this rating. For now, though, the PlayBook is outmatched by competitors with more versatile and complete feature sets.