Apple’s iPad 2 can add another feather to its cap. The second-generation version of Apple’s iconic tablet device topped Consumer Reports’ rankings in a report released yesterday.
After almost a year in which the Apple iPad has been virtually the only game in town, Apple is finally seeing competition from other OEMs. In Consumer Reports lab tests, the Motorola Xoom revealed itself as the iPad 2’s chief rival.
Like the iPad 2, the Xoom boasts a 10-inch screen but adds conveniences that the iPad lacks, including a built-in memory card reader and support for Adobe’s Flash software.
“So far Apple is leading the tablet market in both quality and price, which is unusual for a company whose products are usually premium priced,” said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor at Consumer Reports, in a statement, adding that it’s likely we’ll see more competitive pricing going forward.
Consumer Reports tested tablets from Archos, Dell, Motorola, Samsung and ViewSonic, as well as several models from Apple. Each tablet was evaluated on 17 criteria, including touch-screen responsiveness, versatility, portability, screen glare and ease of use. Testers found several models that outperformed the rest.
The Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi plus 3G (32G), $730, topped the ratings, scoring “excellent” in nearly every category. The first-generation iPad, at $580, also outscored many of the other models tested but tied with the Motorola Xoom, which is priced at $800.
The largest gap in performance among the 10 tested tablets was evident in Consumer Reports battery-life test, measured by playing the same video clip continually on each tablet and timing how long it played until the battery ran down. The top-scoring iPad 2 lasted 12.2 hours, but the lowest-rated tablet, the Archos 70 Internet Tablet ($270), lasted just 3.8 hours.
Consumer Reports recommends that consumers looking to purchase a tablet consider such features as easy-to-use touch screens based on capacitive technology, inclusion of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a front-facing web cam, and GPS capability.
At the end of the day, Consumer Reports suggests that you get what you pay for in the tablet world. The company said that its tests have found the performance of models costing $300 and under to be at best mediocre.