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Tablets Wars

Jul. 8, 2011 - 12:44PM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 8, 2011 - 12:44PM  |  
iPad 2
iPad 2 (Apple)
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Will you buy a Chromebook?

Google’s Internet-based "cloud" Chromebook may be a tough sell for non-techies. The new machines store apps, documents, settings and other data securely in cyberspace, accessible from any Chrome OS computer. Acer’s Chromia-branded Chromebooks include Wi-Fi-only ($379.99) and Wi-Fi-plus-3G ($449.99) versions. Samsung’s are the Series 5 Wi-Fi ($429.99) and Series 5 with 3G ($499.99). We want to know how the Chromebook works for you. If you buy one, email staff writer Mark D. Faram at mfaram@militarytimes.com.

Samsung Galaxy Tab (Samsung)

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The hottest ticket in electronics is tablets, and with touch screens selling as quickly as manufacturers can come out with them, navigating what to buy can be tough.

We spent the last couple months testing three unique tablets — Apple's iPad 2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab with a 7-inch screen and the half-tablet, half-netbook Dell Inspiron duo Convertible Tablet.

What it really comes down to is how you plan to use the device.

To replace your desktop or laptop with something highly portable, the iPad 2 deserves top consideration. With loads of apps, great connectivity and the anticipated iCloud online storage, you'll be able to do almost anything.

The one drawback to doing serious work is the on-screen keyboard, but with a wide selection of external keyboards and docks from Apple and third-party providers, you can turn this into a capable writing machine.

Apple has significantly improved the iPad in its second generation. It feels noticeably lighter and a bit peppier. Add to that cameras that allow video calling over the Internet and the iPad 2 is tough to beat — but it's still not for everyone.

For those who want a tablet that's even more ultraportable, enter the Samsung Galaxy Tab. At 7.48 inches on the long end, it easily fits in one hand. It's great for reading books and still large enough to watch videos or browse photos. It runs the Android operating system, the top competitor to Apple's mobile operating system, or OS.

For the best of both worlds, the Inspiron duo works as a netbook, and its monitor flips around to become a touch screen. Some critics complain that the Windows 7 Home Premium OS doesn't work well with touch screens, and compared with the iPad and Galaxy, it's a different experience. But Dell has made this leap well — just ensure that the screen is calibrated to your touch, which is easily done.

The Inspiron duo is not a replacement for your computer — it is a computer. This means that if you're already heavily invested in Windows and don't want to go without your trusted software, then this is a great option. It also mean this machine is likely the most secure. There's no security software for tablets — yet.

The bottom line: Any of these devices could be a great deployment companion or just something to keep in your bag.

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