back to article 2011's Best... Premium Tablets

Now, we're going to annoy some of you with this one. Choosing the year's best tablet is easy. Picking one that'll appeal to the more vocal Reg readers is easy too. Selecting a different one because you think it's right is another matter, however. But let's say from the outset: all of the five tablets that follow are ones we'd …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is going to get heated!

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)


      Yeah, might be the one that finally tips Barry Shitpeas over the edge. :-)

      1. K. Adams
        IT Angle

        Barry S. ...?

        For those of us Yanks situated West of the Big Pond, could we get some cultural edification as to whom/what "Barry S." refers?

        1. dogged

          Re: Barry S...?

          Charlie Brooker uses his producer, under the name Barry Shitpeas which is not his name, to give moronic man-in-the-street talking head opinions when he wants to demonstrate that the public are stupid.

          I don't think _our_ Barry has a sense of irony.

  2. Bear Features

    Wot no xoom? #fail

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Xoom is serious rubbish

      I love my Motorola Droid, but my Xoom was a ripoff. I discovered it's nearly impossible to transfer files from my Linux box, the screen looks nasty after a day of use, Bluetooth crashes the machine a lot, there's no charging over USB as you must use the proprietary brick, and the SD card slot pretty much doesn't work.

      In short, it holds down papers well, and plays an excellent game of Solitaire.

      1. David Harper 1

        A satisfied Xoom owner writes ...

        "I discovered it's nearly impossible to transfer files from my Linux box"

        I don't have any problems with this. I run an ssh server on my Linux box, and an SFTP client on the Xoom. Job done.

        "there's no charging over USB as you must use the proprietary brick"

        USB provides power at 5 volts, but the Xoom has a 7.4 volt battery. Ye cannae change the law of physics, as a well-known Scotsman once said.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I was buying for someone else the last tablet I would consider would be an apple device.

    This isn't an anything but apple rant - I have friends with apples and the biggest complaint is connectivity. All my tablets connect to all my computers and USB sticks without any problems at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      change the cave dweller mindset :P

      tell your friends to think different at least when it comes to connectivity. it's there and it's great, but it's not old school. why do you have so many tablets (all your tablets)? If you personally have more than one, then you didn't find the right one yet.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Depends what you like doing with your spare time. The last thing I want to do when I get home is driving over to someone's house to fix a problem on their tablet.

  4. tmTM

    Samsung and Sony price

    What are they thinking, exactly the same price as an ipad two, but running the inferior Tegra2 chipset.

    I can understand the lawsuits now, Samsung are being sued for the downright cheek to compare the 10.1 to the ipad2.

  5. Richard Johnson 1

    I like how you kept the reveal to the end, to ensure people read at least 80% of the reviews...

  6. eSeM

    Screen Ratio?

    4:3 screen ratio on the iPad is pretty crap for watching movies unless seriously cropped.

    Video is *so* much better on the other tablets.


    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Screen Ratio?

      True, but there's a lot more to do with a tablet than watch video on it.

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re Alot more to do

        Examples please.

        I have one of the iPad2s, and so far it only gets used for Pandora, some technical PDFs, and TED talks.

        None of that is vary often.

      2. JEDIDIAH

        Dropping th ball.

        > True, but there's a lot more to do with a tablet than watch video on it.

        ...yes and none of that really depends on the aspect ratio of the screen.

        It's pretty simple: Doing video right doesn't impact general usability.

        Real machines running real apps like web browsers do fine with the wide format and so do real books. About the only thing that's relevant for 4:3 is old TV shows and similarly ancient computer monitors.

        it's simply not 1988 anymore.

    2. Steve Evans


      Not that aspect ratio has ever stopped laptop manufacturers building so-called business machines with movie viewing 16:9 screens.

      *rolls eyes and sticks with his ever ageing 1400x1050 Thinkpad*

  7. Christian Berger Silver badge

    I'd like to have one with Debian/Ubuntu

    Ideally with some slide-out or clamshell keyboard. I don't want an Apstore, I want a distribution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mmm...Slider with E17

      If only nVidia would release the drivers, and Asus had stuck to standard ports...

    2. K. Adams

      "Ideally with some slide-out or clamshell keyboard."

      They already make those... They're called "feature phones" and "laptops," respectively... :-)

      Although I do agree with you - in the main - on OS selection. I think it would be really cool to be able to combine a full-featured GNU/Linux-based OS with a slate form-factor machine.

      I have an HP tx2z-1300 "convert-a-tablet" which runs Linux Mint quite happily, but isn't really practical when used in its tablet mode, except to take hand-written notes in Xournal, with the unit sitting firmly on a desk.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Someone had the gen 1 Transformer dual booting Ubuntu

      Not sure how well it ran.

      A friend of mine (an Apple aficionado) was telling me today that he thinks the new Transformer, sticking with Android, will work for him as a general purpose computer. He said he was about to order an iPad until he started playing around with some uber-cheap Android slabs that he had bought for his kids. He said the deciding factor vs the iPad was really the local filesystem - which doesn't really exist for an iOS user.

  8. NHS IT guy
    Thumb Up

    I agree

    Been looking at a fondleslab for myself and my partner lately. Have played with an array of Android tablets, the BB playbook, but we both independently settled on the iPad 2.

    It's super slim, best range of apps, most consistent interface, best battery life and biggest range of accessories. Although we did argue over colour, him white and me black.

  9. Kristian Walsh

    iPad is the best all-rounder, but...

    ... the screen is markedly inferior to the panel in the Sony. On the downside for the Sony is, of course, Android, which still isn't ready for tablets. (iOS is a bit weak for larger screens too, but it was coming from a better designed mobile version).

    Also, kudos to Sony for exploring different form factors. I can see what they're going for in the S, but the "spine" is on the wrong side to feel like a paperback book to European reader. (Yes, I know you can turn it around, but its weight distribution means you tend to hold it with the thick bit at the right)

    As someone who'll probably return to OSX (from Windows 7) for my next laptop, I'm actually very interested in seeing what Windows 8 will bring in tablets before I decide on something to leave in the living-room.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've only seen page one of this article....

    ...but I bet the Ipad 2 wins/gets recommended.

    Tell me I'm wrong.

  11. Gio Ciampa

    Style vs Substance

    Any chance of a slight rewrite? One where the first two-thirds of each "review" isn't about how it looks... but how it functions instead?


  12. ElNumbre

    Subjective Styling.

    I for one like the styling of the EEE, its all very subjective. I don't particularly like the Acer which is too boxy, and the Sony feels a bit 'fisher price' for my liking.

  13. Nick Roberts

    Transformer ugly?

    "why did Asus have to make it so fugly?"

    Mate it with the keyboard, and suddenly it's actually rather beautiful. The tablet itself does look like it was designed to be half a nettop, for sure.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Transformer ugly?

      It does look better with the keyboard, yes. But then you may as well have an 11in Ultrabook and it'll look better still - though cost you more.

      1. Nick Roberts

        Yeah, about twice as much. Personally, I would go down that Ultrabook route, but my need is more for something that will edit photos, and I'm talking big DSLR files, rather than more typical tablet uses - for which I've got my phone. However, I bought a tablet for my wife for her birthday - I would've bought her an iPad 2, for the reasons you gave, but they were out of stock - so got her the Transformer. Must say she loves it, and I think it's the second-best tablet user experience in terms of touchscreen - not quite as good as the Apple - but far more usable overall with all the built-in extras and that keyboard. Which makes the better present, though? ;)

        Forgot to say - good, well-balanced article.

      2. dogged


        The Transformer Prime is pretty gorgeous, to be fair. Asus learned from its prototype.

        1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Prime

          Spot the potential winner of the *2012* list.

          1. M Gale

            Spot the potential winner of the "2012" list.

            iPad 2S?

      3. Ramazan

        ultrabook? No way

        I had several ultrabooks and now I'm going to buy another one, although it's piece of history already - Sony VAIO X505-VP. Modern "ultrabooks" all have a CPU blower fan, and moreover, I _never_ managed to finish Machinarium game on the the top-of-the-spec MacBook Air because of overheating and kernel_task kicking in before "owl" level. By definition everything with active cooler sucks, but tablets, the Asus Transformer and some elitist notebooks like Samsung Q40 and Sony X505 don't have one and may be considered more or less equal, but The Ultrabooks? No way.

    2. Shannon Jacobs

      My experience with ASUS was awful

      I had some recent experience with ASUS and I can't say anything good about the company. The website was remarkably useless. At one point I'm directed to a webpage for my device and it's pointing at something completely different. Presumably they had pasted an old webpage and planned to update it, but never got around to it.

      However, the part that over-annoyed me was the promise of 48-hour support that turned out to be 6-day response--with the question "Is this problem solved ?" (sic)

      Difficult to accomplish, but the ASUS people motivated me to switch to a Toshiba. New small model that the Register hasn't seen yet. Or perhaps the price prevented them recommending it?

  14. Magnus Ramage

    But but but <splutter>

    What about the HP TouchPad? Good looking apps, strong integration with online services, great screen (and it's 4:3). There's the little matter that you can't buy one any more, and the other little matter that the apps have severely reduced functionality in places, but hey. I like my TouchPad a great deal, but that does have a lot to do with having paid the firesale price rather than the full price.

    Actually I understand perfectly well why the TouchPad's not on this list, but a year ago it might well have been expected to be there. (And the PlayBook too for that matter.)

    Still looking forward to the good quality £200 Android tablets we've been promised for a while now.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: But but but

      You mean the one that no one can buy now? Tangentially referred to in the intro.

      1. Ramazan

        no one can buy now?

        So is the X505, but everything is possible if you invest some time and effort

      2. Craigness

        So that's what it was!

        I thought another round-cornered ipad killer had been given the special treatment.

  15. James 51 Silver badge

    no playbook?

  16. Andrew 6

    Asus Transformer Prime

    Anyone at el reg managed to get there hands on a review model yet?

    If you have one laying around Ill happily write a review of it in exchange for keeping it

    After I've named it Rodimus

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Asus Transformer Prime

      You'd have read the review if we had. We're on the case, though. Watch this space.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @Tony smith 16:18

        'Watch this space' You mean watch your comment?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprise there - the only real niggle people raise about the iPad is that you can't stick your own / extra memory card in it - so what. You can use the camera adapter to transfer photos / media if you want and you just buy the model you need.

    Do you buy your new car with a 1.8l engine and whinge because you can't add another 0.5l later on?


      Fanboy silliness.

      Now here we get into one of my personal favorites that did not make the list: the Thrive.

      You don't need any extra dongles that you are likely to use, you can just plug straight into the device itself. It's large enough that it can easily accommodate a real USB port and an HDMI port.

      Why buy an inferior product you know you will have to buy extras for?

      Having actually "been there and done that", I will say that an Apple dongle is a relatively expensive proprietary part that's easily lost and less easily replaced.

      You are far better of beefing up the storage in your cameras as they were likely built without the Apple groupthink mindset and can actually be expanded. Fortunately, not everyone thinks it's folly to be able to upgrade an appliance as storage technology improves.

      It is good that Apple makes neither video nor still cameras.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      I've always been a big fan of

      buying cars with doors/boots, so that I can put what I want into them.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May the best tablet win - oh it did... well done iPad.

  19. Rufus

    What's the point of the Reg Rating.

    Four of the five tablets score an identical 85%!

    Or this another in-joke I've missed.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: What's the point of the Reg Rating.

      We will be doing a special Barry Shitpeas edition next week where the Sony and Asus get 110% and the Apple gets 0%. Will that make your purchase decision easier?

      1. Arctic fox

        @Tony Smith. I take your point.

        However I don't think that giving Mr BS (and he is a master of it) any more publicity serves any constructive purpose.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Mr Shitpeas frequently has a point, regardless of whether there's a full head of steam being cooked up as it is made.

          Continually naming and shaming the guy when his right to reply is obviously curtailed somewhat - if he cuts too close to the bone, you'll just nuke his comments - is pretty gutless and juvenile. Register article writers get several pages to push an agenda (wonder who I'm thinking of), and the comments section is the place where the readership gets to call them out in a pretty limited fashion. If the article writers can't take a bit of criticism, they shouldn't be writing their stuff in the first place.

      2. dogged

        Re: What's the point of the Reg Rating

        You'll also have to invent a Microsoft tablet and give it an infinitely negative score to please ol' Barry.

  20. Dazed and Confused

    > thanks to iTunes

    I'd rather slit my own wrists than have one...

    been there tried that, my feelings about this excuse for SW are unprintable. I can't have anything else apparently so no choice, no buy.

    1. Philip Lewis

      iTunes does actually suck

      It's true. iTunes is abominable

    2. FutureShock999

      Didn't do THAT much research, eh?

      There are many ways to get files to/from and installed on an iPad besides iTunes. The best is probably iFunBox for Windows, which is free. If you take your iPad jailbroken, then you have even more choices of apps on the iPad itself - GoodReader is essential to me, but there are others that are good.

      The point is, only the uninformed take iTunes as the only way to get stuff onto an iPad. This is El Reg after all...

  21. Richard 120

    Still don't really see the point

    I keep going round in circles on this one, I start out looking at ebook readers because I haven't enough space to store all the books I want. Hmm, a kobo touch at £99, or a kindle, at £149 would be good, but for a few quid more I can get a tablet, I could then use an ebook reader, but I'd also be able to watch youtube videos and look at colour content on the interwebs, but I have a netbook already, and that has a keyboard, what am I getting with a tablet?

    Then I twig I don't need any of it, and I wonder why I wanted it in the first place.

    Then I realise I'm being upsold and it's all marketing hype. THANKS el REG and to think I trusted you!

    So I've placed an order for the basic kindle wifi at £89 after a lot of uming and ahing about other ebook readers, I'm going to give it to my wife.

    Meanwhile I'll keep reading books until something comes along that does everything I want and has some advantages over existing technology.

    Colour e-ink, decent refresh rates & decent battery life.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Still don't really see the point

      If it's any help, I use an e-book reader for books, and a tablet for stuff that matters in colour, ie. comics, web, video, magazines.

      Yes, I have one of each. But I do use both. Haven't needed a new laptop in years.

  22. Jamie Kitson
    Thumb Down

    Sony Power Brick

    The thing that really put me off the Sony was the propriety power supply, meaning that if you wanted to charge it round a mate's house you'd have to pack the charger, which makes it rather less portable, surely a big part of the point of a tablet.

    1. Brian 6

      @Jamie Kitson

      Well charge it before you leave your own house then. If u were at your mates house long enough to run the Sony flat u would be packing a lot of stuff anyway.

  23. Richard Lloyd

    I'll stick with my TouchPad...

    Although you do allude to the TouchPad not being purchasable any more (Sunday sees a US-only HP eBay sale of refurb'ed TouchPads, so it's not 100% true), the title says "2011's best...Premium Tablets" and doesn't say whether or not they can bought any more. Hands down best value for such a tablet in 2011 was indeed the HP TouchPad.

    Not only that, but the TouchPad can dual boot between webOS and Android (2.3.7), with Android 4.0 likely to turn up some time early next year. All for 89 quid (16GB) or 115 quid (32GB)...but El Reg ignores it because it's now discontinued (hint: some of the tablets listed here will be discontinued in 12-18 months time I suspect, if not even sooner).

    Having said all that, my Dell Mini 9 still gets far more use than any tablet would - it runs Fedora Linux which already makes it massively more scriptable/programmable (far more than any iOS or Android device) and it has an actual hardware keyboard to, you know, type on. In fact, one of my Xmas presents is a replacement battery for the Mini 9 - it's a shame that the 9"/10" netbook has gone out of fashion because they're so much more useful than the equivalently-sized tablet. I just made sure my netbook was 100% solid state like tablets are - again, SSDs on netbooks seems to have vanished completely :-(

    1. Craigness
      Thumb Up

      Dell Mini 9 rules

      It's always handy to have a proper computer when you want to do something which the tablet makers think you shouldn't want to do.

    2. Mark 65

      The 9"/10" netbook hasn't gone out of fashion - they've stuck a SSD back in it with a quad core processor, trebled the price and will now up-sell you an Ultrabook.

  24. Chris 171
    Thumb Up

    Tablet S

    So I went & got one when the price dropped by £50. 2yr gtee with John Lewis too.

    Its great in places, bit lame in others.

    Main bad is that AdHoc wifi is not available so cant tether to a phone (Rooters dont seem to be having much luck either). Wifi also very keen to turn off when the screen locks, despite telling it to keep it on.

    Shape is truly great though & whilst there is no glass to be seen, it feels solid enough. Proper screen size for video too, also taken a decent drop with no hint of damage. Battery life is a non issue.

    I/R remote app is brilliant & works my Tivo box better than the std remote with no lag between key press & screen action. Swype has also added a far better input method than the stock keyboard that just looks way too big after being used to typing on a phone.

    As a web consumption device its a great bit of kit, with Opera of course, altho the stock browser aint half bad when it comes to playing flash video in full screen.

    Most important of course is that there is no i on it anywhere & thats good.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Toys for the workshy

    apple are the only one's that got the screen ratio right with 4:3 for all round use.

    16:9 is just a fad on a device like this. Who watches films on one of these. You sit in front of your TV or got to the cinema.

    Its only loafers that have any time at work ,and yes there are a lot of them.

    1. FutureShock999

      iPad is probably the best for work...

      I've got a JOBY metal case for my iPad 2, which allows me to flip it open and have a firm rest to type on in a second. It also allows me to carry it everywhere and have it fully protected. With this combo, I've given up carrying paper to most meetings during my day...I type notes in Notes (funny enough), and can pull up my emails to refer to anything else. Typing on screen has two important features: it is silent, unlike a keyboard, and I find that it makes me think of how to summarize the info better, as I am slightly slower than on a real keyboard. I never expected my tablet to be much of a work tool, but it turns out that is mostly what it has been used for recently. And yes, the 4:3 screen makes that a whole lot easier to do...

      The only downside with it being such a work tool is that you REALLY want to have any games and personal photos put in folders off the front screen...

    2. M Gale

      "16:9 is just a fad on a device like this."

      Good luck fitting a 4:3 device in your pocket at any viewable size.

      Whereas this old Tab 7 with a case+built in bluetooth keyboard works quite nicely when using RDP on the bus (Remote RDP Free Edition, by the way). Granted the case makes the pocket size requirement more gargantuan than most, but it's still vastly more portable than anything Apple have come up with so far.

      Now all I need is a stylus. Windows Server 2003 is really not finger-friendly.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Business or Pleasure sir?

    As a Samsung Galaxy user, for business use it's great and getting files onto it is quite easy. For a start there's no iTunes and no faff. A simple windows shared network drive works.

    However if I was buying a tablet as a present and the person in question wanted to use all the latest apps then the iPad is probably a better choice.

    As much as I love my Galaxy, the Android app choice is quite poor especially when you consider many of the apps are designed for phones and often work badly on the tab. How delighted was I to download a Spectrum emulator so I could play Manic Miner on the move. How miffed was I when it turned out that the entire control system was buggered on the tablet. And that happens all too frequently when I download an app.

    Once they get the app situation sorted the Galaxy would win all round. But at the moment it's a case of horses for courses.

  27. The Mighty Spang

    transformer ugly?

    i've got one, dont think its ugly. and nobody has said anything like that, just been impressed by it.

    the ability to have to the keyboard clip on (with extra battery) is the killer feature. yeah its ok to dick about reading emails and watching videos of lolcats being petted by hipsters, but if you've got to do some work in a reasonable time, a real keyboard is unbeatable.

  28. Trevor Marron

    How soon those writing forget......

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me?

    Or is anyone else thinking; yup, nice idea, fancy one of those, but not at a price anywhere close to the current offerings thanks? Unless there's a reason for "must have" rather than "fancy" that I've managed to miss, of course.

  30. Guillermo Lo Coco

    ASUS SL 101

    Why is not the SL 101 Slider Tablet ???

  31. G R Goslin


    As the owner of an iPad and an Asus Transformer. The Asus beats the iPad hands down on looks Where Tony Smith comes from in calling it ugly, I've no idea. I've seen aluminium frying pans with more style than the iPad. Anything principally made of plain, uncoloured aluminium is going to look cheap. I'm not even sure that Asus have made the right choice in having a metallic finish case on the new Prime. I think that the textured black coffee coloured case contrasts beautifully with the metal bezel on the original Transformer.

  32. Zot

    ~1500 new or updated apps every day on iPad... that's quite impressive if you're looking for applications. In fact it's quite amazing how much developer support this thing's got.

    It always seems to be the hardware that gets reviewed and compared, not the content.

  33. tonyoung

    I haven't used my Kindle 3G ...

    ...since I bought an early Transformer with keyboard.

    Now, I'm just waiting for the Prime to arrive so I can give my partner a late Xmas pressie.

    iPad/iTunes? No thanks. Just because it's thinner?

  34. Ian Johnston

    Steer clear of the Galaxy Tab 10.1

    My work bought me one of these a few weeks ago. It's dreadful. The hardware is fine, but every single part of the software is buggy to a point somewhere between irritating and unusable. For example ... the browser crashes constantly, forgets bookmarks, doesn't synchronize properly and has no means of navigating to the home page ... the email client puts deleted mails in a recycling bin which is then never emptied unless you open it, select the mails there (maximum a day's worth at a time) and delete them all again ... the flash player is slow, buggy and unreliable ... it only reports about 10% of available free space when connected by USB/MTP so transferring large media collections onto it is impossible.

    That's all beside the deliberate design limitations: the gmail client can only attach images, Polaris office can only open one file at a time, that sort of thing.

    My only hope is that Android 4.0 will improve things.

  35. Nick Pettefar


    My iPad2 is wonderful and bad at the same time. It looks and works very well but:

    * I cannot do things like uploading pictures to websites, which is baffling!

    * It is very difficult to hold for anything other than a short time. I would love to use it in bed but it is almost impossible as it is too heavy to hold up for long. Instead I have to prop it up somewhere, somehow, which is often not possible. This means that watching videos, playing games or reading in bed or anywhere where there isn't a surface to put it on is not feasible which sort of negates the purpose of having it.

    * The lack of a handle of some sort makes it rather awkward to hold.

    * Editing text is quite difficult without cursor keys, having to guess and poke and fiddle just makes hard work of something that should be simple and easy.

    * I wish it had stereo speakers built in.

    I guess these criticisms apply to most tablet computers though.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Samsung Shiite

    Get that Shiite off the list if it's anything like my Samsung Android phone. The sync software is Shiite and you are locked into old original shipped (already behind and out-of-date) Android. If you upgrade your phone Android you no longer get sync support and are SOL. Give one to BS and see how he likes it. Especially getting that Shiite software off of Windows.

    On iOS I have found no jail breaking necessary anymore. Software that edits your backup directly let's me edit my hearts content the configuration files or even hex edit my game files of I'm feeling like it. I can pull all media off the iOS device no iTunes required.

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