The tablet computer may have arrived back in 2010 thanks to the launch of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) wildly successful iPad, but 2012 will undoubtedly go down as the year tablets really went mainstream.
The iPad is on its fourth generation and has added a smaller version), while Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are mounting a credible challenge to Apple’s ownership of the market. Heck, even Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is getting in on the game.
IDC is predicting 117 million tablets will be bought in 2012 and with a slew of new releases in the past month — just in time for holiday shopping — this Christmas is expected to be a huge one for tablets. Plus, Gartner is predicting tablet purchases by businesses will be 13 million units this year — and will jump to 53 million by 2016.
At their most basic level, most tablets look similar: rectangular slabs of glass and plastic or aluminum. They even run similar operating systems and the best fall within a similar price range. But they’re all not the same.
With that in mind, here are the five tablets we think stand out this year and down the line.