Prepare for a deluge of Android-based iPad alternatives

Many Android tablets will soon reach shelves to compete with Apple’s iPad, which has not faced a worthy challenger yet. Samsung, Toshiba, ViewSonic and Archos recently announced tablets with screen sizes ranging from 7 inches to 10 inches. These tablets are not just cheap knockoffs, but legitimate competitors that outdo the iPad on certain features. Toshiba’s Folio 100 features better video capabilities with full 1080p HD video support, topping iPad’s 720p video support.

These tablets also include USB ports and run Android 2.2 OS, bringing Flash support for Internet video, which the iPad lacks. The iPad is considered a well-rounded tablet, but a sticking point has been its $499 starting price. The latest Android tablets come at prices ranging from $299 to $1,000, depending on screen size and features.

Dual-core power

Toshiba’s earliest entry in the tablet space is the Folio 100, which has speed and graphics capabilities that could make it the iPad’s most potent competitor. The tablet comes with a 10.1-inch screen, slightly larger than iPad’s 9.7-inch screen, and runs on Google’s Android 2.2 OS. The devices are about equally portable: The Folio weighs 760 grams (1.67 pounds), while the iPad weighs 680 grams.

The Folio has Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chip that could give it faster processing capabilities than the iPad. The chip includes a dual-core Arm processor running at 1GHz and offers 1080p video capabilities thanks to a GeForce core in the chip. By comparison, the iPad is powered by a chip package that includes a single-core Arm processor running at 1GHz.

But the powerful processor and 1080p HD video could drain the Folio’s battery quickly. Toshiba has said the device’s battery life is about seven hours when browsing. That pales in comparison to the iPad, which can last around 10 hours when running video.

The Folio tablet will be available during the fourth quarter in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with the price starting at around

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