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Tabs glorious tabs

We spent much of 2010 waiting for Android tablets to come along to rival Apple's all-conquering iPad. And, eventually, we got one - Samsung's Galaxy Tab. What a shame that it was undercooked and overpriced (the Archos 70 is almost as good for half the price).

This year, things have slowly started to improve. CES in January saw the debut of Motorola's Xoom, which looked sleek and fast and was running Google's vital Honeycomb Android update. And at this week's Mobile World Congress, three more manufacturers have jumped in.

First there's Samsung, who are following up the Galaxy Tab with a 10-inch version, imaginatively called the Galaxy Tab 10.1. It looks good: it's lighter than the iPad and, at 1280x800, it's got a higher resolution, though personally we're not keen on the 16:9 shape.

Then there's ViewSonic. You might not have heard of the budget PC maker, best known for things like digital photo frames. But they're one of those companies that churns out surprisingly OK kit at a low, low price. The ViewSonic ViewPad 10Pro (catchy) does a decent job as a budget Android tablet, with a 1024x600 screen - a bit low for a 10-incher, really - the main compromise. But the ViewPad has a special trick up its sleeve - Windows. Yep, it can switch from Android to Windows 7 in an instant (in truth, it runs Windows all the time and runs Android as a program on it through some software wizardry). We reckon that sounds seriously useful, and Engadget has video of the switchover.

The wackiest tablet award, though, goes to LG. Their new Optimus Pad ('Pad' seems to be beating out 'Tab' as the standard name for these things) has a pleasingly daft unique feature - 3D. Not glasses-free 3D like the Nintendo 3DS, admittedly, but the Optimus Pad does have the power to churn out 3D video (and, presumably, games) if you have the right glasses. Personally, we'd say the only thing that seems sillier than sitting at home wearing 3D glasses to watch TV is sitting at home wearing 3D glasses to use a tablet, but what do we know?

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