Up until now the tablet market has been pretty much Apple's lonely playground. The company sold 32 million iPads in the most recent fiscal year and grabbed close to 70 percent of the pie in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, Android is just starting to make some inroads as a platform but no tablet manufacturer comes close to the market leader when it comes to unit sales, while other alternative operating systems have crashed and burned.
Apple is not likely to lose its throne anytime soon, but its dominance could face some challenges ahead with the arrival of Amazon's Kindle Fire, which is expected to ignite the entry-level tablet segment and attract more mass-market consumers. The introduction of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the first Android release specifically designed for both phones and tablets, could also help drive tablet adoption among Android smartphone users.
We've compiled a comparative table with what we consider are the hottest tablets either currently available or announced so far. You should know that specs only paint part of the picture, so we've also included metascores from our Product Finder engine and review links to help you dig deeper and narrow down your next purchase.