CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The next generation Apple iPad is set to hit the market in the United States on March 11, 2011. It is the newest addition to a wave of tablet computers popping up in area stores.
They are the device experts predict we'll all be carrying around soon. Those same experts predict more tablets will be sold than laptops by 2012.
A tablet bridges the gap by doing more than a smart phone and less than a laptop. They make it easy to send email, edit documents, organize pictures, map out directions and watch video.
We looked at the Apple iPad, the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy.
Jeff Bailey with Verizon Wireless tells us just about every smart phone manufacturer has a tablet computer on the horizon.
However, there are features some have that others don't which will help consumers which one of these is right for them.
The Samsung Galaxy is the most portable as it is designed to be held in one hand. It's also the least expensive. However, it does has a small keyboard for typing which might be difficult for someone with big fingers.
Motorola's Xoom tablet is the newest of the three and has the largest screen of any tablet on the market. It has a bigger keyboard and a dual core processor which simply means you can multitask easily.
Both the Xoom and the Galaxy have front and rear facing cameras.
The current incarnation of the iPad on the market now does not have a camera but the newer, thinner version set to be released in just over a week will have a camera.
Experts say this tablet is idea for organizing photos and music, watching video and downloading applications.
Bailey says a stay at home mom who organizes the kids schedules and family photos and wants a device for the kids to play games might lean toward the iPad.
Meanwhile A 45-year-old business man who travels and needs access to documents and spreadsheets might go for the Xoom or Galaxy.
Considering more manufacturers are planning to release their version of tablet computers in the coming months, Paul Reynolds With Consumer Reports says consumers may want to consider waiting before they buy.
"Wait if they can to see what other models promise both in terms of price and performance," Reynolds said.
One thing to remember is that the actual cost of the tablet computer is just the start. The cost of a monthly wireless data plan still must be factored in. To learn more about that, watch the video at the top of the page.
For more advice from Consumer Reports on buying a tablet computer, click here.