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New tablets to ponder

A young girl holds an Apple iPad on display at Regent Street's Apple store in London, England.

Molly Wood, executive editor at cnet.com says Apple will try to stay ahead of the pack with this newish tablet.

A wave of tablet competitors, some running on the Android operating system, are hitting the market. Wood says the iPad now looks "kind of heavy" and also has no cameras. She expects the new iPad to have, at least, a front-facing camera for video conferencing and maybe one in the back for taking pictures and video. "Apple may also throw in GPS," she says.

Apple announced its announcement this week just as the Android-based tablet, Motorola Xoom, comes to market.

"It's the first real iPad competitor we've seen," Wood says. The Xoom is longer and narrower, has cameras front and back, and has faster, more powerful computing capacity. "It operates more like a mini-computer than overgrown iPhone," she says.

"Business travelers often leave the iPad at home because they need a laptop. The Xoom you might take instead of the laptop," Wood adds.

Wood and other tech writers suggest that folks shopping for a tablet wait until summer, when they'll likely have even more models to choose from. Shoppers should also consider waiting to see how prices for wireless data plans bundled with the tablets change as competition heats up over coming months.

"Prices are going to drop and you don't want to lock yourself into a device for two years when it's like the wild west out there," Wood says.

About the author

Stephen Smith is the executive editor and host of American RadioWorks, the highly respected documentary series from American Public Media.

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