Tablets Guide

The iPad Alternatives Roundup

The iPad Alternatives Roundup

The iPad Alternatives Roundup

The iPad Alternatives

Not convinced that Apple's iPad is the tablet for you? If you answered yes to that question, you've probably been waiting to have a wider variety to choose from. It has been a relatively long wait, with the iPad dominating the table scene for nearly six months. By November 2010, we were finally introduced to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Korean company's answer for a 7-inch tablet powered by Google Android 2.2. Right after that, the 5-inch Dell Streak, which was launched much earlier in the United States, also joined the party, preloaded with the same Android 2.2 OS. The equation is finally complete when Viewsonic launched their tablets, one of which is the Viewsonic ViewPad 7. Here's a concise list of features you can expect from each tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Powered by a Cortex A8 1GHz processor and Google Android 2.2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is the company's first tablet device that brings a wide variety of multimedia content via its 7-inch TFT-LCD screen at 1024 x 600 resolution to the masses.


  • OS: Google Android 2.2
  • Processor: Cortex A8 1GHz
  • Display: 7-inch TFT capacitive touch screen / 600 x 1024 pixels
  • Memory: 512MB RAM
  • Storage: 16GB internal storage / microSD expandability with SDHC support
  • Battery: 4000mAh
  • Dimensions: 190.1 x 120.5 x 12mm
  • Weight: 380g
  • Price: S$998

 Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Dell Streak

The new Dell Streak is touted to have the best features of both a phone and tablet with its in-between, sweet spot 5-inch display. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor runs the show with the Streak's Google Android 2.2 and a bevy of Dell customized widgets.


  • OS: Google Android 2.2
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD 8250 1GHz
  • Display: 5-inch TFT capacitive touch screen / 480 x 800 pixels
  • Memory: 512MB RAM
  • Storage: 2GB internal storage / microSD expandability with SDHC support
  • Battery: 1530mAh
  • Dimensions: 152.9 x 79.1 x 10 mm
  • Weight: 220g
  • Price: S$938

 Read our full review of the Dell Streak.

Viewsonic ViewPad 7

Designed to meet the work, lifestyle and entertainment needs of today's sophisticated consumers, the ViewPad 7 integrates unique and innovative functions and consolidate a multitude of individual electronic devices into one. Users can surf the Internet, take and share photos, play games, listen to music, and connect with friends via the ViewPad tablet.


  • OS: Google Android 2.2
  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM7227 600MHz
  • Display: 7-inch TFT capacitive touch screen / 480 x 800 pixels
  • Memory: 512MB RAM
  • Storage: microSD expandability with SDHC support
  • Battery: 3240mAh
  • Dimensions: 179.4 x 110 x 11.5mm
  • Weight: 380g
  • Price: S$829

 Read our initial impressions of the Viewsonic ViewPad 7.


Tablet Price Plans

While the iPad wasn't tied to any specific telcos, the above mentioned Android tablets are offered exclusively with each of the three Singapore telcos - the Galaxy Tab was linked to SingTel, Dell Streak to StarHub and the Viewpad 7 to M1. Looking at the economics, you can choose to purchase the tablets without contract, but the accompanying price plan will provide a significant subsidy to its pricing. Here's a quick listing of the price of each tablet, corresponding to the price plans available from each telco.

  SingTel 3G Flexi Lite SingTel 3G Flexi SingTel 3G Flexi Plus
Monthly Subscription: S$39 S$56 S$95
Samsung Galaxy Tab Price: S$538 S$298 S$0
  StarHub 3G SmartSurf 100 StarHub 3G SmartSurf 300 StarHub 3G SmartSurf 700
Monthly Subscription: S$38 S$58 S$98
Dell Streak Price: S$398 S$238 S$0
  M1 ValueSurf M1 LiteSurf M1 ExtremeSurf
Monthly Subscription: S$39 S$55 S$95
Viewsonic ViewPad 7 Price: S$388 S$248 S$0


Price Plans Analysis

Looking across the three different price plans, you'll realize that it's a matter of picking the correct plan, with the tablet price being placed as a secondary consideration. To analyze the cost, we are considering a year's worth of subscription cost. Following which, it's a matter of finding which tablet has the better price for that same price plan.

First, let us look at the actual retail cost of the tablets before subsidy:

Samsung Galaxy Tab: S$998
Dell Streak : S$938
ViewSonic ViewPad 7: S$829

As you can see, the Galaxy Tab is the priciest amongst the three tablets, followed by the Streak and ViewPad 7. With that in mind, we focus upon the lowest and middle price plan for all three telcos, leaving the highest price plan aside since all three tablets are fully subsidized at that tier. Here are the absolute numbers:

  Subscription Cost over a Year Subsidy = Retail Price – Contract Price Cost Savings = Subsidy - Subscription
SingTel 3G Flexi Lite / Samsung Galaxy Tab S$39 x 12 = S$468 S$998 - S$538 = S$460 S$460 - S$468 = -S$8
StarHub 3G Smartsurf 100 / Dell Streak S$38 x 12 = S$456 S$938 - S$398 = S$540 S$540 - S$468 = S$72
M1 ValueSurf / Viewsonic ViewPad 7 S$39 x 12 = S$468 S$829 - S$388 = S$441 S$441 - S$468 = -S$27
SingTel 3G Flexi / Samsung Galaxy Tab S$56 x 12 = S$672 S$998 - S$298 = S$700 S$700 - S$672 = S$28
StarHub 3G SmartSurf 300 / Dell Streak S$58 x 12 = S$696 S$938 - S$238 = S$700 S$700 - S$696 = S$4
M1 LiteSurf / ViewSonic ViewPad 7 S$55 x 12 = S$660 S$829 - S$248 = S$581 S$581 - S$660 = -S$79

As far as we can see, even though the Galaxy Tab has the highest retail cost, it still has a reasonable subsidy if you were to purchase it under a 2-year contract with SingTel. Moreover, its subsidy is more prominently felt for its mid-range price plan, ranking better than both the Streak and ViewPad 7. Furthermore, the Galaxy Tab has the highest display resolution and strongest battery capacity. Compared against the Dell Streak's paltry 5-inch screen, and the ViewPad's lesser processor, those who prefer the Galaxy Tab will enjoy the best deal. And if that doesn't cement the deal, SingTel's price plans will also include unlimited song downloads via SingTel Amped with no data charges, and it comes with a free 180 days viewing of SingTel's MobileTV Basic Pack.

However, if you prefer something more manageable on the hands and choose to take the Dell Streak, you'll notice that the subsidized amount is much higher for the low-end plan. And if you prefer mobile video entertainment, StarHub's free viewing of all StarHub TV channels till 31st March 2011 is also just as enticing, maybe even more than what SingTel has to offer.

The ViewSonic ViewPad 7 wasn't as exciting in our initial preview, but it's a possible alternative. If you wish to purchase the ViewPad 7, perhaps the best option is to sign up for the cheapest available plan with M1, given that both price plans will have you breaking even with the tablet's subsidy within the 11th month or less. However, similar to what SingTel is offering, you'll also get a free Bluetooth headset, which is a must-have if you do not wish to look ridiculous holding a 7-inch device to your face to take phone calls.

Or, if none of these alternatives match your taste, there's always one last tablet to look out for. But fair warning - that tablet should be getting an update very soon, so you might want to hold out and see how the tablet scene develops in the next few months. Just in case we aren't very obvious about it, we're talking about...