Not all tablets are equal. In many ways, the iPad sets the standard for tablet devices. It's a sleek and powerful gadget. Apple has curated an enormous library of apps, giving iPad users the luxury of choice. And the tablet's success in the market is the envy of the industry. Only a few devices -- such as Amazon's Kindle Fire -- have seen similar success.
The value of any tablet depends heavily upon how you plan to use it. As a content-consumption device, the iPad sets the bar. You can watch movies, television shows and Web videos on an iPad. The high-resolution screen of the iPad 3 creates a lush and vibrant viewing experience. You can also listen to music, play games and surf the Web with ease on an iPad.
If productivity is your goal, you may want to give several different tablets a test drive before settling on one. There are hundreds of productivity apps for the iPad but it wasn't designed primarily as a productivity gadget. The Microsoft Surface tablet may be more suitable for people with heavy productivity needs. If you rely on Apple products and services to get work done, the iPad could be the perfect fit.
Another thing to consider is where you've stored your data. If you use a lot of Google services, an Android device might be a better fit -- the Android operating system incorporates many Google cloud-based services in a user-friendly way. You can still use most Google services on an iPad, but the interface may not be quite as robust, intuitive or useful.
Let's say that you're happy with the features and design of the iPad line of products. Maybe all your data is already with Apple, which makes owning an iPad even more attractive. Should you buy the new iPad or pick up an iPad 2 instead? Or, if you already own an iPad 2, should you upgrade?