Apple's iPad 2 with Wi-Fi and 3G was rated the best tablet on the market by Consumer Reports. This is particularly interesting, given Consumer Reports' recent history of not recommending Apple's iOS products.
Last summer, Consumer Reports gave the iPhone 4 a thumbs down, citing the widely-publicized antenna issues. A similar evaluation was given earlier this year for Verizon's version. Consumer reports had not problem recommending a variety of Android devices.
Until recently, the iPad didn't really have much in the way of competition, in terms of tablets, but the iPad 2 has more , and has managed to come out on top. The antenna issues don't apply to the iPad, so it makes sense.
"So far Apple is leading the tablet market in both quality and price, which is unusual for a company whose products are usually premium priced," said Paul Reynolds, Electronics Editor at Consumer Reports. "However, it’s likely we’ll see more competitive pricing in tablets as other models begin to hit the market."
The battery life of the iPad 2 seems to be one of the main factors in Consumer Reports' evaluation. They tested ten tablets by playing the same video clip over and over again until they died. The iPad 2 lasted 12.2 hours. The lowest-ranked tablet (the Archos 70 Internet Tablet) only lasted 3.8 hours.
Reynolds is certainly right in that pricing will only get much more competitive. In fact, this is one of the main reasons Android has managed to gain so much smartphone market share. The platform is available on a wide range of devices of varying prices - many of them far cheaper than Apple's iPhones.
We can expect a similar trend in the tablet market. We're in the very early stages. Of couse there are also non-Android competitors that will become bigger parts of the equation, like offerings from RIM, HP, and Microsoft.