Barnes & Noble Nook HD+

Not since that one fight between TV news teams have I seen a battle as fierce as the clash of the <cue dramatic music> BOOK-SELLING TITANS! It’s Amazon vs. Barnes & Noble, and in the tablet theater, it’s the Kindle Fire HD vs. the newly announced Nook HD+ ($269 for 16GB). Coming in at nine-inches, the HD+  brags about the fact that it features no annoying ads and comes with a free power adapter–two direct shots at Amazon’s product. The 1,920-by-1,280 display can play 1080p HD video, and Barnes & Noble says the 3:2 aspect ratio means less letterboxing with video content than on the iPad. This is war(like)!

Amazon 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD

Like a snorkeling harvester of delicious sea salt, Amazon is diving deeper into the tablet game. The newest slate on their slate is the 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD ($299). Of course the screen is the thing with tablets, and the new Kindle is bringing a spiffy 1920×1200 display to the table, with improved viewing angles as well. The brains of the system will be a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor which Amazon says will result in a big step up, making for smoother performance.

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2

Besides hosting a robust selection of vowels in its name, Lenovo also makes some nice tablets; notably the ThinkPad Tablet 2, a 9.8mm-thick Windows 8 Pro device slated for an October launch. Weighing just 1.3 pounds with a 10.1-inch 1366 x 768 display, the Tablet 2 is also expected to deliver a generous 10-hours of battery life. WiFi is standard, with AT&T’s LTE connectivity an option.

[Image: Gottabemobile]

Modbook Pro

If the idea of putting an artistic spin on one of Apple’s hallmark products sounds tempting, the Modbook Pro ($ TBA) may be the tablet tablets keep tabs on (nice one, eh?). They call it “the world’s most powerful and largest-screen tablet computer” because it’s actually based on a rebuilt 13-inch MacBook Pro. One of the key features is the state-of-the-art pen tablet digitizer which offers 512 levels of pen pressure sensitivity, so yes, if you’re wondering, you can totally draw your uncle in the nude with this thing.  What!? I’m just saying! If you want to, you can!

Google Nexus 7 Tablet by Asus

If you prefer apple in your pie and only in your pie, the Google Nexus 7 from Asus is the tablet for you. The 7-inch slate will run on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and the 8GB version will only set you back a modest $199. The guts of the device – quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1280 x 800 IPS display, 1.2-megapixel camera, and 1GB of RAM – are more than sufficient for your needs–as long as your needs don’t include seeing a once-bitten apple on the backside.

Microsoft Surface

When did Microsoft last invent a forward-thinking and uniquely designed product that people want? Who knows, this ain’t the museum of computer science. What IS known is that Microsoft just dropped the 411 on the Surface, Microsoft’s version of the tablet and set to do battle with ultrabooks and iPads. This might just be the product to take the company into a new frontier.

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ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity

The ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity (price TBA) knows you’re prone to Apple’s alluring ways, and that’s why when it soon ships, it’ll be armed with an arsenal of tantalizing tablet tech. The screen is the thing here, with a 10.1-inch Super IPS+ 1920 x 1200 display that when coupled with the ASUS SonicMaster Sound technology is expected to deliver more of a movie theater experience than you should really expect without sticky floors. Factor in Wi-Fi or LTE, two cameras (2 MP front, 8MP in the back), and those sexy aesthetics, and you’ve got a winner. The “transformation” occurs when you whip out the keyboard, which you can then use to fire off a stern but polite letter to your local theater, suggesting they do something about those floors.

Apple’s New iPad

First things first: It’s not called the iPad 3. Nor is it the iPad HD. It’s just the iPad – the new iPad – and it’s landing in stores March 16 with a slew of notable improvements, though nothing so drastic as to warrant waking your up your cranky grandfather. An improved retina display that is said to be stunning, a 5-megapixel rear camera, and 4G LTE connectivity are certainly worth mentioning to anyone under 60, though. The 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution display is expected to own the throne of tablet screens, making the new 1080p streaming video from the iTunes store that much more enticing. Verizon and AT&T will sell 4G LTE versions of the new iPad, which will have a maximum download speed of 73 megabits per second. Running the show is the A5X chip with quad-core graphics. A Wi-Fi only 16GB iPad will now sell for $499, with a 32GB model going for $599 and the 64GB iPad costing $699. Choose to include 4G LTE capability, and the prices are $629, $729 and $829 respectively. Now, what’re the odds gramps will pony up that kind dough?