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iPad vs. Galaxy Tab vs. Dell Streak vs. PlayBook

While Apple’s iPad may have started the trend of affordable, exciting consumer-centric tablet computers, it’s far from the only model on the market. With the iPad’s success, lots of competitors – from those running the BlackBerry OS to Android – are hitting the scene.

The first question is, of course, how do they stack? Well, this chart compares the iPad to some of its leading tablet competitors so you can see in one glance how their hardware and features stack up.

iPad vs. PlayBook vs. Galaxy Tab vs. Dell Streak

Whether the new tablets are from HP, Dell, or Samsung, no company has yet to match the iPad’s combination of features, quality user experience, and price. So the second question is:

Why can’t anyone compete with the iPad?

Given Apple’s history of premium pricing, many pundits expected the iPad to cost around US$1000 at its debut. When it cost half that, it seemed to throw the entire industry into turmoil.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, seen as a major potential iPad competitor, has a 7-inch screen compared to the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen, and will sell for $599.99, again $100 more than the most-affordable iPad. The Galaxy Tab’s Android OS is more tuned to the mobile, app-centric world, but a screen about 2 inches smaller for $100 more is a bit underwhelming.

While Dell’s Streak uses Android, it’s got just a 5-inch screen and costs $549, $50 more than the entry-level iPad. You can save money and get the Streak for $299 if you’re willing to sign a 2-year contract for mobile Internet service.

Finally, Research in Motion seems a bit flustered by the entire situation, announcing their WiFi-only, 7-inch screen BlackBerry PlayBook in September without any pricing information or a specific release date (other than 2011).

So far, no company has been able to combine the hardware, user experience, and price that Apple has packed into the iPad. I don’t doubt that some of those tablets, and others yet to be announced, will find success. But Apple’s got a big lead and that lead’s going to get bigger when the second-generation iPad debuts next year, with more features and probably at the same price.

What I don’t understand, though, is why major, quality companies can’t create products that compete. What’s so unusual, so special about the iPad?