Last week the new iPad was released and you couldn't go to a tech website or turn on the TV without hearing about the incredible display or how much nicer the camera is. I won't try to deny that it is an amazing and cool machine, but I think it's important to note that there are a ton of other tablets out there without the fruit logo on the back that are also pretty neat. None may have the signature, sleek UI that Apple has, but many offer plenty of bang for your buck.
1) Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: This is probably the biggest competitor to the iPad. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a 10.1 inch screen (get it?), which is slightly larger than the iPad's, but without the super-high quality retina display. It's running on Android's Honeycomb OS, but is rumored to upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version, soon. The Galaxy Tab has 1GB of RAM and either a 16 or 32GB hard drive, which should be plenty of space to hold all of your apps and photos/videos taken with its 3 megapixel (MP) camera. Like the iPad, this tablet works on WiFi, 3G, and 4G networks (where available). It costs between $400 and $565 at the time of this post, depending on the specs of your particular model, which is quite a bit less than most iPad models.
2) Asus Transformer Prime: Asus' Transformer Prime has some of the same features of the Galaxy Tab (such as the 10.1" screen and the 1GB of memory) with some additional nice features. The rear camera is 8MP, which is pretty much the best on the market, beating even the new iPad. It runs on Android's Ice Cream Sandwich, which is the latest and greatest version of Android. It's also over a millimeter thinner and almost 100 grams lighter than the iPad. The coolest feature, though, is the USB keyboard docking attachment (purchased separately) which effectively turns the tablet into a netbook and boosts battery life. The Transformer Prime costs between $500 and $700, again depending on which hard drive you get. The keyboard costs another $150, but gives you functionality that isn't found with other tablets.
3) Amazon Kindle Fire: Amazon's tablet doesn't have the same high-power specs that the previous two tablets had, but it's great for more casual users who are not as concerned with intense gaming or watching high definition movies. It has a 7" display and only 8GB of hard drive space, but it offers free cloud storage for everything that you purchase on the Amazon store. The most impressive selling point is its $200 price tag, which is really nice for those who are just starting to explore the tablet market and aren't ready for a really big purchase yet.
4) Samsung Galaxy Note: The Galaxy Note is kind of a different animal -- it's something between a phone and a tablet (what some are calling a "phablet"). It has a 5.3" display, which is smaller than most tablets, but it gives you more screen-space than competing phones. The Note also has an HD Super AMOLED screen, rivaling the new iPad's crystal clear, colorful display. It runs on WiFi, 3G, and 4G networks also, and has enough memory and storage space to keep it running fast. Like the Asus Transformer Prime, it also has an 8MP camera, which will give you great quality photos, especially considering that it's coming from a phone. The feature that sets it apart from the rest (other than its size) is its use of the stylus for taking notes or making more precise annotations. It will be interesting to see if this catches on with other devices. The Note costs a steep $650, or $300 with a two-year contract through AT&T.
5) Apple iPad 2: It seems strange to buy the old version as the new version is coming out, but really, there's nothing wrong with the iPad 2. Although the new iPad is faster, you really can't call the previous version slow. It also still has the great display and the same intuitive interface that everyone knows and loves. When the new iPad came out, Apple dropped the price of the iPad 2, so you can now get the WiFi version for $400 and the 3G one for $530, which are both reasonable prices for such a great device. If you can stand not always having the newest version, the iPad 2 is still a great tablet and will definitely get the job done without feeling obsolete.
If you really want the new iPad, by all means, go for it. It's a great tablet and will probably make you very happy. Most people don't even think about other tablets, though, so it's smart shopping to at least take a look at the competitors. If, after considering the options, nothing else meets your need, I hope you enjoy your new iPad!