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But the Nook is the least versatile tablet in our roundup. The number of apps available is small, and it’s focused on Barnes & Noble content like e-books, magazines and movies. It doesn’t have any cameras, while the competitors have two each. It’s best for someone who’s likely to stick to media consumption, and doesn’t need the latest apps and games.

_ Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (starts at $499)

If the Nook is for the avid reader or movie watcher, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is for the creative type. It’s the only tablet in our roundup that comes with a “pen” that can be used to write and draw on the screen. In our test, this worked well, though the number of apps that take advantage of the pen is still small. (Other tablets, like the iPad, only respond to finger-like objects, so third-party styluses for them are of necessity thick and clumsy.)

The Note 10.1 runs Google’s Android software, giving it access to a wide array of apps originally written for smartphones. The selection is not on par with the iPad’s but better than other alternatives.

The Note’s screen falls into the low-resolution category, sporting 1,280 by 800 pixels. That’s a third of what the iPad musters.

Like the Nook, the Note 10.1’s storage memory can be expanded with cards.

The Note’s appeal is somewhat niche, but it could be just the thing for the budding or established artist.

_ Microsoft Surface (starts at $499)

Microsoft’s first tablet seems at first like a throwback to the first iPad. It’s thick, heavy and rugged. But it’s really doesn’t have much in common with the first iPad or any Apple- or Google-powered tablet. It runs Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 adapted for tablets. It comes with a version of Microsoft’s Office suite and the ability to connect to wireless printers and some other peripherals, like USB drives. The covers for it have functional keyboard printed on the inside.

The screen resolution is 1,366 by 768 pixels, placing it in the low-resolution category.

The Surface screams “work, work, work.” It’s the tablet for those who are wedded to Word and want to take their writing on the go.

One thing to note about the Surface: the basic model starts out with “32 gigabytes” of memory, but of that, only 16 gigabytes are available to the user. It accepts memory cards of up to 64 gigabytes, however, so expanding the memory is cheap.

Note that even though it runs Windows, the Surface doesn’t run standard Windows applications. It will run only programs specifically adapted for Windows RT. The selection is, for now, quite limited.

_ Asus Vivo Tab RT (starts at $599 with a dock)

Asus has a quality line of Android tablets they call “Transformer” because they dock into a keyboard with an extra battery. The combination folds up just like a small laptop and has excellent battery life. The Vivo Tab RT essentially takes a Transformer and stuffs it with Windows RT instead of Android.

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