Top tablets for watching movies

With more and more businesses moving to the cloud, tablet computers are becoming ever more popular as replacements for the notebooks we used to carry around. These devices make it easier to write documents, access email, and even play games. Up until recently however, they have been somewhat lacking when it comes to playing decent quality movies. But that has all changed. Here we take a look at some of the best tablets that may convince you to leave your notebook behind on your next trip.

The new iPad (£399 - £659)

Ever since the first Apple iPad took the tech world by storm back in 2010, the device has been used by many to watch movies and TV shows. Now in its third generation, the iPad has a 9.7-inch backlit display, with a staggering 2048x1536 pixel resolution, far more than most notebooks on the market. This is a screen that was designed for movies, capable of playing up to 1080p HD videos.

The iTunes app already lets you buy or rent HD movies, but with the release of the new iPad, Apple has started adding movies in 1080p resolution for you to enjoy. Due to the use of better compression, each movie is only about 4GB in size, meaning you can store more on your device (around 15 HD movies if you get the 64GB model).

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime (£615+)

Billed as the first Android tablet computer with a quad-core processor, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime was released in December 2011. The processor and memory (1GB) combined make it ideal for gaming and playing HD movies, although the screen resolution is only 1280x800 pixels. With the cheapest model I could find (£615) only sporting 32GB of storage, this tablet seems like a bad investment when compared to the new iPad.

What makes the Prime worth buying is the Android operating system, which allows for more variation in movie formats, and of course the native support for Flash, which iOS still lacks. Perhaps the key feature for people new to tablets is the ability for the Prime to "transform" into a regular notebook, with an attachable dock that offers a full QWERTY keyboard, touchpad, USB port, and an extra 6 hours of battery life.

If pixel quality is what you are after, you may wish to wait for the release of the Transformer Infinity later this year, which upgrades the screen resolution to 1920x1200, putting it almost on par with the new iPad.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (£399 - £659)

The oldest of the tablets discussed here, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was released back in June 2011, but contains the same amount of memory (1GB) and a similar processor to the new iPad. The operating system is Android 3.2, and there are models with 16, 32, and 64GB internal storage.

Graphics wise, the Galaxy Tab has a screen resolution of 1280x800, the same as the Transformer Prime. Unlike the Prime and iPad though, the Galaxy Tab has a pair of stereo speakers, meaning your movies will sound better. However, with the price almost mirroring that of the new iPad, this tablet isn't worth it if you want to watch HD movies in high quality.

Which tablet is for me?

The real competition on tablets seems to be between the new iPad and the Eee Pad Transformer Prime (and Infinity when it is released later this year). The iPad set the standard for HD resolutions with its latest display, but the Transformer Infinity will come close, and offers far more than the iPad in almost every other area.

If you are desperate for a tablet to watch movies on, then the new iPad is a very good deal at the moment, and will likely stay that way for most of the year. With no expected release date or price, the Transformer Infinity might have you waiting a long time and end up disappointing you with the price tag. For people who are not willing to give up their notebooks however, the Transformer Prime is worth every penny, as it merges both the tablet and notebook world, making it easier to transition between the two.