Contrary to popular perceptions, according to on-air technology analyst for CBS News and tech pundit, Larry Magid, “The iPad was far from the first tablet. Yet – with Steve Jobs clearly in control of the design – they were the first to truly catch on. It’s been said before, but it’s so true – Jobs knew what people wanted even before they knew they wanted it.”

The first tablet PC –a note pad-size device incorporating features similar to a full-size personal or laptop computer – was introduced by Apple’s arc rival when the Microsoft Tablet PC launched way back in 2001. In the ten years since that introduction of a whole new technology, particularly after the iPad came on the scene, so much as changed. Many other products have been invented offering an ever-expanding range of features, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab. With such a range of such choices, it makes sense to do your research before investing in one.

As the reasons for buying a tablet increase, here are several great resources for comparison shopping and collecting data prior to a tablet purchase decision:

TabletPCComparison.com

This is a really comprehensive and easy guide to reference. Not only does each item listed feature a photo with a link to a product review with complete specifications, information on each tablet includes a range of details. Everything you need to know is laid out in grid format: price, release date, operating system support, display size and weight, resolution, disk Gb and CPU details, and battery life. It even includes leads on where to find the best price and a numerical rating for each tablet.

Consumer Reports

This old standby is also a great place to check out different tablet brands, too. Basic information is available online, but if you have a monthly or annual paid subscription, you can take advantage of Consumer Reports’ newest Tablet Computer Ratings. According to the publisher’s lab tests on the newest Android offerings unveiled this fall, the Lenovo IdeaPad K1, Acer Iconia A100, and Vizio Vtab all offer some unique and very useful features.

Indeed tablets continue to evolve and are increasingly sophisticated and taking consumers by storm. In fact, as of October 2011, the overall tablet market is up 280 percent from a year ago according to Businessweek. This creates a mind boggling array of new variables for the consumer to look at. So it definitely will pay for you to educate yourself and do your homework before buying.