The competition among major vendors in the tablet market has heated up with the launch of Apple's new iPad.

Innovation has become the word for the leading brands accompanied with thought towards realizing the consumer's value for the dollar. Of course, when it comes to buying a tablet, a vast majority of consumers have always chosen Apple iOS devices over others in the market, and, consequently, the tech giant has been able to maintain a strong grip in the business over the years.

However, while the new iPad remains the market leader in the media tablet segment, there are a lot of really exciting tablets which are set to take center stage.

For example, Amazon's Kindle Fire, which costs half of Apple's iPad 2, is the closest Android-based contender with an estimated 6 million units shipped in Q4.

According to recent research conducted by market research firm ABI Research, it was revealed that out of 220 tablet models selling around the world, Apple will maintain market share dominance only for a short-term, as the consumer base will steadily move closer to lower-cost models.  In their press release, ABI predicted that in half a decade people will be more interested in affordable tablets, where affordable means $400 or less.

Hence taking a pick from this latest research, let's find out the top three tablets which are expected to hit the market in the near future with promising features and damage the market share of the pricey tablets.

Amazon's New Kindle Fire (Rumored price - $199-$299)

Amazon Kindle Fire is the second highest selling tablet in the market. And if the reports are to be believed, the major online retailer is working on three new models of its Kindle Fire tablets, which includes a high resolution one. There are reports that this high resolution tablet may be able to give a tough fight to all the expensive tablets, including the new iPad 3.

Amazon is reportedly in serious dialogue with many Chinese and Taiwanese component manufacturers to produce components for its Kindle Fire 2. Reports suggest that the company is in talk with several component manufacturers, including Quanta, Hon Hai, Prime View and Chimei Innolux to build its new Kindle Fires.

Reports suggest that the company is working on launching higher versions of 7-inch tablets with much more improved resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels display at 215ppi. Along with better 7-inch tablet the company is working on 8.9-inch Amazon tablet that will be very close to Apple iPad 3's screen resolution with 1920 x 1200 pixels at 250ppi. As Amazon has already made huge impact on the tablet market, no one can brush aside the company's plans of flooding the market with better tablets at affordable at price tags. Amazon's new Kindle Fire, set to be launched in the third quarter, is expected to be priced around $199-299.

 

Google Nexus Tablet (Rumored price - $199)

According to the New York Times, Nvidia's head honcho, Jen-Hsun Huang, has indicated in the report that the company is working on lowering the cost of its latest Tegra 3 processors. He hinted that Android tablets will go for $199 by the second half of the year.

Though the quad-core Tegra 3 processor is currently found on the Asus Transformer Prime and will be featured in a number of upcoming smartphones from LG and HTC, these devices are high-end products that cost much more than $199.

However, there have been recent reports that Google is planning to launch a 7-inch tablet this year. It's said to be built by Asus and will cost around $199. If this device is indeed the same tablet shown at the CES, it will certainly be an attractive proposition.

According to sources cited by DigiTimes, Google will cooperate with Asustek Computer to launch a 7-inch inexpensive tablet PC in May or June. This launch is expected to bring pressure of price cuts upon other vendors, including Acer, Lenovo and Samsung Electronics, and in turn diminish gross margins for Taiwan-based supply chain makers, according to industry sources.

Apple's iPad Mini (Rumored price - $299)

Rumors got rife that the Cupertino-based company was planning to make a 7-inch tablet which could be named iPad Mini to crank out the growth of 7-inch Kindle Fire. However, latest Macotakara reports suggest that the Apple is developing a mysterious device with a 5-inch high resolution (Retina) display. The device is believed to have a resolution of 1,600 X960 pixels, or 1,280 X960 pixels and is expected to hit the market sometime in 2013.

According to reports, Apple is working with the Asian LCD suppliers to prepare the new product.

The Computer World earlier reported that the so-called iPad Mini could be priced as low as $299. Analysts who spoke to the Computer World were quoted as saying that the smaller tablet would crush the opposition.