iPad alternatives? Only if you stretch the meaning of “alternative”.

So, before you get up on Saturday morning and run off to purchase that iPad, you may want to peruse the best current (as well as coming) alternatives we’ve rounded up after the break.

Um, none of these are “alternatives” to an iPad. They’re laptops, netbooks, or vaporware. And the JooJoo can’t be considered an alternative, it’s web-only.

The best these can be considered “alternatives” to is spending $500 in the first place. That’s true, but so is buying three tickets to a Cirque De Soleil show.

Right now the iPad is one-of-a-kind, no matter how many pundits blather about “tablets” having been around for 10 years. Those are laptops running a desktop OS with the keyboard snapped off. You don’t build the new paradigm with the old paradigm’s thinking.

There’s no other device with a ground-up touch OS, thousands of apps, accessories, and ecosystem, from a company with off-the-charts support and customer satisfaction scores.

This doesn’t mean you have to like the iPad, or that there aren’t other ways to spend your cash, or that there’ll never be alternatives. But there aren’t any now. You’ll have to wait a while for the cheap fakes.