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Apple's iPad ranks highest in overall consumer satisfaction for tablets, says JD Power

American consumers have ranked Apple's iPad ahead of every other tablet for a third time, according to J.D. Power's 2014 U.S. Tablet Satisfaction Study, as overall satisfaction declines thanks to new low-cost entrants.

The iPad scored five out of a possible five on J.D. Power's Power Circle ratings, the only tablet to do so. Samsung, Asus, and Amazon followed with 3 circles each while Acer brought up the rear with just two circles.

Consumers are increasingly price sensitive when choosing a tablet, weighing cost more heavily than features or brand reputation. Cheaper tablets have not only driven down the average tablet selling price — which dropped from $390 in 2012 to $337 in 2014 — but also overall consumer satisfaction, which dipped to 835 points last year from 853 points in 2012. Satisfaction is scored on a 1,000 point scale.

"Since the inaugural U.S. Tablet Satisfaction Study in 2012, a number of new tablet OEMs have entered the U.S. marketplace, differentiating themselves to satisfy a growing interest in owning a tablet," J.D. Power telecommunications services director Kirk Parsons said in a release. "Price has significantly impacted the marketplace. The average purchase price continues to drop and consumer expectations of tablet performance and features are different than they were for past products. Subsequently, overall satisfaction has declined, especially with ease of operation, as navigation features and functions have changed."

J.D. Power created a mild controversy last fall when the firm ranked Samsung's tablets ahead of the iPad solely on the basis of cost, despite Apple's clear wins in performance, ease of use, physical design and features. The iPad lost the cost battle again in this most recent report, but came out on top overall.