Best of the CES: Tablets

Published: January 6th 2011
in Economics » World

Motorola Xoom
Pic: Motorola
Pic: RIM

The CES officially started today and one thing is obvious; the tablet is dominating the show. While Apple didn’t invent the tablet, they more or less perfected it, and in the process have created a whole new viable segment of computer hardware.


Microsoft, RIM, Samsung, Dell, LG, ASUS, HTC and many others are now playing catch up to Apple and are hoping that the CES can build enough hype for their respective tablets that they could garner a decent percentage of the lucrative tablet market.


What this means to the consumer is that things are about to become really confusing. In the next 6 months the market will be flooded with a huge variety of tablets. Different form factors, different operating systems, different specs and different options. Here are some of the more promising tablets being shown at the show:


RIM’s PlayBook: Flash. For many users that's enough. Unlike Apple, RIM’s tablet will allow full Flash playback from websites without the need for 3rd party apps. RIM has also developed a new operating system (OS) for their tablet called QNX which is rumored to also become the future OS of the Blackberry phones.


The PlayBook is a 4G device, with a 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pxiel multi-touch capacitive screen. It features a 1 GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM, which means that the frustrating slowdowns experienced with the Torch will not be present here. It has a 3 MP front-facing camera which can be used for video chat and a rear-facing 5 MP camera for pictures and videos. It will allow for 1080p video playback and HDMI output for viewing on a television or monitor. Lastly, it will have 3G access via exciting BlackBerry phone plans and will be compatible with BlackBerry Enterprise Server. 


Basically, the PlayBook offers everything the iPad doesn’t, except it comes in a smaller form factor which many users will not like. Also, the early reports are that the battery life is far too short, especially now that users have gotten used to the iPad’s 10 hour battery life.


Here is RIM’s promotional video for the PlayBook:  



Samsung Galaxy: The Galaxy was already released a few months ago but Samsung was showing off a newer model, exclusive to Verizon, which adds another 200 MHz to the Hummingbird processor for a total of 1.2GHz, and replaces the rear camera with a 5 MP instead of a 3 MP.


The Galaxy is an Android based tablet with the Froyo OS. This alone is reason to wait as Google was showing off their new Honeycomb operating system which looks amazing and will be going into many other tablets in the near future.


Apple iPad 2: The iPad 2 hasn't been shown yet at the CES, and most certainly will not (unless Apple wants to overload the internet). All specs thrown around till today are speculative, but some are about as certain as can be. There will be a front-facing camera for chat and a rear-facing camera for photos and video. It will be slightly slimmer and will be flat in the back. It will likely have a faster processor and 512 Mb of RAM (hopefully 1 GB to match the PlayBook and Xoom). The screen will probably stay the same resolution, and will not incorporate the Retina display used in the iPhone 4.


Truth be told, Apple could release the iPad 2 with minimal upgrades and still sell millions. Their iTunes and app stores are far and away the best. And while there will be more powerful Tablets on the market when the iPad 2 does release, none will have the hype or tech-appeal that Apple products carry.


Motorola Xoom: The Xoom will be the first tablet with Google’s new OS, the Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). This is reason enough to get excited. The Honeycomb, by all accounts, is an amazing OS developed specifically for tablets (unlike the current android OS being used in tablets).


Related articles: (Xoom, PlayBook, iPad 2, Galaxy, Tablets, CES)
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