2011 is the year of the tablet wars! The iPad started the revolution last year by selling over 1 million in its first month.
Other tech manufacturers are playing catch-up, and there’s a flood of new tabs coming. Basically, your choice comes down to: the iPad, any one of the Android OS tablets, a Windows-based tablet, or one of the `others’ eg BlackBerry PlayBook, built on its own hardware/operating system.
Apple lovers embraced the iPad because there’s great similarities between it and the iPod Touch and the iPhone. iPad critics say its too big, a jack-of-all-trades, doesn’t have cameras or support Flash - so you can’t render the full richness of the web. Reviewers are waiting for the iPad 2 to see if these issues are resolved. Supporters say the iPad is a great combo of e-reader, iPod, gaming device, netbook and photoframe -at an affordable price.
Apple apps are its greatest bonus - so many are available and compatible with the iPad (apps for iPhones won’t render as well). Apple has already specific apps for the iPad - iTunes, Safari, Google Maps, YouTube and more. Other developers are making iPad apps, such as the New York Times; the iPad is the first Apple device to run iBooks with content from Penguin and Harper Collins.
Android OS tablets
Tablets using Google’s Android OS are coming fast and furious from many manufacturers - all at different price points. After the iPad, Android tabs have the biggest slice of the market. The Galaxy Tab from Samsung has sold over 1million units and is called a ‘formidable iPad foe’, mostly for the media hub which downloads a huge library of movies and TV eps the day after they’re shown (Samsung has ties with Universal Studios, MTV, NBC and Paramount). Galaxy Tab is half the weight of an iPad, has front and rear facing cameras, is compatible with Flash video and games, which makes it a richer experience than the iPad.
The Motorola Xoom (in stores very soon), uses Honeycomb (latest version of Android). It has the latest `pinch-and-zoom’ screen for fast access to the 5 home pages. It’s more like a mini-computer as its functions go well beyond the core job of most tablets (web browsing and playing personal media). You can share, view and edit anything, check emails, view your calendar, set appointments etc.
Laptops are big, bulky and awkward to travel with - firing one up to get an email address is time-consuming. Which is why tablets running Microsoft Windows (also known as PC tablets) entered the market in the 90s. They are close to a laptop experience but some reviewers think that Microsoft’s big mistake with PC tablets was the stylus, which is expensive and easily lost. Stylus are OK for drawing but not for writing, which our fingers do well. Under this category, are also models known as`convertibles’ which further blur the line between laptops and tablets, with physical keyboards that flip behind the screen or slideout - converting tablet to laptop when required.
Fujitsu was showing off a Windows 7 tablet in January 2011 at CES in Las Vegas, due to arrive in April. The Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 will be aimed at business users and come with Windows 7 Professional. It has an Intel ‘Atom Oak’ Trail processor and you can interact with the touchscreen display using either a fingertip or a stylus. It will also have a fingerprint scanner and SmartCard slot.
To further complicate the tablet market, there are reports that Sony is working on a combined Android Honeycomb/Windows 7 tablet with a slide-out keyboard!
Other players in the tab market