It has been said that 2010 is the year of the tablet. Well this is partially true it can also be said that 2010 is, at least in my opinion, the year that computing changed into an interactive process and not one of “hunt” and “peck”. Much is yet to be known of the impact that these and other devices will have. 2011 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for both retail and commercial technology.
I have been following the tablet market for at least the last 5 years. I am the owner of the IBM X61 and a former owner of the iPad and Viliv X70. So when the market began to open up to include tablets that really worked well for both fun and work I started to get excited.
Here is my list of the top tablets to watch out for. I prefer the top 7 just so I can be a little different.
- HP Slate 500 – click here for more
- Samsung Galaxy Tab – click here for more
- Viewsonic Viewpad 7 – click here for more
- Adam Notion Ink – click here for more
- Apple iPad – click here for more
- Dell Inspiron duo – click here for more
- Blackberry PlayBook – click here for more
Some, like the Galaxy Tab, Viewpad, and iPad are available now. The others are in the process and should be release in the next 3-6 months. As a business owner my favorite, even though it is not available, is the Dell duo. It offers the best combination of flexibility and design, hopefully Dell won’t mess it up.
Choosing the right tablet hinges on a few key features: size, operating system and price. Tablets are designed for portability, so length, width and weight matter. The iPad’s 9.7-inch screen is a good fit for a backpack, but is too large for many purses and handbags. A number of companies, including Samsung and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, are betting that 7-inch screens will be more appealing. Other vendors, such as Dell and France’s Archos, offer tablets in even smaller sizes, ranging from 2.8 inches to 5 inches. Some of these devices look more like MP3 players or smartphones, but have the advantage of sliding easily into a pocket.
Likewise, consider whether you will mostly hold your tablet in one hand, on the go, or use it while reclining or sitting. Some people consider the 1.5-pound iPad unwieldy for one-handed use; Toshiba’s 10.1-inch Folio 100 is even heavier. Mid-size tablets, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, weigh about half a pound.
A less obvious but equally important consideration is the operating system. Some tablets, such as HP’s Slate 500, are specifically geared toward business users. The Slate, accordingly, runs Microsoft’s Windows 7 and has a USB port for connecting to printers. It went on sale in October; reviews so far have been lukewarm. A number of other tablets are based on Google’s Android mobile platform. In general that means they can connect to Google’s mobile applications store, the Android Market, though the way in which this is implemented varies by manufacturer.
In some cases companies are developing special operating systems for their tablets. Rather than port the software that runs its BlackBerry smartphones to its PlayBook tablet, RIM created an operating system based on outside technology it acquired earlier this year. This new "BlackBerry Tablet OS" is said to be better-suited to touch commands and rich Web applications–so much so that it may eventually power regular BlackBerrys.
Price, naturally, is another major factor in selecting a tablet. With tablets, as with netbooks, price comes with a twist, since most versions can be purchased as wi-fi-only models or with 3G cellular data subscriptions. The 3G versions usually cost less up front but add up to more money over the length of their contracts–which, like cellphone plans, often run two years. Some 3G tablets, such as the iPad and Galaxy S, can be matched to different types of plans, so users should estimate how much bandwidth they think they will consume.
In comparison, wi-fi tablets can be a bargain, but also less useful on the go because they require proximity to a hot spot. A recent survey from Sybase and Zogby found that 56% of respondents preferred to buy tablets at a lower cost with a data package than at a higher cost with no contract.
Computer giant Acer is expected to be launching tablets in late November. The pace will pick up again in January. PC maker Asus is expected to launch several tablets–some running Windows, some running Android–at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. Two cellphone giants, Nokia and LG, are anticipated to come out with tablets in early 2011. Motorola and HTC also may have tablets in the works.
No matter what gets introduced, the basics will remain the same. When it comes to tablets, keep an eye out for the size, operating system and pricing plan that best fits you.