Tablets: A quick look at this rapidly emerging market


Apple have been amazing innovators during the last decade – the iPod, iPhone and now the iPad… and the competition have struggled to keep up. Only now do we have excellent alternatives to the iPhone. So how long will it take the tablet manufacturers to catch the iPad? Already, I’ve heard of journalists, politicians and councillors being equipped with this 1st generation game changing device. Have they jumped in too soon? What have the competition got in store?

Well, here’s a quick round-up of the tablet devices which are with us now or should hit the shelves in the coming months. It’s not a comprehensive list as some of the major players haven’t announced details yet. And if you’re reading this post a year or two down the line, have a giggle at our 1st generation devices and marvel at how quickly technology moves on!

10-inch+ screen

Kno: two 14.1 inch touchscreens connected by a hinge (digital textbook); shipping for the holiday season 2010; Price: TBA

Pioneer DreamBook ePad L11: 11.6 inch; Windows and Android OS; 2GB RAM; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; 1.3MP camera; 6GB, 32GB and 64GB hard drives; to be released September 2010; $640

MSI WindPad 100: 10-inch; Windows 7 OS; 2GB RAM; 32GB storage; Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth connectivity; webcam; available late 2010; $499

MSI WindPad 110: 10-inch; Android 2.1 OS; 2GB RAM; 32GB storage; Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth connectivity; webcam; available late 2010; $399

Mouse LuvPad AD100: 10-inch; Android 2.2; 512MB RAM; 8GB flash memory; Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+3G configurations; $470-530

Archos 101: 10.1 inch; Android 2.2; 8GB ($300) and 16GB ($350) versions; expected late-September 2010

Archos 9: 8.9 inch; Windows 7 Starter OS; 1GB RAM; 60GB storage; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; 1.3MP web camera; $400; available now

Hannspree: 10.1 inch; Android 2.2; 512MB RAM; 16GB; to be released in November 2010; probably around $500

Viewsonic ViewPad 100: 10 inch; Windows 7 and Android 1.6 OS; 1GB memory; 16GB storage; 1.3MP camera; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; to be released about October 2010; expected to be about £549

Toshiba Folio 100: 10.1 inch; Android 2.2 OS; 16GB storage; 1.3MP webchat camera; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; about £330; to be released in Europe in next couple of months; no plans as yet for a US release

7-inch screen

Samsung Galaxy Tab: 7-inch; Android 2.2 OS; 512MB RAM; 16GB and 32GB versions; full phone capability; dual cameras (3MP and 1.3MP); connectivity: 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; Available in Europe from mid-September 2010; $500-$1000? Price point may be $200-$300 with US carriers

Archos 70: 7 inch; Android OS; 8GB ($300) and 16GB ($350) versions; expected about mid-October 2010; $275

Elocity A7: 7 inch; Android 2.2 OS; 512MB RAM; 4GB flash memory; 1.3MP camera; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; shipping possibly beginning of November 2010; $370

RAmos W9: 7 inch; Android OS; no word on pricing or availability yet

Viewsonic ViewPad 7: 7 inch; Android 2.2 OS; 512MB memory?; Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth connectivity; full phone capability; dual cameras; released about October 2010; expected to be about £350

Huawei S7: 7 inch; Android 2.1; 256MB RAM; Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity; 2MP camera; available now; £299

The much hyped $35 Indian tablet should arrive in January 2011. Dimensions 8.9×7-inch; Android OS; 2GB RAM; Connectivity: USB and Wi-Fi. However it’s recently been revealed that this is just the subsidized Chinese Hivision SpeedPad

5-inch (and less) screen

Dell Streak: 5 inch; Android 1.6 OS; 16GB memory; 5MP camera; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity; Price: TBA; but is it a big smart phone rather than a small tablet?

Archos 32: 3.2 inch; Android 2.1; 8GB storage; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity; camera; now shipping for $150

Why are tablets the new ‘must have’ gadget?

Well for some, there’s the cool factor. But from the functionality point of view, of course the screen is bigger than on a smartphone and this has benefits not least making the device easier to view making it a good e-reader and ideal for content consumption. A tablet is easier to pass round among friends and share stuff, say photos, compared with a netbook. But a 10 inch tablet is not as good as a smartphone on a crowded commute when you don’t have a seat. It’s obviously more portable than a laptop but I suspect that data entry, touch typing, screen size and storage capacity will keep laptops around for some time to come.

As you can see, many of the planned new devices will be running the Android OS. However, a recent post on Techcrunch foresees a major shakedown in the five or more upcoming tablet platforms as they compete for market share. And Google has said recently that Android Froyo isn’t optimized for tablets and that the next versions will be optimized for the form factor. So perhaps we’re better off waiting until next year before we take the plunge.

I predict that the coming wave of tablets will put an end to the netbook market, so we’ll soon be choosing from smartphones, tablets and laptops for our mobile companions. I’ve got a feeling it’ll also hit the iPod Touch market to some extent. I for one was on the verge of buying my first Apple product – the new iPod Touch 4, but now I wonder if I should just wait a while and take a look at the 5-inch or 7-inch tablet offerings. The larger screen size would be nice but of course the larger form factor is not quite so ‘pocket’ friendly. Any thoughts?

This is my first post on tablets. I’ll probably post regularly on this topic when more are released.

Latest tablet news

For the latest in tablet news, have a look at:

Best tablet Review

Touch Tablet PC

Android and Me

Google Docs: Android Tablets – Holiday 2010: Great round-up of the latest Android tablets, constantly updated

Sign up with Lazyfeed and follow the topic ‘tablets’.

Further reading

To iPad or Not to iPad: That is the Tech Question – PC World

A Big Tablet Can Never Beat a Smaller Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy Tab vs Apple iPad: tablet showdown

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