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10 Tablets to Keep an Eye on in 2011

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With nearly 100 new or updated tablets shown last week at CES, the show was unofficially nicknamed Tabletpalooza. But how to keep track of all those gadgets and which ones really matter? Don’t even try. Here are the top 10 you should keep in mind. Note that all of them use capacitive touch-screens, because resistive displays are a non-starter these days.

Motorola Xoom (s mmi). The 10.1-inch Android 3.0 (s goog), or Honeycomb, tablet sports an Nvidia Tegra 2 (s nvda) dual-core processor, uses a laptop-like 1280 x 800 resolution, and has two cameras: a 2-megapixel sensor in the front for video chat over Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G and a 5-megapixel rear camera for stills and 720p video recording. It will initially work on Verizon’s (s vz) 3G network but will be upgradeable to 4G / LTE soon after launch. The Xoom (shown above) is expected to be available in the first quarter, although no pricing has been announced.

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. The 10.1-inch Android 3.0 tablet runs for 8 hours but can mate with a keyboard dock, providing a laptop-style configuration while boosting battery life up to 16 hours. The slate runs on the dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and features two cameras. It will sell for $399 to $699 and be available in April.

ASUS Eee Pad Slider. The smartbook-like 10.1-inch Slider is similar to the Transformer, but features an always-attached, slide-out keyboard and weighs in at 2.2 pounds. It features Android 3.0, a Tegra 2 processor and two cameras. It will sell for $499 to $799 and be available in May.

BlackBerry PlayBook (s rimm). RIM announced a 4G version of this 7-inch tablet that will run on Sprint’s WiMAX network. The 1 GHz dual-core tablet runs the QNX operating system and includes a 1024 x 600 capacitive touchscreen, 1 GB of memory and two cameras. Although the final software isn’t ready, the overall user experience shows elegance, fluidity and solid performance as shown on our video look. Both the Wi-Fi and 4G versions are expected to be available by this summer.

Acer Iconia Tab A500. Iconia is another thin Android tablet, but Acer added a custom UI to the device, which could make future updates a challenge. The lack of hardware buttons on the display bezel required Acer to create gestures from the bezel; sliding a finger from the right edge towards the screen brings up software buttons to go back or home, for example. The 13.3 millimeter thick Iconia runs on a Tegra 2 and will follow the Xoom as an LTE-enabled tablet on Verizon’s network later this year.

Samsung Sliding Series  7 PC. This is another 10.1-inch tablet/keyboard combo similar to the ASUS Slider, but it pairs Windows 7 (s msft) with Intel’s 1.66 GHz Oak Trail (s intc) processor, much like a netbook. You wouldn’t immediately equate Samsung’s device with a netbook, because the display completely covers the keyboard; pushing the screen and sliding it up reveals a nearly-full-sized, netbook-like set of keys. The Series 7 features a 1366 x 768-resolution, 2 GB of RAM and offers 32 and 64 GB SSD options. Samsung expects availability in March, with a starting price of $699.

Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid. This true hybrid of tablet and laptop and is actually two devices in one. Lenovo showed the U1 last year, but retooled the software: Gone is the custom Linux tablet UI in favor of the more popular and recognizable Google Android platform for the detachable screen. The screen detaches for tablet use and can be purchased alone as the $530 LeTab with either 32GB or 64GB of storage. When attached to a keyboard, the device becomes a laptop running Windows 7 with 320GB of storage, 2GB of RAM and Intel 1.2 GHz CPU. All together, it’s $1,300 and is reportedly available in China first.

LG G-Slate. LG’s 10-inch tablet will offer Android 3.0 and will feature a dual-core processor. It will run on T-Mobile’s 4G / HSPA+ network and will be available in the coming months, likely after the Motorola Xoom launches. The device was shown off on stage at the T-Mobile press event, but no additional details were provided.

Toshiba tablet. Toshiba hasn’t named its 10.1-inch tablet, but like most others, it has outfitted its tablet with Nvidia’s Tegra 2 dual-core processor, a 1280 × 800 touchscreen, two cameras and Android 3.0. Unique to the devices is a nice rubberized back, making the tablet easier to handle. It should be available in the second quarter with Honeycomb, although Toshiba was showing it off with Android 2.2 at CES.

Notion Ink Adam. Adam features the unique 10.1-inch, 1024 × 600, transreflective, PixelQi display that has a eInk mode to save battery life. Nvidia’s dual-core 1 GHz processor will power Android 2.3 with Notion Ink’s custom Eden interface. Instead of separate front and rear cameras, Adam sports a 3.2 inch swivel camera. The tablet will boast battery life of 16 hours, or 160 hours with the backlight off and costs between $375 and $549, depending connectivity and screen configurations.

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34 Responses to “10 Tablets to Keep an Eye on in 2011”

  1. I think Archos is a solid alternative, despite it is not a mejor brand like Samsung, Lenovo, LG, etc. Archos has proved to have competitive products, the latest ones like: Archos 101 internet Tablet and Archos 70 Internet Tablet, are great products.

    Personally I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab, an Archos 70 Internet Tablet and an traditional iPad, and my regular decision for daily use is the Archos 70 IT, specially because of the size, weight and functionallity.

    Kevin, I suggest you keep in your radar Archos :)

  2. Mike Reilly

    I don’t care about any of these that don’t have a Wacom/touch digitizer and Windows 7. That narrows it down to what: the Asus and Vilev tablets and, and what? The existing Motion tablets and HP tablets also, but they’re too heavy.
    The HP Slate and the Motion CL900 are total dissapointments, especially the Motion. It should have been Wacom. I counted on them being Wacom. Where am I to go?

  3. Gazoobee

    I think you’ve cast the net too wide here.

    I would say that ASUS’s convertible laptops (disguised as tablets) can be safely ignored, as can all the other convertibles, sliders, and hybrids from the other manufacturers. Additionally, anything using a PixelQi display that isn’t aimed at a third world market is just not going to fly at all. No one cares about battery life enough to throw out Apple’s wonderful high res IPS panels or Android’s garish OLED’s and replace them with a black and white “you can use it with the backlight off” display.

    Of the announced tablets, the Playbook, Iconia, and the Xoom are the only one’s even worth thinking about and they all have serious problems. The one that HP is no doubt working on is likely to blow all of these away anyway.

    • Nope, didn’t forget. But all of the devices in our list have the chance to sell half a million units if not far more and will be the most likely to gain consumer recognition. There were about 70 other Android slates that fall into the same category here and I don’t think the Viliv units have the same potential as the devices on our list, which of course is arguable. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet up at CES after all too – we should have met at the Viliv booth!

    • Honeycomb was the big story in terms of Android tablets and nearly of those are of the 10″ variety. That actually bums me out because I use my 7″ tablet far more than my 10″ tablet – the smaller size has me taking the device everywhere, just like my Kindle did.

  4. The tablet I would add is the HP Slate. It will be interesting and informative to see what HP does in light of the Slate’s unexpected success (albeit versus HP’s minuscule sales projections). It’s cheaper and far more portable than the Windows tablets announced at CES, plus it offers an active digitizer as well as a capacitive screen.

    • Another good addition, although we were keeping an eye on it in 2010. ;) Compared to tablets that run true mobile operating systems on power efficient chips, Windows tablets aren’t likely to compare in terms of sales numbers. Having said that, HP has put together a nice package with the slate.

      • please don’t think i’m saying it’s the best solution. i think the tablet space needs to settle down first, and let the market dictate who the winners should be… but here are just a few of my quick thoughts on why this linux solution needed to be added.

        looks like the tablet is a TENQ P07. 10″ multitouch display, 1.6Ghz Atom CPU, 2GB memory, and a 32Gb SSD, hmdi out, microSD, bluetooth & wifi (and maybe cdma but please don’t believe me yet) . which should be pretty zippy running “linux”. what’s also nice is that from what i’ve read, it has a usb port (nice when you want to attach a mouse and keyboard, or even an external drive).

        1) all apps are free. nature of the open source community.
        2) on this tablet dual booting windows 7 should be easy. almost like 2 tablets in one.
        3) almost impossible for a virus. android is starting to have a serious issue, and can only imagine the problems that windows mobile 7 might get
        4) quicker development cycle to newer releases

        • Totally understand your points. But right now I see specs that we’ve seen before and are seeing again on other tablets. I think the key unknown right now is one of the most important: is the user interface and apps truly enabled for efficient mobile use? That I don’t know but when the device launches, I’ll try to find that out. :)

    • True, Motion has been in this space for years. The CL900 looks nice, but Motion has always sold to verticals and direct to consumer. As a result, it won’t compete in terms of sales with the top-tier brands that will find space on retail shelves or be backed with big marketing dollars. That doesn’t mean the product is bad, but it’s not what I’d consider a “top 10” tablet at this time. We’ll have to check back later or at the end of this year to see if I was wrong! ;)