This week kicks off the IFA Expo in Berlin, Germany, which is the largest consumer electronics trade show on the planet. As such, it’s no surprise that all of the major hardware vendors are announcing a slew of new mobile devices. What may surprise, however, is that several hardware makers show no signs of giving up their assault on the tablet market, even though Apple’s iPad is clearly outselling all others. Here’s a quick overview of the three newest competitors hoping for a slice of the tablet market share pie.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. This refresh of last year’s 7-inch model gains a slightly larger and much improved screen. The 7-7-inch, Super AMOLED Plus display uses a notebook-like resolution of 1280×800 pixels, as we expected. A 1.4 GHz dual-core processor powers the new tablet, which also gets a mobile broadband speed bump to 21 Mbps.
Unlike the prior model, the new Tab uses Google Android Honeycomb 3.2. At 7.89 millimeters, the new Galaxy Tab is thinner than before, but Samsung was still able to stuff a 5,100 mAh battery inside; a boost over the 4,000 mAh battery in last year’s Tab. Pricing and availability are yet to be determined.
Toshiba AT200. The company’s current tablet, the Thrive, is a bit chunky, but the new AT200 has been on a diet. The 10.1-inch Google Android 3.2 slate is thinner even than Samsung’s new smaller tablet, measuring just 7.7 millimeters in thickness. Toshiba still found room for plenty of ports and jacks, however: micro USB, microSD card slot, and a micro HDMI jack for connecting the AT200 to an HDTV.
A 1.2 GHz TI OMAP 4430 processor powers the slate. Toshiba didn’t supply pricing information, but says the AT200 will launch in Europe by the end of this year. I’m expecting a U.S. model to debut at January’s Consumer Electronics Show.
Lenovo A1. Yet another vendor is thinking what I’m thinking: there’s a market for 7-inch tablets. That’s the form factor of the A1, which uses a less-than-inspiring 1024×600 resolution, but Lenovo makes up for it in pricing. A Wi-Fi model with 8 GB of storage will cost only $199, with 16 GB and 32 GB models priced at $249 and $299, respectively.
At these price points, you can’t expect high-end specifications, but the slate should be capable enough with a single-core 1 GHz processor running Android 2.3. And although there’s no mobile broadband connectivity, the A1 does include an integrated GPS receiver for navigation and mapping.
Although only the A1 has an official price, it’s sure to be the lowest; even after Samsung and Toshiba announce their device costs. As a result, Lenovo’s tablet with a starting price of under $200 could sway some who want a tablet, but don’t have the extra cash to pony up for an iPad — even a discounted refurbished unit.