As you've undoubtedly heard, 2010 is being hailed as the year of the tablet PC (yes, again). That may come as a shock considering the fact that very few big-name tablets are currently available and forthcoming works are mostly shrouded in secrecy. Unless you follow tech news closely, you're probably only familiar with Apple's iPad which launched this weekend and perhaps HP's Slate that was showcased during this year's CES.
While the market might seem barren, there are a handful of options currently or soon-to-be available. Analysts predict dozens of companies will pile into the market with similar devices of every shape, color and creed -- ARM alone expects its chips to appear in over 50 tablets this year. Such an upwelling begs the question: Are tablets here to stay, or will the bubble burst in 2011 as quickly as it's growing in 2010?
No matter the answer, tablets are coming, and many of you seem to have your credit cards ready. With that in mind, we've charted out seven of today's most popular slates, complete with available specifications, pricing, and availability. Naturally, the data is subject to change as many of these have yet to reach stores, but it's a starting point for narrowing down your purchase.
|Apple iPad||Archos 9||JooJoo||HP Slate||Notion Ink Adam||Dell Mini 5||MSI Tablet|
|Operating System||iPhone OS||Windows 7 Starter||Proprietary Linux||Windows 7 Home Premium||Android||Android||Android|
|Display||9.7" 1024x768 IPS||8.9" 1024x600||12" 1366x768||10"||10" 1024x600||5" 800x480||10"|
|Processor and Graphics||Apple A4||Intel Atom Z515||Intel Atom N270 + Nvidia Ion||Intel Atom Z530||Nvidia Tegra 2||Qualcomm Snapdragon||Nvidia Tegra 2|
|Storage||16GB-64GB||60GB||4GB||32GB-64GB||16-32GB||SD Flash Memory||N/A|
|Wireless Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G (optional)||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Other Connectivity||Dock connector||Dock connector, multi-card reader||HDMI||N/A||N/A|
|GPS||Yes (3G only)||No||No||N/A||Yes||Yes||N/A|
|Battery Life||10 hours||4.5 hours||5 hours||5 hours||Longer than iPad||N/A||N/A|
|App Marketplace||iTunes||No||No||No||Android Market||Android Market||Android Market|
|Availability||Now||Now||Now||Q2 2010||Summer 2010||2H 2010||Late 2010|
The Apple iPad is undoubtedly the most popular tablet right now and despite its shortcomings, the device has numerous things going for it. Running the proven iPhone OS, it's backed by a swarm of dedicated developers and most existing iPhone applications are compatible with the iPad.
The Archos 9 and JooJoo are also available now, and both are entirely different beasts. The Archos runs an Atom processor and Windows, while the JooJoo is powered by proprietary Linux software and features an Nvidia Ion graphics chip along with a 12-inch 1366x768 display for media playback.
It doesn't take an expert to see that neither of these is half as attractive as the iPad. In this sense, most folks are waiting for HP to challenge Apple with the Slate, and that seems to be shaping up nicely if you're looking for a more traditional computing experience in a tablet form-factor. The Notion Ink Adam is another polished contender with its low starting price, lengthy battery, and other desirable niceties. We'll certainly be looking forward to this and other alternatives in the reborn tablet market.
If you currently own or are interested in a specific tablet, let's hear about why it meets your needs better than competing solutions.