The Dawn of the Tablet PC: CES 2010 Roundup
Innovative Converged Devices Vega and Ultra Tablets
ICD has announced a pair of Android 2.0 tablets, one of which--the Ultra--has been popping up at nVidia's CES booth, at Verizon's booth, and on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in mid-December 2009.
According to ICD's Ultra product page, the Ultra tablet has a 7-inch touchscreen and is powered by a 1GHz nVidia Tegra T20 processor, which lets you watch smooth 1080p video; the device also includes 4GB of on-board storage space, as well as a MicroSD card slot for further expansion. The ICD Vega, the Ultra's bigger cousin, has a 15.6-inch, 1366-by-768-pixel touchscreen and a 32GB solid-state drive.
Both tablets give you a full spread of connectivity options, ranging from USB 2.0 and Bluetooth to 2G/3G data networks (optional) and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, though the demo at Verizon's booth reportedly had the unit using a Motorola 4G modem on a precommercial network. Other specs include a 1.3-megapixel Webcam, an accelerometer, dual digital microphones, an FM radio, and an ambient-light sensor.
While the tablets look promising, our brief early look at the ICD Ultra suggests that they have a ways to go before they hit the market. No release date has been announced.
Freescale Semiconductors Tablet
Freescale made waves by announcing the $199 "smartbook" tablet early on in CES, but the company hasn't pulled the veil off quite yet. Equipped with a 1GHz ARM processor, some sort of on-board graphics hardware for HD video, and wireless connectivity via 802.11b/g/n or (optional) 3G modem, the device is intended to run general applications such as a Web browser (with Flash support), social networking tools, and an office suite.
The tablet is slated to have a 7-inch 1024-by-600-pixel touchscreen, a 3-megapixel Webcam, 4GB to 64GB of internal storage, and a MicroSD slot; it will also weigh less than a pound. So far, Freescale's design appears more conceptual than concrete--no manufacturers or vendors have been named as yet, though Freescale is aiming for a summer release. Stay tuned for more details as CES progresses.
The other mysterious tablet from Steve Ballmer's CES keynote was a tablet by Pegatron (which was spun off from Taiwan-based AsusTek Computer in December 2009). Details are scarce, except that the device is significantly larger than the Archos 9 and HP tablets. According to Neowin, the unit has an 11.6-inch touchscreen display, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage, a Webcam, and HDMI-out.
More info: Read Neowin's hands-on with the Pegatron tablet.
Dell 'Streak' Android Tablet Concept
Rumors of Dell's entry into the tablet market have been floating around for a while, starting with the Android-powered mobile Internet device rumors from mid-2009 and continuing into December, when the unit picked up the Dell "Streak" moniker. Though this device has finally surfaced as an unnamed concept product at CES 2010, we have few details aside from confirmation that it uses Google's Android OS and has a 5-inch touchscreen with a 5-megapixel camera on the back. Pocket-lint reports that it has an option for a built-in SIM card.
More info: Read our article on some of the pre-CES Dell Streak speculation.
Apple 'iSlate' Tablet
Even though Apple never attends CES, people have been buzzing about an upcoming Apple tablet for months now. As of this writing, all signs point to a January 26 announcement at a special Apple media event, and a March ship date. The tablet is expected to be named the iSlate. Specs are still unknown, of course, but a blog post by former Google China exec (and former Apple employee) Kai-Fu Lee suggests a 10.1-inch touchscreen with 3D graphics hardware, 3G Internet support (and a possible price subsidy from wireless carriers), and a price tag under $1000.
More info: See one PCW blogger's take on the many possible uses of the Apple tablet.
For more up-to-the-minute blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2010.
Patrick Miller is a staff editor for PCWorld. Find him off-duty @pattheflip.