When the doors open at CES this week, the stars of the huge consumer electronics trade show will very likely be the crop of tablet computers expected to be introduced or demonstrated at the event. Here are some of the slates that will be elbowing each other for attention at the event.
Motorola has been tantalizing consumers with a mystery tablet that may be called the Xoom. It has done an Apple-like job of keeping information about the unit from leaking out, but rumor has it that it will be based on Nvidia's Tegra 2 processor and on version 3.0 of Google's Android operating system--called Honeycomb--which is expected to have better tablet support than previous versions of the software.
The Notion Ink Adam may or may not be shipping when CES starts. Based on the Tegra 2 chip and running Android, the 10.1-inch tablet boasts an optional Pixel Qi display with a resolution of 1024 by 600 pixels. Other features will include a 3.2-megapixel camera and a microSD card slot. Prospective prices range from $375 to $550.
Acer will be displaying its 10.1-inch tablet announced in November at the show. It's another Tegra 2 slate ready to run Honeycomb, as well as Acer's own user interface. It also has a WXGA display with a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels and both a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a high-definition front-facing camera and will pump out HDMI output at 720p.
An unusual tablet that may make an appearance at CES is the WeTab, produced in Germany. What makes the unit distinctive is that it uses a Linux-based operating system called MeeGo. WeTabs break the iPad mold by having 11.6-inch displays (1366 by 768 pixels). They also have integrated WiMax modems, two USB ports, and a 1.3-megapixel Webcam. Based on Intel's 1.66GHz Atom N450 processor, the unit also has an internal fan for cooling.
When Samsung's 7-inch Galaxy Tab was introduced this fall, it gained immediate credibility as an iPad alternative. Its Korean maker won't be resting on its laurels when CES rolls around, if rumors are to be believed. A second-generation Galaxy Tab may appear at the show sporting a Tegra 2 processor, a SAMOLED display, and support for Honeycomb.
Even more mystery may surround Nokia's Z500 tablet than Motorola's Xoom. A listing for the device at the cell phone maker's online store caused a buzz just before Christmas, but details are sketchy, even for rumormongers. The device is supposed to run MeeGo, may have a seven- or nine-inch display, and might have an ARM processor.
Asus is ready to demonstrate its tablet lineup at the show, too. It's rumored to have an 8.9-inch model, the EP90, built around a Tegra 2 chip and running an embedded version of Windows 7. Its display supports a resolution of 1024 by 600 pixels, and, besides 8GB to 32GB of internal storage, it will come with 500GB of cloud storage on the computer maker's servers. Battery life is said to be in the 4-to-5-hour range.
Another Asus tablet, the EP121, is more netbook than iPad. It has a 12-inch display and a dock for a keyboard, and is built around Intel's Core i5 processor and Windows 7. Battery life on this puppy will no doubt be limited, compared with other tablets. Other features include a Webcam, a card reader, HD video playback, and HDMI and USB ports.
Although it may not be shipping until March, you still may be able to play with Research In Motion's tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, at the show. While most tablets at CES will be aimed at consumers, the RIM folks are sticking to their formula for success and clearly setting its tablet's sights on the enterprise. The 7-inch PlayBook boasts a 1GHz processor and 1GB of memory (four times the memory of an iPad), has HD cameras fore and aft, and runs on the BlackBerry Tablet operating system, which is based on QNX technology.
In the tablet world, MSI is best known as the company that announced a bunch of slates at CES 2010 and never brought them to market. Well, it's back at the show again this year with two tablets, or, as the company likes to call them, WinPads. One will be running Windows 7 Home Premium with an Intel Atom Oak Trail processor and have a 10.1-inch display. The other model, also a 10.1-incher, will have a Tegra 2 processor and run either the Honeycomb or the Gingerbread version of Android.
HP is expected to make a tablet splash at CES, introducing as many as four new units based on its HP Slate design. The tablets will be aimed at different target markets--college students, for example, or home users. All the slates will run a version of Palm's webOS optimized for tablet use and have 9.5-inch displays, a 3-megapixel camera in the rear and a 1.3MP shooter in the front, and multiple USB 3.0 ports.
Onkyo, which has already introduced some Windows 7 tablets, will be pulling the wraps off an Android model at CES. The unit has a 10.1-inch display (1024 by 600 pixels), will run Android 2.2, and have a Tegra 2 chip in it. Other features include a 1.3MP Webcam, 8GB to 16GB of storage, a microSD slot, a USB port, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.
Vizio is best known for its TVs, but it has announced that it's going to enter the tablet and smartphone businesses with offerings to be introduced at the show. Both devices will run Android and will have GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a microSD slot, an HDMI port, and dual cameras. The tablet will have an 8-inch screen.
Although the tablet market is a natural fit for notebook maker Toshiba, it managed to stay off the rumor radar for most of 2010. Then with days to go before CES, it pulled the covers off a 10.1-inch slate with a Tegra 2 chip and Android Honeycomb support. Its 1280-by-800-pixel screen will display 720p HD video, although 1080p can be pumped out through its HDMI port. In addition to dual cameras, USB and USB-mini ports, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, the unit has a user-replaceable battery and haptic feedback for its virtual keyboard, meaning it provides a tactile sensation when a key is tapped.
Lenovo is also expected to announce some consumer tablets at the show, although details about the models are sketchy. They may be Android-based. The company has been working on tablets for more than a year. In fact, it announced a hybrid tablet at last year's show, the IdeaPad U1. That unit, though, never made it to retail shelves.
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