2010: Year of the Tablet
To see what the burgeoning tablet PC market might be able to offer you in the near future, take a look at some of the newly-announced tablets from HP, Lenovo, and Sony, as well as some of the almost-announced tablets that just might be coming soon.
HP Multitouch Tablet
HP's as-yet-unnamed tablet is undoubtedly the star of CES so far, considering that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer demoed it at the CES 2010 keynote.
That doesn't mean it hasn't disappointed some tablet enthusiasts, though, who were hoping for the rumored Microsoft "Courier" dual-screen tablet instead. And in Ballmer's brief demo of this product, we didn't see any game-changing features. We do know that the HP tablet runs Windows 7, supports multitouch gestures, has an accelerometer to change the display's orientation automatically, and is due out in mid-2010 for under $500.
Lenovo Ideapad U1 Hybrid Notebook/Tablet
Lenovo's Ideapad U1 touchscreen laptop/tablet has been turning heads at CES--probably because it can take its own head off. The Ideapad U1 starts out as a 3.8-pound laptop that runs Windows 7 on a Core 2 Duo CULV processor and a 128GB solid-state drive, but removing the 11.6-inch display lets you use it as a stand-alone Linux tablet PC, powered by a 1-GHz Snapdragon ARM processor with 16GB of flash memory.
Lenovo's Ideapad U1 hybrid PC is due out on June 1 for less than $1000.
Sony Dash Mobile Internet Device
Sony calls the Dash "a personal Internet viewer" and it is, in fact, more of a personal media player than an actual tablet, as it doesn't run an OS. You can watch videos on upright on the Dash, like a TV, or lie it flat and use it a tabletop Web browser or e-reader. It also offers access to video and audio content from Sony's Bravia platform. It will be available for $200 in April.
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 information about the tablet -- and the other products Dell is showing at CES -- is available on Dell's Web site.
Archos 9 PCTablet
Despite appearing at Steve Ballmer's CES 2010 keynote, the Archos 9 PCTablet hasn't received much love. That's probably because it actually debuted in mid-2009, and a few preorders have already shipped, though it's not expected to hit general retail channels until the first quarter of 2010. Preorders cost around $750, but retail pricing is still undetermined for its release.
Tablet or UMPC?
Unlike the rest of the tablets at CES, the Archos 9 PCTablet is more like a 9-inch, 1024-by-600-pixel touchscreen UMPC that runs Windows 7 Starter Edition; it's powered by a 1.1GHz Intel Atom Z510 processor. The PCTablet also packs a 60GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM, offers networking via 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and 100-mbps ethernet, and has USB 2.0, microphone, and 3.5mm audio ports, as well as a 1.3-megapixel Webcam.
Asus Makes Waves
Asus showed off its new 'wave' design concept in a netbook that unfolds into a tablet PC. The netbook concept is to have dual 9-inch touchscreens on a netbook, with one where a keyboard is normally located and one as the display.
One Screen or Two
The device has no physical keyboard, instead using the bottom touchscreen for input. The device can also be fully unfolded into one large tablet screen. An Asus representative said the idea is to use OLED (organic light emitting diodes) technology for the screen and make it flexible. The design is a prototype and Asustek has no plans currently to take it to market.
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. 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.
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. The ICD Vega, the Ultra's bigger cousin, has a 15.6-inch, 1366-by-768-pixel touchscreen and a 32GB solid-state drive. 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.
Notion Ink Adam Smartpad
The Android-based Adam, created by India-based startup Notion Ink, is a tablet PC that blurs the line between e-reader and full-fledged PC. First announced in December 2009, the Adam carries the nVidia Tegra chip, weighs 1.7 pounds, supports wireless Internet via Wi-Fi and 3G (Engadget reports that the current 3G chip is compatible with AT&T), and can charge via USB. No news yet on a shipping date, but the price is expected to be less than $400.
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.