Like virtually every other hardware vendor, LG has announced plans to join the tablet PC revolution. It seems that LG might be following in HP's footsteps, though, by abandoning the Windows 7 tablet prototype it has been promoting in favor of a tablet built on a mobile OS platform.
LG has revealed its intentions to build a tablet PC on the Android mobile OS. The Apple iPad competitor will run Android 2.2 and is projected to be available by the end of 2010.
It was only a month ago at Computex that LG showed off a prototype of the UX10 tablet. The 10.1 inch touchscreen tablet runs on an Atom Z530 processor, and has 1Gb of RAM. Unlike the Apple iPad, the LG UX10 sports a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, SD memory card slot, and HDMI output. It also has a 120Gb hard drive and it runs on the full Windows 7 Home Premium desktop OS.
Pricing and availability for the UX10 were not yet unveiled, but at Computex, Microsoft made it clear that the device would be maturing from prototype to general availability sometime soon. That is--if it hasn't suffered the same fate as the HP Slate and is now replaced with its mobile OS equivalent.
There is an ongoing culture clash in trying to define the emerging generation of tablets. While PC purists clamor for a touchscreen device that essentially crams a traditional desktop into a tablet form factor, Apple has reinvented the tablet as a media consumption and mobile computing platform that is unique from the traditional desktop PC experience--more of a hybrid between the desktop and smartphone platforms.
While the tablet is a mobile computing device, it seems that the mobile half of that name is a stronger priority than the computing half. The demand is for a device that can turn on instantly, connect from anywhere, has exceptional battery-life, and an agile, touchscreen interface. None of these factors are strong suits for existing Windows-based mobile computing platforms like notebooks and netbooks.
The trend seems to be to develop tablet devices on the same mobile OS platforms used in smartphones. The Apple iPad uses iOS. The upcoming HP tablet will run on the WebOS platform it recently acquired with the purchase of Palm. The new LG tablet will run on Android, as does the Dell Streak, and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tape.
The Apple iPad has a significant headstart in the tablet market, leaving the vast array of competing tablets in the dust and with a steep climb to compete. However, for businesses and business professionals, alternate tablets may prove to be more compelling if they can deliver an equivalent experience to the Apple iPad while delivering things the iPad is missing like Flash compatibility or USB ports.
I have reached out to LG to confirm or deny whether the announced Android tablet will replace the previously revealed UX10 prototype, or if LG plans to launch both a Windows 7 tablet and an Android tablet. LG has not yet responded to my inquiries.
LG did not announce pricing or any further details for its Android tablet.