Tablets, tablets everywhere
LAS VEGAS—Seen one tablet, seen them all? Wrong.
There may be thousands (not exaggerating) of look-alike tablets here at CES 2013, but when it comes to tablets that will make you go ‘wow,’ there are a rarified few that rise above the tradeshow floor fray.
A 4K Windows 8 tablet. An affordable $130 Android tablet with comparable specs to the Google Nexus 7. A tablet that runs full-blown Windows 8 desktop apps.
Our conclusion is that 2013 tablet makers are desperate to stand out from the crowd and differentiate themselves from the tablet hordes.
Take a look at some of the most interesting, head-turning tablets of CES 2013.
Asus Transformer All-in-One P1801
Standout feature: Combines Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Windows 8 OSes
Price: Starts at $1299
The Asus Transformer All-in-One P1801 tablet is a unique combination of two operating systems (Android and Windows 8), two processors, and two completely different personalities—it's both a tablet and an all in one desktop PC.
With an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor in the tablet portion and an Intel Core i5 or i7 in the PC base station, the Transformer AiO P1801 can be mobile, yet plug into its base for an extra boost of processing power as well as 1TB of storage.
You can seamlessly swap between operating systems with the push a button, which should make it convenient to change to the less resource-intensive Android 4.1 Jelly Bean when carrying the massive tablet around. The P1801 is set to come out in the first quarter of 2013.
Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon
Standout feature: Can lay flat on table for old-fashioned board game experience
Price: Around $1699
Lenovo held nothing back this year at CES, releasing a slew of new Ultrabooks, tablets and PCs. One of the company's most intriguing designs, however, was the new Horizon all-in-one, a massive 27-inch touchscreen slab that is designed to lay flat on a table.
The Horizon makes for a formidable all-in-one PC when standing upright, but its the unit’s specially designed Windows 8 touch “board games” that really make it intriguing. You even get hardware game controllers like joysticks and strikers to compliment the touch gaming experience.More info
Vivitar XO Learning Tablet
Standout feature: Ambitious price point, unique rugged design, and kid and education-friendly
Price: Expected to be around $100
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a nonprofit organization that encourages and promotes educational devices for children in developing countries.
Its latest venture, the new XO Learning tablet produced by Vivitar, includes a personality kit and learning program aimed specifically at kids and families in the U.S. market.
The 7-inch tablet supports different user accounts, making it an ideal educational tablet for families who want to share the XO between members. OLPC said tablet will be available exclusively at Walmart stores this year.More info
Standout feature: Powerful hardware for gaming
Razer has a go at bringing formidable hardware into the hands of serious gamers with the Edge tablet.
The company plans to offer two models of the device: a high-end version as well as a lower-end version.
Both versions work with the Razer Edge Gamepad Controller, a unique looking attachment that brings tactile controls to the scene. A keyboard dock is also available, and adds a range of ports that should let you plug in anything you need to enhance your gaming experience, or get some business done.
One drawback to the tablet though: It takes a lot of juice to power a gaming device like the Edge. With about an hour of life while playing games, an extended battery and keyboard dock are almost necessities.More info
Archos 97 Platinum
Standout feature: Retina-quality display
The display of Archos’s 97 Platinum tablet has a resolution of 2048 pixels by 1536 pixels across 9.7 inches. This gives it the same resolution and pixel density as the Retina display on the iPad.
The high-density display is complemented by the white bezel and aluminum case, which feels solid yet light.
Inside is a quad-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A7-based system-on-a-chip with 2GB of RAM and 8 GPU cores.
The 97 Platinum only includes 8GB of system storage (uninspiring given the tablet’s display), but it does have a MicroSD card slot that lets you expand the storage to as much as 32GB.
The tablet should start shipping in March 2013.
Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1
Standout feature: Rugged design
Price: Starts at $2899
Built to withstand a 4-foot drop, the Toughpad FZ-G1 is a 10.1-inch tablet that runs Windows 8.
Its display will have a resolution of 1920 pixels by 1200 pixels, and it comes with a removable battery, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage space. The tablet will also include a Wacom digitizer to boot for pen input.
This ruggedized tablet ships in March.
Vizio MT11x tablet
Standout feature: Gorgeous design
Price: No pricing announced
When you think of Vizio, the first thing you probably think of are its HDTVs, but the company has been working to branch out in the last year—first with PCs, and now with tablets.
The Vizio MT11x is a sleek 11.6-inch tablet running Windows 8.
On the outside, this tablet weighs a little under two pounds, is about a half-inch thick, and has a display resolution of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels.
Inside, an AMD Z60 processor powers the tablet, and it comes with 64GB of onboard storage. Vizio has yet to announce specifics regarding pricing or availability.More info
Microsoft Surface Pro
Standout feature: Runs Windows 8 desktop programs
Price: Starts at $899
The Microsoft Surface Pro is not a newly announced product—the company introduced the tablet back in June—but we got a close-up look at it while in Vegas.
Unlike its sibling tablet, the Surface RT, the Surface Pro packs the full Windows 8 OSand an Intel Core i5 processor.
In his hands-on with the Surface Pro, PCWorld's Jon Phillips commented on the tablet's smooth overall performance and slightly thicker build. It should ship at the end of January.
Panasonic's 4K Windows 8 tablet
Standout feature: Stunning 4K display
Price: Not specified
We've seen a handful of massive tablets at CES. One of them is this 20-inch Windows 8 tablet prototype from Panasonic.
What makes this tablet notable isn't just its size—it weighs in at 5.3 pounds and definitely isn't something you'll want to throw in your backpack—but its screen resolution.
This tablet features a stunning IPS display with a resolution of 3820 pixels by 2560 pixels, which Panasonic considers to be a 4k display, despite its unusual 15:10 aspect ratio.
Inside, this tablet includes a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor, an Nvidia GeForce graphics card, and 128GB of storage space.
The company hasn't announced a release date or pricing for its giant tablet, but it expects to have more details to share later this year.More info
Standout feature: Big 13.3-inch display
Besides the name, the Archos FamilyPad doesn’t offer any unique family-centric features that might set it apart from its other tablet offerings—other than its size, that is.
The 13.3-inch capacitive touchscreen tablet has a resolution of only 1280 pixels by 800 pixels, which seems a little low for a screen that size relative to some of its competitors.
But when looking to buy a tablet big enough for the whole family to gather around and play games on, you might be able to overlook the comparatively low resolution in favor of the reasonable $300 price. The FamilyPad is expected to ship in February.More info
RCA Mobile TV Tablet
Standout feature: Can watch live TV
Mobile TVs have never really caught on, yet the unique approach RCA is taking with a TV-enabled tablet might just be what it needs.
This tablet includes a dual-tuner: It handles standard over-the-air ATSC broadcasts, and it makes use of Dyle mobile TV, a separate service available via an Android app.
The tablet's specs don't stand out, with its 1GHz Telechip Cortex-A5-based processor, 8GB of storage, and 1GB of RAM, along with GPS and dual cameras. But it does give you the ability to watch TV on the go without having to worry about going over your bandwidth limit.
Expect this tablet in April.More info
Polaroid M7 and M10
Standout feature: Affordable
Price: $129 for M7, $229 for M10
If an affordable 7- or 10-inch tablet is on your list, check out the new Polaroid M7 and M10, due out this spring.
Polaroid hasn't made much of a name for itself in the tablet world up to now, but these new tablets look to be direct competitors to Google’s Nexus line.
Both the M7 and M10 have IPS displays of 1280 pixels by 800 pixels, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, a micro SD slot, and will run the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS.
That's not too shabby for devices more than $50 cheaper than their Nexus competition.
Panasonic Toughpad JT-B1
Standout feature: Can withstand drops and poor weather
Price: Starting at $1199
In addition to the 10.1-inch FZ-G1, Panasonic also announced a 7-inch model of its ruggedized Toughpad line.
The Toughpad JT-B1 runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and it has been tested to withstand extreme conditions like drops and poor weather. Panasonic even went as far as to hide the charging port and MicroSD card slot behind protective panels.
Featuring a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, the JT-B1 is set to release in February.
Standout feature: Built-in physical controls
Price: Not specified
If you’re looking for a inexpensive tablet that has integrated gaming controls, you don't have many options. And while Archos’ GamePad might be perfect for kids, it may be less than ideal for serious gamers.
The GamePad has a 7-inch screen with a resolution of 1024 pixels by 600 pixels, as well as 8GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, and a dual-core 1.6GHz ARM-based processor. It also has a quad-core Mali 400 GPU to help with gameplay.
One quirk is that you have to manually assign what the built-in controls do for any game you want to use them with. Also, you are limited to mapping the buttons to on-screen controls—you can't set a hotkey for a swipe gesture, for example.More info