January 20, 2011, 9:06 PM — It may seem like 2010 was the year of the tablet, but the reality is that 2010 was really just the year of the iPad with 15 million units sold and no real competitors for the Apple tablet. However, 2011 will be very different with a diverse variety of tablet options emerging--including some particularly relevant entries from major players.
At CES 2011, almost every tech vendor in existence made some sort of announcement or displayed some sort of prototype of a tablet. There are big tablets, small tablets, Android tablets, Windows tablets, and everything in between slated to hit the streets at some point in the not too distant future.
The tablets that stand out the most, though, are the Motorola Xoom--built to run the upcoming Android Honeycomb designed specifically with tablets in mind, the BlackBerry PlayBook--running a version of QNX rather than the BlackBerry OS, and the HP WebOS tablet--running, well--WebOS. Pit those three against the expected iPad 2, and the spring of 2011 will be a very exciting one indeed for tablets.
Let's look at the choices in more detail:
The Motorola Xoom is expected to be the first tablet out of the gate running Android 3.0--a.k.a. "Honeycomb". Unlike the pint-sized Samsung Galaxy Tab doomed to running Android 2.2, the Xoom will sport a 10.1-inch touchscreen. The Xoom will also have 1280-by-800 resolution, 1GB RAM, a 1GHz processor, 32GB of internal storage, an SD card slot, 3G (and maybe 4G) and 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity, a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with 720p video capture, and 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat.
RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook has a smaller 7-inch display, but it also weighs in at less than a pound. It does not run the BlackBerry OS, but is built instead on the QNX OS. It has 1GB of RAM, a dual-core processor, dual HD cameras, HD video recording, and HDMI output. The PlayBook is also quite versatile--able to play both Apple and Microsoft proprietary audio formats, and supporting both Adobe Flash and HTML5.
HP WebOS Slates
Details continue to leak out on two WebOS tablets codenamed Opal and Topaz. The Opal is a 7-inch tablet, while the Topaz is a more iPad-like 9-inch version. Based on leaked images, it appears that the tablets will have at least a front-facing camera, and a micro USB port.