April 06, 2010, 8:07 AM — Apple's iPad is certainly in the spotlight right now, but let's not forget there're plenty of competing tablets on the way.
In fact, Fusion Garage's Joojoo is out now, but hasn't had time to really gain traction yet (if it ever will). Engadget has reviewed the device and I just wanted to pick out some highlights and compare this hardware to the iPad. A few differences jump out immediately: the Joojoo is essentially a hardware browser. You turn it on and you're looking at a browser window and (until someone 'roots' it) you'll never exit that browser. Joojoo is also bigger than the iPad with a 12" screen running at 1366 x 768. Engadget found the screen responsive to touch inputs, but the viewing angles weren't as good as the iPad. Plus the Joojoo weighs 2.4 lbs. The iPad already feels hefty at 1.5 lbs; 2.4 seems really heavy. This sounds more like something you place in a stand and sit in front of, rather than holding and showing to friends sitting nearby. Joojoo supports Flash whereas the iPad is infamous for not doing so. Engadget found that the battery life of the Joojoo was quite poor while using Flash (primarily for playing video): 2.5 hours. I'll direct you to Engadget for more details, but the overall gist of the review was that the Joojoo hardware seemed solid but the software needed work. Software can be improved though, so maybe the $500 Joojoo can still find its footing.
Then there's the HP Slate. We still don't have a firm release date for this Windows 7 based tablet, but thanks to some leaked documents we have some idea of what we'll be getting. First, it'll be priced a bit lower than the iPad, with a 32 GB model at $549 and a 64 GB at $599. That sounds more like it, doesn't it? Apple's $100 prince jump between otherwise identical 16, 32GB, and 64GB models, seems both steep and arbitrary (another $100 gets you either 16 or 32 additional GB of storage). The Slate will have a 8.9" screen running at 1024x600; a bit smaller in both size and resolution when compared to the iPad. Battery life should be about 5 hours. Of course in exchange for these slightly less impressive specs, you get an OS that you can install anything on, Flash support, cameras, USB ports and an HDMI port which should support 1080P video. What worries me is the non-expandable 1 GB RAM. Hopefully HP will be able to streamline Windows 7 to get it to run well in such a small amount of RAM. You can check Ars Technica's post for more details.
Whether or not the Joojoo or the Slate are able to steal the iPad's thunder remains to be seen, but in the former case it doesn't seem likely. The Slate has more potential but at this point it is just that, potential. Until we see final hardware we won't know for sure. My limited experience of running Windows 7 with a touchscreen display on 1 GB of RAM (the Asus T91MT) hasn't been all that enjoyable, but it does seem like HP is working directly with Microsoft, so perhaps they can pare the OS down to ensure that performance is snappy.
We still have that whole swarm of Android tablets just over the horizon, too. Some of those, particularly those based on the Nvidia Tegra 2 chip, look like they may end up being the real competition for the iPad.