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CES 2011 – Tablets in Review – not the kind you can chew or swallow!

CES 2011 – Tablets in Review – not the kind you can chew or swallow!

Well CES 2011 has brought us the Year of the Tablet!  More than 75 tablets were introduced and showcased at the show this year.  The theme that followed was frenzied, though skeptical.  The questions range from which tablets actually matter; are any good enough to compete with, or better than the iPad?  The new Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) operating system; is it really the game changer the buzz has for it?  Follow us along and we’ll see!

Before I get into the details, if you haven’t read my iPAD reviews, please do.  I’ve looked at tablets and owned some over the last 8-10 years, in many different formats.  The iPAD, the King of the Tablet has the largest drawback, for me personally, and that is that it is NOT a content creation machine.  Android and even the Windows tablets, take the iPAD theme, and give you some creation mechanisms that can allow these machines to be your laptop replacement when you don’t need all the power your laptop can give you.  For example, when you are going to a lunch meeting, and want to show a web page, graphics, presentation or just to take notes, the iPAD works pretty well.  If you want to have that lunch, stop at a client, then work on some documents or presentations, browse the web, or even write new content for just about anything, then you really need a laptop, or do you?

The headline maker was out in full force –  the Motorola Xoom!  As the first Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablet, it has an immediate advantage over all other Android tablets at the show.  Toshiba announced that its tablet will eventually run Honeycomb, but it wasn’t running Honeycomb at the show.  Everyone could see that Google clearly gave Motorola full support; much like it did Samsung last year with the Galaxy Tab on Android 2.2.

Speaking of Samsung, the Galaxy tab has lost some luster with the Xoom introduction, but don’t let that get you down if you are an owner – it is still a very serviceable tablet.  The obvious problem is that it’s not running Honeycomb and may never be able to run it either.  The processor requirements and Google’s mysterious support game make it appear like Android 2.2 tablets will not be able to upgrade to Android 3.0.  The only people not crying or worried about that are the the tablet manufacturers.  One who is just fine with this, is RIM.  At the show, the Xoom was running an animated video demo behind glass, so you really couldn’t get a feel for it at all.  The Xoom will be released as a 3G tablet (through Verizon) and eventually get an upgrade to 4G – with all this said, the PlayBook starts to look pretty impressive.

The RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, which runs on the BlackBerry Tablet OS, was announced before CES 2011.  There were very few pictures and any real showing of it though. First and foremost, the PlayBook wasn’t running animated demo videos.  It was a fully functioning unit that visitors could hold and play with.  The screen’s responsiveness is seemingly just as good as the iPad, some thought even better.  The user interface is very intuitive and fast.  The PlayBook will also be a 4G device (from Sprint) at its launch.

Let’s summarize the CES tablet event:

  • There were 75 or more tablets at CES 2011 that really looked the same, for the most part, running non-tablet-based operating systems.
  • The Motorola Xoom is promising, but with no true demos available to us, it doesn’t feel like a fully fleshed-out device yet – so who knows what the production version will truly be like.
  • RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook is the real deal: a beautiful, working 4G tablet—and the best bet to contend with Apple’s iPad in 2011.

For once it looks like RIM has changed the game instead attempting to rise to the occasion.  BlackBerry devotees will likely drool over the PlayBook, and perhaps a bunch of Droid lovers will become RIM-based tablet owners.  Finally – RIM has broken ground once again!  Hopefully it can continue to lead and not disappoint and become a follower once again.

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