Seven superior tablets you can buy in 2010

When the iPad first landed it created a reaction, not only for those who intended to use it, but for every manufacturer that makes portable computer devices. And with that said, the battle began. Being the first of its kind to market sure helped Apple snap up a large chunk of marketshare, having a great track record and massive app store also helped. But now that things have settled and we know where the iPad stands, others are playing catch up. The only problem with the iPad is well, it’s Apple. There will never be another hardware iteration of it until Apple releases one. The advantage Android has is that there can be unlimited iterations of its product, ranging in specifications like screen size, wireless connectivity, and price. As it stands these are the only real two options for tablet cravers, but there are more on the pipeline with the likes of Windows 7 and WebOS, which we can expect to come in 2011. But for this year? This is what we’re looking at.

iPad
Screen: 9.7-inch Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, LED backlit, 1024×768
Storage: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash
Camera: None
Processor: Apple A4 1GHz
OS: iOS
Ships: Within 24hrs
Price: $499 – $829 with 3G+WiFi

Apple’s iPad is no mystery. It’s app store is a massive gateway that makes it truly magical. Its super quick for checking the web, watching YouTube flicks, even playing finely tuned games that run with incredible speed. It doesn’t make the best “eReader” out there, simply because of the LED backlit display, but it was never intended to be one in the first place. If you spend over 50% of your tablet using time on eReading, the iPad may not be for you, but as a lightweight extension to the internet with a miriad of applications, it’s a real big winner.

Samsung Galaxy Tab
Screen: 7-inch Super TFT-LCD, 1024×600
Storage: 16GB internal, + 16GB micro SD
Camera: Front VGA, Rear 3.2 megapixel
Processor: Cortex A8 1.0GHz
OS: Android 2.2
Ships: September 2010
Price: Reported to be $200 and $300 on-contract, $1,000 without

Samsung is already very well known for their Android line of smartphone devices, it’s a natural extension for them to “enlarge” that product into the realms of tablet computing. And with the Galaxy Tab they have done just that. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab was officially announced at IFA last week, it comes in at only 7-inches, compared to 9.7-inches of the iPad. It has Android 2.2, the same 1Ghz processor the Galaxy S has, 16GB or 32GB units, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11n, quad-band 2.5G and tri-band 3G (HSUPA 5.76Mbps, HSDPA 7.2Mbps), front-facing VGA camera for video conferencing (Apple’s lack of a front-facing camera pissed off a lot of people at the time of launch) and rear 3.2 megapixel camera with flash and autofocus. Samsung is going to try things a little different with the Galaxy Tab, rumors report that it will be sold at the carrier level and for around $200 with a plan. Its expected to launch in Europe mid-September, with the rest of the world later in the year.


ViewSonic ViewPad 100
Screen: 10-inch LED backlit LCD, 1024×600
Storage: 16GB SSD, + 32GB micro SD
Camera: Front facing 1.3 megapixel
Processor: Intel Atom N455 1.66GHz
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium, Android 1.6
Ships: European release set for October 2010
Price: £549 (US$845)

ViewSonic’s Viewpad tablet is quite the contender, and the company didn’t put all their eggs in one basket either. The ViewPad 100 is one of those “hybrid” tablets, capable of booting multiple OSes. On one side you could be touting an OS not even designed for tablets “Windows 7 Home Premium,” and on the other, an OS not even designed for tablets “Android 1.6”. Which explains the dual USB ports, 1GB DDR3 memory and VGA output as you may be in Windows 7 more often than Android. Viewsonic wont have their own skin for the Android OS, this is a good thing, allowing Google’s UI to be as it was intended. The Intel Atom 1.66GHz processor should be blazing fast in Android 1.6 too, and perhaps remain to be the fastest Android tablet by the time it gets released.

ViewSonic ViewPad 7
Screen: 7-inch capacitive touch screen LCD, 800×480
Storage: 16GB SSD, + 32GB micro SD
Camera: Front facing 1.3 megapixel, 3 megapixel on back
Processor: 600MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
OS: Android 2.2 Froyo (possible 3.0)
Ships: European release set for October 2010
Price: £350 (US$536)

Viewsonic also has the ViewPad 7 slated for release during the same launch window as the ViewPad 100, this will be purely an Android 2.2 Froyo device with 600MHz ARM processor. Not as quick as the Intel, but could have difficulties with Android 2.2 and possibly Gingerbread 3.0. Unlike it’s Wi-Fi only brother, the ViewPad 7 will have 3G phone capabilities with a SIM card slot, dual cameras, one of which is on the front for UMTS video calling.

Toshiba Folio 100
Screen: 10.1-inch capacitive touch screen LCD, 1024×600
Storage: 16GB SSD, + 16GB SD
Camera: Front facing 1.3 megapixel
Processor: Nvidia Tegra 2
OS: Android 2.2 Froyo
Ships: Now shipping in Europe
Price: 399 Euro (US$510)

This 10-incher from Toshiba is right in line with Apple’s iPad. It’s got a crisp 1024×600 capacitive touch display and a blazing fast Nvidia Tegra2 processor. With Android 2.2, this tablet should be what dreams are made of. Only a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, but at least there is one. It comes with 16GB of storage, SD card slot, HDMI out, 802.11n Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, and Bluetooth, all within its 1.7 pound frame. A 3G mobile broadband version is also in the works for what we believe could be a North American launch in Q1 2011.

Archos 101 Internet Tablet
Screen: 10.1-inch TFT LCD, 1024×600
Storage: 8GB and 16GB flash, +32GB MicroSD
Camera: Front facing VGA
Processor: ARM Cortex A8 at 1 GHz with DSP
OS: Android 2.2 Froyo
Ships: October 2010
Price: $299.99 (8GB) and $349.99 (16GB)

The Archos 101 Internet Tablet is one of those things that just make you all fuzzy inside. It’s pretty loaded from every angle, with a decent CPU to push Android 2.2 and watch full HD movies on with its 3D OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics accelerator. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth only, but that’s a given as Archos was never in the mobile phone business to begin with. This is more of the “multimedia player” of tablets, offering USB slave 2.0, full size USB host, and a mini HDMI output jack.

Archos 7o Internet Tablet
Screen: 7-inch Capacitive multitouch screen LCD, 800×480
Storage: 8GB flash, up to 250GB HD
Camera: Front facing VGA
Processor: ARM Cortex A8 at 1 GHz with DSP
OS: Android 2.2 Froyo
Ships: October 2010
Price: $274.99 (8GB) and $349.99 (250GB)

A miniaturized version of the Archos 101, the 7o is basically the same tablet but can hold up to 250GB with the mega-harddrive upgrade. A nice feature that the Archos tablets come with is a built-in kickstand, allowing you to prop up your tablet just about anywhere for viewing 720p HD movies. Archos was always about multimedia, and the support for just about every audio and video file type out there stays in line with their dedication to providing solid portable media players.

With the release of all these tablets one thing is for certain. Wireless carriers are going to have to ramp up their data networks like never before. The amount of information that is going to be transferred between large tablet devices is going to break records, video calling will eat up a large chunk of that bandwidth, but won’t even come near what wireless movie and tv show rentals will use. One device we did not forget about, but purposely excluded is the Dell Streak. With its 5-inch LCD display, outdated software, and overpriced tag, we cant decide whether this is a tablet, smartphone or just a rip off. What do you think? Which tablet will be on your lap this holiday season?


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  1. Archos 7″ PC Tablet versus eLocity 7″ PC Tablet?

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