Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tablet Overview from CES 2011

Another edition of CES is out of the way and it looks like we have a second straight “Year of the Tablet” on our hands. Where last year saw the breakout of the tablet market starting with some seemingly lacklustre announcements at CES and driven home by the mega success of the iPad and Galaxy Tab, this year we have quite a few new devices to look forward to, some with interesting features and others with a boat load of unknowns.

Right now, there is no way to know what will come of the surge of new technology. People like to make bold claims as early as possible so that they can say they saw it coming first. I won’t do that, because in a business like this you just never know what will happen. But, at the moment we are seeing dozens of potential “iPad Killers” shaping up with at least one or two of them looking really good.

Another major storyline that I touched on in my last post is the advent of 4G in many of these devices. With Verizon’s LTE network doing so well and Sprint’s 4G network online for the better part of 6 months now, tablets are now aiming for high speed mobile access, which is fantastic because it means a lot more functionality that should be available on a tablet, like video chat outside of Wireless.

The Big Android Question

Of course, most of the new devices on the cusp of being released are waiting for Google to drop their 3.0 Honeycomb Android OS, something that doesn’t have a firm release date (and likely won’t). Beyond merely waiting on Honeycomb to hit the market, we must hope that it works as advertised, without any major hiccups or shortcomings that will give Apple another major opening going into their second generation of iPads.

Assuming Honeycomb does land in good time, we’ll see a huge surge of new tablets hit the market in the next few months including the headliner of CES, the Motorola Xoom. And while Motorola made a great showing in Las Vegas, other companies will have their sights set on a larger cut of this market too including the Notion Ink Adam, the T Mobile G-Slate and the next generation of the Galaxy Tab, promising to have 4G connectivity.

I’ll be honest in saying I was a little disappointed with Microsoft’s showing. The big reveal we’d been hoping for to solve the Windows 7 issues on tablets didn’t come, but there was a lot of good news about how the Windows platform will develop into the next iteration and hopefully how hybrid devices like the Sliding PC 7 from Samsung or the Asus Eee Slate will operate. It’s not for everyone, but the hybrid option is intriguing to me.

Of course, it all comes down to a big guessing game. With three big time Asus tablet releases coming, the new Playbook, Apple’s second iPad, and many others hitting the market in the next six months, there will be a lot of discussion of the “next big thing” and where this market is going. What do you think? Which of these tablets, if any of them, stands a chance of rising to the top (or simply succeeding on a decent scale) in 2011? 

No comments: