Attack of the tablets – part 1

Attack of the tablets – part 1There’s simply no escaping tablets these days. They’re bloomin’ everywhere. At the time of writing, two-thirds of our last dozen news articles have featured tablets. We saw around 100 new devices at CES, a handful more at Mobile World Congress, and still they keep coming.

Apple’s iPad was dominant in 2010. A report by ABI Research shows that of 4.5 million tablets sold in Q3, “about 93%” were iPads. But that was 2010. All the big names are getting in on the action in 2011.

Let’s check out the main players in the tablet game.

Apple iPad 2

Ok, elephant in the room. The iPad 2. Apple has proven, time and again, that you don’t necessarily need to have the best specs in order to have the most popular device. There’s no Retina Display and no SD card reader, but the iPad 2 will undoubtedly sell by the bucket load.

The iPad 2 takes the original iPad and throws in a couple of cameras, juicier processing, HDMI out, and the brand new iOS 4.3. It'll also be available in black or white.

Attack of the tablets – part 1Apple has chosen to keep the screen size the same with the iPad 2. Some users reckon 9.7in is too big, though it’s really personal preference. For those who prefer a smaller tablet, there’ll be plenty of choice this year.

Screen: 9.7in, 1024 x 768
Processor: 1GHz dual-core Apple A5
OS: iOS 4.3
Cameras: front and rear
Storage: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Weight: 601g
Release date: March 26

HTC Flyer

HTC’s smartphone showing at Mobile World Congress was somewhat lacklustre. Modest upgrades for the Wildfire, Desire and Incredible, and a couple of Facebook phones. Meh.

The real star at HTC’s stand was the HTC Flyer. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to touch it. Instead, an HTC employee held it tantalisingly close while he showed it off. It comes with a stylus, but you can still use your fingers if you prefer. Interestingly, it’ll use Gingerbread instead of Honeycomb.

Attack of the tablets – part 1At 7in, it's smaller and lighter than many of its rivals, and its 1.5GHz processor makes it a nippy little fella.

HTC is one of the most popular manufacturers of Android smartphones, and we fully expect that trend to continue on the tablet scene.

Screen: 7in, 1024 x 600
Processor: 1.5GHz
OS: Android 2.4 (Gingerbread)
Cameras: 5MP rear, 1.3MP front
Storage: 32GB
Weight: 420g
Release date: unknown

Motorola Xoom

Alongside the Atrix, the Motorola Xoom was one of the stars of the show at CES in January, with its 10.1in HD screen. It’s already out in the States, making it the first tablet available with Honeycomb.

Motorola boosted the Xoom’s profile by giving away limited edition gold-hued devices in Oscars goodie bags, but it hasn’t been an entirely smooth ride. Before the launch, Xoom, an online payment provider, filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the tablet’s release, and demanding that Motorola change the tablet’s name.

Attack of the tablets – part 1When we got our hands on the Xoom in Barcelona, it was noticeably weightier than many of the other tablets. At 730g, it’s over 100g heavier than the iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. That could be a deal-breaker for some.

Historically, Motorola hasn’t seen the UK as a priority when it comes to new gear, but the latest rumours suggest we’ll get it next month.

Screen: 10.1in, 1280 x 800
Processor: 1GHz Tegra 2 dual-core
OS: Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
Cameras: 5MP rear, 2MP front
Storage: 32GB
Weight: 730g
Release date: April 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 – or Tab 10.1, to use its proper name – was revealed at Mobile World Congress alongside the Samsung Galaxy S II. It takes the existing Galaxy Tab and makes it bigger and better, stretching the screen size from 7in to 10.1in.

Interestingly, Samsung looks set to reveal yet another variation on the Tab in a few weeks. It’s expected to show off the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 at the Unpacked event in Florida.

Samsung is one of the few manufacturers offering different sizes of its tablet. Will that Attack of the tablets – part 1strategy pay off?

Screen: 10.1in
Processor: 1GHz Tegra 2 dual-core
OS: Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
Cameras: 8MP rear, 2MP
Storage: 16GB or 32GB
Weight: 599g
Release date: Q2 2011

Read more about: Apple iPad 2HTC FlyerMotorola Xoom MZ601Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

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