Top upcoming tablet launches of 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 10:32 by Tech Correspondent

A lowdown on the most-anticipated tablets of 2011

The flood gates have opened and every second company on the planet has announced a tablet device. At the CES 2011 alone, almost 100 new tablets were showcased.

While Android OS, webOS and QNX show a lot of potential, does the reigning tablet market king – Apple iPad – has anything to worry about? The unofficially dubbed Apple iPad 2 is in the works and promises to be better than ever, making up for all the past grievances. Read more about Apple iPad 2 features and rumors

The new generation of tablets promises to please. But do they have what it takes to stand up to the mighty iPad? You decide!

Motorola Xoom

Why it is special

Awarded the coveted CNET “Best of Show” title at the CES 2011, Motorola Xoom sports a dual-core processor and Android 3.0 aka Honeycomb OS. Its 10.1-inch screen comes in 16:9 widescreen format and allows high-definition video playback. Motorola Xoom is Flash-friendly and its battery is said to support 10 hours of video playback.

motorola xoom photo

Photo: Motorola Xoom

Motorola Xoom comes with two cameras including a 2-megapixel camera for video conferencing and a 5-megapixel camera capable of shooting 720p HD video. While 3G editions will roll out first, the Motorola tablet is fully upgradable to 4G. The Xoom has features like a built-in gyroscope and e-compass, and comes preloaded with applications like Google e-books and Google Maps 5.0 with 3D interaction.

Price and availability

The Xoom has it all to take on the Apple iPad (including Flash support), but it also has something that makes it unattractive in the mobile market space: A “xooming” price. At $700, Motorola Xoom is as expensive as the high-end iPad 64GB with 3G. It is expected to launch before March. Still want it? Get more info on Motorola Xoom

Notion Ink Adam

Why it is special

Created by a Bangalore start-up Notion Ink, Adam took almost 3 years in the making. Despite being a virtual nobody, the company created headlines when it introduced Adam at the CES 2010 because of its impressive specs. In 2009 end, Nvidia Tegra dual core processor, full HD video playback and Pixel Qi technology in a tablet were futuristic.

notion ink adam photo

Photo: Notion Ink Adam

Pixel Qi is comparable to Amazon Kindle’s E Ink technology and brightens up your screen when you are out in the sun, making reading text and watching videos easy.

Notion Ink Adam is still impressive. Apart from the above specs, Adam features a 10-inch screen, 3.2-megapixel swivel camera, customized Android 2.3 OS, 3G compatibility, FM radio, GPS, accelerometer and almost every I/O port you could wish for. The only damper is its external memory that cannot be extended beyond 8GB.

Price and availability

The Adam is priced competitively, with its base, non-Pixel Qi model starting at $375. Not only this, the Adam has garnered for itself a passionate cult following — Adamites, if you may — who are out to spread the word on Adam, making up for the lack of mainstream promotion by Notion Ink.

The first dual-core tablet to hit the stores, Notion Ink’s Adam has already started shipping. Have you got your Adam yet?

BlackBerry Playbook

Why it is special

The Playbook is expected to be one of the most user-friendly and intuitive tablets in the market. RIM acquired software companies QNS and TAT for the development of its Blackberry tablet OS, and hands-on reviewers say that the Playbook takes the touch experience to an all new level.

blackberry playbook photo

Photo: BlackBerry Playbook

Apple CEO may have declared tablets with smaller displays as DOA (Dead On Arrival), but BlackBerry Playbook with its 7-inch screen is compact and portable (it may even fit into your coat pocket). The 1024 x 600 resolution on a small screen looks crisp and HD videos are sharp. BlackBerry users can pair the Playbook to their phones and run messenger, e-mails, etc., directly from the tablet.

The Playbook is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor that promises “true” multitasking. It can play more than one HD video at a time and supports Adobe Flash. RIM promises 8 hours of battery life (presumably with video playback), which is less than the 10-hour battery time of the iPad and the Xoom. The Blackberry tablet packs in two cameras: 5 megapixels at rear and 3 megapixels at front.

Price and availability

The Playbook is a powerful device, but RIM will not launch a 3G model when the tablet hits the stores within the next couple of months. It will priced competitively though and we are expecting a sub-$500 figure. More info BlackBerry Playbook

HP/Palm Topaz

Why it is special

Let’s just put it this way that from Day 1, Palm’s webOS platform was more suitable for a tablet-sized device than a smartphone. From what we have seen of webOS, it is capable of running circles around iOS and Google Android OS when it comes to multitasking interface.

hp topaz rumored photo photo

Photo: HP Topaz

Cloud computing would be the buzz words here with HP trying to interconnect all webOS devices. Similar to how Palm’s Pre phones use a wireless charger, Topaz also comes with wireless charging facility called Touchstone.

The HP tablet will also feature Cloud Canvas which is probably a Web portal that each HP user will have for storing data and controlling various HP devices such as printers. Touchstone will enable features like wireless picture and contact sharing, audio streaming via Bluetooth to a speaker dock, wireless video streaming to an HDMI output, wireless video gaming, etc.

The HP Topaz offers a 9.7-inch Gorilla Glass display and run 8 hours on a full charge. As is the norm with all new tablets now, HP Topaz will also feature a dual-core processor and dual cameras. HP Topaz is said to come with stereo speakers that use Dre’s Beats Audio technology.

Price and availability

Though pricing details are not known, the HP tablets are expected to hit the shelves in the second half of 2011.

It may be noted that the features mentioned here are speculations as HP will unveil its tablets on Feb. 9. We will keep you posted on the updates. Meanwhile read our story on HP Topaz leaked specs

Asus Eee Pad Slider

Why it is special

Are you one of those guys with big thumbs who find touchscreen QWERTY keypads impossible to use? Well, Asus Eee Pad Slider might just be what the doctor ordered for you.

asus eee pad slider photo

Photo: Asus Eee Pad Slider

The Asus tablet has a 10-inch touchscreen that slides up to reveal a physical QWERTY keyboard that rests at about 130 degrees to the screen. The Eee Pad is remarkably thin despite the attached keyboard, and thinner than similarly formatted Samsung Sliding PC 7 Series laptop/tablet hybrid.

The Eee Pad Slider uses Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core processor, building its foundation as a solid tablet, and runs Asus’ proprietary MyWave interface atop Google Android OS. Asus promises that its Eee Pad tablets would run Android 3.0 aka Honeycomb if Google releases it in time for the tablets’ shipment.

Asus Eee Pad Slider has a 1.3-megapixel camera at front for video calls and its 5-megapixel camera at rear pack in LED flash. So what’s the downside? Its battery life is limited to 6 hours and it’s not 3G-ready yet.

Price and availability

Asus Eee Pad Slider will cost about $500-$800 and will hit the stores in May 2011. Read more on Asus Eee Pad Slider

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