Love it or loathe it, you can’t deny that Tablets have become very big news lately. The question about whether you actually need one still remains- and many iPad owners have found their pretty toys relegated to mere coffee table coasters in recent days. However, as many brands are starting to become aware of what Tablets have to offer, we’re going to see more tablet specific content become available, and brands such as The Times and Vogue are creating ways for you to view their creations tablet style. As time progresses we’re going to see more development in the world of tablets, and potentially discover a use for these over sized iPhone’s/ netbook style creations.
Here are the tablets that you’ll want to pay attention too, and I’m going to give you the hard stats on what each model has to offer, from ease of use, accessibility to storage expansion and weight.
The Apple iPad
This tablet is the most well known on the market, and anyone who has an iPhone will find the controls a doddle, as they’ve simply been supersized for this device. The iPad is the priciest tablet on the market, currently coming in at £429 for the most basic model. For this you get a glossy looking 9.7 inch screen, which weighs in at 1.5 (or 1.6 model dependant/ 0.68 kg) pounds and is 13.4 mm thick. It comes in Wi-Fi and 3G versions and has a built in hard drive of 16, 32 or 64GB which is not expandable. You can connect to it via the Apple connector, but there’s also a microSim card holder (for 3G access) and a 3.5 mm jack for your headphone (non proprietary).
Downsides are that it’s lacking a USB connector, has no camera (so, no video calling) and just forget about a SD card reader. On the plus side, multi touch functionality makes it a joy to use though, as you can swoosh easily across pages, expanding at will with a mere wiggle of the fingers. The iPad also plays video in 720 , will work with Windows as well as Macs, and, the killer reason- is very, very pretty. They say you can have 10 hours of use, using Wi-Fi and the processor is a 1GHz Apple A4 chip, which is super fast. The plus point of the iPad is that you have access to the huge and varied Apple store, and buying and downloading apps is very easy. As Apple has created such a high profile for itself in the tablet market, it’s likely that any apps to be released will be created with the iPad in mind, so you’ll probably get them before other platforms do.
The BlackBerry Playbook
I’m very intrigued by this recent addition to the Tablet world, as it could mean a new way of using tablets for everyone. Blackberry is known for their business and office skills, so extending their handset range into the tablet arena can only mean that they’re considering it featuring in an office environment, miles apart from the iPad’s ethos of fun. The Playbook features a 7 inch display which weighs in at 0.4kg and is 10mm thick.
It features a multitouch capacitive screen and has two cameras, a 3 MP forward facing one, and a 5 MP rear camera. They’ve got a lot of info on video conferencing bundles, which is another step on them pushing it as a business device. Input wise, you get a HDMI port for connecting it to HDTV’s or a hi-def projector, a USB port and 1080p You also get all the usual Blackberry resources bundle in, from the calendar to BBM, which I’m guessing will all sync up nicely with your phone. It uses a 1GHz dual core processor and has 1GB of RAM, and is able to work with Adobe Flash as well (a major plus point for web browsing). Where it loses a little ground is in the app department, as that’s nothing to write home about, but the BlackBerry App store is continually growing. We don’t have a price for this yet, but Blackberry say, ‘ it will fall in the lower range of prices for consumer tablets already in the suddenly congested market.’ OK, then, we’ll wait to 2011 ( when it’s out) and see for ourselves.
One issue though- as they’re trying so hard to make this a business tablet, why not call it the WorkBook rather than the PlayBook? See what I’m saying, yeah?
Toshiba Folio 100
The Toshiba Folio device is an interesting move for a brand that doesn’t tend to challenge the status quo, so perhaps it’s an indication of how big people think tablets will be that they want to get in on the game. We’re looking at a capacitive tablet that has a 10.1 inch screen, works on Android 2.2 and has a 16:9 resolution, which means it’s ideal for watching movies on.
The Folio weighs in at 0.76 kg and is 14mm thick. It’s marginally heavier and thicker than the iPad, but it does come in at £100 cheaper (price approx £330) and also features a USB 2.0 slot, which is very exciting. Well, it shouldn’t be exciting, it should be ‘as standard’ but considering the USB port is a rarity in proprietary tablets, it’s a very nice inclusion.
The Folio 11 uses a Tegra 2 processor which means start up times are very quick and There’s also an HDMI port, a webcam, an SD card slot and the memory is 16GB. I love the fact that is support Adobe Flash and HD video, and the inclusion of the Android app store is very attractive- a worthy contender on the tablet scene I think.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab
The Samsung Galaxy Tab features a 7 inch screen. It weighs in at 0.38kg and is 11.98mm thick. It has 16GB of internal storage (expandable up to 32GB) and has two cameras, a front facing 1.3 MP camera that’s useful for video chat, and a rear facing 3 megapixel camera. It runs on Android 2.2 and has a high res screen, packing in 1024 x 600 pixels. It has 1GB of RAM, a microSD card reader and works with Flash. The video player shows movies in 1980p, it works with Google Apps ( a rarity for tablets) and can also function as a phone. Yes, for realzies, this behemoth can make voice calls, and sens SMS, and will be out on PAYG and contract.
Downsides would be that the screen size might feel a tad claustrophobic, and the fact that it is a phone. Do you want a 7 inch phone? Thats hardly pocket friendly now is it? Hmm. The price might decide it all and it has recently been leaked that it would be around £406, so you’ll have to decide whether that’s a good fit for you.
Binatone HomeSurf Tablet
Binatone is a brand better known for budget house phones and cheap as chips accessories, so it stands to reason that their tablet foray doesn’t offer that much in terms of spec. What it does have however is a price which makes tablets accessible to people with less cash flow, so that’s a great thing. Is it worth spending pennies on though?
Well, yes and no. There are two tablets in their range, the HomeSurf 8 and HomeSurf 7, and the numbers correspond to the screen size. I’m going to focus on the larger one, the HomeSurf 8. The screens are sadly resistive rather than capacitive, which means you’ll have a lot of finger punching and quiet swearing going on, and they feature 2GB of internal memory, which is expandable via an SDHC card. The screen resolution is very low, so forget about HD video, as it has 800 x 400 pixels. It does have a 3.5mm jack however, and comes with a charging dock that includes a speaker. It features WiFi and works on Android 1.6- which may be old, but will still give you access to the app store, though it won’t work with flash sites. It features a mini USB port which is attractive, and weighs in at 2kg , which is less so. It’s not a great product, but the price is very tempting. I’d still advise against this though, as the aggro caused by the low spec would be to frustrating for me.
It will cost from £129.99 and it’s available for pre order on Expansys.
Dell are going the same route as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and creating a tablet/mobile that is multifunctional. Whereas the Samsung is 7 inches, a proper ‘tablet size’, the Dell Streak is trying to classify itself as a tablet with a mere 5 inch capacitive multi-touch screen. The Dell Streak weighs in at 0.22kg and is 9.98mm thick. It features Google Maps, WiFi and a 5 MP camera with flash. There’s 16GB of onboard memory, expandable up to 32GB via a MicroSD card. You also get a 1GHz Snapdragon processor for superfast browsing and works on Android 2.1 (though they’re planning to upgrade this). It seems pretty large for a handset, but this does seem to be the trend at the moment, and the screen is amazing, very crisp and bright to look at, and there’s a USB 2.0 connection as well.
You can get it for £399 on its own, or from £25 a month on contract-which you’d want if you were going to make the most of this model.
What could be interesting, and what there is no current info on, is the possibility of a 7 inch or 10 inch model- Engadget has the (limited) scoop.
Archos 10.1 Internet Tablet
Many people give Archos a hard time, wondering whether people actually want a large PMP, and what the point is. I’m a huge fan- finding their 704 model great for watching movies on at the gym, and picking up emails in airports- more portable than a netbook, and lighter than a tablet. What do I think of their tablet venture though? Well…
The screen size comes in at 10.1 inches, which makes it the largest model available. It works of Android 2.2 and weighs in at 0.48kg and 12mm thick. The screen resolution is 1024 x 600 (compare this to the iPad 1024 x 768), so it will look pretty sharp,it has an internal memory of up to 16GB (expandable via SDHC) and features an HDMI output. I’d also like to mention that the 7 inch tablet they have, can store up to 250GB of memory.
I love the fact that the Archos 10.1 feature a USB 2.0 port, and there’s also a Micro SD card slot. It features an integrated webcam, a 1Ghz ARM Coretx processor and a graphics accelerator. The price is also very attractive, as this baby can be yours for around £230, which makes it a very competitive option. What I’m not so enthused about is the files that it will play- it will play them all (AVI, MPEG etc) but if you want them, you need to pay for the ‘Optional Cinema Plugin’, gee thanks very much. Without it, you’re limited to a few formats, so you’ll want to add £40 to the price to include this.