Posted by: mobilitycloud | May 17, 2011

Top 10 tablets of 2011, the new leaderboard

Top 10 tablets of 2011, the new leaderboard

By Jason Hiner | May 4, 2011, 8:48am PDT


With new tablets hitting the market almost every week, there is suddenly an
overwhelming number of choices — and more on the way. Here are the 10 tablets
that are worth your attention.

Tablets are the technology’s industry’s latest gold rush. With Apple selling
15 million iPads in 2010 and projected to sell as many as 45 million in 2011,
everyone wants a piece of the public’s sudden infatuation with multitouch slabs
of silicon.  From the world’s biggest computer companies to obscure little parts
makers, there are an obscene number of companies releasing tablets this

Which ones are safe to ignore and which ones are worth your attention? At the
beginning of the year, I wrote a piece called The 10 hottest tablets to watch in 2011. Many of these tablets
have come to market, or will soon, and a couple new ones have popped up that
deserve a spot on the list. Also, based on my reviews of several of these
tablets, the order of ranking has changed. For example, the Motorola Xoom has
dropped from the No. 2 spot to the No. 9 spot and the Notion Ink Adam, Acer
Iconia, and T-Mobile G-Slate have dropped off the list entirely.

So, here is my updated assessment of the top tablets of 2011.

10. Samsung Sliding PC 7

A Windows 7 tablet that is legitimately intriguing is Samsung’s Sliding PC 7.
It looks like a normal 10-inch tablet, but includes a slide-out keyboard that
turns it into a fully functional laptop. The hardware manages to deftly combine
slimness with keyboard usability, based on the demo at CES. For those who don’t
want to carry both a laptop and a tablet, hybrid devices like this could carve
out a new niche. This one has a 1366×768 screen, up to a 64GB solid state drive,
2GB of RAM, and built-in 3G and WiMAX chips. Since it runs all of that hardware
and the full version of Windows, battery life will be a concern. It also costs
$650 and tablets over $600 have not been very well received by the public.

9. Motorola Xoom

When Google is ready to make a leap forward with Android, it anoints a
hardware partner to work closely with the company on the new software and
produce a device that will be an initial concept vehicle of what Google
envisions. For its Android 3.0 tablet OS, Motorola was the chosen one. And,
interestingly enough, the Motorola Xoom was not only be the first Honeycomb
tablet, but also the first tablet to run on Verizon’s new 4G LTE superhighway.
This 10-inch widescreen tablet has drool-inducing tech specs but the Android tablet software is incomplete and
desperately needs more apps. The other big drawback is the price. It retails for
$799 without a contract. Even the Wi-Fi version is $599. It will be tough to
justify that price until Google cleans up Honeycomb and gets app builders on
board. Read full review.

8. HTC Flyer

Half of the tablets on this list are powered by Android and HTC is one of the
powerhouses of the Android ecosystem. Unlike rivals Motorola, Samsung, and LG,
who all unveiled high-end tablets at CES 2011, HTC was remarkably silent on the
tablet question in Vegas. However, the company officially announced its first
tablet a month later at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It is the HTC Flyer
and it’s a 7-incher with 1.5 GHz CPU, 1.0 GB RAM, 32GB of Flash storage, an
attractive unibody design, and a special version of the HTC Sense UI designed
for tablets. Unlike most of the other Android tablets, the Flyer also includes
digital ink technology and a stylus. However, the Flyer will not run Android
3.0. Instead, it will launch with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Given the problems
with Honeycomb and HTC’s strong track record with its Sense UI, this could be a
very usable little tablet.

7. Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

The original Samsung Galaxy Tab was a 7-inch tablet that jumped the gun on
Android tablets before Google was ready but it also offered the first legitimate
challenge to the iPad. If it wasn’t so expensive ($600), it might have faired
even better than the respectable sales numbers that it posted. Samsung’s second
try at the tablet market looks a lot more potent. Running the official Android
tablet OS this time, Samsung is preparing to launch 8.9-inch and 10.1-inch versions of
the Galaxy Tab
in mid-2011. The 8.9-inch model could prove to be the most
attractive, since it’s a little smaller than the 10-inch tablets like the iPad
and the Xoom, which can be slightly awkward to hold and enter data. Plus, the
Samsung Galaxy Tab has a great price tag — $439 for the Wi-Fi model — and Samsung is making these tablets very friendly for enterprise

6. B&N Nook Color

The Barnes & Noble Nook Color e-reader recently got an update to Android 2.2 and its own app store,
which has turned it into a viable low-cost tablet. Some will argue against it
since it has a heavy-handed UI forced on top of Android and doesn’t run the full
Android Market app store. But, I couldn’t leave this little 7-inch tablet off
the list. It has a great form factor — thin and easy in the hands — and you
can’t beat the price at $249. Plus, if you’re highly technical, you can hack it into a full Android tablet.

5. ASUS Eee Pad Transformer

ASUS believes that the iPad has two weaknesses — lack of choice and limited
productivity (content creation) — so that’s where the company is focusing its
energy in tablets. At CES, ASUS unveiled its line of four tablets, and three of them were aimed at content
creators. The most interesting was the Eee Pad Transformer, a 10-inch tablet
with a dual core NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU that runs Android 3.0. The most innovative
thing about this one is that it has an optional keyboard dock that also
functions as an extended battery, giving the device up to 16 hours of life. ASUS
has pulled off an Android tablet that also doubles as a laptop when the
Transformer is in dock mode. Plus, the price is right. At $399, this tablet is
one of the best values on the market, so it’s no surprise that it it sold out in the US on its first day of online sales.

4. BlackBerry PlayBook

I was at the event last fall where RIM announced the BlackBerry PlayBook and
my first impressions were not very good — mostly because RIM kept
it behind glass. However, after getting my hands on the final product, I was a
lot more impressed. The PlayBook looks like it could become a factor in the
tablet market, especially for businesses that are already invested and committed
to the BES backend infrastructure. This is a 7-inch tablet, so that limits its
appeal a bit — except for the vocal minority who like the smaller form factor.
Still, the hardware feels great, the tablet OS is easy to figure out, and the
performance is staggeringly good. BlackBerry die-hards alone could turn this one
into a winner. It’s also the best tablet for Web browsing because of its
excellent implementation of Flash.

3. The Amazon tablet

Amazon appears to be putting all the pieces in place to build its own Android
tablet. In fact, it may be better positioned to compete with Apple than any of
the other tablet makers because of its strengths in content and cloud computing.
Amazon already had the Kindle e-book library and Web-based music and video
stores, but in 2011 it has added the Amazon Appstore for Android and Amazon Cloud
. Plus, the word out of Asia is that Amazon is
prepping a low-cost tablet
using an E-ink display. Amazon hasn’t made any
announcements yet, so this tablet benefits from lots of positive speculation,
but the stars appear to be aligning for a formidable tablet product from the
world’s e-commerce king, which will likely price it low and make money off the
content sales.

2. HP TouchPad

I think we can safely call this one the “X factor.” Even after Hewlett-Packard officially unveiled its webOS tablet on
February 9, there are still two big questions hanging out there – when exactly
will it arrive (”summer” is all we know) and how much will it cost? This product
has been in the works since HP bought Palm last summer. Putting the resources of
HP behind the massive potential of webOS could be great combination. Also, don’t
forget that HP has a decade of experience building tablet hardware — even if it
was as part of the long defeat for Microsoft’s Tablet PC. HP’s new TouchPad is
9.7-inch tablet with lots of high-end features, but it doesn’t have much to
distinguish it from Apple or Android and that could hurt. The tablet will likely
succeed or fail based on price. If it is comparable to the iPad ($500) while
offering a stronger feature-set, it has a shot. If it’s more expensive than the
iPad then it could struggle. Still, the WebOS is a natural fit for tablets and
the TouchPad could potentially trump the iPad in true multitasking, better
integrated notifications, and messaging.

1. Apple iPad 2

The iPad remains the king of the category and, even with the invasion of an
army of challengers, it’s difficult to see a scenario in which the iPad won’t
retain a commanding market share lead when we get to the end of 2011. It still
has too many factors in its favor: usability, battery life, a massive catalog of
apps, and price. The last factor might be the most important. In 2010, price was
the iPad’s greatest marketing weapon as rivals had a very hard time meeting the
iPad’s price tag while offering a comparable experience. The iPad 2 doesn’t
offer any revolutionary new changes. It’s thinner and lighter, has an upgraded
processor and display, and adds front and rear cameras. It’s a nice refinement,
and with its big advantages in app and content libraries, it easily has enough
value to keep it at the top of the list. Read full review.


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