Apple introduced the second version of its iPad on March 2. The newer version is slimmer, lighter and has both front and rear-facing cameras. The devices can be bought to operate on either AT&T or Verizon’s 3G networks. Competitors are cropping up with increasing frequency, but the iPad remains the dominant tablet on the market.
Motorola introduced its tablet, the Xoom, at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The tablet is the first to run the newest version of Google’s Android operating system, known as Honeycomb. It was named the best gadget by the show’s official awards. Motorola said that the tablet will be available in the first quarter of 2011, but has not given any details about its cost.
The on-again, off-again Slate was in the works for some time. In October Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest PC manufacturer, introduced the Slate, its first tablet. Running a touch-optimized version of Microsoft Windows 7, the Slate is initially being targeted at business users. That would explain its enterprise-level price: $800.
Dell was one of the first computer makers to respond to the iPad, releasing the Streak in August. The Streak has a five-inch screen, smaller than the eight- to 10-inch screens common in tablets. With dimensions like that, the Streak occupies the space between the smartphone and the tablet.
Refusing to cede tablet ground to the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft, smartphone maker Research In Motion has been developing the PlayBook, part of its BlackBerry line of devices. The PlayBook will be available in 2011, though R.I.M. has shown prototypes already. Expect full Flash support for the Web, compatibility with corporate servers and enhanced security features.
Samsung Galaxy Tab
The Galaxy Tab from Samsung is one of the few real competitors to Apple’s iPad. Available through all four major cellphone carriers, the Galaxy runs on Google’s Android 2.2 operating system, which means it comes with some features — turn-by-turn navigation, voice dictation, Flash support — that either cost extra on the iPad or are not available at all. Prices vary depending on the carrier, but expect to pay between $400 and $600.
Toshiba’s tablet, which will run on Google’s Android operating system, resembles an iPad with a grippy rubberized backing. The company has incorporated features it has developed for its laptops, like stereo speakers and a screen that adjusts in contrast and brightness depending on the lighting. Both of those features are intended to make it more comfortable for consumers to watch video. Some of the details, like exact weight and exact price, are still being worked out.