One of the standout trends of CES 2011 was the tablet. No fewer than 80 tablets were on display from manufacturers from across the globe, each hoping to take a piece of the growing market, led by the iPad.Most of the tablets, unsurprisingly, were running Android. With details of Android 3.0 Honeycomb just starting to eke out in earnest at the show, most tablet makers were instead running customized versions of Android 2.2 or 2.3. By the time many of the tablets we looked at hit the market, we expect that they will ship with Honeycomb.We’ve compiled a video gallery of some of our favorite tablets from the floors and hotel suites at CES. While most of these run Android, the BlackBerry PlayBook and the Windows 7-based ASUS Eee Slate EP121 also made strong showings.The first Android 3.0-based tablet, the Motorola Xoom, was one of the big stars of CES, and we can’t wait to see it do more than running demos.One of our surprise favorites of CES 2011 was the ASUS Eee Transformer. As someone who previously wasn’t sold on the concept of a detachable netbook/tablet combination, I have to say, I like ASUS’s approach in this space.2011 is going to be a great year for tablets — Android or otherwise — and we look forward to watching these devices come to market and seeing what other surprises are in store for us from other manufacturers.Do you plan on buying a tablet in 2011? Let us know in the comments.
Motorola Xoom and Android Honeycomb Demo
The Motorola Xoom will be the first tablet to hit the market running Google’s tablet-specific version of Android, codenamed Honeycomb.
Mashable’s Ben Parr already gave his thoughts on the tablet, and while we wish that more of the actual software (rather than just a demo loop) had been on display, we have high hopes for this dual-core tablet and for Honeycomb.
Motorola really spurred the Android revolution in the smartphone space. Let’s see if the company can do the same thing with tablets.
Detailed Demo: BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
BlackBerry announced its QNX-powered tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, last fall to much fanfare. As one of the few non-Android tablets at CES, we were curious to see the device up close and personal.
As you can see, the device is fast and has an interesting user interface. More than just supporting Flash video content, RIM also supports apps written in Adobe Air.
RIM might be trying to position the PlayBook as a business tool, but we think this dual-core tablet has more innate appeal to home users. We’re just waiting for the company to announce pricing and availability information.
ASUS Eee Transformer
ASUS had a very solid showing at CES 2011, with no less than four tablets on display.
Our favorite of the bunch was the ASUS Eee Transformer. This 10.1-inch tablet was displayed running Android 2.2, but ASUS says it will ship with Honeycomb. The Tegra 2 chipset was fast and the screen was responsive.
The big standout feature of this tablet is that it can connect to a docking station of sorts that will turn the tablet into a bonafide netbook. Not only is the resulting package still very lightweight, it doubles the battery life to 16 hours (8 hours on the tablet, 8 on the keyboard). It also features seemingly standard Android-tablet features like front and rear cameras.
While lots of companies had keyboard/tablet hybrid models on display at CES, we most liked ASUS’s approach with the Eee Transformer.
VIZIO VIA Tablet and Mobile Phone Demo at CES, 2011
We’ve already shared some of our thoughts on VIZIO’s VIA tablet and smartphone series, but we think this 8-inch tablet deserves another mention for not just having a unique form factor (not 7 inches, not 10.1), but for having a very attractive Android skin.
The software on the demo unit was still being tweaked, but we liked some of the hardware features like three speakers for stereo sound in landscape and portrait mode, built-in IR ports and an HDCP compliant HDMI port.
Dell Streak 7 Demo
Dell made an impressive showing with its Streak 7 4G tablet at CES 2011.
This 7-inch, dual-camera tablet looked a lot like some of the other 7-inch tablets we saw at CES, but we appreciated the thought Dell put into making sure the device could connect with other components in the home.
The big question for Dell will be how quickly it can get Android 3.0 on its tablet, lest it repeat the same mistake it made with the Dell Streak 5 (shipping with the antiquated Android 1.6).
ASUS Eee Pad MeMO CES 2011
Another ASUS tablet on display at CES was the Eee Pad MeMO. This 7-inch tablet looks very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Not only has ASUS said that the Eee Pad MeMO will support Android 3.0, the device features a capacitive touch stylus that will let you take notes on the fly.
Perhaps it was the demonstration unit, perhaps it was all the hordes of people that used the device before us, but we had problems getting the stylus to respond well on the screen. This was reminiscent of other capacitive styli we’ve tried to use over the years (the new paintbrush stylus notwithstanding), which just never seem to work right.
More disappointingly, the addition of a digitizer or additional overlay for the stylus also impeded our finger movements on the device. Again, this was CES; it’s possible that final shipping versions will be better. Form factor aside, the stylus gimmick wasn’t much of a draw.
Still, we liked the spec layout of the device and we look forward to seeing it with Android 3.0
Panasonic Tablet to TV at CES 2011
Panasonic took a slightly different approach to the tablet mania, highlighting how you can use its innovative new accessory tablet with its line of connected television sets.
ASUS Eee Slate CES 2011
At last year’s CES, Microsoft made a big production of showcasing a bunch of Windows 7-powered slate PCs. Twelve months later, most of those devices never hit the market.
That didn’t stop ASUS from adding some variety to its Android-centric lineup with the Eee Slate EP121. This 12.1-inch LED-backlit tablet comes with a stand-alone, full-sized bluetooth keyboard and runs Windows 7 Home Premium. It also includes a stylus (that unlike the ASUS Eee MeMO, actually works well).
Under the hood, this device — which has some heft and is far larger than other tablets on the market — has an Intel Core i5 processor and an SSD with 32GB or 64GB of storage, plus 4GB or RAM. In other words, this is a power-packed laptop in the form factor of a tablet.
We were impressed with the device’s speed and with the stylus — the touch input wasn’t bad either. Our only hesitation with this sort of device is battery life and real-world portability. The tablet is nice, but I’m not sure how different this is from traveling with both a small notebook and an iPad (or other tablet computer).
For individuals that want a full-functioning computer that can double as a tablet, who understand that they are giving up some portability and battery life, this might be an interesting compromise.
Dell Wireless Living Room and Streak 7 Demo
Dell’s Angela Blair shows us how the company’s new technologies allow you to wirelessly transfer media between devices in your home.
ASUS Eee Slider
The final ASUS tablet we played with was the Eee Slider. Spec wise, this is the same as the Eee Transformer but instead of detaching from the keyboard, a spring-bound keyboard is built-in underneath.
The keyboard isn’t a bad size — though we didn’t like the keys on it as much as on the Transformer.
The demo unit wasn’t as responsive as the Transformer, but since the two share the same internals we expect the final Android 3.0-shipping product to really fly. It features dual cameras, a Tegra 2 powered chipset and a beautiful 10.1-inch IPS display.
Our only hesitation with the Slider is that the bulk added on by the keyboard takes something away from the device. It’s still relatively thin and lightweight, but we’re not sure how often people will actually end up using the keyboard. From a travel standpoint, I could see myself more willing to use the Transformer (and leave the keyboard base behind when I’m on the go) rather than the Slider.
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