Since the days of Moses Tablets have been an important tool for recording and sharing information. Sure Moses used his tablet with an iron stylus and hammer, his tablet was made of stone after-all. Strangely enough the purpose was the same whether stone or silicon, its all about information and connecting with people.
A few quick statistics. Worldwide tablet sales for Q3 2011, Apple 11 million, Samsung 1 million, HP 903,000. The Amazon Kindle has sold over 6million units in its short life so far. Android currently owns 42% of the US market, Gartner research expects Android to surpass Apples iPad in market share within the next two years.
IDC is forecasting that tablet sales will be in the hundreds of millions by 2016, they mustn’t think much of Windows tablets though, as they also quote 2016 as the year they pass 1million sales a year. Not great for the mighty Microsoft but great for Android and iPad tablets. Retailers are also overjoyed with the incredible growth in the tablet market, you could easily get the feeling they are the only thing keeping cash registers going ca-ching at the moment.
The Apple versus Samsung court case has also taken an interesting twist in recent days with the Judge ordering both parties to make another attempt at coming to an equally equitable compromise. Technically called ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ (ADR) the judge may have better luck putting boxing gloves on the lawyers and seeing who wins.
Microsoft and Intel are working behind the scenes to push Windows 8 tablets, a rare species at the moment. Microsoft has designated the Windows 8 operating system for ARM tablets as Windows 8 RT, RT for Real Time. Highlighting the speed, responsiveness and live feeds of the tile system.
During the latest Intel Developers Conference the Cove Point was revealed, big brother to the modern tablet, the Ultrabook / Tablet hybrid. Using an Intel Ivy Bridge processor this is more closely related to an Ultrabook than tablet. The Cove Points screen is able to fold flat, allowing for a tablet mode, slide the screen back to reveal the keyboard and operate in notebook mode. While being thicker and heavier than a tablet it is an interesting tech demonstration.
Since the release of the iPad third generation Apple has recaptured the markets attention. There is very little point arguing against the iPad, especially the 3rd Gen. With the incredibly high resolution Retina display, fast processor and even faster graphics sitting behind Apples extremely function operating system , put all of this together and you have the class leader. Still Apple isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, buying into Apple often feels more like a lifestyle choice than a simple gadget choice. For those unwilling to accept Apple’s lifestyle there are alternatives., all rushing to capture their part of the new fledgling market of the tablets.
Apple isn’t sitting back waiting for its market evaporate, to combat the Android army and pre-empt Microsoft’s misery Apple are planning to release a 7.85 inch tablet. News out of China is reporting that Apple has already placed an order for 6 million mini pads. Honhai Precision, a subsidiary of Foxconn, are reported to be producing the tablet, Foxconn has apparently built a brand new factory to supply the tablet, let’s hope this factory is suicide proof.
While Apple stretched its lead out once again with the release of the third generation iPad the next iPad may not be far away. Apple don’t necessarily consider the new iPad to be a new version, the next full upgrade to the iPad is due as early as Q3 or Q4 this year. Samsung along with the other manufacturers have much work on their hands to keep pace. Expect all tablets to shift to ultra-high resolution displays in the second half of the year, catching up with the iPad on that front at least.
With a very busy mid-year planned Samsung is pushing hard to win the hearts and minds of the smartphone and tablet loving populous. The very sexy new Galaxy III smartphone is due to be announced and possibly released in the US on the 4rd of May. With and ultra-fast quad core processor, larger high resolution OLED screen and ICS the Galaxy III already has many salivating in anticipation.
Also on Samsung schedule for mid-year is an open handed slap in the face for Amazon. With the world wide roll out of the Galaxy II 7.0 already underway Samsung is gunning for Amazons Kindle Fire. Priced at $249 USD for the WiFi only version the small end of the market is heating up. With ICS , 1024 x 600 resolution display, 1GHz Hummingbird Dual Core CPU, 8GB of Flash storage along with the Galaxy families heritage, good looks, latest hardware and great display, expect the 7 inch tablet to sell in huge quantities. The inclusion of 50GB of free Dropbox online storage is pure genius.
While the tablet market zigs towards smaller tablets Toshiba has decided to zag by producing a larger tablet. The soon to be released Excite 13 has been designed around a 13.3 inch display. With 1600 x 900 resolution this is a monster amongst tablets. Adding to this monster reputation is the 2.2pounds – 1kg – weight.
There will be 3 tablets in the Excite line-up, a compact 7.7 inch model along with a 10.1 inch model. Realizing that one size does not fit all in the tablet world Toshiba are hoping to push tablets into new markets, medical imaging – xrays – for example are far easier on a bigger tablet, in theory.
On sale from June 10 the Excite range aren’t going to be cheap. An all-aluminium case along with a healthy coating of Gorilla Glass up front, Toshiba is aiming for the high end market. Pricing will be set accordingly, with the top end Excite 13 costing $750 USD with 64GB of Flash Storage. The cheapest of the Excites will be the 16GB 7.7 inch model, still not cheap at $500 USD.
Internally all models will include a Tegra 3 quad core processor, making these very game capable tablets. 1GB of RAM along with all of the standard I/O ports for a this end of the market, HDMI, a 5-megapixel still camera for photos, a 2-megapixel camera for video work, WiFi, Bluetooth wireless capabilities, stereo speakers, and microUSB ports (recharge capable USB). Android ICS is installed as standard.
Potentially a risky move, such an unconventional size coupled with high prices.
April 22, 2012 will see ASUS release the Transformer Pad 300. With a 10.1 inch display capable of 1280×800. 16GB of internal storage that can be expanded through the microSD card slot. 10 hour battery life and ICS installed. In many ways the 300 is what the Transformer Prime should have been, not so much an upgrade to the Prime as it is a fully functional Prime.
Since the initial market buzz generated by the Transformer Prime ASUS has stumbled a number of times, not fully capturing the market the Prime deserved. They have only just recently fixed the GPS issues with the Prime (it didn’t work), the fix isn’t pretty, a whopping dongle hanging off the back, but it does work. As it turns out the sturdy aluminium case of the Prime is very good at blocking GPS. The dongle was the only way to work around this. All of the other issues have been resolved with software fixes, quite a few patches apparently.
Acer have professed their love for tablets by releasing a tablet for every CPU and Operating system. With x86 Windows 7, ARM Windows 8 and ARM Android operating systems available Acer has every flavour of tablet.
The latest from Acer is the A510, which has just begun shipping in Europe. Representing a solid tablet specification at a great price Acer hopes to finally get its foot in the door. Based on NVIDIA’s Über fast Tegra 3 chipset the A510 also includes a 1280×800 IPS display, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, micro SD and micro HDMI, 5MP camera and a 2MP front-facing camera, all squeezed into a 10mm thick shell. G-sensor, E-compass, L sensor, and Gyro-meter bring the features in line with the tablet market leaders. Sleek and well featured the Acer is the dark horse of the tablet world. At 399 Euro’s this is the cheapest Tegra 3 tablet available and probably the best performance versus value tablet on the market at the moment.
The Aakash tablet manufactured by Indian company Quad for the DataWind is by far the cheapest of the cheapies. The world’s lowest cost tablet, making tablets accessible to the 6.9 billion people on the planet who can’t afford an iPad. DataWind originally planned to release a $35 tablet for the student market, this first attempt was limited at best, with no touch screen and extremely slow operation it was the cheapest of the cheap. Upping their specs for the latest tablet, the UbiSlate 7, DataWind may still be able to maintain their title as the cheapest, it’s expected to cost $60 USD. With capacitive touch screen, Android 2.7, 800Mhz Cortex A8, Wifi, GPRS SIM slot and 256Mb of RAM the UbiSlate 7 is far from leading edge but it still represents incredible value along with more useable hardware.
The Xtex My Tablet 7 sits somewhere in the middle of the budget tablet market. With a $150 USD price tag Xtex are setting their tablet to compete directly with Amazons Kindle Fire. With the same 7 inch dimensions and slightly better specifications the My Tablet 7 provides a decent tablet experience for very little money.
The hardware includes 1.5Ghz ARM processor, 16GB of flash storage, 1 GB of RAM, SD Card slot, HDMI out, and front facing camera, the Xtex tablet is a high tech bargain. Topping the feature list, Android 4.0.3 ICS is installed from the start.
Tablets have been a small revolution in all of our hands. The latest generation of tablets represent incredible amounts of computing power in even more incredibly small packages, making our online and digital lives more accessible than ever.
The ultimate proof of their popularity, the fact that every man with a factory and production line is now attempting to sell us a tablet – will the LED lighting spam stop now? -, and we are buying them.
The only drawback at the moment to purchasing that brand new tablet is price, expect sales to skyrocket once the prices of the top end tablets drop. Some market researchers have marked $300 USD as the price point that will push sales into the stratosphere.
Slowly becoming the ubiquitous must have device of our times the tablet revolution is well underway. Who will win the war? Will Apple sue everyone one more time or can they all just learn to just get along, won’t somebody think of the children?