Steve Jobs has done it again. Whether the Apple iPad emulates the success of the iPhone and the ubiquitous iPod remains to be seen. But there’s no denying that the famed “Jobian” distortion field of hype has taken the world by storm and inspired a flurry of me-too tablets. Even as pundits debate the merits of the fitment of “yet another gadget” in an already overcrowded personal gizmo universe, nearly 50 iPad-like tablets are scrambling to get out there. And as many as 10 of these are slated to be announced at Asia’s biggest computer mela, Computex, in Taipei, Taiwan, this month from companies such as Acer, Asustek, MSI, Gigabyte, Quanta and Compal. Here’s a look at what the iPad’s prime competition has in store for you in the coming months.
This 7-inch 800x480 pixel touch- screen portable is already available in the US for $200 (around Rs9,340). Built along the lines of the Chumby Internet appliance, the Dash offers no internal storage but has a USB port (the $120 Chumby is a small Wi-Fi device that displays/plays infotainment off the Web). Similarly, the Dash uses Wi-Fi to stream all content. A library of 1,000 specially written, free Internet applications permit browsing, email, news, personal entertainment, calendaring, weather, sports, social networking, etc. The Dash has built-in speakers and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Since it allows multitasking, you can listen to music while surfing.
MSI WIND PAD 100/110
Asian manufacturing tiger MSI is all set to launch a new tablet. Unveiled at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2010, Android (Wind Pad 110) and Windows OS (Wind Pad 100) versions of the slate will have a 10-inch colour multi-touch touch screen and offer wireless support. At the core of this tablet will be the Intel Atom Z530 1.66GHz processor, preloaded with Windows 7. And this makes it more powerful than the iPad’s ARM A4 chip. The tablet will come with a front-mounted, built-in camera for users to take pictures and also to “record themselves” when in front of the tablet. There will be an embedded GPS chip as well as G Sensor to rotate the screen to match the user’s body angle. Battery life is reported to be an impressive 8 hours plus. Pricing for the MSI Tablet will be in the region of $500.
ARCHOS 9 PCTABLET
Running Windows 7 on an Atom processor, the already available 8.9-inch Archos 9 offers 1GB RAM, a 60GB hard disk, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, built-in mic and stereo speakers. While it is 17mm thick and weighs 800g (vis-à-vis the iPad’s 13.4mm and 680g), the tablet offers a USB port. Battery life is about 5 hours against the iPad’s 10- plus hours. Despite a head start of several months over the iPad, the $550 tablet has failed to make much of an impression so far. This is primarily due to its resistive (and therefore pressure-sensitive) touch screen that makes onscreen typing difficult, even with the accompanying stylus.
LENOVO IDEAPAD U1 HYBRID
A cynosure for all eyes at CES 2010, the U1 Hybrid was shown as an interesting dual processor laptop/tablet contraption. The U1 is a removable multi-touch touch screen, slate-like ultramobile computer that docks into a notebook to become a regular, full-function laptop. In tablet mode, a Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM processor took charge with Lenovo’s Skylight operating system. But now that the Skylight project has reportedly been shelved, Android should take its place. The tablet features a resistive, 11.6-inch, multi-touch, HD LED display, an accelerometer and 16GB flash memory. The configuration shown at CES revolved around an Intel Core 2 Duo CULV processor, 3G connectivity, and a 128GB solid state drive running Windows 7. Though the launch date is now uncertain, it is slated to be priced under $1,000.
This one must have rocked Microsoft like a hurricane. The just-reborn, Windows-shorn HP tablet is code-named Hurricane. This device from the world’s top PC maker will now run webOS instead of Windows 7. Palm webOS is a touch-friendly mobile operating system based on Linux with proprietary components developed by Palm, a company that has recently been acquired by HP for $1.2 billion. Much in the news in the last few months as the now-axed HP Slate (as it was popularly known) has so far championed the potential of Windows 7 as a touch-screen OS. Reportedly, another change will be the swapping of the Intel Atom processor in the tablet with an ARM chip. The Hurricane debuts in the third quarter of 2010.
FUSION GARAGE JOOJOO
This is the David that never beat Goliath. Debuting right before the iPad, the Joojoo (formerly Crunchpad), created a buzz. But nothing else. Flaunting a bigger screen at 12.1 inch, the Intel Atom plus Nvidia Ion graphics-based Joojoo is over 400g heavier than the iPad and offers only 2.5 hours of battery life, 4GB of storage and has a fairly confusing interface for online navigation. Quite similar in appearance to the GodPad, it is, however, Flash-compliant and does have a USB port, frontal camera for videoconferencing, multitasking and a price tag of $500.
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