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3/24/2011
02:59 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Staples Launches Tablet Shopping Site

Apple's iPad is missing from the Web site, but it does have information on the Motorola Xoom, BlackBerry PlayBook, Dell Streak 7, Toshiba Tablet, and the HP TouchPad.

Staples has launched a tablet microsite to provide information about some of the tablets that are already for sale and several that will become available later this year. Web shoppers can use the site to compare specs and read tutorials designed to help educate both consumer and professional customers about tablet features.

To start, it is offering information on the Motorola Xoom, which can be purchased from Staples.com, as well as the BlackBerry PlayBook, Dell Streak 7, Toshiba Tablet, and the HP TouchPad. Customers can pre-order the Streak 7 and PlayBook, but Staples only says the Toshiba Tablet and TouchPad are coming "soon."

Looking for an iPad? Don't bother.

"The days of the iPad's virtual monopoly on the tablet market are over as an onslaught of new innovative tablet computers begins to enter the market," Staples says in its press release. "The new options are generating a wave of tablet demand among businesses and consumers, but also creating anxiety over the risk of buying the wrong tablet for their needs."

I don't know about creating anxiety, but the growing crop of Android tablets definitely makes the decision on which one to purchase a bit more difficult. Should you pick a tablet with a 7-inch screen or a 10-inch screen? Should you choose a tablet that runs Android or webOS? What about processors, storage capacity, camera quality, and connectivity options? Yes, there's a lot to consider, and Staples wants to help out.

In addition to the Web site, Staples says it will soon be stocking tablets at all 1,600 locations in the U.S. At its retail locations, Staples will be making "EasyTech" associates available to those who might need some assistance in picking the right tablet.

I took the microsite for a quick spin on Thursday. It has a good set of pictures available of each tablet, and provides a lot of general information about each device. Rather than cook up its own descriptions of the tablets, it appears that it is using marketing language provided by the manufacturers. For a company that claims to be a "leader in tech products and services" I'd expect to see something more than fluffy marketing lingo.

Perhaps the best feature is the comparison tool, which lets you put the specs of three tablets side-by-side. At a quick glance, you can use the comparison tool to see how each tablet matches up when put next to its competitors.

The site also offers some basic advice, too, such as how to use a tablet and the fundamentals about applications available for the different tablet platforms.

In a prepared statement, Peter Scala, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for office technology at Staples, said, "The majority of us turn to the Internet to learn and understand new technologies. The Staples tablet microsites provide information to help customers make informed decisions and, once they decide on the product best for them, the ability to purchase with fast and free delivery."

Thankfully, the site also offers a section for user reviews of the tablets. While none have been posted yet, visitors of Staples' tablet microsite can be assured they'll get the real deal (i.e., no marketing B.S.) from their peers.


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