CES Tablet Extravaganza: Motorola, RIM, Toshiba & Asus Stand Out - InformationWeek
Mobile // Mobile Devices
07:21 PM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
Connect Directly
Building Security for the IoT
Nov 09, 2017
In this webcast, experts discuss the most effective approaches to securing Internet-enabled system ...Read More>>

CES Tablet Extravaganza: Motorola, RIM, Toshiba & Asus Stand Out

CES provided a tableau of what buyers can expect in tablets, nearly all of them evolutionary hardware improvements over the currently-shipping iPad, none of them available now, and most of them, predictably, clones. Here's a guide, based on a modest round of discussions and demonstrations at a frenzied CES; videos included where appropriate.

The tablet tease is finally over. Even if nothing new has shipped, if pricing and availability have yet to be revealed, if mobile operators are still being courted, and if a viable underlying tablet platform (besides iOS) has yet to be made available, there is little left to learn, other than the answer to that pesky question about which device will dare challenge Apple's relentless success, or at least emerge as the leading also-ran. Motorola is the early favorite, but there are equally compelling competitors, including Asus, Toshiba and RIM; and a few cool twists, like dual-screen devices, slide-out keyboards, and 4G connectivity.

Most new tablets will run Android, but since Google hasn't shipped version 3.0 (aka Honeycomb) -- the version that promises a better tablet experience -- it's best to focus on hardware. The iPad exceeded consumer expectations despite plenty of griping about what else should have been possible (like cameras). Almost a year in and there's no sign the device is wearing around the edges. But the next wave of tablets does offer significant hardware improvement: dual-core processors (1 GHz), both front and rear-facing cameras (the latter at 5 megapixels; 2 megapixels for the former), 1GB of RAM and at least 16GB of storage (how useful more storage will be in a web application world can be our next debate), USB (mini and regular) and mini HDMI (for video out). Hold out for everything.

Size matters. Certainly content consumption is possible -- even acceptable -- at seven inches, which fits even the smallest hand. Ten inches is better where web browsing and video viewing is constant. We saw 8 and 12 inch devices as well. But size comes down to buyer preference. It's also likely that Honeycomb will allow developers to detect and adjust for screen size and resolution.

None of the newly-announced devices ship now; some don't even exist. Most will wait for Honeycomb. Buyers would be wise to do the same (and wait for whatever Apple has next). It wouldn't hurt to take a closer look at RIM, whose seven-inch PlayBook is likely a prelude to other form factors (video demonstration below); nor would it hurt to hear what HP (Palm) is expected to unveil next month.

The Clones

Beyond that, buying a tablet is going to be like buying a PC: brand preference will matter, and feature differences will seem insignificant. Price will factor heavily.

Motorola Xoom. Motorola is regaining its footing with a slew of popular Android phones, and that momentum has carried over into Xoom, its new tablet. That's great news for Motorola, and certainly its offering is plenty packed with all the right hardware, although the 512MB of RAM is half of what most of the other devices carry -- indeed, half of what Motorola's new 4G phone will provide. Motorola was the only company with an early build of Honeycomb -- a somewhat meaningless achievement, unless garnering headlines or being "first" matters that much. By the time all of the latest tablets actually start to ship, Honeycomb will be shipping and all of the tablets will run it.

That the Xoom is upgradeable to 4G (in Q2) is compelling, but the rest of what it offers depends on Honeycomb -- the 3D Maps, the video chat, and the ability to create your own widgets, for example. Motorola was only demonstrating a pre-recorded video of Honeycomb, anyway.

Motorola also demonstrated its Atrix "virtual laptop" (a laptop dock, which the company calls a "webtop") powered by the company's new Atrix 4G phone; if the Xoom can also power the Webtop, the role of the laptop could well become scrutinized, especially considering that you can run virtual sessions using a Citrix Receiver client. Others are also offering the laptop/docking functionality.

1 of 3
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll