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CES Summary Part 2: Tablets Everywhere!

January 11th, 2011 · No Comments

With the exception of the Intel and Microsoft Booths, I felt like every company at CES was pitching a tablet of some ilk. This was the result of a perfect storm that was fed by 1: The incredible success of the Apple iPad 2: Seeing how Apple squandered its lead in smart phones to Android.

Armed with the knowledge that Apple is very defeatable, practically every major CES exhibitor put its best foot forward and presented its best shot against Apple.

Blackberry Playbook:

RIM practically invented the smartphone, and the rise of the Apple iPhone was as much a statement about Apple’s prowess as RIM’s complete inability to understand the consumer market. It’s Blackberry Phones still sell well in the enterprise market, and RIM is hoping to use that lead to sell the first “professional grade tablet.” Unfortunately their Apple envy has gone a little too far.

When I think of an enterprise tablet, I think of a machine that has advanced email, calendar, and document capabilities. RIM’s preview version of the Blackberry Playbook didn’t even have demo editions of these three tools. That’s pretty unforgiveable for a tool meant for the enterprise. Instead they stressed video and browsing capabilities, capabilities that Apple has excelled at and RIM can’t deliver on their phones (A RIM journalist joked that the new multimedia focused Blackberry Torch was the best new phone of 2008).

It’s a shame that RIM is so confused about their target audience. The form factor for the playbook is very clever. They correctly assume that it will never replace the laptop, so made it the perfect size to fit the side compartment of a laptop bag. It’s there to pull out when you want to access information while on a bus, or train, or airplane and just want to consume content. Why their insight didn’t extend to providing basic functionality like email, calendaring, or viewing a spreadsheet, I can’t begin to guess.

Motorola Xoom:

I’ll be blunt. The Motorola Xoom is the most credible alternative to the iPad I have seen. It will run on Honeycomb, a new version of Android developed by Google specifically for Tablets. It looks and feels just like the iPad, with the exception that it will run Flash. Unfortunately the demo units at CES weren’t actually running Honeycomb, but rather walked you through a 5 minute video showing Honeycomb’s eventual capabilities. The success or failure of this device will come down to Google’s ability to deliver on Honeycomb’s demos.

Samsung Galaxy Tab:

The Galaxy Tab was actually released prior to CES to varying reviews. Rather than run on Honeycomb, which hasn’t been released yet, the Tab runs on standard Android. Samsung’s bet is that they will learn a ton from the Tab, and come out with a killer tablet after the release of Honeycomb. It’s not a bad strategy, and already has a ton of fans.

Toshiba Tablet:

The Toshiba Tablet is the last of the credible offerings I saw at CES this year. Its not very different from the Motorola Xoom, and boasts several cool features around enhanced video and display capabilities. I have some pretty high expectations for this tablet upon release, but too many features were missing from the demo version I played with to make any judgments.

And then there were the terrible tablets.

Panasonic Viera Tablet:

This tablet wasn’t terrible, just very confused. Some executive at Panasonic must have seen the Apple AirPlay feature and said “I want that.” They then built an entire tablet to replicate that one feature. Its name stems from the Panasonic line of Viera big-screen televisions which it integrates tightly with.

Sharp Tablet:

This tablet is the poster child of what can go wrong if you tell an engineer to copy the iPad without any other insight. It looks credible at first, until you start asking questions. The Q&A during the unveiling was hilarious, with the presenter unable to answer basic questions like what OS the system runs on (it’s a homebrew built on Linux) or if it will have GSM/LTE capabilities (it is wifi only). I will be a little surprised if this machine is ever actually released.

Oh yeah, and about 35 others….

Tags: CES

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