And sure enough, at CES2011 and several other creative IT shows, dozens of tablets in various forms have appeared on the market. But before you become overwhelmed with too-many, me-too tablets - look at 4 of the serious contenders for your dollars. The first and leader is Apple's iPad- this tablet sets the base level of features which the new tablets must be able to deliver:
1)10hour++ full workday battery life;
2)less than 2 pounds in weight;
3)1024x768 plus 130DPI screen with bright color even in sunshine;
4)multi-touchscreen with simple gestures to operate;
5)WIFI, 3G+4G, HDMI, USB, connectivity;
6)Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass, Proximity sensor smarts;
7)App programming interface with tens of thousands of apps.
These are non-trivial capabilities which many of the `new`tablets fall short on. So the table below adds to the pioneering Apple iPad specs a profile of the Motorola Xoom with its high standard of new features, the rumored Apple iPad2 upgrade and the RIM Playbook with some winning features on weight and speed. Examining the table shows how far out of date the first Apple iPad is relative to its competition. Apple iPad is missing over two dozen features that the Motorola Xoom and/or the RIM Playbook have. But the next generation Apple iPad 2 will likely close the features gap [shown in yellow highlight where there is uncertainty]. But it is also instructive to note how well RIM's Playbook does in the comparison garnering 10 best features.
|Feature||Apple iPad||Motorola Xoom||Apple iPad 2||RIM Playbook|
|Screen Size||9.7" - 1024 x7 68||10.1" - 1280 x 800||9.7" - 1024 x7 68||7" - 1024 x 600|
|Screen Resolution||132 DPI||150 DPI||260 DPI||170 DPI|
|CPU||1GHz 1Core A4||1GHz 2Core Tegra 2||1.2GHz 2Core A5||1GHz 2Core Tegra 2|
|Max Storage internal/card||64GB/NA||32GB/32GB||64GB/64GB||64G/NA|
|Size||13 x 190 x 243||13 x 168 x 249||13 x 190 x 243||10 x 130 x 193|
|Battery Life||10 hrs||10hrs||10hrs||10hrs|
|Dock Keyboard/Recharge||Yes/Yes $70||Many/Many||Yes/Yes $70||Yes/Yes ??|
|OS - Operating System and Apps|
|OS||iOS4.2||Android 3.0||iOS4.3||QNX OS|
|Full multitasking||Not yet||Yes||Not Yet||Yes|
|Turn by Turn Navigation||NA||Yes||Yes?||NA|
|Still+Video Camera Features|
|Communication, networking, and connectivity|
|HotSpot||No||Yes, 5 devices||Yes||No|
|Features||Apple iPad||Motorola Xoom||Apple iPad 2||RIM Playbook|
|Color rating system: lowest rating uncertain rating highest rating|
Apple - Apple iPad specs, iPad2 rumors Engadget, iPad speculation, iPad2 at Tuaw, myCellphoneMyTerms, Tech.in
Motorola Xoom - Droid-life on Xoom, myCellphoneMyTerms, Phonearena on Xoom, SkatterTech on Tablets
R IM Playbook - Computerworld on Playbook, Skattertech on Tablets, Digital Trends
If you carefully follow the table, the first notable observation is how good the new Xoom and Playbook are - they really put the iPad to shame on basic features. So Apple will need to upgrade the iPad soon. Second is the number of categories in which RIM wins the honors for "best of tablets". The third observation is that a lot of rumours[noted with yellow background highlights]afflict not just the iPad2 but also the RIM Playbook.
In sum, the horse race for Consumer Tablet Supremacy is an open contest. In contrast, the fight for Dockable Tablets and Remote Control tablets are still very open; but Microsoft Windows 7 powered machines are the early leaders. So all alomg the for sure, Apple has serious challengers and if Mototrola or RIM falter - Acer, Asus, HP, HTC, Samsung among others have serious contenders too.