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CES Feature Articles

January 10, 2011

Tablets Galore at CES

Spending most of last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to check out a variety of tech products. And though most of the items on display were geared more toward consumers, as you’d expect, some also proved interesting to IT pros, especially with the growing consumerization of IT.

One type of product that hit CES with full steam was the tablet. Following hot on the heels of Apple’s (News - Alert) iPad, a number of companies, both large and small, were unveiling and demoing their own tablet or slate devices hoping to carve out a niche of this growing market.

Apple was a noticeable no-show at CES, so the iPad itself didn’t make an appearance (though the latest rumors say Apple may soon announce the iPad 2). Tablets running Windows 7 were few and far between. One of the few I glimpsed at during CES was Samsung’s (News - Alert) Sliding PC 7, which can transform from a tablet into a netbook, complete with keyboard.

Instead, tablets running Android were the prominent gadgets at the show. Many of the tablets hope to beat the iPad at its own game by offering features not currently found in Apple’s tablet, including smaller sizes, front-facing and rear-facing cameras, USB or SD card slots, and support for Adobe Flash.

For IT folks curious about the latest tablets, here’s a quick look at some of the products that were attracting attention at CES.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Available since November, Samsung’s Android (News - Alert)-based tablet comes in a compact 7-inch size. This extremely light device offers cameras both in the front and back, 16GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot, and Flash support. Checking out one of the Tabs at CES, I liked the ability to hold the device in my hands and type with just my thumbs, similar to typing on a smartphone. For people who like their tablets a bit bigger, though, Samsung will soon be offering a 10-inch Tab, just slightly larger than an iPad. At the show, Samsung also announced upcoming 4G and WiFi only versions.

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

Unlike most other tablets, RIM’s PlayBook is specifically being targeted to the business world where BlackBerry smartphones already enjoy a commanding presence. As such, the device offers a range of features of value to corporate users. Like the Galaxy Tab, the PlayBook sizes in at 7 inches and sports a 1024x600 resolution. BlackBerry smartphone users will be able to connect to their phones and to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server if your organization already supports the highly secure network. With RIM’s emphasis on video conferencing, the PlayBook will also offer an HDMI connection and high-def video cameras both in front and back. The Playbook is due to hit the market in the first quarter of the year.

Motorola XOOM

One of the hits of CES, and not just among tablets, was the Motorola (News - Alert) XOOM, which took home the Best in Show award. This high-powered tablet is the first of its generation with a dual-core processor and the latest Android 3.0. Sporting a 10-inch display, the XOOM bumps up the resolution to 1280x800 and includes cameras both on the front and rear. Throw in three USB ports, an HDMI port, and the ability to upgrade to 4G to connect to Verizon’s (News - Alert) growing LTE network, and the XOOM could give the iPad a run for its money. Motorola is prepping the XOOM to launch in the first quarter of this year.

With many of the major tablets due out early 2011, including the iPad 2, consumers and corporate buyers alike will face a range of choices. As users increasingly want to be able to use these handy devices on the job, IT pros will want to stay abreast of the latest models to see which ones offer the best fit at their organizations.

Lance Whitney is a journalist, IT consultant, and Web Developer with almost 20 years of experience in the IT world. To read more of Lance's articles, please visit his columnist page

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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