Apple’s introduction of the iPad 2 formally set off the tablet wars. While this year will probably see the introduction of more tablets, the field has already been set with most of the major players. Here is a quick guide to the tablets that are most likely to still be duking it out at the end of this year.
Apple iPad 2
Apple created the tablet market with the introduction of the first iPad, and the second iteration included several significant upgrades. The iPad 2 is 8.8 mm thick, has a 9.7 inch display with a resolution of 1024×768, weighs 1.3 pounds, has a front facing VGA camera, a rear facing 720p camera, and has a battery life that Apple claims will last 10 hours. It is not immediately apparent how much RAM the iPad 2 has, but we do know that it has a dual-core Apple A5 processor. The cheapest iPad 2 you can buy is the 16 GB WiFi version for $499 and $829 will buy you the fully tricked out model with 64 GB, WiFi, and “no contract” 3G data. The iPad 2 has a strong app catalog with 65,000 iPad specific apps in the Apple App Store. The iPad 2 will ship on March 11 with iOS 4.3.
Announced last month, the TouchPad is HP’s answer to Apple’s iPad. It runs webOS which HP acquired when it purchased Palm last year. The webOS interface uses cards to manage apps with each one operating in its own “card” which can be flicked horizontally to multitask to another app or vertically to close the current app. The TouchPad is 13.7 mm thick, has a 9.7 inch display with a resolution of 1024×768, weighs 1.6 pounds, has a 1.2 megapixel front facing camera, and lacks a rear camera. The TouchPad has a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor. The battery life has not been verified, nor has HP announced carrier support, pricing, or a definite release date (beyond “this summer”).
Motorola scored the first device to sport Google’s tablet specific operating system, Android 3.0 (aka “Honeycomb”). The Motorola Xoom has a 10.1 inch display with a resolution of 1280×800, weighs 1.6 pounds, had a 2 megapixel front facing camera, a 5 megapixel rear facing camera, and a battery life (according to Motorola) of 10 hours. It runs a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. The Xoom is available for $800 without a contract, or you can get it for $600 via a two year contract with Verizon.
The Playbook is RIM’s entry into the tablet market. It has a 7 inch display with a resolution of 1024×600, is 10 mm thick, weighs less than a pound, has a 3 megapixel front facing camera, a 5 megapixel rear facing camera, and has an unspecified battery life. It runs Blackberry Tablet OS, has a dual-core Cortex-A9 processor, and 1 GB of RAM. The Playbook will be available later this spring, and pricing is not yet available.
While the iPad receives most of the media’s attention, the availability of other tablet hardware and software choices is good for consumers. Tablet makers, due to the intense competition in the market, will be pressured to offer more features and lower prices. No matter what company emerges victorious from the tablet wars, consumers will ultimately win.Category: Gadgets | Tags: android, blackberry os, honeycomb, ios, ipad 2, playbook, tablet, touchpad, war, WebOS, xoom