CES 2011: Everyone’s taking the tablets!

January 18, 2011

What has happened in the past year? At the start of 2010, only big tech fans who thought they were getting a glimpse of the future used Tablet computers. Most of the general public thought tablets were just those things that the doctor prescribed.

Then Apple unveiled the iPad and our world was transformed once again. It seems people were unable to move for tablets at this years Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Every tech company and their mother is releasing them and in a variety of different types and sizes.

Sadly I wasn’t there, but from looking at the offering at CES, it seems Apple’s biggest rival in this field is Android. That’s right, Apple’s biggest mobile rival is their biggest Tablet one also. And that’s because the idea of smartphones lends itself to tablets so well. That being said, there do have to be differences. The iPad makes great use of the 9.7 inch screen it has, Android tablets seem not to yet.

But that’s all set to change. Android is upgrading to a new OS in the near future, one that’s more tablet-proof. And with over 80 different models already using Android (and Samsung claiming their tablet – the Galaxy tab – has sold over 1.5 million since it went on sale), the iPad could be up for quite a big fight quite soon.

One of the most successful Android tablets, the Galaxy Tab.

There is of course another contender. In the second half of last year, RIM revealed the terribly named Blackberry Playbook. Blackberry have done well in the mobile market (although their share is dropping), but their tablet isn’t scoring well with the critics. The Playbook is being criticised for being less user-friendly than the iPad and not bringing anything new to the party. Pricing will make a difference, but with Android being the tech of the minute and Apple being Apple, I think RIM could have a real uphill battle here.

One company that seems to be staying out of the fight is Microsoft. Although their not saying it, the Windows giants seem to have decided this market isn’t for them just yet. In the past Microsoft have often dabbled with Tablets to little success. The main reason seems to be that they insist o running the PC version of Windows 7 on a tablet.

This simply doesn’t work. Imagine your windows PC screen, shrunk down to 8 inches. Then try touching all the tiny icons on your screen or even double clicking. It’s just not happening. Unlike iOS and Android, which use big ions and have been designed with touch in mind, Windows just doesn’t lend itself to the technology. Perhaps this is why all the Windows tablets I have seen so far can also be converted into a laptop.

That’s not to say Windows wont go down the tablet route. In fact their big keynote announcement was that Windows will be running on smaller processor chips manufactured by ARM in the future. If this isn’t a hint that their going more mobile and thus

Dell's answer to the Windows Tablet

tablet at some point, then I don’t know what is.

But at the end of the day, how long will the tablet craze last. I have both a Macbook and an iPhone and together they offer me all that I need. My Macbook gives me high end computing power and ease of use for the more home and work based projects, whereas my iPhone gives me everything I need on the go and has great location services (not to mention addictive games!). So where could an iPad or other tablet fit in for me? If you think of it this way, the tablet shouldn’t even last past the end of this year.

But I suppose it’s not about practability, it’s more about whats cool and being able to browse the internet on a 10 inch touchscreen on the go whenever you want, covered in Apple’s chic design, is what people want and what they will part with their cash to buy.

Put it this way. I want an iPad.