Tablet Tableau: Spring 2011

In this edition of the Tablet Tableau, we take a quick look at what the industry has cooked up to counter the sweeping success of Apple’s original iPad, released March 12, 2010, just over a year ago. (A year later, almost to the day, the  iPad 2 made its debut.)

Many of the competing tablets offered over the past year fell short of achieving the lofty benchmark set by the first iPad. Size, weight, and battery life seemed to be major stumbling blocks for several contenders.  Application selection, speed, and screen quality dogged competitors as well. But a year can make a huge difference in the world of mobile electronics, especially in the new and fiercely competitive tablet arena.

Samsung Galaxy

Samsung came out swinging with the Galaxy Tab 10.1. However, this was not without some initial controversy. Upon seeing Apple’s iPad 2, Samsung VP Lee Don-Joo told the  Yonhap News Agency, “We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate,” and “Apple made it very thin.” Lee then added, “The 10-inch (tablet) was to be priced higher than the 7-inch (tablet) but we will have to think that over.” True to Lee’s word Samsung has launched a revised edition of their tablets. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is lighter, thinner, and priced on par with the iPad 2.

Motorola Xoom

Motorola was been busy cooking up some magic of its own, the Motorola Xoom. Not to be bested by Samsung, Motorola has worked closely with Google, the maker of the Android operating system (OS) found on the Xoom and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. The result? Motorola brought together a powerful mix of hardware and a tablet-optimized OS, Honeycomb.

Hewlett-Packard TouchPad

A dark horse in the tablet brawl is the HP TouchPad. Not due out until this summer and with no pricing available, it’s difficult to compare it properly to currently or soon-to-be-shipped products. That said, the HP TouchPad is worth mentioning now because it will offer HP’s new webOS. In a move that surprised many industry observers, HP purchased Palm last year. Out of that acquisition rides a polished webOS well suited to the tablet lifestyle.

BlackBerry PlayBook

Blackberry is soon to enter this burgeoning market with its tablet offering, the BlackBerry PlayBook. The Playbook is built on the recently acquired QNX Neutrino platform, and could give BlackBerry an edge in the enterprise market.

Apple iPad 2

With its sophomore release, Apple upped its game, The iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than its previous incarnation. In keeping with competitors, Apple added cameras and significantly increased overall speed. But unlike the original iPad, this release is more evolutionary than revolutionary.

Next up we have Microsoft’s new…, well, it looks to be a year out.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Motorola Xoom HP TouchPad (approx summer 2011 release) BlackBerry Playbook Apple iPad 2
Price $499 16GB / $599 32GB WiFi versions $799 unsubsidized – $599 WiFi version $499 16GB / $599 32 GB WiFi version (rumored) $499 16GB / $599 32GB / $699 64GB WiFi versions $499 16GB / $599 32GB / $699 64GB
OS Platform Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) webOS 3.0 BB Tablet OS (QNX) iOS 4.3
Communication Bluetooth, WiFi, Optional HSPA+ Bluetooth, WiFi, CDMA 800 /1900 LTE 700 Bluetooth, WiFi, Optional 3G Bluetooth, WiFi,  Optional WiMAx, LTE, HSPA+ Bluetooth, WiFi, Optional HSPA or CDMA
Display 10.1″ 1280×800 resolution 10.1″ 1280×800 resolution
9.7″ 1024 x 768
7″ 1024 x 600 resolution 9.7″ 1024 x 768 resolution
Processor 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 Qualcomm Snapgragon dual-core 1.2 GHz 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP4430 1GHz dual-core Apple A5
Storage 16GB / 32GB 32GB 16GB / 32GB 16GB / 32GB / 64GB 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
Front Camera 2.0 Mega Pixel 2 Mega Pixel 1.3 Mega Pixel 3.0 Mega Pixel VGA 30fps
Rear Camera 3.0 Mega Pixel 5 Mega Pixel N/A 5 Mega Pixel 720P (approx 1 Mega Pixel)
Battery Life approx. 10 hours approx. 10 hours approx 8+ hours (rumored) approx. 10 hours Approx. 10 hours
Thickness 8.6 mm (0.34 in) 12.9 mm (0.51 in) 13.7mm (0.54 in) 10 mm (0.4 in) 8.8 mm (0.34 in)
Weight 595 grams (1.31 lbs) 730 grams (1.61 lbs) 740 grams (1.63 lbs) 425 grams (0.9 lbs) 601 grams (1.33 lbs)
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