Six tablets to watch

These tablets offer some idea of the different sizes and focuses of new models popping up in this rapidly evolving category.

When most people think of a tablet, they think of the pater familias of the current generation, the 9.6-by-7.5-by-0.5-inch Apple iPad. But today, with dimensions ranging from the height and width of a Christmas card to the height and width of a clipboard, tablets are as becoming diverse a product category as we've seen in a long time. In fact, the first order of business may be to try to establish some ground rules for what people mean when they refer to something as a tablet.

What Defines a Tablet?

Is a device with a 3.2-inch touchscreen, like the Archos 32 Internet Tablet (below), really a tablet? In its dimensions it more closely resembles a mobile phone or an iPod Touch than an iPad. But when you think about it, an iPod Touch can does much of what an iPad does--only (as is true of its iPhone cousin) on a smaller screen. Likewise, the 5-inch Dell Streak is as comfortable to hold as a mini-tablet, calling to mind the advantage that the 5-inch Sony Reader Pocket Edition e-book reader has over its larger brethren.

Think of the differences in screen size as being akin to the differences between reading a paperback book, a standard-size hardcover book, and a coffee-table book: What a publisher can fit onto a page and how it presents the layout vary depending on the product's size--and your arms will tire from holding these devices at dramatically different rates.

Today there are no industry standards to delineate the category, but we consider the following to be minimum requirements:

• Screen size of 5 inches or greater

• Slate-style design

• Internal components that include a CPU, RAM, and either on-board or MicroSD-based user storage

• Wi-Fi connectivity

• Touchscreen display

Now let's take a look at some members of the new generation of true tablets.

Archos 10.1 Internet Tablet

One of the first companies to produce an Android tablet in 2009, Archos will try to go head-to-head with the iPad and other larger rivals with this 10.1-inch Android 2.2 tablet.

HP Slate 500

Running a full-blown version of Windows 7 and powered by an Intel Atom CPU, HP's Slate 500 is a relatively well-equipped tablet. A USB port accepts external storage, a mouse, or a full-size keyboard to drive desktop-grade software. Like prior versions of Windows, Win 7 leaves something to be desired in terms of touchscreen interaction, but the certainty that further OS refinements will occur makes this product worth watching.

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

Research In Motion is bringing a relatively unknown OS to market in the QNX-based PlayBook. The 7-inch BlackBerry tablet has a dual-core CPU, plus MicroSD and MicroHDMI ports for expandability and connectivity. A 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 3-megapixel front-facing camera promise video capabilities that none of the PlayBook's rivals can offer.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Available through five carriers in the United States--AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon--the Galaxy Tab rocks both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. This 7-inch Android slate has a 3-megapixel camera for photography and a low-resolution front-facing camera for video chat. The Galaxy Tab's trim design makes it easy to tuck unobtrusively into a jacket pocket. At 0.84 pound, the Tab is far more comfortable to work with than the 1.5-pound Apple iPad. But the unit's thickness (0.5 inch) and balance make it less pleasant to hold for long periods than, say, Amazon's third-generation Kindle e-reader, which weighs just 0.55 pound.

Stream TV eLocity A7

In our preliminary hands-on trials, Stream TV's eLocity, based on Android 2.2 (Froyo), hinted at being a multimedia powerhouse. HDMI, MicroSD, and USB ports give it the strength and flexibility to deliver serious entertainment either on its 7-inch screen (while you're traveling) or on an attached HDTV (in the living room).

ViewSonic Viewpad 7

This 7-inch slate will run Android 2.2, carry a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and feature Google's services. It will also offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and will be 3G-ready.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags research in motionSamsung Electronicshardware systemsStream TVtablet PCslaptopsHewlett-PackardviewsonicArchos

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?