Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tabbing the tablets

It’s not Kindle that the iPad will have to fight, but the big brawny tablet pack

The day of reckoning finally came when Steve Jobs unveiled a thin slate-like product called Apple iPad in front of an awed audience. While many were prudish enough to think this was the first tablet, others thought Apple’s official foray into the Tablet PC segment would pose more of a headache for e-readers, especially the Kindle.
But while the iPad brings in a lot of bling and versatility, tablet PCs have been here for nearly a decade. The trend started in 2001 when Microsoft announced its Windows XP-based tablet, defined as a pen-enabled computer. Things have moved on since.
The most popular tablet PCs now are convertibles which are almost like regular notebooks but have a screen, usually touch-enabled, which can swivel 180 degrees. There are also hybrids with a detachable keyboard, and slates with touch-enabled keyboards or s stylus for data input. The latest entrant is the booklet dual touchscreens that fold like a book.

Here is a look at what the iPad is up against.

The Modbook actually was the second biggest crowd puller at the MacWorld Expo 2007 after the I-phone. You can either buy a brand new Modbook, which is a MacBook that is modified and sold directly by Axiotron, or send a Macbook to be modified by the company with top shell made of magnesium alloy with metal finish, a aircraft grade magnesium alloy frame, a new LCD screen and a Force Glass display to track the response of the stylus. While a brand new Modbook costs around $1700, a customer-sent Macbook can be modified for as low as $500. Features include Intel chipsets, MACOS X v10.5 Leopard, up to 4 GB RAM, 500 GB SATA hard drive, an optical drive and a GPS device.

The most anticipated product after the iPad, Microsoft’s courier booklet has captured the tech world’s imagination since popular tech blog Gizmodo showcased a preview late last year. The Courier will contain two seven-inch multi-touch screens that respond to a stylus or finger touch. A 3-megapixel digital camera with 4x zoom is integrated into the prototype, and the final model may contain an inductive charging pad for charging batteries wirelessly. However, it remains to be seen how much of these features actually make it to the final product.

This slate from Samsung is ideal for taking business to the road. Featuring Vista Business Edition and an Intel Core Solo Processor ULV U1500, the Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium can support all PC applications and still weighs just under two pounds. It sports an ultra bright 7” touchscreen, and the latest Intel Ultra Low Voltage CPU. Plus, the unique QWERTY keyboard makes typing easier than on a touchscreen.

The Scribbler looks much like the iPad, but costs four times more at $ 2,049. It runs on a 1.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ULV processor and has 1GB of RAM. The 12.1” XGA TFT screen has a sunlight readable display. The 3.3lbs unit also has a 1.3MP camera and Bluetooth 2.0.

The latest offering from the HP Touchsmart stables is the economically priced HP Touchsmart tm2t which features some smart and slick options like the Intel Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) processor, Radeon graphics up to 8 GB DDR3 RAM and hard drives that are expandable till 500 GB. HP has been in the tablet business for sometime with its flagship Tablet PC becoming quite a hit in India, but whether this one will live up to the recently launched demons like the I-Pad is something that we will have to wait and watch out for. As of now the product is available for a decent $950 and considering the high end pricing of most convertible notebooks this one looks like an option worth considering.

This one takes the cake as far as hard-hitting tablets are concerned. No we are not talking about Ecstasy pills but outside the Panasonic ToughBook, which was a convertible notebook, the Armor X10 is a tablet PC that literally can take a lot of pounding. Featuring the IntelCoreDuo Mobile Technology, a large 10.4-inch LCD display, readablility even in direct sunlight, the DuraCase aluminum housing for maximum strength and ShutOut sealing technology that allows for open connectors this tablet sure can take and pack a punch.

A convertible laptop which costs a steep $1900 or more, the LifeBook has garnered rave reviews for its usability. Packed with features like an Intel Core2 Duo processor, DDR2-667 SD RAM upgradeable up to 2 GB, a 8.9. inch LCD display and 120 GB shock proof S-ATA 150 hard drive it comes with a host of connectivity options. It also has a SD card reader slot on board. The straight looks of the Lifebook and the fact that it is apt for business has been a great deal maker for people who are always on the move.

Ever since Jobs revealed the iPad, Fujitsu has been wondering what the hoopla is all about. Its lightweight slate has already been raking in rave reviews as the “ideal option for mobile workers”. The 3.4 pound unit features a 10.4 XGA, indoor/outdoor viewable screen, ultra low voltage Intel Pentium M processor and MS Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. It’s also got two USB port — iPad has just one — Infrared, External monitor, modem, Ethernet, IEEE 1394 and system interface connector. The RAM is expandable up to 2GB while the hard drive can be 40 or 60 GB ATA. It also has PC card slots, another feature missing in the iPad.
So, do you still want to buy the iPad?

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