CES: Tablet wrap-up
Senior Editor Donald Bell takes a look back over the tablet announcements at CES and runs through the highlights and disappointments.
As expected, CES 2011 was a tablet paradise. The majority of ourcame true, including the debut of the , and new arrivals from , , , , and more.
Admittedly, some of our predictions were off. HP did not unveil a tablet running the WebOS platform acquired from Palm. The company is, however, announcing something next month.
We also didn't see a 10-inch version of the Galaxy Tab from Samsung. Instead, the manufacturer offered upand versions of the Tab, along with a smaller and an intriguing .
Outside of our predictions there were a few pleasant surprises. Vizio threw a curve ball with its, which sports an integrated IR blaster for pulling double duty as a universal remote. The made an appearance, leaving us a bit stunned by its two giant hinged panels. Dell teased a that we probably won't see again until CES 2012. And we also covered a few surprise announcements from , , and .
Android Honeycomb--If you haven't heard by now, Honeycomb is Google's tablet-optimized Android 3.0 release. Thanks to high-profile Honeycomb tablet announcements from , , and , we now have a much better idea of Honeycomb's user interface and capabilities.
Honeycomb's importance to tablet manufacturers (and consumers) can't be overstated. Aside from the Android brand name, the Honeycomb OS bears little resemblance to the Froyos and Gingerbreads you may know from the world of smartphones. Like the QNX operating system running on the Apple's iPad.
Motorola's Xoom tablet on Verizon is promised to be the first on the market running Android Honeycomb (a fact that weighed significantly in the Xoom's). The Xoom is expected to become available within the first quarter of 2011. We're unsure how long a lead Google is giving Motorola before it will start sanctioning other Honeycomb tablets, but we will certainly see most major Android tablet manufacturers flock to the new OS before the year is through.
10-inch screens--After seeing several companies try in vain (with some exceptions) to sell consumers on the idea of smaller 5-inch and 7-inch tablets in 2010, I'm happy to see that CES 2011 offered more than a few 10-inch contenders. Part of the 10-inch trend is due to Honeycomb, which natively supports the larger, higher-resolution displays, and will hopefully usher in a wave of third-party apps designed for these displays as well. Not surprisingly, all of the formally announced Honeycomb tablets (Motorola, LG, and Toshiba) are spec'd at a 10-inch display.
Some 10-inch tablets, such as the Archos 101 and , are running existing versions of Android and addressing the lack of native support with heavy UI skinning and handling apps outside of Google's official Marketplace. We're glad to see these products out there for those who need them, but the future trend for Android on a 10-inch screen would seem to be Honeycomb.
4G--The elephant in the room at every CES 2011 tablet announcement was the Apple iPad. There's no telling what networking capabilities the next generation of the iPad will have, but for the moment, the iPad's cellular connection commands only 3G speeds, and is locked to AT&T.
One way to trump the iPad (or future-proof your tablet against the iPad 2) is to promise 4G network compatibility. We saw this with the Motorola Xoom on Verizon, the LG G-Slate on T-Mobile, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4G on Verizon, and the. Time will tell what kind of pricing and contract commitments 4G compatibility will bring, and whether consumers will find the premium mobile speeds worthwhile on a tablet.