Contemplating tablets beyond the iPad (Q&A)

A manager at tablet chip supplier Atmel offers his perspective on the tablet market in 2011. Sizes beyond the 10-inch iPad will bring variety and expansion to the market, according to Atmel.

The iPad is expected to encounter a crush of competition in 2011. A manager at Atmel, which supplies chips to tablet makers, talks about how he thinks things will shake out in the non-Apple tablet market in 2011.

Atmel supplies the touch-screen controller chip for the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The 7-inch screen size will be popular, but large tablets will also emerge, says Atmel.
Atmel supplies the touch-screen controller chip for the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The 7-inch screen size will be popular, but large tablets will also emerge, says Atmel. Samsung

Binay Bajaj, a product marketing manager at Atmel, which makes touch-screen controller chips for the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the HTC Evo 4G and Motorola Droid phones (among other devices) talks about how tablets debuting in 2011 will come in a variety of sizes that move the tablet experience beyond today's 10-inch iPad. Atmel is slated to supply chips to a host of tablets in 2011.

Q: How many products does Atmel see coming?
Bajaj: We think there's going to be 10 to 15 products launching early next year.

What will make these tablets different than the iPad?
Bajaj: There will be all kinds of screen sizes available. You'll see 8.9-inch, 11.6-inch, 12.1-inch. Predominantly, 10.1-inch and 7-inch. But some consumers will say the resolution that I see on a 10 inch doesn't fit my video watching experience, so I'll go for an 11.6 or 12.1. Will that volume be high? Probably not. But as you increase the size, you add more [chip] processing to it. You can provide better multimedia and gaming. And different display resolutions make watching high definition videos more crisp.

What else does larger screen size get you?
Bajaj: As the screen sizes become larger, the user can lay more things on the screen, you can easily rest your palm on the screen [without triggering a response]. There's something called "palm rejection." We support that. And unintended touches, which you can reject. We call it "grip," touching the screen from the side. We have something called "grip suppression." In spite of the grip, you can still use the device.

What about 7-inch?
Bajaj: Like I said, there will be all kinds of screen sizes available. I would say 7-inch feels better in the hand [for some users]. For these people, 10-inch is just slightly too big.

What will be the predominate non-Apple operating environment, in your opinion?
Bajaj: Google Android is clearly a very popular operating system. The application base is growing very rapidly. There will be more and more Android tablets. Android is going to be in the lead.

Do you see tablets eroding the laptop market?
Bajaj: Clearly, an erosion is going to happen. We are hearing that there is big erosion on the Netbook. The tablet gives you an always-on, always-connected experience connecting to the cloud. And as cloud computing becomes more prevalent, there's going to be more tablets.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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