This was a pretty big week for tablets, as every company under the sun seems to be rushing to exploit the market. While it may seem like their fighting for Apple’s table scraps, there are a huge number of potential tablet users out there, and everyone seems to be trying to grab them.
The most innovative concept may be Sony’s upcoming tablet, codenamed S2 . A dual-screen beauty, there’s no news on price or anything like that. I’m most interested on how Sony will be skinning Android this time around. I like their “Rachel” UI on their phones, but I don’t know if it will work on the dual screen model. I trust Sony to put a bit more effort into the dual screen ecosystem than Kyocera did with the Echo, where it was basically a quickly forgotten gimmick that developers have yet to embrace.
Sony also announced the S1, a more traditional tablet (can something be traditional in a fairly fresh market segment?) yet still more ergonomic than your average slate. Engadget had a great hands-on in NY.
Meanwhile, Lenovo’s IdeaPad K1 tablet (not officially confirmed) continues to pop up on web sites for pre-ordering. Amazon quickly pulled it, as did retailer J&R, but not before leaking the specs. They seem pretty typical for a non-Apple 10” slate (Honeycomb, Tegra 2, Front/rear cameras) and with a pretty basic form factor, but what’s interesting is it seems like it will be priced at $499 for a 32 GB model. That undercuts Apple, HP, and Samsung considerably. Lenovo also looks to be doing interesting things to the interface of Android. Considering how high quality Lenovo products tend to be, it’s interesting to see if this takes off.
Meanwhile, it looks like Toshiba’s Thrive tablet is out. With a slightly cheaper price point than Apple, Flash support, USB host, HDMI out GPS, and a removable battery, I can’t help but want to do a real hands on (as opposed to the admittedly awesome demo we got).
Big kid on the block Microsoft has said they have no intention to release Windows Phone 7 for tablets. I don’t agree with this. They need all the traction they can get in this market. I mean, can you name even one Windows 7 tablet? Do you know anyone who uses one? Okay, so I do, actually, but that’s an HP Slate, and good luck finding any of those. They do intend to bring the heavily WP7 influenced Windows 8 to the tablet. This has the potential to either be the perfect example of a walled ecosystem or a textbook case of too little too late.
In the land of the 7” tablets, ViewSonic has shipped their latest 7” tablet. I don’t know who’s screaming for a 7” running Android 2.2, but it has to tempting to someon out there at a “mere” $230, especially when you consider how many people are going to put Cynogen on it.
It’s not all cream and sugar for the tablet makers. Acer has pulled their 7” tablet, pushing it back to September (and that’s only in the EU), according to their Facebook Page (it helps if you sprachzen ze Deutch). Asus, another netbook trend-maker, has announced they’ll fix their conceptually cool but realistically flawed Transformer tablet. While fixing the battery drain issues would be nice, the big story is that they’re planning to get Android 3.2 out there soon. Which is almost as neat as the rumors that Moto has an Android 4 device in the works.
Finally, the rumors continue to build that Amazon will be releasing their own branded tablet. Considering the intense growth market of tablets and that the NOOK color is beating the Kindle in sales now (which I’m sure has nothing to do with how easy it is to root and modify), it’s entirely possible that they’re looking at a more tablet-like ereader. However, considering their investment in e-ink technology, which isn’t really ready to drive a tablet-style device, it’s hard to imagine when it might actually happen.
That’s quite a lot of movement for a fairly new market segment. Maybe we need to add Tablets Thursday as a regular feature, eh?