Here are some of the best tablets on the market (or coming soon). Some offer full Mac OS-X computing power, others will give you full multitasking and flash support, and some will even woo you with their sub $200 prices.
The iPad is Apple's "most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device." The 9.7" touchscreen tablet lets you surf the web, send emails, look at photos and videos, listen to music, read and download books, access around 140,000 applications available on the App Store and much, much more. Prices range from $499 for the 16GB WiFi model up to $829 for the WiFi & 3G 64GB model. Apple's iPad is set to start shipping in the USA on April 3. WiFi and 3G versions of the device are also expected to become available in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland in late April, with iPads going on sale in additional countries later during the year.
US-based company Axiotron pioneered the Mac-powered tablet back in 2007 at the Macworld Conference & Expo. Well before Apple was getting ready to launch their iPad, Axiotron was converting MacBooks into pen-powered touchscreen tablets. The Modbook runs on Mac OS-X and is a powerful, multitasking pressure-sensitive device made for professionals. Users can write directly on the screen with the built-in handwriting recognition software, create complex drawings with the Wacom Penabled digitizer, and most of all they can use their tablet as if it was a regular 2.13GHz Intel Core MacBook. Other features include 4GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, DVD and CD Optical Drive, WiFi, Bluetooth, two USB 2.0 ports, Mini-DVI port, FireWire 400 port, built-in iSight camera, and optional GPS. Prices start from $899 (with a customer-supplied MacBook base system) or $1849 for a Modbook that includes the complete 2.13GHz Macbook Base System. Available now from http://www.axiotron.com/
Archos 7 Home Tablet
While the brand is not that well known outside of France, Archos is a firmly established player in the tablet device market. The Archos 7 Home Tablet is a mid-sized connected touchscreen device that fits in the market between a smartphone and a laptop. The 7" touchscreen device is big enough for movie watching and at 12mm thin is also portable enough to slip in your bag when you head out for the day. The Android-powered tablet comes in 2GB and 8GB versions and is equipped with WiFi, social-networking applications, onboard MP3 and movie player, and can be completely customized with a host of compatible Android applications. The Archos 7 Home Tablet should be on the market by summer 2010 and will range in price from €149 to €179.
Archos 9 PCtablet
French electronics maker Archos was well ahead of Apple when they released a slick-looking internet tablet dubbed "the Netbook of the future" in late 2009. The ultra-light tablet is designed for on-the-go computing, full HD video watching, web browsing, video chatting and emailing. The Archos 9 PCtablet comes with an 8.9" LED resistive touch-sensitive screen and is just 17mm wide. The device runs Microsoft Windows 7 and has an Atom 1.2 GHz processor, a 60 to 120 GB hard drive and comes with optional 3G connectivity. The Archos 9 PCtablet is available now from www.archos.com from €499.
Canadian company ExoPC has developed a "finger driven PC" called the ExoPC Slate. The ExoPC will run Windows 7 Pro with an ExoPC UI Layer and will be able to multitask and play Flash. The ExoPC's touchscreen display measures up at 8.9 inches and has a resolution of 1024 x 600. The slate comes with an SD card reader, Wifi, Bluetooth, 3 USB ports, a 1.3 megapixel webcam and 32 GB of onboard storage. The high sensibility resistive multitouch device has an expected battery life of four hours after a full charge and will be priced at $599 when it is released at the end of March. A 3G model is expected to become available too.
Dell Latitude XT2 XFR
The Dell Latitude XT2 XFR is the smallest 12.1" rugged convertible tablet PC available on the market. The tablet was announced on October 27 and is the first rugged convertible tablet to incorporate a multitouch display. The system can withstand knocks, moisture and dust and is built for people working in the military, law enforcement, field service and at on-site locations that need a laptop that adapts to the toughest environmental conditions. The laptop comes with Intel Core 2 Duo processors, QuadCool Thermal Management for smooth operation in extreme temperatures (-25 degrees to 60 degrees Celsius) and a compression-sealed LCD screen that is viewable in full sunlight. The Dell Latitude XT2 XFR will ship in the US, Canada, France, Spain, UK, Germany and Italy starting from $3,599. Availability is dependent on location.
Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid Notebook
Lenovo's IdeaPad U1 Hybrid Notebook is a portable computing device fit for the future. The IdeaPad U1 is an ultra-portable laptop that features two-digit multitouch screen. What differentiates the laptop from others in its class is the ability to detach the display from the laptop base, converting it into a multitouch slate tablet PC. The device also integrates two WiFi cards, letting you download a file on the base while you wander around the house browsing the internet on the tablet. The computer maker is set to debut the "hybrid PC" at the CES on January 7. The IdeaPad U1 will be priced starting from $999 and is expected to ship in June.
It might sound like some kind of bad iPad rip-off, but the WePad is actually a viable iPad competitor. The tablet is made by a Germany company by the name of Neofonie and actually has some impressive specs. The WePad boasts a 11.6 inch display, a 1,66 GHz Intel Atom processor, a 1.3MP webcam, 2 USB ports, a card reader, support for both Flash and Adobe AIR, apps available through both the Android Market and a WePad AppStore, and multitasking support. Neofonie says the tablet will be sold at a price that undercuts Apple's iPad. An official release date is yet to be announced, with some reports suggesting it will be available in Germany before Apple's April 3 shipping date and others reporting a release in May.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off the HP Slate prototype during his keynote address at the 2010 CES. While most details about the tablet are unconfirmed (the final product may be released with different specs) rumors say that the Windows 7-powered device will have an integrated camera on the back, a USB port, a memory card reader and will also support Adobe Flash. According to multiple reports the HP Slate is set to be launched in June (and arrive in Europe before September) and will be priced at approximately €400.
Microsoft's Courier tablet
While the Courier is still in development (and may never even get a public release) bloggers immediatedly dubbed it the tablet "you'd leave your wife for" when they first saw videos and images of it. The two-screened, pen-dominated touchscreen device is a product that resembles a digital journal more than a computer; photos and a video of the portable device showed it seamlessly crafting beautiful layouts from a handwritten text-input and color swatches captured from the device's camera.
A 7" touchscreen tablet for less than $200
US-based company Freescale Semiconductor has created a touchscreen tablet reference design to demonstrate the functionality of their semiconductor components when used in compact slates. Second-generation tablets based on the technology are expected to cost end users less than $200. These first designs have been created to inspire future tablet developers and are set to fuel the race for the next generation of inexpensive tablets. Freescale demonstrated their advanced ARM processor technology - crafted to provide instant-on functionality and to enable all-day use on just a single battery charge - at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 7.